Afternoon Inquisition

AI: Walking the Thin Blue Line

Recently, I was out late and on my way home, grabbed a couple tacos from a local taqueria. As I was leaving, the proprietor said something to me in Spanish.

Now, I speak enough Spanish to get by. I mean, I can order beers and ask where the library is, but in my haste, I wasn’t quite sure what he had said. It was either, “Have a good evening” or “Your turtle has developed a fungus”.

I thought either sentiment was appropriate for the situation and the time of night, so I just let it go.

When I got home, I set the food on the table, flipped on the tube, checked my turtle for fungus, and then taco-ed like a starving man. (By the way, I love using nouns as verbs, as in “taco”. Of course, “Text” is a verb now, as is the venerable “Tea bag”.)

So there I was, face deep in a pile of tacos when all of a sudden I heard a helicopter flying over my house. I sprang up to see what was going on, and in my alarm, I knocked my food on the floor.

Ignoring the scattered grub, I went outside to find a police helicopter circling my neighborhood, shining its light down on the streets and houses. (You know, they have that really bright search light on them. That’s how you know it’s a police helicopter and not just a regular helicopter, or a bird.)

I watched the helicopter circle for a while, until I realized that there was probably a dangerous criminal in the vicinity, and I was standing out in the middle of the street. So I hurried back inside, locked the door, and finished my floor tacos.

Have you ever had a brush with the law? Been arrested? Turned someone in? Gone on a three-state shooting spree?

The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear daily at 3pm ET.

Sam Ogden

Sam Ogden is a writer, beach bum, and songwriter living in Houston, Texas, but he may be found scratching himself at many points across the globe. Follow him on Twitter @SamOgden

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91 Comments

  1. Bad check-been arrested 2x-back when I was 20-about 10 yrs ago. I got arrested because my roommate was driving, and we were going home. He got pulled over, and the officer checked all our ID’s. I told Travis I’m getting arrested. It was november, and cold, and I had a lot of coffee, so when I was outside, in a light wind-breaker-open, I was shivering. The cop asked me if I was on something, and I told him I’m cold. So he told me to zip up my jacket. I told him I didn’t want to make any sudden moves and make them pull their weapon on me. BTW-this came from a time when I didn’t think critically. I wrote checks for a friend that she said she would pay me back for, and the service charge, and never did. Now that I know better, I don’t buy something unless I’ve got the money to do so.

    I’ve got a couple of “assume the worst” stories like that-like when I got pulled over for not speeding, and didn’t get a ticket, but I know you only have so much time to read.

    The short version is, I’m a good little boy, and when I brush with the law, I usually try to be as still as possible, until I’m told otherwise. Don’t piss off the people with the guns.

  2. Back in college my friends and I all carried around boken (Japanese wooden practice swords) for our Aikido classes and because it was fun to fight with them despite the crushed knuckles and bruises. Don’t knock it, we were in our early 20’s and therefore stupid.

    Anyway, one Spring Break night we were bored (having stayed in town) and decided to leave the house at about 3 am to go spar. We all were wearing black trench-coats (this was 20+ years ago, pre Columbine) and we chose a construction site in town for our battles.

    So here we are, basically playing Highlander in the middle of the night and having a grand old nerdy time of it, when about 6 police cars come barreling up, two the wrong way down a one-way street, and the entire police force of our podunk little college town pours out leveling their guns at us.

    Cop: “PUT THE WEAPONS DOWN NOW!”

    Us: “Ummm….”

    Cop: “PUT THE WEAPONS DOWN NOW!” (this is clearly the highlight of this man’s life)

    Us: (putting our sticks down) “These are wooden practice swords, we’re part of the campus Aikido club. We were just having fun.”

    Cop: “WHAT?”

    Us: “Toy swords. Um, could you put the guns down?”

    We could hear things from them like “Aw man!” and other sounds of disappointment as we approached them with our hands up. Eventually it came out that someone had reported some kind of gang war (we don’t have any idea who, since the entire spring break population was us and the cops) and that we had shotguns or something.

    We were not arrested, but we were warned about trespassing.

    The pretty funny outcome was that no matter what we did later, even attacking each other in crowds, or in the middle of the street, whatever, the cops would just slow down look at us and drive on. We even faked brutal beatings and got the same “we see nothing” treatment.

    And that’s only one story.

  3. My most recent brush with the law was a few years ago and voluntary. I called them from the parking lot of the grocery to let them know if someone didn’t come and open the window of the car I was standing over with a cement block and let the poor roasting dog suffocating inside out, I would be doing it myself. I gave them my name, and address and explained that I’d already been inside and them make an announcement, no one had turned up and they should hurry. They did. The dog survived and I didn’t have to pay any damages that time.

  4. The trick is to be long gone when they arrive.

    If you do get caught, they’ll trump up the charges. Get a lawyer, don’t plea bargain. Wait em out, get off with nothing on your record. If you have shit on your record, it’s guilty-until-proven-innocent.

    The officers who follow the protect and serve model are idealists that don’t last long.

    Cynical, yes. But damn practical. You can’t trust someone who thinks they automatically have authority over you..

  5. I’ve had thankfully little experience with the law coming after me. My brother in law, on the other hand, is an agent for the KBI. At family gatherings his bear hugs are legendary. Does this count?

  6. I’ve only had one brush with the law, but it was rather comical.

    I’m a cross country runner, and our summer practices get pretty boring – there are only so many hour long trails to try to run. Eventually, we got bored and started exploring in the woods down an access road. 45 minutes later and covered in brambles, we finally saw an opening… However, past the opening, there were lots of barbed wire fences. We jogged down the road about 200 feet before a truck spotted us, and within seconds we were completely surrounded by 6 police trucks.

    Now, of course, after explaining to them that we were runners (and probably after their seeing that we were all stick figures in just running shorts that could obviously hide nothing), they just escorted us out and dropped us on the main road. But for a minute there, the idea of being “rounded up” by the cops was a tad frightening =P

  7. My uncle is cop… so I have a brush in with the law every time I go to my mother’s house.

    I never had the balls (literally) to do anything illegal as my mother is the fire chief in the uber small town in which I grew up. Having two relatives in the public eye *should* deter a child from being too rambunctious.. my brothers tend to disagree.

    I’d like to keep my record clean… so Sam, if you could not call the cops if you notice me stalking you, that would be great. Thanks.

  8. I got stopped once for wearing all black in a yuppie suburb of Seattle.

    I’m walking down the street, there are other people around, and the cop yells, “Stop, police!”
    I keep walking, I’m not doing anything, so obviously they aren’t talking to me, right?

    The cop runs up and says, “You! Stop!” So I did. He says, “Why didn’t you stop when I yelled at you back there?”
    “Um, I wasn’t doing anything illegal and didn’t have any reason to think you were talking to me.”
    He looked at me for a second, mumbled something about me matching a description and then stomped off.

  9. I’ve had two. My friend worked the night shift at an all night gas station/convenience store in Mason City, Iowa. Sooo not a lot of business late at night. I was hanging out one night, it was like, oh 3AM when some guy came in. I was walking to the bathroom and I checked him out (and his bum) as I walked by. So I knew what he looked like. Turns out he shop lifted several car magazines (seriously? yeah). My friend tried to catch him as he ran to his car (that he’d left running by the door). He ended up getting dragged a bit as he grabbed the car when the guy drove off (pretty dedicated over about five magazines). He called the cops, and they took his statement, and weren’t happy about it ‘cos they really liked my friend. I told ’em I could ID the guy from a mug shot, no problem (he was cute, I’d checked him out. ;) So I went to the station, ID’d him, and typed up the report for the officer because he typed SO SLOWLY. They got the guy and found the magazines in his car.

    Second brush… we were in a play, it was set in the west. Post-opening partying usually was held at an all-night diner, so we showed up there around midnight, most of us still in costume of some sort, and several of the guys still wearing their toy gun holsters. Some cops saw them going in and followed them in. One of them stood near the entrance while the other came in and cautiously said he’d seen someone come in with a gun. The guys who had guns in their holsters tensed up and very carefully said “These are just toy guns, we’re in a play” and held up their hands. The cop in the back had his hand on his gun… it was just… surreal. We’d been going to this diner in costume for years. :)

  10. Hahaha. Oh, we call those “Ghetto Birds” and they fly around quite often where I live (Central Phoenix). I’ve been woken up many times at 3am by bright helicopter lights being flashed into my apartment complex. Yay, urban living.

