A Product of
03 September 2007
Tonight I transported an arrest one of my buddies made. The charge was prostitution: he had been working an off-duty security job at a downtown apartment building and saw the car pull in by the back fence of the subsidized housing block next door. When the car blacked out and nobody got out of it, his curiosity was piqued. He walked up and shone his flashlight into the car just as the contracted blowjob was in full swing. The party of the second part was "Lindsay", a known local vagrant/crack whore. She has both syphilis and hepatitis C (but "just a little bit," she insists).
When we asked the guy how much his servicing had set him back, he told us ten dollars.
"You're lying!" Lindsay shouted accusingly. "It was five dollars!"
This was apparently quite the point of honor - she groused about it the whole time I drove her to County. "I don't know why he lied to you all," she grumbled. "He just offered me five dollars. And I wasn't too happy about it, either." She also complained about where he had parked. "That was so stupid," she said. I replied that he didn't seem like a very smart guy in the first place.
I guess the moral here is that when you compromise your professional standards, bad things happen.
Ofc. Krupke at 2:22 AM
23 August 2007
Conversation at street intersection, downtown Southern City, 22 August 2007, approx. 2200 hrs:
MOTORIST: I'm just gonna park on this street.
KRUPKE: OK, but you'll have to go around the block. This is a one-way street.
MOTORIST: Well, I have a commercial tag.
KRUPKE: That doesn't mean you can go the wrong way down a one-way street.
MOTORIST: Well, what if I back down the street?
MOTORIST: Sorry, I'm from Italy, I don't know any better.
Ofc. Krupke at 2:59 AM
16 August 2007
Tonight, just before 2 am, I was tooling around Southern City's bar district on my bicycle. There wasn't much going on, many of the bar patrons were dispersed, and things were generally pacific. As I rolled past a BMW stopped along one of the side streets, I noticed it had a license plate expired the previous month.
What the hell, it's good for an activity stat, I thought, as I pulled over to the side of the road a little ahead of them. Once they passed me again, I double-checked to make sure I had read the tag correctly, popped into the roadway behind them, and switched on my strobing blue light. It was a pretty good place for a bike stop: they were a short distance from a stop sign, giving them less room and opportunity to speed up and away from me.
Stopping cars with a bike is a bit tricky, especially given that the SCPD bike rigs do not include a siren. The key is to stay close to them, to give them the opportunity to observe the light signal and figure out what it means. I give people a fair amount of slack on this - I know people aren't expecting to be pulled over by a bike, the strobe itself is pretty small, and I suspect it's easy to miss. I've lost more than one car because they accelerated along a straightaway faster than I could catch up to them, or caught a green light I needed them to miss in order to get closer. Not a big deal, and certainly not necessarily their fault. Generally, I don't even radio in that I'm stopping a car unless I'm fairly certain I've got them.
This particular guy stopped at the stop sign, and I got up right behind him. he flipped on his turn signal, which some people use as a signal that they're pulling over. I felt confident enough to announce it on the radio.
"Bike 13 to Control, traffic stop."
At that moment, he took a right turn onto the cross street and gave the car some gas. I cranked the pedals after him, shifted the gears up and followed. The dispatcher was prompting me to go ahead with the stop details, but I didn't answer, all my energy devoted to catching up. He hit another stop before Artery Street, a major thoroughfare that cuts through downtown. I got up behind him again, and firmly tapped the lid of his trunk with my hand, which is an improvised signal I use to get a distracted violator's attention. At that point, a woman in the back seat started opening the door, then shut it again. Did she see me? She must have. I panted the stop location into the radio, just before the guy made the right turn onto Artery, engine revving as he sped northward. The interior light, which had been on in the car up to that point, snapped out, plunging the inside of the car into darkness.
As I ferociously spun the pedals going after them, I said four words into the radio that I never had until that moment, the four words that cause every half-listening patrol officer to perk up his or her ears, slow their cars to the side of the road, and wait.
"Control, he's not stopping."
This is a phrase fraught with significance in police patrol. It's an early warning, a sign that things are not going as they should, the uneasy calm before the storm of a vehicle pursuit. You don't say it lightly. There comes a point in a stop, bike or cruiser, when you are certain you have done everything reasonable to signal them, and you're still getting no response. You know something's wrong, but you don't know what it is. It got everyone's attention. I heard units chiming in, checking themselves en route, asking clipped questions. "Make and model?" "Direction on Artery?" The dispatcher asked for a plate number, and as he was slowing to make a turn onto a tight one-way street, I caught up enough to yelp it into the mike.
