Tuesday, April 01, 2008

April Fools Day

I’m not a big fan of pulling pranks on folks; having had a few pulled on me taught me that most times these pranks do nothing to improve relations. There have been a few April Fool’s pranks which have brought a smile and even a laugh. There’s an article on CNN’s website listing the Top 10; maybe they are and maybe they’re not.

When I was working downtown with the Houston Police Department; now this was way back because we had a main radio channel and a back channel only. The official radio channel was used by the dispatcher’s office to assign police calls while the back channel was for officer use only to keep what ever was said from being shared with the news media.

Someone got the great idea of sending a rookie ( wasn’t me, if that’s what you were thinking) on a bogus bomb threat call to evacuate One Shell Plaza, which at the time was one of the tallest buildings in town. This was accomplished by switching his radio to the back channel without his knowledge and other officers playing along; one pretending to be the dispatcher while others volunteered to check by. This all happened just after reporting to shift and the innocent rookie was instructed to start at the top floor and work his way down. I’m not sure how many floors he attempted to evacuate before word got back to him of the prank via the supervisors at Shell. The rest of the co-conspirators, those who had volunteered to help were all waiting at street level when he came down.

I’m aware, first hand, of a prank which used to be pulled on officers recently transferred to a police substation on night shift. I was in the officer’s locker room, quietly sitting on the throne when someone rolled a rather large piece of firework into the stall. There isn’t much you can do given the short fuse other than place the bottom of your shoe against it to deflect the shock. I’m surprised I could hear all the laughter from the other side of the door after it went off.

There was an officer on one of the other shifts who actually thought the city had issued one particular police car to him and to him alone. He would place a large chain around the steering wheel and pad lock it to the brake pedal. I was asked to pick the lock on more than one occasion. I grew tired of the nightly “free locksmith job” and brought a pair of huge bolt cutters to work. I chopped each link of the chain along with the shackle of the pad lock. I then placed the remains in the middle of the front seat. That was fun and he didn’t invest in a second chain or lock after that. While this may not fit the April Fool’s Day criteria, it still makes me smile.

The best practical joke which I witnessed was the time someone slipped an official memo to the sergeant’s clip board to be read at roll call. At the beginning of each shift memo’s from “above” were read aloud to officers beginning their shift, and, since it was official police business or related, these memos had to be initialed by the sergeant reading them as these signed articles became documents of record. Memos had to be read three consecutive days to account for officers who might have been absent during scheduled regular days off.

The memo which started an official investigation appeared to have been issued by our Captain; alleged is the term only used when they pin it on someone after finding that it had not been generated by our Captain, far as I know the case remains open. For three days we were read a memo inviting everyone in our division to the Captain’s house for a bar-b-que, bring your family and plan for a whole day of relaxation. I understand several folks showed up that day only to find the Captain and his wife returning from their vacation and hadn’t been aware of the bar-b-que invitation.

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