    And recently, at 11am (broad daylight), a woman was walking down the street that my apartment complex is on, and was pulled into an alley way by a strange man and raped. I was like, “What’s up with this big, huge police bus? Usually it’s just a bunch of cop cars and meth heads, did someone DIE?” When I found out, I was like O_o. He was found moments later, though, and arrested.

    I didn’t have a car until last August and used to walk that street allllll the time. Wee.

    Oh and! I was a detention officer when I was 18 in my home county. I still have the uniform. :D I got to yell at inmates all day. Minimal training, high-security jail. We housed primarily federal inmates, and not many county (the county I’m from has a population of less than 20,000). THAT was interesting!

    But no, I’ve never been arrested or been anywhere close. My little sister has, like a million times. She just served about a month at the same jail I worked at for a warrant she couldn’t pay (at least it’s now taken care of, I guess), and some of the officers working there totally recognized her (everyone knows my family), remembered me, and asked about me. It made me feel loved.

    When I worked at the jail, my little sister’s bf at the time was arrested and had to be put in lock down in a cell by himself ‘cuz he was a narc. That was interesting. Also equally as hilarious was having county inmates that I knew from school or through my sisters.

    I’ve been a witness to a lot of police happenings, and in plenty of cop cars, but unlike my sisters, it’s never been in the *back* of a police car.

    Also, the Superior Court Judge there is my old boss from when I was in high school and worked at the Public Defender’s Office. If I ever were to get arrested in Parker, they’d have to find a new judge.

  11. There are currently 3 cops in my family, an uncle and 2 cousins. So in that sense, yeah brush with the law every family reunion. You would think with all the law enforcement, firefighters, and military in my family everyone would behave but there are a few who constantly get in trouble with the law and are in and out of jail for various reasons.

    Other than that, not really other than calling the cops (repeatedly) about drag racing on my road. There are kids living along here, they shouldn’t be put in danger by a bunch of stupid guys.

  12. Oh and best part was receiving the police reports of my younger sister whenever she got arrested, when I worked at the Public Defender’s Office, especially the one where she got arrested for flashing a cop. She was 15. Hilarious. We had to give her case to another local attorney because of a “conflict of interest” but I did get to see the police reports.

  13. 1) when I was a kid, my next door neighbor’s house was surrounded in the middle of the night by the Secret Service for counterfeiting. Fun.

    2) I walked out of a convenience store with a friend when cops came charging up with BIG GUNS telling us to “put your hands on the car!” Mistaken identity.

    3) Many, many protests over AB101 in CA. Detained about 3 times.

    4) Jailed in Israel for a protest. Was let out with no charges filed.

    5) Pulled over for suspected drunk driving about 10 years ago. I’m sober now and then.

    6) Lived in West Hollywood – home of L.A. County’s crystal meth problem. 2 downstairs neighbors 4 years apart needed to be restrained for psychosis. Cops both times were really kind and very knowledgeable. First ones needed a battering ram. Finally got the 2nd one to open the door when neighbor asked who it was for the 2nd time by saying “Land Shark.”

    There’s probably more but those were definitely my more memorable.

  14. We live in a mid-terraced house. For the Americans in the audience, it is one of the middle units in a 4-unit dwelling. And while this is technically true, we aren’t actually connected on one side, as there is a thru-way between the middle units to access the rear.

    Our neighbours at #16 are a divorcee and her 16-year old son, who moved to the area from nearby Sauchie for “a better life.” There is no soundproofing between 16 and 18 so we have had some minor, unreportable issues with noise. Three “party” style incidents have happened, all dealt with immediately and civilly. We did see a warning flag when, after it happened the second time, the first response to “The music is too loud” was “It’s Saturday night!”, but on the whole everything was very neighbourly. we asked (after incident #3) to be warned if there was to be anything noisy, so we could take steps (spend the night away, sleep in the spare room at the other end of the house, etc. All was tranquil and at peace.

    Friday, my wife got a visit from the teenage son, saying there was to be a party on Saturday, and there would probably be some noise. She thanked him for being courteous, and let me know. We decided this would be an ideal weekend to take a trip to a nearby village, stay at a B&B and take a walk in the countryside. We decided to set it up Saturday morning, leave in the evening, and spend Sunday away. Perfect.

    All day Saturday, we looked for a room. Every single hotel, guest house, and hostel in Eastern and Central Scotland (we checked about 60) was fully booked. Everything. We couldn’t stay with my nearby in-laws because they already had guests. So the spare room it was. Upon reflection, my wife considered this a blessing in disguise because (as we are both of the nosy sort) we could keep an eye on things, lest they get too crazy.

    About 7pm, we were out taking in laundry and playing in the garden when “guests” started arriving. Smoking and drinking ensued, but the swearing drove us inside, as would a hailstorm or flood. We got the Danieling (my son) ready for, and into, bed, and he was asleep by 8:20. In the meantime, the music had started, and the noise was slowly, incrementally, getting louder and more raucous.

    Little did we know.

    We established ourselves in the kitchen, and twitched the curtains, making sure no fence climbing was going to occur. we saw groups heading behind the shed (for what illicit purpose, I dare not think), and more teenage groping than we care to see at our age. One girl, quite obviously stoned out of her mind, tried to climb the back fence into a neighbouring development. It was getting… boisterous. We chatted, confirming our superiority to one another, and prepared to weather the storm.

    Then the hurricane hit.

    As before, the noise kept escalating in volume and intensity, but by about 9:40 it was changing in tone and content as well. Shouting and thumping started entering the chorus, and sounds of fighting began in earnest. Soon, we heard crashing, and people started spilling out into the street. There was crazy drunken laughter, and lots of incoherent shouting. One of the kids jumped our hedge in an effort to cut across into the opposite neighbour’s garden, and my wife cracked. She told me to call the police, and we spent a few minutes finding the number. As she began to dial, the fracas in the street turned into a full-fledged riot.

    For those merely skimming this wordy post (*and who can blame you), allow me to reiterate: There was a riot immediately outside my house.

    If I just caught your attention, you may want to go back and read the preamble.

    There were about 20-25 kids outside, literally rampaging through the street. Throwing glass bottles, throwing bricks, jumping on cars, one was swinging a golf club, screaming like gorillas into the night.

    When my wife got an officer on the other end of the phone, she was quickly told that it was a “code 1” and the re were officers en route (I think she may have actually said “on the way” but in my head it becomes “en route”). Within minutes, we heard sirens. The cavalry was coming.

    You may, at this point, have an idea what happens next. I suspect you are wrong. Now I am no criminal mastermind, but if you hear the sirens, and you are ten feet from a park and subsequently a path through the woods, you might consider running away and trying to lose them. These pint-sized Blofelds thought it a good idea to run back into the house, and lock the door. Perhaps they thought by hollering “olly olly oxen-free” they could prevent getting “tigged.”

    Is was now about 10:10. A police car peeled into the street, skidding to a stop, with 6 of its fellows following close behind. They approached the door, and demanded entry. The kids refused, and began belligerently arguing with the police, though some of them were trying to tell the officers that the back was, in fact, open. Eventually the police battered the glass door and made their way inside.

    For a while there were kids and police milling about outside in small groups, and a van arrived to take some of them away. We, along with the neighbours, watched this eagerly and with great relish.

    It was about this time that the kid’s mother, obviously informed earlier, arrived with friends. She made her way to her house, and was vibrating with rage. Several times the police had to calm her down as her shouting out stripped the sounds of the earlier party and riot by several decibels. her front window and her front door were completely smashed, and I cannot imagine the state of that house inside (we heard one volley of shouting about the toilet being broken).

    By 11PM, all the noise was gone, the kids were gone, and the cops were gone. I tried calling my parents, but they were out, so I had to hold in the gossip. We got to bed at a reasonable hour.

    Next day, there was much chatting over fences, and communal cleaning. By 9am, there was no evidence that anything had happened. And aside from some superficial damage and a lot of broken glass, there was almost no evidence before that. It was, it turns out, the most considerate riot I have ever heard of.