I was on him then. The street he had turned on to is narrow, and choked with parallel parking. He had to slow down to pick his way through, and I took my chance to pull nearby. Control was asking for the plate number again (my transmission had cut out, apparently). I gave it to her, then maneuvered to a position alongside the driver's side, a little back. When all else fails in bike patrol, you knock on the window. I hate doing it, because it puts you in a lousy defensive position, but sometimes there's no other way to get your point across. The way he was driving made him seem not so much like a crazed desperado (or he never would have given me the chance to catch up), but I didn't know what his deal was. Drunk? Stupid? What?
As I came alongside, he pulled to a stop on the right. I braked next to him, put out the location while hopping off the bike, and rapped on the window. He was a 30ish heavyset white male, giving me a look of stupid wonderment. A young blonde woman was in the passenger seat, and another couple was in the back. Adrenalin, sweat, and irritation were coursing through me, and I was not in the best mood, I concede.
"I'm pulling you over!"
"I didn't know," he said shruggingly.
At this, I snatched the handlebar of the bike and lifted the front wheel off the ground, tilting it so the blinking blue light faced the window.
"You see this?" I demanded. "Flashing blue light! It means, 'Stop!'"
"I didn't see it," he replied. I dropped the bike, and mentally ratcheted my pique down a bit. I asked for his license and registration. He gave it to me, and asked what the stop was for.
"Your tag is expired."
"Are you sure?" he said, with an edge of condescending disbelief.
"Yes, I'm sure!"
My backup rolled in at this point (in cars), so I returned to my bike with his info and worked on the ticket. NCIC gave a possible hit on his name, so I had to stop and read the alert to see if it matched up. It didn't (it was for a Hispanic guy about a foot shorter than this guy), though it would have explained some things. Burke showed up, with Hughes, the field training rookie who is riding with him. He grinned that it was a good learning experience, saying that Hughes had asked him earlier if I actually pull people over. Indeed he does, he had told her. At one point, Hughes approached the car, and conversed briefly with one of the occupants.
"They're asking why it's taking so long," she reported. I replied that I was nearly finished, but observed that I was wondering why it had taken so long for them to stop. She did not relay this. Smart rookie, she'll do well in this profession, I think.
I wrote him for the tag and for no proof of insurance. He had an insurance card, but it was expired. He insisted that if I called the insurance company, they would verify him, but I've had mixed results with that sort of thing, especially after business hours. To be honest it's not a big deal - both of these charges are compliance tickets; if he comes to court with proof he's gotten the violations straightened out, the judges always drop the charges. He was already coming to court for the tag, why not make it a twofer? Besides, I was hardly in a mood to do the guy any favors. I gave him his tickets, explained the procedure for them, advised him to stop for flashing blue lights in the future, and sent him off.
I could, I suppose, have charged him with failing to stop (a police bike is an emergency vehicle under the law), but that's a heavy charge I didn't think appropriate to the situation. Even after I had calmed down, he still struck me as an arrogant jerk, and while it's certainly possible he figured he didn't have to stop because he could smoke the bike cop, it's more likely he was just inattentive.
Of course, as it happened he couldn't smoke the bike cop. This time, anyway.
Southern City Bike Patrol:
You Can Run, But You...Well, I Mean, You Have to Run Kinda Fast.
Ofc. Krupke at 3:53 AM
09 August 2007
Tonight I learned the most astonishing thing: apparently, an angry drunk lady in Southern City's bar district pays my salary.
Crazy. I was wondering who'd been doing that.
Ofc. Krupke at 2:27 AM
08 August 2007
My bike patrol partner and I were riding past a takeout place in Southern City's rough East Side, when a man in the shadows behind the building happened to flare up his crack pipe. We grabbed the guy and the guy standing next to him, brought them out to the sidewalk, and handcuffed them.
As we were doing this, a pair of young women walked past. "Wow," I head one of them say to the other. "I guess bike cops really do arrest people." She then added, "I thought they were just getting exercise."
I protested that that was merely a side effect, as I helped ease my cuffed suspect to a sitting position on the curb. They laughed, and continued on.
