Monday, September 14, 2009


Nothing earth shattering or deep to share, but a couple of random things going through my head.

First, having a water heater give up the ghost, and start spraying water downstairs, in the middle of your 3-year olds birthday party upstairs, is pretty much teh suq! Having my parents there to help keep things in order while I madly scrambled to shut off the water, release the pressure and drain the tank, and mop up the small pond in the basement, was a huge help. An even bigger help, while trying to figure out how we were going to pay for a new water heater, and have it installed, was my wife. She dug through some old paperwork, and found where I'd signed a contract with our water company over nine years ago. Said contract adds $2-3 per month to our water bill, but if anything happens to your water heater, they repair or replace it for free. Because it's free, it took two days to get it done, but $1500 and get it in tonight, or day after tomorrow, and we'll do it for free. Which would you pick?

Secondly, chicken thighs. They're fine when they come in a bucket from KFC, not my first choice, but fine nonetheless. We'd picked up a bag of frozen, boneless, skinless chicken thighs, inadvertently, thinking that we were getting the tenderloins which were on sale. Didn't notice the mistake until a week or so later when we went to pull some out of the freezer to cook them. Now, we've used thigh meat in various recipes, especially things like pot pies and stews, and it's always turned out well. However, it turns out, that you can't just cook these things up quickly, like you might a tenderloin, or boneless breast. Every time we've tried to do something quick with them, they've come out greasy and rubbery. If we cook them slow, they good, but quick, not so much. If you know any recipes for thighs, let me know, as I have a bag of them in the freezer.

The little pseudo RPG games you can download as apps for the iPhone are a little bit addicting. It's also kind of fun to screw with the little kiddies every now and then too :)

I've been trying to get my caseload numbers down recently. However, as of today, I have more people on my caseload than I had before I started getting rid of people. It's weird.

Speaking of weird, I recently attended a rather bizarre wedding ceremony. It was a combination of Judaism, Pseudo-Christianity, and alleged Native American traditions. I did learn something though. An open bar at the reception, makes up for a whole lot of uncomfortableness during the ceremony.

Lastly, there's an odd, addictive thrill, to watching people bid against each other, on stuff you're trying to get rid of on eBay. Makes you want to go through things and see what exactly you can live without :)

Hope everyone had a fairly decent Monday. It's beer-thirty here in Carolina.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Speaking of Idiots....

I made an earlier post about an idiot I ran into, so of course, I immediately start running into more. This latest one was not one of mine, or even of our agency. I'd been sent down to the southern part of the state on an extradition, for a young knucklehead who took off running several years back. He got pulled over for a minor traffic infraction, and guess what popped up when they ran the standard NCIC Wants/Warrants on his name? Some people just don't seem to realize that once a warrant is issued for you, and placed onto NCIC, it's there forever, or, at least until you get picked up, and the warrant gets served.

But I digress, the young knucklehead we picked up is not the focus of this particular tale, only a sidebar. When we got back with him, and went to take him in front of the Magistrate to have a bond set, there were several local deputies ahead of us. Seems the boys were out running a prostitution sting, and were keeping the magistrate hopping. The magistrate was busy enough that she was getting paperwork ready on half a dozen at a time, and then having them all approach the bench to have bonds set, going from one to the next in turn. She went through the bonds for our guy, a single charge from a deputy, and several pick-ups from the sting all at once.

The interesting one, was the single charge from a deputy. He'd brought in a rather large fellow, I'd hazard a guess at 6'5"-6'6" and ~280-300 lbs., on a charge a CDV/HAN(Criminal Domestic Violence of a High and Aggravated Nature), for which the Magistrate set a bond of $35,000.00. Now that's a fairly substantial bond amount for your average working joe, married, with kids. You could tell from the way this particular joe was getting red in the face, and screwing his face up, that he took umbrage at having such a bond set for him. Unfortunately for him, the Magistrate noticed it too, and turned to him with a raised eyebrow to ask him if he had any questions, or if there was something he'd like to say.

As an aside, I have seen people who had a high bond set by a magistrate based solely on the charge, get that bond reduced by the magistrate, before it was officially set. They usually do this by speaking politely, and respectfully to the magistrate, though I have seen some do it in tears, about extenuating circumstances. Children that have to be taken care of, a job that must be worked so that the family can be provided for, an elderly parent or grandparent for whom they are the sole caregiver, that sort of thing. Then pointing out that there is just no way they can make that kind of bond, and could the magistrate please reconsider it, so that they may at least have a chance of making bond, and providing for their dependent. I've seen this ploy used half a hundred times or more, and seen it work less than half a dozen times.

Big fella didn't take that path with the evening magistrate though. He blew out a big breath, and started off in a voice that conveyed exactly how stupid he thought it was, and proceeded to tell the magistrate exactly what he thought. He pointed out that when he was booked on this same charge, with the same victim, at about this same time, last year, his bond was about a third of what it currently was. Then he flat out said that he thought it was stupid, that his bond should be so much higher now than it was then. All the while, the deputy who brought him in, is jerking on his elbow, trying to distract him, or at least get him to stop talking, and thereby digging the hole he was standing in any deeper. It did not work.

Nothing stopped the big fella, until the magistrate told him that if he didn't watch it, he was going to find himself in Contempt of Court. This had the opposite effect of what you might think, and instead of subsiding, he got even more animated. At which point the magistrate informed him that he was being disrespectful to the court, and to the other defendants on either side of him, and that if he kept it up, he would find himself jailed for 30 days, and another 30 on top of that if he kept going, and another 30 on top of that. Even this was not enough to dissuade the gentleman in question, who kept right on going. At this point, the magistrate said enough is enough, and informed him that if one more word came out of his mouth, she would find him in Contempt.