    The son approached us over the fence with a huge cut and welt under his left eye, and asked if we recognised any of the kids. His spin on things is that he and his pals from Sauchie were just having some fun, and a rival gang from Cornton (another nearby not-so-nice area) heard about the gathering, showed up, and started the ruckus by throwing a brick through the front window. I suspect there is about 70% truth to that statement. It is exactly the kind of thing that a group of kids from Cornton would do if they heard a party of Sauchie kids was happening, but I have to wonder a) how they heard in the first place, and b) why they didn’t just lock the doors and call the cops themselves. Call me a suspicious classist bastard, but I can’t yet absolve him from the eventual outcome of the evening. And things were getting way out of hand before any bricks were thrown.

    Now, we are all interested in what will happen. The Mum next door was speculating that she might have to sell because she was having trouble affording the place as it is. Now she has to replace a busted window and a door (the door alone would be about £250-300 which she doesn’t have) and untold damage inside. I am not even convinced she will get any recompense from her insurance. I feel terribly bad for her, but at the same time I have to wonder what she thought would happen with a party of unsupervised 16-year olds in her house. A sewing circle? A Bible reading perhaps? Still, it is mostly pity I have. All blame aside, it is a fairly shitty outcome all around.

    Daniel slept through the whole thing.

  15. This doesn’t really count as a brush with the law, but it does involve a cop and a case of mistaken identity.

    Back in college, on a Friday afternoon, my girlfriend (now my wife) was coming to visit for the weekend and I was out on the Green with a couple friends waiting for her bus to arrive. I was feeling good, on my feet, excited to see her, no doubt making a slight fool of myself.

    At some point, a cop came over and asked my friends whether they knew me, which they confirmed. Apparently, the officer wanted to know whether I was a missing autistic schizophrenic whose description I matched. “No, officer,” my friends said, “he’s just in love.”

  16. @w_nightshade: That’s ok, I’ve got an even longer one coming. I’ve got lots of cop stories.

    My ex-bf from H.S. is a cop, and I see him often. We’ve gotten drunk together many times. I hang out with his wife too. We had a threesome. I’ve had a threesome with a cop! Hilarious.

    When he first became a cop, it was in my home town, and he texted me to tell me that my mom was being sent via helicopter to the hospital here in Phoenix (drug overdose). I called my dad and he was like, “HOW DO YOU KNOW? I’ve not called ONE person!” Yay, small towns.

  17. When I was 21 (I’m 27 now) I lived with my K dealer (I know, I’ve sinced cleaned up my act). One evening, after a bad breakup, I had been drinking heavily and found myself home alone. So, I continued drinking for a bit, and in not much time went through about a quart of vodka and a 3 or 4 beers.

    It was then I remembered I still had a bunch of fireworks left over from canada day weekend.

    The apartment we were living in was a penthouse apartment, it had a huge open deck area outside, and I had used it as a base to launch fireworks many times. So, as usual I set up a table, stick an old potted plant on top to bury the ass end of the firework in and launched a few. Fun! Then I went back inside to get some more, leaving the door open.

    The fireworks I had were “Vulcan Airbombs”, the kind that shoots up in the air and just goes KAPOW.

    The next firework I set up, I didnt do such a good job. The soil in the potted plant had been loosened by all the earlier fireworks, I guess, and after I lit it, this one tipped over, aiming itself directly into our living room.

    I ran for it, and batted it away from the door.

    It went spinning up and over the railing, falling towards a busy intersection.

    On it’s way down, it fired.

    There was a police car waiting at the red light of that intersection.

    The explosion could not have taken place more than 5 feet above the hood.

    I just sat there facepalming myself, completely stunned.

    15 minutes later, my building was surrounded by 6 or more police cars.

    BANG BANG BANG at the door, and about a dozen cops pour in and immediately begin searching every room as I’m drunkenly trying to explain it was an accident.

    They find my roommate’s large dusty mirror, scale and dozens of vials.

    Fuck.

    One cop shoves the vial in my face and says “YOU WANT COCAINE CHARGES TOO, BOY?”

    I stuttered through explaining it wasn’t mine, it was my roommates, and besides it was ketamine, not coke. He shrugged and tossed it off the balcony.

    They searched some more, it became obvious to them it was in fact a mistake, and they left. That was it. No charges, no arrest, just a stern lecture and very nearly wet pants.

    I’m pretty sure I have an Infinite Improbability Drive shoved up my ass, because even typing it out, I have trouble believing it.

  18. We had a couple of those police helicopters circling around over our house one night. Power went out… there were police cars parked in the park behind our house and another helicopter parked on my street.

    I was pretty sure something badass was going on, since this all went down within a few minutes of the power going out.

    Turns out it wasn’t so badasss… 10 drunk kids piled into a 5 seater car, middle of February leaving a party… drunk chick driving spun out, hit a power line pole, a bunch of them were thrown from the car, 5 of them died.

    But… there was a helicopter parked in the middle of my street at 3am… and that was pretty cool.

  19. I’ve also had good experience with cops, I used to organize raves at cherry beach in Toronto and a number of very friendly cops basically ran free security for me when I had a guy threatening to stab me for some reason.

  20. It was hot the summer of 69 and my home boys and I were looking for what ever adventure lurked behind a random selection of neighbors unlocked back doors. Four houses, assorted spare change and pilfered cold soda from a refrigerator, the gang of ten year old boys were apprehended. The officer gave us a scared straight talk and the next day our mothers took us down for a tour of the juvenile detention facility, which was eagerly provided by one of the juvenile court workers. Completely scared the crap out of the four of us and ended our criminal ways.

    @Aaron: Very, very cute!

  21. OMG, there was that one time like 6 years when a desert rave I was at got busted. TONS of cops suddenly SWOOPED in, including helicopters. I was totally fucked up on ecstasy and had to talk to cops, which was nerve-wracking, even for me. Luckily, no one got arrested (that I recall). We found a hotel nearby (thankfully we had a sober friend who could drive) and I proceeded to puke my guts out for 9 hours (ecstasy made me very, very ill, and no, I haven’t touched it since … shudder).

    And I had to call a cop once on an ex-bf who grabbed me by the neck, slammed me against the wall, and threatened to kill me. I was naked. I’m not easily freaked out. I thought he was going to kill me. He didn’t. That was scary. Cops felt bad for me and gave me a ride to Denny’s, because I really needed bacon after that.

    Also I had to call the cops on my little sister once—she stole my checkbook and ID and used it, and I had to call the cops to make a police report or something. That was surreal, and it happened a few months after I had to call the cops on the scary ex that threatened to kill me. Those are the ONLY two times I’ve ever actually had to call the cops.

    (My little sister obviously has issues. She was actually arrested a few times for check fraud- stealing and using my parents’ business checks when she was 15 or 16. My parents called the cops on her a few times growing up because she has a TEMPER FROM HELL (meth is awesome, yes?) and would start breaking shit, which was always odd because our family always new the cops that came to the house…)

    There’s an apartment in my apartment complex that isn’t too far from my apartment that is a police headquarters thing for the neighborhood. I park right in front of them. I’ve flirted with them often. Men in uniform, meow. A few times I was completely stoned, and they had no idea. Lol (My eyes rarely get red/dry.)

    Oh and about 4 years ago, I worked at a uniform shop in Phoenix that sold primarily to police officers, so I saw cops every day (also the occasional fireman, which was always a treat).

    I’ve been around cops a lot. They tend to love me, probably because I’m chatty and comfortable around them, and a white, attractive female who looks and puts off an “innocent” vibe (I’m far from innocent).

    Most cops aren’t bad people. Most start off with high hopes, and high dreams. Then the bad cops (I’ve known PLENTY) pretty much knock those ideas out of their heads. It’s a shame that the horrible cops basically run the show, because I’ve known some lovely police officers.

  22. Twice the police have tried to serve a warrant on someone who doesn’t live at my apartment. I’d get a harsh knock early in the morning and stumble to my door. We would spend some time sorting out that I am the only one that lives in my apartment and have been it’s only resident for more than 3 years. Thank god neither or the warrants were no knock warrants or I could have had my door kicked in.

