Tuesday, March 4, 2008
We Did It Wrong!
We did it wrong...
Did It ALL Wrong
(rated E for Everyone!)
In police work there is the right way to do things and then there is the WRONG way. Sometimes you do it the wrong way and live through it thank goodness. And then sometimes.....you don't. I also learned that life is a learning experience never ending. Boy am I glad that you can do something the wrong way and live through it, AND learn from it. As was my case one night while on patrol.
I am amazed at how many people do not know the difference between a burglary and a robbery. Pretty much the easiest way to describe the difference is people are robbed, places are burglarized. So a house or shop is burglarized, but a person is robbed. Of course there are several different situations and it might be called something different in each state but that is a very simplified explanation. Anyway, where I lived there was a University called Phillips University. The campus is very old with the main buildings in about a two block square, then you have the dorms, the athletic buildings, the baseball field, the golf course and apartments that surround the campus. One dorm was very old and dilapidated, not being used at all. And that is where I got a possible burglary in progress call early one evening.
Now remember there is a right way to handle a burglary in progress call and a wrong way. In this situation two cars were dispatched to this building where we met up with the campus security guy. I arrived first and am told that he thinks three teens had entered the building. He had found an opened window that was in the basement. My backup got there and we went to check things out. Sure enough there is a window where entry could have been made. The security guard said he did not know if anyone was in there or not but he was told the kids had been seen going in but not coming out. Now it was not not dark yet which was good since the old building no longer had power running to it. So no lights. Great. The building is about three stories high plus the basement. Lots and lots of places that kids could hide. Did I mention there were LOTS of places these kids could hide? This is an old dorm, so you have bedroom after bedroom and closets and bathrooms and some junk stored in different places. So in other words, it was a mess. Now with a building that big we should have had lots of help. We didn't. Everyone was busy on other calls, this also was back before we had a dog on the department that we could send in!!! Darn it. This means Rick and I were going to have to search it ourselves. Great. Well if I hadn't mentioned it enough already we did it ALL wrong. Ok, first we started searching from the bottom up. That's wrong. You always start at the top and work your way down. Why you ask??? Because what happens when you corner something? It will fight, so you want to leave it (them) an out. That leads to mistake number two. You need someone on the outside waiting for the suspect to flee and capture them. We didn't have anyone there. Well not at first anyways, remember I told you that everyone was busy on other calls? It's not like we have tons of officers anyway. That night we probably only had about five officers, oh maybe six or seven including traffic officers, MAYBE. And that is for 72 square miles. I have now identified two mistakes. Number three will come, trust me. Rick and I got our flashlights and started searching the building. No one in the basement, so let's hit the first floor. We check each room and closet including the bathroom areas etc. Second floor next. Here we go, same song second verse. Check each bedroom, each closet, under the bed if there is a bed in the room, check the bathroom areas, stalls, every nook and cranny. By the time we finish the second floor Ricks flashlight is gone. We have only my flashlight left and it is starting to get fairly dark outside. By this time we are getting really lax...mistake number three. We have our guns holstered, we are talking to each other and just giving it a quick once over. Open the door, shine my light quickly into the room, nope, nothing there, don't hear anything, go to the next room. This is crazy. I am tired of walking up the stairs, checking 200 thousand rooms, I am bored, there is no one here and I know it. Blah, Blah Blah. This is crazy. We are walking down the hall and are getting to the last few rooms and I am ready to go. Honestly so is Rick. I have to go first into each room because I have the only working flashlight. We get to this last door, the door is on the left, I use my left hand and open the door, flashlight in my right hand (mistake number four! Nothing should have been in my gun hand!!!) stepped in to give it a quick glance and then let's get out of here. Rick, and by the way he is a pretty big guy, older (I can say that for he was older than ME!) guy that had previously been on the department and left to work the oil boom, and after it busted he came back to the P.D. to finish out his years for the police retirement. Here is the rough and tough big ole guy behind this little young female and when I walked into the room of this OLD OLD dormitory--- it was occupied. It was occupied by a big huge flock of sleeping pigeons! And when I shinned my flashlight into the room, talking to Rick, I disturbed the whole stinking mess of roosting birds. Well do you know what a flock of pigeons do when they are unexpectedly disturbed!!??? They go NUTS---They take off flying!!!! Everywhere. Some went for the window, some came right for me and some towards the door where there was a bit of hope to escape into the hallway. And what happened next is almost indescribable!
I SCREAMED LIKE A LITTLE GIRL!!! But it is not so much that I screamed as it was WHAT I screamed. You see, as a police officer I did not cuss, and I out of my mouth came the blood curdling scream of SHOOOOOOT!!!!! That is not what you should scream when you are doing a building search for bad guys!!! I screamed shoot I mean SHOOOOOOOT and started running backwards AWAY from the herd of stampeding pigeons!! I am screaming, running backwards and run over poor Rick who does not know what is going on. As I am screaming shoot, he is grabbing for his gun but can't get it because I am running over him. Then he sees the stupid birds and is startled (?) by my reaction. He yells at me, I don't know what he said, I don't remember, it doesn't matter because by this time another unit has arrived and is downstairs waiting for us and watching for escaping bad guys. This guy, Charlie, hears me scream "shoot" and so he doesn't know what is going on. He doesn't hear any gun fire, so he starts trying to reach us by our radios. By this time I am laughing uncontrollably at how stupid I am, trying to get Rick peeled off my back where I nailed him in my reverse gear, he is laughing and we neither can get it together long enough to answer the radio and then we hear the urgency in Charlie's voice. He is worried to death as to what has happened to us. "Signal 11, signal 11", he screams at us on the radio. That's police talk for what's your status, or, are you ok????? Finally we muster up our strong, in control voice, and reply, "we're 10-2" (means we're OK) just a slight mishap. Think about that picture....two officers with not a care in the world, talking, checking out an old dark building, opening door after door then a door to slumbering pigeons, all the while trying to escape due to the fear of being killed by Alfred Hitchcock's " The BIRDS" backing up so quickly that I nearly kill Rick by me running him over, or us both dieing from laughter. There were many mistakes made that night, thank goodness we lived through it. The pigeon's well I don't have a clue, I just got out of there as quickly as I could and went home to empty my shorts!!!????