Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Jackin’ With Folks - Part 2

The other day I wrote about some of the things that went on in the PD, not too serious and all the same nothing that would make the Chief especially pleased. I related to some friends that I had posted an article about Jackin’ with folks and got to hear an ear full of some of the things that have been done. It got to be a “top this one” kind of exchange and I began to remember some of the other things we used to “hear about”.

In the evenings while working downtown they would put us on special traffic duty around the Music Hall and Coliseum to assist drivers trying to get into the parking areas for events like the circus or whatever. It was a busy area, it also being at the entrance to a major freeway interchange. Drivers would often stop in the middle of the intersection to ask directions to either the freeway or the parking areas and after a few hundred times some officers would become agitated and forget that it was all part of the job.

“Parking is off to the right, bear to the right and follow those cars…”, repeated a few hundred times. “Yes, Sir, the North Freeway; get over in the left lane and you’re on before you know it. Yes, Sir, stay to the left.”

We had one of our fellow officers, a total bad attitude case, who would intentionally give directions that would put these folks onto the freeway when they had specifically asked how to get to the parking lot.

“Parking, just stay to the left and up that ramp…”

He would laugh as they past the point of no return, their car disappearing onto an elevated freeway ramp that would take them miles away in mere moments. I never thought that was such a neat prank to pull on anyone and was glad to find that one of those unhappy drivers took the time to make the long drive back just to thank him personally. I’m sure that the letter of explanation to the Chief, via the chain of command, was inadequate because he did get a few days off without pay.

This was the same jerk off-icer who would sling blobs of molten sulfur off the end of road flares onto passing cars while directing traffic at night. Those flares were standard issue for working nasty wrecks because they were so easy to see, even at a distance. I can’t imagine what kind of great feeling this jerk off-icer got from damaging paint jobs on every car that had to pass his position and most folks probably didn’t notice the damage until later in the week when it came time to wash and polish the family car.

Getting back to some of the more fun things, at least as Jackin’ with the public went, there was a senior partner whose name will remain sealed because I think he may still be wearing the uniform. He was about as lazy as anyone I ever worked with; maybe it was because I was junior partner and so I was the one to do all the reports while he sat back and enjoyed himself. His particular “skill” was getting little old ladies to feed him lunch, cookies and milk, cake, pies or even cook him a special dinner while I was filling in the blanks on a burglary report. He would convince these little old ladies that he used to be that rotten little boy who had run through her flower beds so very long ago, grown up to be a cop and that he was sorry for having added any of those gray hairs to their sweet little heads. The funny thing was it worked so often as to be worthy of note. He would take a bite of chocolate cake and tilt his head to get my attention and then wink, as if to say, “See, I told you I could pull it off”. I don’t suppose it was anything that could get him in trouble, not even today with a zero tolerance for anything not in the book, all the same I’ll leave his name in the shadows.

Once a year we all were required to attend the Police In Service School, mandatory State classes for points, first aid, and other BS classes that would take up a 40 hour block. One year there was a film to enlighten officers on negative public relation aspects created by some officers, things that the public might find offensive that could have been avoided if only we were aware of it. My partner and I had so little seniority that we took notes on some of the things we had not tried yet.

There was a portion of the film dedicated to how the desk officer might improve community relations that had most of us slapping knee. A citizen had gone into the station to report his car stolen and to make a report while the desk officer was on the phone, motioning the citizen to have a seat and to wait until he was through. The citizen, while intent on making his report, honored the request and sat down while the officer’s conversation continued.

“So, Bill, are we gonna’ use your bass boat or mine this week?”, holding his hand up, the index finger pointed skyward to remind the good citizen that it would only be a little longer. “No, I bought the beer last time, remember all that fuss about me having gotten the light beer instead of the stuff you like?”, turning to the citizen, “Be right with you”.

This went on for several minutes and the citizen was wearing thin, looking at his watch and again approaching the desk. “Hey, fella’, I told you to wait over there and that I’d be with you as soon as I finish this call; now, go sit down over there.”

“So, Bill, where was I; this asshole keeps interrupting me. Oh, yea, we can leave around 5:30 and be there before the sun is up.” The citizen has had about all he is going to take and walks over to the desk all full of contained emotional rage.

“Hey, if I have to tell you one more time to go sit in that chair I’ll have your butt arrested and sitting in that cell over there, ya’ hear me?” It might be hard for you to imagine a room full of supposedly mature police officers breaking out into full fledged laughter as the movie played out.

So, that’s what police work is all about, “To Protect and Serve”; any questions?

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