    Also @w_nightshade Do they actually call it “tigged” across the pond or do your childhood games of chase and catch involve some sort of perversions with Tigger? Cause that would totally be more interesting than American tag.

  23. @faith:

    Finally got the 2nd one to open the door when neighbor asked who it was for the 2nd time by saying “Land Shark.”

    Holy crap that’s hilarious. I can’t say that I would ever not open the door for someone if they resorted to a Land Shark routine.

  24. I was once pulled over for drive a little too fast. I was very polite and told the truth. I was returning from school (40 minute drive) and really had to pee.

    He let me off with a warning.

    Not exciting, but a good lesson. be nice and tell the truth to highway patrol officers.

  25. @ Chelsea – yeah. We hated to laugh because before the meth he was the sweetest guy but there we were on the balcony over his door and the cop was actually doing the SNL routine. We howled.

  26. Got a few speeding tickets and bailed a friend out once, but this is the best story I have.

    I lived in Capitol Hill in DC, and it was near midnight one night when I decided to walk the 5 blocks to the 7-11 to pick up cigarettes. I was about a block away from the store when I heard a crash behind me. About two blocks back, a pickup truck had just slammed into a parked car. Thinking someone was hurt, I start to run toward the crash. The driver then gets out of the truck and starts running in my direction. That’s when I noticed the police helicopter.

    I immediately turned tail and start running down a side street. I ran into a phalanx of police cars at every turn, most of which yelled at me to get out of the area while I meekly held my hands up and said back “I’m trying”. I finally was able to run down a street without any cop cars on it and get out of the area. I took a looooong detour to the 7-11 and back to my house.

    As it turned out, the perp was a teenager who had stolen a car with some of his friends and went joyriding. They crashed that car, and the perp stole yet another car while his friends ran away. A police car caught up with them, at which point the guy started shooting at them (big mistake). After the crash that I saw, he ran into a townhouse owned by elderly couple. The old man bashed him on the head with a frying pan (I shit you not), and the perp ran into the basement. He finally gave himself up after talking to his grandma on the phone.

  27. Again college. One of many parties, much drinking, time to take friends home. Four of us leave – me, Todd, Jim, and Stephie-no-hands (she wore oversized sweaters all the time).

    We decide to drop Stephie-no-hands off at her dorm first, and leave Jim on the steps outside because he is too drunk to navigate the steps inside. Todd and I pour Stephie-no-hands into her roommate’s arms and start our way out.

    Fourth story staircase window view: Jim is sitting on the steps.

    Third story staircase window view: Jim is lying down on the steps, head below his feet, spread eagle.

    Second story staircase window view: Same.

    Ground floor, Open the outside door, see Jim’s feet getting loaded into the back of a Police cruiser.

    We turned around and left from the other side of the building.

    Next morning, the phone rings.

    Jim: “Dude, I’m in the drunk tank. I need $200 bail or they’re going to hold me until 4pm.”

    Me: “See you at 4:30!”

  28. My husband and I once got trapped in a subway turnstile with a bicycle (alcohol was involved). Someone spotted us an called the cops, who came, laughed at us, and left. Eventually Ben climbed out of the turnstile (it was one of those floor-to-ceiling ones with metal bars) and with me pushing and him pulling we got me and the bike through.

    My only other brush with the law was when I was living in a run-down apartment building in a marginal part of town; the cops came in and arrested someone on my floor. The guy didn’t go happily – you could see where he kicked in part of the wall in the stairwell on the way down.

  29. I testified against two police officers who caused a serious accident and lied about it. They had received an officer-needs-assistance call and started driving very fast to answer the call. They didn’t bother to turn on their emergency lights or siren. They shot through a major road intersection with the red light against them, without slowing. Two cars had entered the intersection with a green light, traveling across the path of the high-speed police car. (Right to left from the police car’s perspective.)

    The police finally flicked on the siren a mere instant before the collision – The first and only whoop from the siren occurred just as the police car slammed into the leading car HARD. The nose of police car hit square into the engine compartment of this car, causing it to twist violently, and injuring the driver. If that car had been just three feet farther into the intersection, the collision would have been into the driver’s side door and thus likely fatal. (Collision speed was probably around sixty miles per hour.) The police car was deflected over into the median. (The third car, trailing the one that was hit hard, rear-ended the destroyed car.)

    The two officers claimed that they were running with both emergency lights and siren well before they approached the intersection. They also claimed that they had a green light. Worse, they filed several false charges against the injured driver – Running a red light, failure to yield to an emergency vehicle, etc.

    I watched the whole thing from a perfect vantage point, and a gave a deposition under oath when the victim sued the police. Eventually, the police settled out of court on terms favorable to the victim.

  30. “My hovercraft is full of eels.”

    Kudos to anyone that can identify where that came from… :-D

    OTOH, the worst brush I’ve had with the law has been a couple of traffic tickets. I’m so embarrassed compared to all of you.

  31. I think the closest I’ve ever gotten to a brush with the law was in high school when I was taking a media class and my team and I were driving around at eight PM looking for a place to shoot our music video. Three guys and one girl, three of us wearing all black (two of the guys for their parts, me because that’s how I was in high school), in a car with a video camera and some devil masks. We got pulled over and the cop was clearly trying to think of something he could pin on us, but the driver wasn’t even speeding, so he very reluctantly let us go. I lead a boring life.

  32. I have way, way too many traffic tickets to mention (and am no longer allowed to drive in a handful of states). I’ve had a group of police (and a police dog!) tromp through my house, looking for a fugitive in my area. I’ve been stopped and shaken down (politely – this is Canada, after all) b/c I looked like someone who just moments ago robbed a 7/11. And a cop once surprised my girlfriend and me when we were making out (erm…having sex) in a parking lot, in the back of a car. THAT was all kinds of hilarious.

    There are longer stories, but no time to type them…

  33. Oh shoot!!! I forgot! I was totally searched by the cops in Arizona because they smelled something suspicious… it was a poppyseed bagel. Yep. hahaha… the cop that was doing the searching was VERY serious, but his partner wasn’t as much and allowed my friend and I to ask him ridiculous questions about tasers. Oh, AZ…

  34. I was a correctional officer for two years at a max security prison and a parole officer for nine years here in Texas. I have been bitten, hit, kicked, had urine and blood thrown on me. I have been in a couple of minature riots. I have had hundreds of people arrested. I have searched sex offenders homes at 2:00am, I have performed survellaince and followed people. I have investigated alleged violations of parole, interviewed witnesses, dealt with a serial killer. My testimony has sent a lot of people to prison. I have testified in a murder trial. I have been sued several times. I have been accuesed of crimes but never arrested for anything. (By the by they were false accusations). Uhm, I think that is most of it.

  35. Right after I finished grad school I was completely broke and living in the worst possible part of town. One night I was awoken by my downstairs neighbors screaming and banging against the walls. It sounded like some pretty serious domestic violence, so I called the police. It was like watching an episode of Cops from my upstairs window. Turns out it wasn’t my neighbors, but their teenage son and his girlfriend. Pretty eye opening and really sad. I turned in my move-out notice the next day.

  36. As a teenager I hung out with people who thought the only way to have fun was by being drunk, so I was frequently being sternly lectured by the RCMP. I’m so glad they never actually arrested me or took my name after dumping our booze and pot (or, if Officer Lam, taking it for himself) because my neighbour was the staff sergeant, and I would have never heard the end of it. I lived in fear of the base cops though (the military police) because their beat was just the base and surrounding area, and they were bored, and it made them petty. Once, when I was 15, after sneaking out one night while grounded to go smoke up with some friends on base property (that’s a good idea!), I got ‘pulled over’ walking home. I couldn’t even focus on the guys face, and I’m sure I called him occifer. I told him some laughable story about walking home from babysitting (at 4 am) and that my parents would freak out if I was taken home in a cop car (by freak, I mean kill me by peeling my skin off slowly), so I would walk home, thanks, it’s just that house right around the corner…

    It was actually a 2 or 3 km walk, down a windy road with no streetlights. Fortunately, there were no cars, because I kept blacking out and coming to walking down the middle of the road, staring at the sky. I stopped smoking pot shortly thereafter, because it makes my blood itch.

