Category Archives: True Detective Stories

Wyatt Earp: Hero Of The Stupid

Jim Halpert Head Desk

EDITOR’S NOTE: This post is rather lengthy and not very funny. If you don’t want to hear me rant about work, click to a different post, because this one is more therapy than entertainment.

So Wednesday was what the department calls “Power Night.” It’s the one night every two weeks where every officer in the city is scheduled to work, thanks to a hiccup in the schedule. These days are especially welcome during the night shift, when my division gets its collective arse handed to it. On Wednesday, fourteen detectives were slated to work. After training, vacation, and sick requests, only eight of us showed up. Natch, we were extremely busy… with bulls**t jobs.

The “wheel” is the list of detectives assigned, with columns for arrests and investigations. The arrest list goes down, and the invest list goes up, so people aren’t hammered with two jobs at a time. Unless you’re unlucky. Or unless you’re me

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Teh Stoopid; It Burns

Lou The CopSo I’m working the front desk last night, and I get a call from a sergeant in a neighboring district. This sergeant is dumber than the average department supervisor, which means if you harnessed his brain capacity, you could probably toast some bread. Lightly. That theorem was proven yesterday.

Unfortunately, I answered Sergeant Dimwit’s call. He needed help looking up a PARS report in the computer. (A PARS report is an arrest report.) Dimwit gave me the report number and I looked it up. Turns out he was one number off. I gave him the correct number, and he asked me to stay on the line while he pulled up the report.

“I can’t find it,” he said. I replied, “Well, I’m looking at it right here, Sarge.”

So you know, searching for a PARS is so simple, a Democrat could do it.

“Well, I can’t find it. Look, just print it up for me, and I’ll send a police officer to your building, pick it up, and bring it back here.”

Words cannot adequately express how simple it is to search the PARS system. You type in the report number – or a name, if you have it – and it pops up faster than I do after seeing a photo of Christina Hendricks. It is inexplicable to me how a man can pass the sergeant’s test without knowing how to do this. It’s like saying, “I don’t know how to search Google.”

So this galactically stupid man took a police officer off the street, sent him miles away to my building to pick up a copy of a report, and bring it back to him. In effect, Sergeant Jerkass wasted 45 minutes on an task which should have taken two.

By The Time You Read This…

Batman Joker InterrogationI’ll already be bored out of my skull.

Today I’m scheduled for learnin’ at the department’s training bureau. The topic? Interviews and Interrogations. The training is mandatory for every one of the city’s detectives, and it will also be a colossal waste of time – which is also mandatory for departmental training.

Now maybe I’m jumping the gun a bit, since I’m posting this Sunday evening and my training actually began 45 minutes ago. Maybe I am sitting at a table, kicking myself for posting bile so prematurely.

Maybe, but not likely.

You see, the instructors at the training bureau are supervisors; most of whom are career test-takers. They land a cushy Monday through Friday, 8am-4pm gig, study all day, and climb the promotional ladder; all the while keeping the same cushy gig. Most of these supervisors were never detectives, have no idea what we do, and haven’t been on the street in years. They will dryly read the material from their teacher’s editions, and remind us to take notes, because their curriculum will result in better investigations. Seriously, you guys!

Not bloody likely.

In the real world, most of us learn to work good interviews and interrogations by trial and error. Mostly error. Some people are naturally better at it than others. (For the record, I’m an average interviewer at best.) The key is to ask the right questions, gauge the responses, and hope someone makes a mistake. There really are no tricks of the trade, and – most importantly – courses like these never factor in the most important equation: hardcore, lifelong criminals know the drill. They will either refuse to answer questions or immediately ask for a lawyer.

So with all due respect to today’s instructors, I will conduct my interrogations the old fashioned way: by slamming a defendant’s head into the table.

I’m kidding, I’m kidding! The Constitution frowns upon that.

True Detective Stories

Bathroom StallEditor’s Note: The following story is absolutely 100% true, and while I have a photo to prove it, I wanted to protect the offender’s identity.

On Wednesday night, I went into the division’s bathroom to see a man about a horse. As I walked up to the urinal, there was something black hanging on one of the open stall doors. Thinking it was a jacket, I went about my business. While I was tinkling, I heard someone in the stall, so the jacket must have been his.

When I finished, I glanced at the open stall door again. The “jacket” wasn’t a jacket at all…

It was a pair of pants.

The detective apparently went into a stall to “drop some kids off at the pool,” TOOK OFF HIS PANTS, sat down and took care of business. Worse still, he hung the pants on the stall door, and LEFT THE DOOR OPEN!

Natch, I ran onto the squad floor and told everyone I saw to witness this extraordinary event. One of my more daring co-workers confronted the “special” detective in mid-squat, and noticed his pants were off, but his shoes were still on. We’re still trying to find the reasoning behind that.

True Detective Stories

Abe Vigoda In Barney MillerYesterday we handled a robbery where the doers fired at a fellow detective. The detective fired back, hitting two of the toads. One of the toads was driven to a local hospital and was discharged today.