Ironic thing is, we didn't end up actually arresting the guys. They didn't have any rock on them aside from the chip smoldering in the stem. The guy I had admitted freely that he was a crack user, but didn't even have any paraphernalia on him. I got his information and let him go. As for the smoker, he was a guy we were well familiar with. Every time we ride past as he walks down the sidewalk, he loudly mock-admonishes us "No speeding!" We decided the best course of action was to make him crush the pipe on the ground, and let him go with a reminder that should he hear or know anything about B&Es or robberies in the area, he owes us.
So I guess those girls were right. It is good exercise, though.
Ofc. Krupke at 2:17 AM
02 August 2007
Boredom does strange things to a person. Being stationed in Devil's Island, you live with that every day. I think I saw it with the most clarity about a year or so ago when I found myself chasing deer in the Fortress Pines subdivision, a densely forested gated community within the Devil's Island patrol district.
There's not much going on in Fortress Pines, except construction. The property is a sprawling warren of private, grandiosely-named streets containing large houses hemmed in by tracts of thick, swampy woods. The streets were laid in long before anything was built, so for a long time the subdivision was nothing but wide, smooth asphalt roads winding aimlessly through the woods before circling back in upon themselves. There were landscaped circles around nothing, and cul-de-sacs that had no houses. When I was first transferred to the Island, there were few houses even starting to be built, and virtually none that were inhabited. Midnight shifts had a strange vibe to them.
The deer, however, were always there. They would gather in groups by the roadside treelines, usually at intersections for some reason. They seemed to have little or no fear of Man, or at least not Man in Crown Victoria. What registered on their faces when they snapped their necks up as I rolled past was more a startled expression. They would stare right at me as I passed, but they didn't move.
They reminded me a bit of some of the gaggles of sullen youths who congregated on the corners in the "challenged neighborhoods" back when I worked Downtown North. Their game was to give us hard looks as we passed, and ours was to give them back; I'm surprised more cops don't drive into parked cars while doing this sort of thing. The deer, of course, had a less overtly hostile tone, but the overall sentiment appeared to be the same: "This is OUR ground. What are YOU doing here?"
I began running them off. I would roll up, pull to a stop, then get out of my car and sprint like a madman after them as they spooked and scattered into the woods. I never caught any, which is fortunate. I have no idea what I would have put on the arrest report.
I did this a few times on night shifts, and finally stopped when the cheap clasp at the back of my badge came loose while I was running and my badge almost spun off into the brush. It occurred to me that there was NO way I would be able to explain that loss. It also occurred to me that I was insane.
Which is a long way of saying that I needed a change, so when a nearing-retirement colleague suggested that I should put in for the bike patrol, the idea struck a chord, along with vague memories of defunct television dramas. After a long period, which included three written requests and the sergeant from the bike unit calling me personally and giving what he called the "hard sell", in order to convince me to join a unit I had volunteered for over a month previously, I got it. Off I went to a mountain-bike policing certification course given by the SCU Campus Police. I finished the training successfully, but not before eliciting the following actual comments from the instructor:
"That sounded like a pretty hard hit. Are you sure you're okay?"
"Wow, I've never seen that happen before."
Certification in hand, I was finally transferred from my exile in Devil's Island, and sent to the bike unit attached to the Downtown South precinct. Many adventures await me on those busy streets, along with potholes, obnoxious drunks, and almost limitless potential for grevious personal injury.
Ofc. Krupke at 3:04 AM
30 April 2007
This is how bad the Culture of Weenies has gotten in our society: It's starting to affect the United States Marines. As a former jarhead myself, I can't tell you how much it pains me.
Anyway, yes, the essay was stupid and juvenile (seriously, two P90s? Please.), but the nature of the assignment really invites stupidity. While reading through Lee's rambling, goofy prose, complete with adolescent shots at The Establishment, one can't help but think that had he just waited a couple of years, he might have gotten an NEA grant for it. The real scandal here is how bad this honor student's spelling is.
But the action of the Corps is excessive, in my view. He has no history of behavior or discipline problems, unlike Columbine shooter Eric Harris, who was rejected by the Marine Corps when he tried to join. Every kid who says something stupid isn't Eric fucking Harris. In my NCO days, I dealt with a few young guys in my squad who had real problems. Some of them turned out to be damn fine Marines. Maybe this guy can hack it in the FMF, maybe he can't. This scribbling doesn't tell us, either way.