    When my family lived in New Westminster (BC), we were robbed 4 times in 18 months (hence, move to small island town), and we filed a lot of police reports. They knew it was all the same teenage gang, they just never managed to catch them with our stuff. We had alarms, that gooey plastic on the windows so they can’t be broken…didn’t matter. Once, they stole our car and did donuts on the lawn, and used our house as a party house a la w_nightshade’s neighbours. Our neighbours, however, did not call the cops, because they thought my parents invited them.

    The most exciting incidents filing reports though, was 1) as witness to the drug-deal-gone-bad outside my friend’s condo this November (along with the rest of that whole side of the building) which involved the small-time street dealer crashing into the distributor’s car, holding him up at gunpoint, then stealing the drugs and escaping on a child’s bicycle. I think he’d be lucky if the cops found him first; and 2) when a lady downstairs had an episode (schizophrenic maybe? I don’t know, keeps to herself, has a lovely garden) and woke up the neighbourhood running around the lawn in her nightgown screaming that someone had come in to her apartment and shot her boyfriend in the face. I had missed what the emergency was, I just caught “Oh god, there’s so much blood!” So I ran downstairs in nothing but my robe, because my groggy mind thought “I have first aid!”. When I got downstairs, it dawned on me that her white gown had no blood on it, so perhaps something odd was going on, and ended up peering at her from behind some bushes when I caught the supposed reason for all the blood. So I ran back upstairs, because I didn’t want to get shot, and I figured gunshot-to-face was past my first aid expertise. My husband flipped out on me, understandably, then told me that the woman was going on about thinking the gun was an egg-beater until it was fired. Clearly, a little odd. The whole firefighter/ambulance/cop crew came out and took the woman away for the day, and one of the rescue personnel laughed at her as they loaded her in the car, which is pretty wrong, no matter what actually happened. Someone in our building left her a nice flower basket though; she must have been mortified.

    My first brush with the law, however, was really quite awful, as I had to give a statement to the police as a second-hand witness to a friend’s molestation by the man she babysat for. There were wooden spoons involved, and things I had no words for as a 12-year-old and had to describe. He was really quite ill, and my friend (and another girl I didn’t really know) were really adamant that he wasn’t going to get away with it. He plea bargained, so I never actually had to testify in court.

  37. When I was living in an apartment in Winter Park Florida I noticed someone named “Sarah” that used to live in my apartment was getting a lot of mail. It all seemed very official, so I would carefully mark “not at this address” and put it back out for the mailman. One day at 5am there was a knock at the door. Someone had a badge, so I opened up but had some mace in my bathrobe pocket. this guy was yelling “SARAH SMITH” and I was still kind of asleep and said “no she isn’t HERE”. The guy kept yelling and I finally said “no she doesn’t live HERE”. He then said ” can I come in and confirm that?” and I said “No” (my dad was in law enforcement, rule number one, never say yes). At this point there were 4 people with badges all sure I was this Sarah person and I wasn’t budging. They yelled everything at me I guess they could, including threats about what would happen if I didn’t admit I was Sarah. At this point it was fun, so I didn’t just pull out my drivers license to show them. At last the building manager runs over from her place saying “I told you Sarah moved out 3 months ago!” Off they go and I never did know what Sarah was wanted for.

    I also got to play with the FBI voice and regular lie detectors for a school science project. The top guys walked me through it and yes, it really is all BS and psychology, but not that much science.

  38. 20 years ago, I’m driving cross-country to college. I’d spent the summer touring with the Grateful Dead, and my car is blanketed with every drug-related bumper sticker I could get my hands on.

    At the time, I also seriously looked the part: long hair with sundry wraps and beads, steal-your-face tie-dye, cargo shorts & sandals. I shaved maybe once a week.

    So I get stopped doing 80-something on the I-15, in Utah. By a Buford T. Justice looking guy with the 10 gallon hat, shoulder thingies, respect-mah-ahthoratah mirrored shades… striking. He knows, KNOWS, to his core, that I’ve got a big huge bag of weed, and probably some shrooms, and maybe even a sheet or two. If not in the glove box, then somewhere in the trunk.

    He gets me out of my car, sits me in his cruiser, and asks me if he can search my car. I know now (and even knew then) that I could refuse, but when faced with the situation, it’s really, really, really hard to say “no”. Some intense psychology at work there. Plus, those damn shades! I said “sure”.

    He starts in on the interior, bent over with his fat behind sticking out of the car. Then on to the trunk. Which, since I’m making a cross-country move, is filled to the brim with clothes, CDs & tapes, books, all sorts of crap. And not exactly organized. And he’s looking and looking and looking…

    Meanwhile, I’m feeling pretty self-satisfied, knowing that there’s not an iota of contraband to be found. He finishes his search of 20 or so minutes, clearly, visibly disappointed at his failure to find my stash, writes me a ticket and lets me go. I’m glad he was upset; served him right for stopping me. How do you pull someone over for driving in the 80’s through the empty expanse of Utah??

  39. @Gabrielbrawley: Lots of the same for me and I try not to remember the three years of working in an inpatient psychiatric hospital just after college. The clients making false allegations is never fun. And I’ve always been quite pleased knowing who I’ve helped send to prison.

  40. @sandmanlogan5: “How do you pull someone over for driving in the 80’s through the empty expanse of Utah??”

    If I were King of America you would get a ticket for driving a car anywhere at any speed, of course the cops probably wouldn’t be able to catch you on their bicycles.

  41. We live on a dirt road that isn’t on most maps in an area renowned for dope growing. Ever few years the driveway fills up with sheriff’s cars and National Guard humvees who have gotten lost looking for somebody’s pot garden. Always reminds me of a Keystone Cops episode.

  42. No real brushes here.

    1. My car once blew up. Ok … it caught fire. We got out. We even removed our stuff. THEN it blew up! Anyway, a state trooper stopped for us, was transfering us to the station to be safely picked up by relatives, when suddenly ,and briefly, we found ourselves in a high speed chase. I was in the front seat and was able to glance at the speedometer. Guess what? 110 MPH in crowded highway traffic really IS fast.

    2. The other brush happened to my wife and my unborn child. She was 11 months pregnant ( ok … not quite ) when the front door of our apartment was crashed open by the sheriff department and a herd of policemen/detectives, acting upon a tip that a seller of narcotics was present in the room. We lived on the first floor. He lived on the second.

    Oops.

    The next week they apologized to us profusely. Complete with FLOWERS. Really!

    Shortly thereafter … we moved.

    We took the flowers with us.

    Whereupon they were stolen by a drug dealer ( ok this last sentence is false, but it does give it symmetry ).

  43. I worked at a college computer lab as a student employee. I also carried a gun (A full-sized government 45). A serious violation of school policy but otherwise legal because I had a permit. One day, someone saw it on my hip in the lab, revealed when my shirt rode up as I was bending over a monitor and called the campus police.

    When the arrived to talk to me I showed them my ID and my state issued permit and they were “Well, we don’t even let visiting officers carry their guns on campus. You’ll have to leave it at the station.”

    When I went to the station and talked to the supervisor behind the glass he said, “What did they tell you? We don’t have any place for that here.”

    His suggestion was to get a smaller, better concealable gun.

  44. A second story, fortunately far funnier than the very serious one I posted earlier:

    I live in a nice, quiet apartment complex populated mostly by graduate students, young professionals, and retired people. It’s in nice, quiet neighborhood in a peaceful university town. The police received a report of a possible minor disturbance at the apartment pool. The dispatcher said that possibly… possibly… one person might have a knife – which was untrue.

    The police arrive, and Officer Barney Testosterone bravely charges up to the pool and kicks open the fence gate… yep, kicks open the ALREADY UNLATCHED AND AJAR fence gate. He then assumes the combat-crouch stance pointing his weapon, and shouts “HANDS UP EVERYBODY – THIS AIN’T NO BULLSHIT!!!”

    Shouts that at a pool full of children. So, a bunch of little kids who were happily swimming just moments ago are now all standing in the pool with their little hands all reaching for the sky. And of course having little kids contentedly swimming while their mothers calmly sunbathe nearby is maybe just a tiny little hint that nothing serious is happening at the pool. This totally did not register with the cop as a he charged in.

