Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Park Place Rangers

I received a notice via my email from the Houston Police Retired Officers Association indicating the Park Place Rangers were having a luncheon for anyone who’d ever worked that sub-station. Apparently a group of old heads get together each month to reminisce and share pictures of their grandkids. I clicked on the link even though I’d only worked Park Place for one month when I was a probationary police officer.

The first thought that came to mind was how grateful I was not to have been fired during that short time I was assigned there. Bear in mind I was a rookie with limited knowledge of police policy; that having been said I think you’d agree with my first impressions. “The story you are about to see is true. The names have been changed to protect the innocent”, isn’t that how the television show Dragnet would begin each episode?

It was my second month wearing a blue uniform; sitting in a patrol car hadn’t become comfortable as yet. (My name’s Friday… My partner and I work evening shift out of Park Place in the City) I was in the passenger seat as we traveled on the 610 Loop when my senior partner reached down and flipped on all the emergency equipment. I thought I’d missed hearing an important call over the radio, not being sure I automatically assumed it was my fault. The police car took an abrupt turn and left the pavement exiting the freeway across the grassy divide and onto the service road at speeds which only an escaped mental patient would attempt, made it to the first intersection where we busted through the red light and pulled into a small restaurant a little further down the road. Another patrol car with its red lights and siren blaring screeched to a halt half a minute later.

I figured a robbery or some other major police issue was in progress; I was wrong. These two particular seasoned veteran officers had a standing bet each evening to see who would arrive at their favorite eating establishment first. Later that evening while comparing notes with another rookie I was told to be cautious when assigned to ride with either of them as they enjoyed “pranking” with rookies; oh, really!

My fellow rookie gave me a heads up; never let either of these two senior officers handle your pistol. It sounded a bit odd; but according to “myth” a senior officer was admiring how nice a rookie’s brand new Smith & Wesson pistol looked and asked if he could have a closer look. The senior officer leaned out the window of the patrol car while driving through an intersection, fired off several shots in the air and handed it back, “Shoots nice too!”

Having driven to the restaurant via the stock car rally with a crazy partner with no regard for the public’s safety, much less Department rules and regulations, I figured if I made it through my month at Park Place without getting fired or worse, I’d consider myself lucky. I had sense enough to keep my mouth shut and pray rather than speak of my experience openly; being a rookie required putting up with local customs, all the same I think I’ll skip the luncheon for “any one who ever worked Park Place”.

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