The best part of the article, though, is this quote:
"You might want to talk to him, talk to his parents, but the criminal justice system seems to be the last thing you'd want.'
That is from the head of the Northwestern University Children and Family Justice Center, Ms. Bernardine Dohrn. Yes, that one.
In other words, we live in a society where a guy who writes one dumb free writing exercise finds himself disqualified from military service, but the former head of a terrorist group that detonated actual bombs in actual buildings gets a cushy academic job and fawning documentaries made about her.
As we used to say in the Marines, a real clusterfuck.
Ofc. Krupke at 7:18 PM
09 April 2007
Early on in the task force, we were puzzling out the best ways to bait the trap, as it were. One of the guys, a senior detective, suggested that we should get ahold of an old worn purse, which might make a tempting target for a thief.
I thought this sounded like a pretty solid idea, and asked an ex-girlfriend if she had one I could borrow for a month, on official police business. I received the following reply via text message:
"Krupke, I worry about you. Try the dollar store. I like all my purses. Sorry."
So I struck out (again). I felt a little better when the married guys on the task force failed in this task as well. A dauntless bunch we are, indeed. Maybe that should have been a sign.
Anyway, in the end it wouldn't have mattered. In the kind of irony you can't make up, one of the guys provided a stack of broken DVD players he had lying around the house. These ended up missing from one of the task force's unmarked fleet vehicles. While it was parked in the fenced lot behind police headquarters.
Again, one knows not whether to laugh or cry.
Ofc. Krupke at 9:16 PM
28 March 2007
Some things I learned during my time on the Task Force, culled from hours spent doing the public safety equivalent of a tree stand:
Ofc. Krupke at 1:59 PM
25 March 2007
Over about the past month, I was pulled from my regular patrol duties and placed into a super-duper secret-squirrel plainclothes surveillance task force. I wasn't exactly dragooned, but it wasn't exactly voluntary either (much of police work is this way): one fine day in February, my unit sergeant called me at home.
"I've put your name in for this task force. Is that gonna cause incredible hardship for you?"
"Ehh, nah, I guess not."
So I sort of volunteered. I admit I was excited to go - it would at least be a change of pace from the dull day-to-day patrol on Devil's Island, a chance to work plainclothes, and a neat thing to put on my law enforcement resume. It was the first actual 9-5 job I have held in years. Granted, it was 9 pm to 5 am, but it's close enough.
For obvious op-sec reasons, I will not go into much detail about what we were doing or how we were doing it. The basic idea was to set up property crime opportunities in a specific patrol area, then lie in wait like crocodiles until someone took the bait, at which time we would jump out and grab them. This idea appealed greatly to me. It would be Catching Someone in the Act, which represents a kind of Holy Grail for the uniformed patrol officer. Cops on TV get to do this all the time, but in my experience it's pretty rare. By the time we get the call, get dispatched, get through traffic, and rush to the scene, the thief is gone, the damage is done, the robber or abusive stalker has vanished into the night, and we are left with nothing but scribbling notes, broadcasting descriptions, and avoiding the slightly accusing stare of the victim. He just left. You just missed him. It's like chasing Bigfoot.
Burke got a good one, back when we worked together. It was a domestic burglary in progress. The guy was battering down the back door of his ex-wife's apartment in the projects. We both raced up there, but Burke was closer. The door finally gave way, and the woman fled into the street, still clutching the cordless phone and screaming to the dispatcher over the open line. Burke rolled up in his car right as the husband laid a crushing closed-fist blow to her head, knocking her to the asphalt. He didn't get a second shot.
It's the kind of thing you want to do as a cop. It removes the penumbra of doubt that hangs over every crime report, the feeling you get that you're not getting the whole story. It's the flying tackle, the Bad Guys foiled, felonius interruptus.
Well, I'll spare you the suspense. We never got anyone to take the bait. We were careful, we changed up our routine, we monitored ourselves pretty carefully, I think. We just seemed to have the misfortune to try this during a sudden lull in the area's crime rate as inexplicable as the spike the previous month that had caused the detail in the first place. We did generate one arrest, indirectly, at least, but more on that story in a later installment.
It was kind of a grind, but I'm still glad I did it. It was indeed a change of pace, and I think I held up under the grind better than a lot of the other guys assigned with me. After all, my time on Devil's Island has left me very hardened to boredom.
Ofc. Krupke at 7:36 PM