    One of the kids who witnessed this was the four-year-old grandson of the resident manager. Little kids always copy what they see adults do, right? So, for many days afterwards, every single time this cute li’l tyke entered a room, he would do so by kicking hell out of the door, pointing his finger like a gun, and yelling “THIS AIN’T NO BULLSHIT!!!” at the top of his cute li’l tyke lungs. It took _two friggin’ weeks_ to re-train the child not to do this, because, hey, that’s the way the cool policeman does it, right?

    They filed a complaint with the police department. Not much resulted, except for an article in the local newspaper that was not very flattering to the police.

    – Emory

  45. I was night manager at a hotel in Arcata, Humboldt County, for several years, and you meet interesting people in Arcata at 3AM. I had to call the police to have people removed on several occasions, and some of them were whole stories by themselves. Like the meth addict who locked herself in the bathroom and climbed out the window. The 8 inch wide, 5 foot off the ground, window. And then pitched a fit because her boyfriend wouldn’t let her back in the front door.

    My only real negative encounter was with the border patrol. I was driving to Arizona for my 20th highschool reunion, and there’s a check point just the other side of Yuma. I should mention that I was rather shaggy at the time, was wearing an old t-shirt, and had a Humboldt State sticker on my back window.

    Well, this time through they had a dog at the entrance to the check point, and as I approached he wandered out into the lane, so I stopped. The officer put him up into my open window, and he had a good sniff, and jumped down. The officer then directed me to the follow up inspection point, where they explained to me that they were after smugglers, and if I just handed over my personal stash I could go on my way. When I told them I didn’t have anything, they insisted the dog had hit on the car, which left me rather shocked. He didn’t really seem interested to me. So I gave them permision to search my car. They ran the dog through, then looked in all the nooks and crannies, found nothing, and again gave me the just hand over my personal stash and I could go routine. They finally gave up and sent me on my way.

    One of my co-workers, a former officer himself, told me they’d profiled me. If I actually had something, wouldn’t the dog go straight to it? Yes. Shouldn’t this have been a clue that I didn’t have anything? Yes. But they couldn’t have been that stupid, could they? Yes.

  46. I’ve seen some other long ones so I’ll go ahead and post this.

    I swear every word is true.

    Back in the 80’s I lived with my best friend Fran and his wife in Walnut Creek, California. For those not familiar this inland a bit from San Francisco. Both of us worked graveyard at the Alameda Naval Air Station. We would switch off driving duties for the nights we worked together. Walnut creek is about 30 miles from Alameda and to get there you drive into Oakland on the freeway and then cut across town on city streets to get to Alameda.

    Quite by accident one time, we got off the freeway and almost made it to work without hitting a single red light. So now we had a goal. Get to work without getting stopped at a red light.

    So, one night, it’s Fran’s turn to drive. We’re cruising along in his cherry red Merkur (a ford made in germany if you’re not familiar).

    Now the way it works, is right at the end of the freeway exit is a light. If you make that one on the green your good for the next light, where you make a left, cross over the freeway and then you’ll catch another light green.

    Now’s the hard part. It’s a long stretch till Broadway and you have to time it just right. You can watch the light go thru a full cycle while you’re approaching. And the key is to get there right before it turns red on the next cycle. Then you’re golden all the way into Alameda.

    On this particular night as we head down this long stretch Fran thinks he’s got it. Tonight will be the night he attains our goal!

    What Fran doesn’t know is that a cop has pulled in behind us.

    Then Fran notices that he’s lagging just a bit. He’s not going to catch the light on the yellow, but on the red. So he speeds up a little.

    Later on we figure that at this point the cops behind think we have spotted them and are now trying to get away. The reality is that Fran is only paying attention to the light at Broadway, and I’ve got my seat partially reclined and I’m sitting (lying) there with my eyes closed listening to Santos and Johnny on the stereo.

    And he makes it, we shoot thru Broadway on the yellow. And by shoot, I mean we’re probably about 8 miles over the speed limit here. And it’s a quarter to midnight on a weeknight and nobody is out except us and the cop we haven’t seen behind us yet.

    So we hit the next cross street on the green and we’ve slowed down to the speed limit cause that’s how fast you have to go to make the rest of the lights. And Fran gets ready to make the right onto Webster and he glances into the rear view mirror. And I hear “uh oh”. But we’re at the corner already so he turns on the blinker (no use getting an additional charge), makes the right and pulls over to the curb. No screeching of tires on our car, very fluid movement around the corner and into the curb and we stop like 10 feet from the corner.

    Not so smooth on the cop car though. They make it about half way thru the intersection sideways before their wheels grip and then they notice we are stopped so slam on the breaks. Eeeerrrrrrccccccchhhhhhh.

    So, I’m straightening up my seat, when I hear faintly over the stereo “DON’T MOVE AND PUT YOUR HANDS UP”. I swear that’s what he yelled. So I look over my left shoulder and standing about 5 feet behind and to the left of our car is a cop with his gun pulled and pointed at us.

    So I’m still coming to full wakefulness and pondering what the cop has said. I figure I will disregard the DON’T MOVE part for just my hands and get them into his range of sight. But I also look forward. And in front of us still a block or so away are 3 cop cars abreast coming at us. Webster is a one way street.

    Fran knows that the cops have made a mistake. So he figures he will just exit the vehicle and explain the situation in a rational manner.

    A side note to all readers. When cops point guns at you, they really really want you to follow all of their directions to the letter. No more, no less. It’s kinda like bootcamp, don’t think for yourself, just do exactly what they say in the order they say it.

    At this point the two cops from the car behind us split up. One becomes Fran’s cop and the other becomes Jim’s cop.

    Fran’s cop doesn’t like the fact that Fran is exiting the vehicle without being told to do that. Fran’s only about half out when his cop runs up, grabs his arm, jerks him the rest of the way out of the car, quickly maneuvers him around the door, spins him around, bends him at the waist over the hood, pulls both hands up behind him, cuffs him, grabs him again and puts him face down in the street reaches back and pulls his shoes off.

    I’m still sitting in the car. That previous paragraph took about 2 seconds in real time. It’s even more impressive when you see that Fran is like 5’ 10” and 300 lbs. I was actually fairly impressed. A week later you could still see the outline of the cuffs on Fran’s wrists. They were that tight.

    About now, those three cruisers coming the wrong way up a one way street start to pass us. I guess our cops had put out an APB on us. So they’ve got their windows down and their yelling (mostly at fran’s cop) on what a big bust this is and if need be they can still call in SWAT. Fran’s cop does not take all of this good natured ribbing very well.

    My cop. He comes up to my side of the car. Makes that little circular gesture with his finger letting me know to roll down the window. I do. He says “Get out of the car please”. My cop was really polite. I also think he was a lot older and more experienced. He figured out pretty quick that we had in fact NOT just robbed a 7/11 and were now trying to get away from the police.

    So I get out. He tells me to turn around and puts some cuffs on me real loose. I don’t think the cuffs were ever in danger of actually falling off, but they were that loose. Then he goes thru my pockets. Takes my wallet. Takes the joint from my shirt pocket. damn! Tells me to go stand on the sidewalk.

    I must digress. Fran and I are both smokers. The difference is that Fran smokes every bit of tobacco he buys. And then some. By this I mean that he would take both of our butts from the ashtray, whip out a zig-zag and roll all that left over tobacco up and smoke it.

    So Fran is lying in the street, and Fran’s cop gets in the driver’s seat of the Merkur and starts looking around. When he opens the ashtray I can see his eyes light up at the sight of all those “roaches”. Takes the whole ashtray out and starts walking to his cruiser. On the way I guess he realized it didn’t smell right so he splits a couple open and puts them to his nose. He kinda grumbles a fuck or two and then dumps the whole thing in the street and walks back and throws the ashtray in the car. Then he reaches down and pulls Fran to his feet and starts going thru his pockets. Fran’s got a coat on and he reaches in the coat pocket on one side and starts pulling out a plastic bag, it’s about half out when he goes “ewww” and just drops it back in. It’s a block of cheese. The good stuff too. And if had stuck his hand in Fran’s other pocket he would have found a bag of crackers. Hey ya gotta snack when you work graveyard.