The female officer – a woman who addresses everyone as “Baby,” guarding the toad called the division to let us know the defendant was being discharged. The phone call went thusly:

Me: “Okay, call for a wagon and have him transported to the division.”
Officer: “Excuse me?”

Me: “Have a wagon pick up the prisoner and transport him to the division.”
Officer: “Well, we don’t have no wagon.” (Her actual words.)

Me: “Okay, then call for a two-person car or get a wagon from a neighboring district.”
Officer: “That’s not my job. You guys need to come get him.”

Divisional detectives have no patrol wagons, and shooting suspect should probably be transported in a secured vehicle. Just sayin’…

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True Detective Stories

Alonzo Training DayYesterday I spent more than a few hours in court. Sadly, I was on day shift, so there was no overtime involved. As such, I was in a mood. (Shocking, I know.) So I had no patience for this jerkass, who approached me outside the Subway shop near 10th & Filbert Streets.

Jerkass: “Yo man, you gots to get this for your wife. You gots to!” (Shows me a watch.)
Me: “I do, huh?”

Jerkass: “Yeah, man, it’s a Rolex. Your wife will love this shit.”
Me: “Uh-huh.”

Jerkass: “Yeah, a Rolex. You gots to get it for your wife!”
Me: “Sure, let me get my wallet, it’s in my jacket pocket.”

I turned to the piece of filth, showing him the embroidered detective patch on my work jacket. When his smile quickly faded, I threw out my favorite line from Training Day: “You wannna go to jail or you wanna go home?”

Turns out, he wanted to go home. He chose wisely.

True Detective Stories

Abe Vigoda In Barney MillerIn my line of work, the end of winter is a Catch-22. The good news is that the temperatures are rising. The bad news is that the sun brings the morons out in force. Take this guy, for example. I’ll call him Dave.

Dave came into the division to report someone pulled up his shirt and showed him the gun tucked into his waistband. This occurred during a neighborhood dispute. Natch, gun threats are serious business, so I interviewed Dave right away.

From the start, I was wary of Dave’s tale of woe…

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True Detective Stories

Kangaroo CourtOne of my cases was scheduled for a preliminary hearing today, and much to my chagrin, it was scheduled for my day off. The good news was I would earn four hours overtime just for showing up – a contract perk served as a reminder to ADA’s that police officers have lives outside work. the bad news was I had to wake up at 5:45am – on my day off.

I figured it would be a quick day, since my testimony shouldn’t have been necessary. The responding officer and the crime scene detective’s testimony would be. After clocking in, I approached the ADA, who informed me that complainant was not subpoenaed. Because why would he be; he’s only the victim. Unfortunately, the responding officer was also not subpoenaed, and when I told the ADA his testimony was necessary, she shrugged me off.

So I played the waiting game…

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True Detective Stories

My Cousin Vinny

So, last week I was scheduled to attend a preliminary hearing for one of my court cases. I checked in with the assistant district attorney, who said that while the victim was not subpoenaed (no, I don’t know why, either), the defendant was brought down from the prison, and the case was ready to go. That’s good news because nine times out of ten, our cases are continued for reasons ranging from a missing witness to a rainy day. (Criminals don’t come to court in the rain.)

After two hours, my case is finally called. As I am getting ready, the sheriff tells the judge that the defendant was NOT brought down from the prison. When the judge reminds said sheriff that she just told us he was downstairs, she gives him a shrug. Oh well, I guess I’m going home.

Then it happens.

The ADA approaches me and says, “We’re ready to go.” I started laughing and replied, “Yeah, right.” She was serious. She informed me that we were going to put on the prelim in absentia. Amazingly, the defense attorney agreed to this nonsense. So, we put on a hearing without a victim, and without a defendant.

I stepped to the stand, and expected the usual opening question: “Detective, is there anyone here you recognize from that day?”

“Um yeah, the empty space next to the defense attorney.”

Sadly, that question was never raised, and I gave my testimony. I’m not sure what I said, because I kept repeating, “This is insane” in my head. Inconceivably, the judge decided there was enough to hold the empty space, er, defendant, and the next hearing is scheduled for June.

True Detective Stories

Jim Halpert Head DeskSo, yesterday I spent my tour downtown at MPO training. MPO is annual re-certification training that is mostly classroom instruction and testing.

That’s about as exciting a description I can craft. Truly, it is about as boring as a baseball game being called by Harry Reid.

The day started off swimmingly, as it rained all through rush hour. I-95 is bad enough without FAIL-driving douche canoes keeping my speed below 35mph. You see, our training center – which is separate from the spacious police academy – is a rented office building in Center City. It has a parking lot that holds about 20 cars, plus on-street parking for about 20 more. On normal days, at least 100 cops are stuck in training. As a result, you better be at the building well before 7am – training starts at 8 – or you’ll need a water bottle and a Sherpa to make it to the building.

Unfortunately, the on-street parking backs up to a methadone clinic, so you take your vehicle’s life into your hands if you park there. The plus side is the junkies will offer to “watch your car for you” if you offer them money . . . or Nacho Cheese Doritos…

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