Thursday, February 09, 2006

Speaking of pranking…

I was reading in Cerberus (linked via title bar) about how some cops pass the time when they get bored, some of the pranks they pull on each other; in general, things that would not sit well if it were to be filmed and put on the news at 10pm.

One year the city decided to have all the new police units use the same exact key so that if an officer lost his key, locked it up inside the car or any number of reasons; any officer with that same year model car key would operate it. It sounded like a good idea until officers found that it was easier to take the first patrol car they came up on in the police parking lot rather than look for the one they were assigned to in roll call.

Officer _________’s patrol car broke down and rather than bother with going back to the office and checking out another unit, he took the first car he came to. He didn’t notice that the passenger side of the patrol car had new damage as he drove off and headed for his favorite lunch spot downtown. The officer who’d just been involved in a wreck was mildly bewildered when he brought his supervisor down to document the damage; the patrol car was missing. It didn’t take long to figure out what had happened and it was decided that officer ________ was to become the brunt of a very nasty prank.

The shift Lieutenant, his Sergeant and one IAD Sergeant drove to where officer _______ had called out to eat. They were very serious as they asked him why he’d left the scene of a major accident without identifying himself and without making a report or calling a supervisor. They had him walk outside where they showed him the damage; the first time he’d noticed it. The color ran from his cheeks as they grilled him for several minutes, filling in forms and doing a great job of putting his back to the wall. Eventually they explained to him that, “In the future he needed to follow the established policy of checking out a patrol car.”

When I first started with the Department the patrol cars had a piece of spring steel where the door frame and the headliner met. Anytime some officer said something bone headed on the radio his fellow officers would “twang” the piece of spring steel while holding the mike keyed open. That was about the mildest form of pranking.

I may have mentioned this next one before; but it’s worth repeating. Way back when, before we had a gazillion radio channels there were only a North of the Bayou, a South of the Bayou and a “back” channel. The back channel was for officers only, not having a relay through the dispatcher and so it kept the local news media from intercepting casual conversations between officers not intended for anyone else.

Somebody had the idea to prank with a rookie by changing the setting on his radio to the back channel while another officer pretended to be the dispatcher. The rookie was sent to one of the largest office buildings downtown, One Shell Plaza, to evacuate due to a bomb threat. The rookie did his best to alert the folks, starting at the top and working his way down floor by floor; but nobody took him too seriously. My guess is that the same officers who changed the setting to the back channel also let the folks over at One Shell in on the prank.

There used to be a couple of senior officers at one of the police substations on the south east side of the city with a rather strange way of initiating rookie officers. When it was time to go have dinner; at a predetermined time, each would turn on their emergency equipment and race toward the “hole”. It didn’t matter if they were on a freeway; these guys would exit where there wasn’t an exit at top speed, never letting their rookie partner in on the nature of the emergency.

These same two senior officers thought it was fun to ask their rookie officers for a look at their brand new Smith and Wesson police pistols. They would admire the brand new blue finish, then hold it out the window and fire off a few rounds before handing it back to the startled rookie. I had already been on my wild ride my first time to ride with these guys and had heard from a fellow rookie about the pistol prank so I was able to avoid that one. You have to wonder about the maturity level of some folks who wore the badge.

Thanks to Cerberus for reminding me of some of the silly stuff that went on at the PD.

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