    While the above is happening my cop has walked back to the cruiser and is typing stuff in from my driver’s license (or he was on the radio, I don’t remember if cop cars had computers back in the 80’s). Eventually he waves me over and in this accusing tone asks “Haven’t you ever been arrested”? “Umm, no. Sorry”. So he tells me to go wait on the sidewalk again. I ask to have my hands cuffed in front so I can smoke. He just gives me a funny look and tells me to go stand on the sidewalk.

    Then they have their powwow.

    Then Fran’s cop goes over to Fran, takes the cuffs off and starts writing a ticket.

    My cop calls me over again. Takes my cuffs off. Hands me the joint (whoa, this can’t be happening) and says “What’s this”? Wow. Is this a trick question? How do I answer this? Then he says “Maybe it’s just oregano”. Sure. Ok. “Yea, it’s just oregano”. “Then you won’t mind crumbling it up and throwing it away”. Fuck! So I crumble and watch it blow away.

    The cops go back to their car and start doing cop stuff on the radio and writing stuff down.

    Fran puts on his shoes and we both get in and head on in to work.

    After a block or two, Fran casually says “You know I got like half a bag under that cheese”. We both laugh.

    The citation was for “Reckless Driving”. He’s got a court date in a month or two. He talks to a lawyer. The lawyer wants to know what else besides reckless driving. Nothing, that’s it. Just reckless driving. The lawyer says cops don’t write people up for just reckless driving. They add that on the other stuff they cite you for. To make it seem worse than it actually was. Reckless driving is just too subjective.

    Who knew.

    Fran shows up for his court date. The clerk says go home, we’ll let you know when to come in. Haven’t called in over 20 years now.

  47. Many years ago one of my friends witnessed a public display of nudity. I don’t remember the exact situation: masturbating or something like that. So she called the police, and they picked the guy up. She didn’t really want to get involved, but they presured her to make a statement since she was the only witness. So while she’s filing out a report, the officer calls in her drivers license number. The dispatcher then responded with her name and address, while the perp was sitting in the back of the car. My friend is now really pissed. I should mention that she’s really petite, 5′ and less than 100 pounds.

    Within a very short period of time, she sees the guy driving past her house. She tells her boyfriend, who’s not quite a Hell’s Angel, but he doesn’t believe her. Police aren’t much help, either. Meantime the guy’s still making infrequent drivebys.

    When her boyfriend was leaving town for several days she was really scared. He still didn’t believe her, but asked a friend, another biker, to stay over. The day after he left, she pulled into her driveway, and the perp pulled in right behind her. She leaned on the horn, the houseguest ran out, and the perp took off. Houseguest hopped on his Harley, chased the perp down, yanked him out of the car, and kicked the sh** out of him.

    He never came back.

  48. Hi, I worked security for a gothic nite-club years ago and one night the head bouncer was ambushed outside the club by a drug dealer he had evicted. Long story short six of us chased him further into the city and I found myself explaining myself to a cop while the dealer was being shoved into the police car (shouting death threats the whole time). I stood there in full gothic make-up really hoping that if I was arrested or taken home that the first thing they would let me do is wipe the make-up off. As three of us had security licences and the dealer was screaming death threats the entire time the police let us go…we never had to follow up or anything.

  49. OK Sam, maybe I should tell this story cos it is a little bit different.

    About 20 years ago I used to ride my bike up the road by the local creek for exercise and because it was a beautiful ride on a Sunday morning. The place is a picnic ground, there is a caravan park, further up there a lots of quaint old farms and you can sometimes see unusual animals. Once I came across an echidna by the side of the road, a remarkable animal, a monotreme (mammal that lays eggs). Awesome!

    This one Sunday, I became aware of a car behind me. Pushy bastard, I thought. To my surprise, it was a police car. A few seconds further, over a rise, there was a spot where the police car had pulled over and the cop was opening his door. Right there, 10 meters away, was the body of a man in dark pants and jacket with a huge bloodstain all over his front.

    The hair stood up on my neck and I pulled to a stop, and said to the cop, “OMG, what is going on here?”
    (Thinking “Was this murder recent, is there a gunman on the loose, maybe close by?”)

    I should say here that South Australian police are pretty decent as a rule, a bit like your English Bobbies, unlike the trigger happy morons over the border in the next State.

    So the cop says “We really don’t know what’s going on at the moment mate, you’d better get out of here”

    I was already turned around and going as he spoke.

    Turned out this was probably a drug related murder and the body had been dumped the night before. I don’t even know if the case has been solved even now.

    But above all, I count myself SO VERY, VERY LUCKY not to have been on the scene even a few seconds earlier.

    Fortunate I am to have just missed the major wars of the 20th Century -there are some things I never want to see close up!

  50. Oh that’s easy. I was the Triage Receptionist at a Level I trauma center for a year in my 20’s. (You know – the woman behind the desk in the ER that says “Hi! I know you’re bleeding out the eyes, but we have an 8 hour wait this evening, so how can I help you?”)

    We had our own police officer – the county we were located in offered the evening shift in the ER as an overtime option because either a) bad shit walked through the door or b) when other cops brought bad shit through the door from other counties, there was a liaison on site. I had to sit with tons of people who were arrested and injured. Nothing like having a guy on PCP with two cops flanking him sitting 10 feet away from you to liven up your workday.

    I watched my cop – a guy with a bantam personality – take down huge guys who made lots of not so idle threats. Including threatening to shoot the nice Triage receptionist. First time it happened – I had been in the job only a few weeks I freaked out (to the general amusement of the seasoned staff). The second time it happened, I midly freaked – not so much as a normal person would notice, but I took some light ribbing from my colleagues because I “should have been used to assholes with guns by [then]”

    The third time it happened, I told the monster to sit down and shut up because I was busy, I didn’t have time for his bullshit, and my cop (who hadn’t arrived for his shift yet) didn’t appreciate guys making threats to the ER staff. (Which worked like a charm – he stopped me later in the lobby to tell me I didn’t have to be mean to him and have our cop talk to him. So I told him to sit down and shut up again or I would get him arrested for harassing me.) The staff bemoaned it was too bad I had just given in my notice because I was now perfect for the front desk ;)

  51. The worst encounter with the law I ever had was when I was 16. My best friend, who was gay, committed suicide. We lived on a military base and his father was the head of the base’s criminal investigations division. When going through George’s things, some letters were discovered to and from the man he had been dating: a soldier. This was before don’t ask, don’t tell… it was just “don’t be,” so an investigation was launched into who this soldier might be.

    I was dragged into the MP station, along with several other grieving 16 year olds, and interrogated. That’s not just hyperbole. I was asked nicely, prodded, threatened, and when none of that worked, he went with, “wow, you say you were friends, but if he wouldn’t even tell you who he was dating, I guess you two really weren’t that close…” But there was no way I was giving up our friend’s identity. I had just lost my friend to suicide, was already feeling like I hadn’t done enough to make him want to live, and now I was expected to betray him? After several hours the cop gave up. Things went pretty much the same way for my other friends. Much to all of our satisfaction, the soldier was never caught.

    So let’s look at this rationally: were these guys investigation a murder? A rape? A terrorist conspiracy? No, just a loving, private, consensual relationship that harmed no one (George was severely clinically depressed and had just had his medication switched, with devastating fallout. Plus, it was his fourth attempt. His relationship played no part in what happened to him). This man was a threat to no one, and certainly not to the US Army. And who was he interrogating? A hardened criminal? No, just a young girl who had just lost someone very close to her at a very delicate age, and was on an emotional roller-coaster. And the outcome of all of that? Only this:

    I am still extremely mistrustful of authority, ESPECIALLY if there’s a uniform involved. Maybe that’s actually a good thing, but somehow I don’t think it’s what he was going for.

  52. @QuestionAuthority:

    Hahahahaha! Kristin beat me to it. :)

    I’ve had to call the police twice in my life. The first time was when my apartment was burgled. Nothing of value was stolen, but the burglar ate my sharp white cheddar cheese from the fridge and scared my cat.

