Saturday, July 6, 2013
During the tenure of my police career I found myself in the darnedest predicaments. Looking back now I can only shake my head and have a great laugh at myself.
In order to maintain our employment we had to qualify quarterly with our firearms. This included shotguns and all side arms we may carry during our off duty hours. The firing range owned by the City was about 6 miles south of the city limits at that time and it was on the outskirts of our landfill area. So to arrive at the range you had to traverse the landfill and enter a gate to then proceed to a gulley area where the targets and the actually shooting area was located.
Since there was not a female officer on the force when this area was built there were no facilities for me to use the restroom. I was expected to go out into the bushes. Even though we were scheduled as when we had to appear at the range sometimes it would take hours to finish the qualifications. I always tried to be first to get in and get it done BUT it didn't always happen that way. As my luck would have it one particular day I had to go to the bathroom and many of the guys were busy talking about their scores or their weapons so I went in to the bushy wooded area and squatted to relieve myself. I had to use leaves of nearby bushes in place of toilet paper. I did not think twice about it UNTIL later that evening when I discovered large red welts along the inside of my thighs and my pubic area. Oh My Goodness how it itched and was so inflamed that I could not even wear my polyester uniform pants. I had to call my Sergeant and try to explain to him why I was unable to come to work. That was quite an interesting conversation, let me tell you. Before the night was over I ended up going to the Emergency Room and found out that I had used POISON IVY as toilet paper. I was off work for a few days so treatment could be done. Everybody thought it was funny except me! Soon after we installed portable potties.
In this case, training in the field of botany would have been a great salvation to me!
Whenever we were dispatched to residences for calls we were taught to not display personal disgust or angst over the living conditions of the complainants. This was really tough in some cases. One particular call was for a Burglary of a Habitation. Someone had broken in to a house and left some items inside the home that did not belong to the homeowner. So while there I was retrieving some items from under a table and I had to get down on the carpeted floor to reach it.
I spent a great deal of time at this house......dusting for fingerprints and taking photographs.
The house was not the cleanest and my investigation sure didn't help any. The homeowner was happy though that I took the time to gather information. I couldn't tell them that I couldn't find the burglars with the prints I'd lifted unless they had already been arrested at some time and their prints were in the system. Sometimes it didn't pay to be so specific, most people don't understand the process anyway.
While in the residence I began to experience itching. Not just my arms but my legs as well. I couldn't figure out why. I had a partner with me that night and he seemed to be okay. The itching became worse as the shift wore on. By the end of my watch I couldn't wait to get my uniform off. At home I took my clothes off and found them to be completely covered with FLEAS!
The carpet in the home where the burglary had taken place was infested with fleas. I came to discover that the polyester uniform completely absorbed them so they nibbled on me all night long.
The local Emergency Room was getting to know me fairly well and never knew what to expect when I came in. Unfortunately, I was allergic to fleas and I began to have a real bad reaction to the bites. My tongue swelled and so did my fingers and legs. A night in the hospital and lots of medication finally got me back to life size as opposed to the size of a blimp. Another valuable lesson learned.
After about 5 years on patrol by myself the Chief decided that Ft. Hood military police officers would be pairing up with some of us to help develop a rapport with members of the military that we dealt with off post. These guys couldn't enforce the State laws but they could enforce military laws with any member of the Army. So sometimes they came in quite handy. They also could respond as directed by any officer they were riding with. This was also true with any civilians we 'deputized' in an emergency incident. One graveyard shift I worked, I was assigned to the downtown area where all the businesses were located. We didn't have big malls at this time but they were coming. The MP I had with me had been working with me on several ocasions so I knew what to expect from him. We were dispatched to a block of buildings that ran alongside the police department for a report of a burglary in progress. Being that it was downtown we did not use the audible siren or lights and we parked in an alley and exited the car and walked to the backside of the building. We could hear the voices of the burglars as they were attempting to gain entry via a back door. As we approached their location quietly they did not hear us. Other units were responding as well to the front of the building. Once I knew they were on site I yelled real loud, 'POLICE. COME OUT OF THE BUILDING WITH YOUR HANDS UP!' Of course being a female voice they began to laugh out loud as they thought I was alone. They told me to come in and get them. So I walked to the backdoor and knew that I was in an area that echoed any movement loudly and I had a shotgun so I racked a live round in to the chamber. There was no doubt that I was coming and I had a big GUN. As the echo stopped one of the burglars yelled out that he was on his way out the door...please do not shoot! As he stepped out the door he was grabbed by the MP and thrown up against the wall and handcuffed. The suspect was screaming his fool head off. I guess the second guy figured he'd rather give up than get buckshot in his behind and he too shouted he was coming out. The MP had stepped away from the building as he exited and saw his com-padre bleeding and all tied up. He began to cry begging me not to hurt him! He figured I had done this all by myself and I let him think it. He did everything I told him to as a strict troop should do when given orders. All I had to do was handcuff him. They both later told me it was the shotgun that scared them and they decided to give it up. It worked for me! The shotgun became my salvation on more than one incident after that.
All my life I had a fear of heights. So having to get up on rooftops was not a favorite thing to do.
It was however required on numerous business because access to the inside could be gained from various locations on the roof. When alarms sounded on the library the roof was the first place we'd usually check. Climbing up usually wasn't too bad but getting down was always tough for me. I had to look down to get down! One night we were on the top and it was pitch black up there. I had a flashlight but it was small and I couldn't really see where I was going. I was talking to one of the guys on the opposite side of the roof one minute and the next I was falling off the roof. I had simply walked off the roof and fell on the bushes that were along the side of the building. That was one rude awakening!
I really dreaded those calls after that and one time the city fire department felt sorry for my fears and sent a ladder truck to assist me in my descent. There was no salvation from the laughter after those events.