    The second time was when my truck was broken into one night on campus. The police officer was very nice, even when I got near-hysterical over my stolen fieldnotes (I was in the midst of my dissertation research). I had had my overnight bag in the truck, with my camera, and all that was stolen. Most of my stuff was recovered (including my fieldnotes–yay!) from underneath some bushes by the nearby railroad tracks. I had to collect my underwear which had tastefully festooned the shrubbery. My camera was never recovered. The worst part was losing the film that was in the camera–I had photos of a friend’s graduation party and photos from my fieldwork. *sigh*

    I’ve taught college courses in various prisons in the region–two men’s prisons and one women’s. That’s been quite a learning experience. Inmates make fantastic students. They’re much more motivated than the average on campus student. *insert joke about captive audience here*

  53. I was the police. I spent 22 years on the Phoenix Police Department.

    When I was a teen, I worked in retail where the customer was always right. Then in my early 20’s I joined the police, and _I_ was always right. It was a much better deal for me.

    Police work is fun mostly. Sometimes terrifying, but mostly fun. The people who do the job are just normal people. There are some survivals nuts and some that take them selves too seriously. But mostly just normal people doing their job. I worked with a guy who really wanted to be a rock star and spent his evenings in his home studio recording songs. Another guy used to be a graphic artist. One had worked in a traveling evangelical ministry as a singer. Another used to be a professional Elvis impersonator (later shot and killed in the line of duty).

    I was a comic book and gaming geek who tried out for the job because I thought it would be cool to do different stuff all the time and sometimes really make a difference. One year a bunch of guys and gals I worked with rented a cabin in the woods for a long weekend and we all hung out together. One evening, I taught a bunch of them how to play D&D and ran them through a dungeon. It was a very different experience. The players were used to working with each other under stress and always thought tactically. They tore my dungeon apart.

    At different times I was shot, stabbed, held down while someone tried to pry my eyes out with his fingers (failed), held someone’s hand while she died, pried a guys head out of a wheel well in a bad accident, recovered a family’s stolen Christmas gifts, arrested a husband who stabbed is wife 22 times (tried to tell me she fell on the knife), and sat while a grieving mother showed me photos of her dead daughter. Something different all the time.

    It was fun job. I would do it again. But the thing is, all departments are different. Departments have different training and different cultures inside the organization. So departments across the country are really a mixed bag.

  54. My closest brush with law enforcement death was over 20 years ago. I lived in an apartment complex a few doors away from someone who was a cop. Our apartment numbers were different by one digit, and one time some of his mail was inadvertently put into my mailbox. I thought I would drop it off to him, so as I passed his door I tried to open the storm door to put it between the two doors. It was a flimsy storm door, but it wouldn’t open so I was jiggling it, when all of a sudden the inner door opens, there he is with a gigantic gun pointed at my head shouting FREEZE!! which I did. He recognized me as his neighbor and took the gun down. He apologized and offered me a drink to calm down (which I declined). Drinking alcohol with someone who just pointed a gun at my head wasn’t going to make me feel more relaxed.

  55. A number of years ago I happened to have bought a used red convertible SUV. My daily commute took me along a major artery through an upscale Hartford (CT) suburb, where every morning for the first few days I had this car, the local cops would pull me over, talk to me for a moment, then let me go on my way.

    Most of the time they didn’t even ask for my license, just what I was doing, and when I said I was headed to work in downtown Hartford, that satisfied them. It seemed to me they were looking for someone specific, and on seeing me, they knew I wasn’t that person … whoever it was.

    I don’t normally ask cops questions because I know they don’t take well to it. But around the fifth time this happened, I said to the cop, “Look, I just bought this car last week. Is there some troublemaker around here who owns another car just like it?” He smirked and mumbled something I didn’t hear, then told me nothing was wrong and that no one should bother me again.

    And he was right. I was never stopped again in that car. Although one time, maybe a week after that, one cop followed me all the way through town and turned off near the town line. I guess he was verifying that I was commuting in and out of Hartford.

  56. Around here (the LBC Let me hear ya say: “Snoop Dog!”) that’s nightly.

    They shut the whole street down at least twice a year. That’s why I keep my dogs inside, I don’t want them shot.

    One time, I walked into my back yard to find a bunch of cops searching for someone. They looked nervous.

    The first one to notice me held up his shot gun and said “Get back inside!”.

    Oddly enough, I said “Sure thing” and did it…

    I kept my dogs with me, and quiet, until they left; just in case nerves got the better of someone.

    rod

  57. Years ago I worked at a department store. An hour or so after helping two young men, the police came to me and asked if I could describe them. I could only adequately describe one. Apparently these two guys were picked up the night before by some old geezer and then stole his credit card. The police caught the guy I saw and a month or so later I went to court to testify. All in all, an interesting and positive experience. Also, fortunately for me, they never caught the guy I couldn’t identify. This was a guy who apparently had a history of robbing stores using dynamite! Would NOT want to get on his bad side.

  58. @James Fox: Still I look back on it now and think I was a damned idiot to ever get in the field and to have stayed in it so long. The pay is terrible, especially in view of the responsibility we are required to carry, the work environment is terrible, the supervision is terrible, and most everyone hates your guts. But damn do you ever get a lot of really good stories to tell.

  59. Jebus, there are a lot of hooligans and ne’er-do-wells on this blog!

    That’s why it feels like home…

    My story starts with my shitty luck with cars. I’m from a large family with not much money, so us kids either bought or inherited our cars from friends and family as we got our licenses. The first car I inherited was from my brother-in-law; was a Chevy Nova with bad mileage and constantly broken turn signals. I received more than a few tickets for a broken tail light, but I always had the situation taken care of by the next day or so. Or, so I thought.

    A few years later, that car finally died and I got another Chevy POS from another family member. This one’s lights worked, but it would die at the drop of a hat.

    One night I went out to the movies with my friends. As usual, we left the theater and decided to go to the diner. Me, my girlfriend at the time, and my friend Dave, got into my car and pulled out of the parking lot and onto the main street. At that point the car decided to die on me. I let it roll it over to the side of the road to get it started again.

    A few seconds later a cop car pulled up behind me. One cop gets out and walks right up to my car.

    “What’s the problem, son? You know you can’t park here.”

    “Sorry officer,” I pleaded, “My car’s just died again and I can’t get it started. I was just going to call my dad to come and tow me away.”

    “Are you sure it won’t work? Try it again,” he said as he looked at the three of us sitting there.

    “Ok, but it won’t -” As I said this, I turned the key and the car came back to life. Damn, now I look like a liar!

    “Now that it’s running, how about you move on?” he sneered. He walked back to his car and waited for me to pull back onto the road.

    I got back on and drove a few blocks with the cops following me all the way. I got to an intersection, put on my right turn signal, and made my turn as textbook perfect as I could.

    That was when I heard the “whoop-whoop!”, and saw the flashing lights behind me.

    I pulled over a quickly as I could without breaking any rule I could think of. I waited with my ID and information in hand as the cop took his time walking up to my window. “License and regisitration please!”

    I handed it to him and he walked back to his car as his partner watched our car from the side walk.

    At this point my friend Dave is joking and telling me, “That’s it! There taking you to jail now!” My girlfriend sat there worrying about me getting another ticket while I mentally went over what I did wrong. (The light worked BTW.)

    A few minutes later he came back and asked me to “Please exit the vehicle.”

    The charge? Driving with a suspended license.

    The funny part? It was a clerical error from the DMV. Seems they didn’t get one of my broken tail light tickets cleared out of the system, and it flagged me.

    To make a long story short (too late), I spent a night in jail, sitting there stewing and trying to figure out the best way to get out of this.

    My father came to the precinct in the morning to pick me up and take me home to a mother who wanted to both hug and strangle me. He called around to get me a good lawyer and found a family friend who was one of the best around. He managed not only to get the charges dropped, but he worked it out so that my record was cleared. (Still have him as my personal lawyer.):)

    The really funny part of all this was the lawyer calling me a week before my trial to ask me for information and give me some good news.

    “I got them to drop the ticket, too!”

    “Ticket?” I asked, “What ticket?”

    “Don’t worry about it. I covered it by pointing out that they never gave you a ticket, and we had witnesses that could attest to that.”

    “Ok, but what was the ticket about?”

    A broken right turn signal.

    Needless to say, for now on, I always replace my lights when they die.

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