The various LEOs in the courtroom at the time all had the same stoneface expression on(funny I don't remember a class on that at the academy), but the eyes gave it away for each of them. Some trying not to laugh, some trying not to shake their head in disbelief, some trying not to hang their head in weariness. Even the other defendants were wincing, and trying to lean away from this guy, so as not to be associated with what was going on. The magistrate had already pulled out the little slip of paper that is the order for confinement for Contempt of Court, and was just waiting for him to lose it again. She didn't have to wait for long.

To be honest, I was inwardly wincing, and didn't keep track of exactly how many Contempt charges he acquired for himself. I think three, but who knows for sure, except him. The thing is, even if he had to wait for a Public Defender, he might have spent at most, 2-3 days in jail before he could get a Hearing for Reduction of Bond, and then gotten out. As it stands now, he's got at least 90 days as a guest of the county, and even then he still has to make the high bond before he can get out.

Here's the tip of the day, if you want to debate a charge, or a bond, or even just a point with an LEO, or a Magistrate, or an honest to goodness Circuit Court Judge, yelling in anger isn't the way to go, because they're not going to respond to your urge for a fight. They're doing a job, and while they have a lot of leeway in how they deal with someone, whether cutting them slack or not, if the person is being a jerk, there's a clearly defined set of rules on how to deal with that, and they don't have to go out of their way at all to follow them. I'm sure this guy is now sitting in a cell, blaming the magistrate who found him in contempt, the deputy who arrested him, and the woman who got him into trouble in the first place, and will never see that each and every step that day was his own to make, and willfully chosen.


Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Idiocy is Staggering...

So, the other day, my partner and I are out in the field going to get some Home Visits in to start off the month. We're going to try and get one in for a fellow agent, who no one has been able to catch at home. He's a bit of a 'special' case, so we definitely need to get an Agent in the house at some point, just to have a look around, and make sure there's nothing illegal going on in the house. We figure that the best time to catch him would be early in the morning, so even though our job is nominally 8-5, we both are in early enough, that we're out the door and on the road at 7 AM.

Fortune is with us, and as we turn on to the destination street, I can see the subject out front at the end of his driveway, squatting down as if he is pulling weeds from around his mailbox. Partner whips it into the driveway, and I hop out and confront the subject. As I mentioned, he's kind of a 'special' case, in more ways than one, so what I'm doing when I confront him, is not putting on the big, bad, cop routine, but addressing him by name, reminding him that he knows me, that I sit next to the young lady who he reports to, etc. Not our normal procedure, but like I said, a 'special' case. Anyway, I start seeing the light of recognition in his eyes, and his posture relaxes, so I move on to the fact that we're out in the field doing Home Visits today, and his agent asked if we would stop in, check on him, and take a look around the place.

He acquiesces, and turns to start walking up his driveway towards the house. Partner gets back in the car, to pull it in a little further, and I turn to follow the subject up the drive, when our first visit of the day, takes a turn down Freak-Out Street. First off, I'm not thinking about any kind of fight or anything. I'm about 6'2"-6'3", and 200+ pounds, wearing a Glock and my Tac vest, which means not only am I armored, but I have batons and sprays and various nasties scattered about my torso. Not concealed, but right out there so everyone can see exactly how things are going to go down if it gets ugly. This particular subject is maybe 5'7, and 100 pounds soaking wet, so I'm not feeling any sort of threat from this guy.

Remember, complacency gets you killed. There are no 'routine' stops.

So this little fella, out of the blue, takes off running. Straight up the driveway towards the house. I'm literally flat-footed for about a second, mouth hanging open, thinking WTH? Then I take off after him. Now I may be getting old and out of shape, but that's mostly an endurance thing, I can still sprint with the best of them. It's just that my sprint has gone down from a couple of hundred yards, to about ten to fifteen yards, twenty, tops, before I remember that I'm not twenty-three anymore. So I take off after this guy, and catch up to him as he's dashing into his house through the entrance in the carport.

I catch the storm door with my left hand, as I place a foot on the step, and realize that the subject has not dashed further into his house, but is in fact standing right there, reaching behind the door for something. Luckily, we train for things like this, whether at the academy, in our yearly re-certifications, or just in-house training, so I can go into automatic pilot mode, instead of crapping myself. Adrenaline flushes through my system like a tidal wave, and I'm suddenly wired tight. The storm door is a faint memory, as my left arm is out in front, palm spread in a 'stop' gesture, I'm ordering him to stop whatever he's doing, and my right hand is in it's favorite place, wrapped around my Glock, and on the draw.

This is where my adrenaline high plays into the subject's favor. Everything is heightened for me right now, and I hear the clink, of glass on glass coming from behind the door. That's when it clicks, that the day before, the agent mentioned to use that this particular subject is , as part of his orders, prohibited from consuming any alcoholic beverages while under supervision, and that if he's been drinking, he'll try to hide the bottles from us. So, instead of continuing with my draw, I instead, stay about halfway out of the holster, step forward, and push the subject back a step. I look behind the door, and what should I see, but a plastic bag, in which are two , 40 oz. malt liquor bottles, empty of course.

This absolute idiot, just about got shot, because he was worried about us seeing his empty beer bottles. By this point, partner is in the house, I'm holstered, and discussing things with the subject, when the after effects of the adrenaline dump hit, and I end up with a small case of the shakes. I wouldn't notice I don't think, but for the fact that I'm trying to write down on the ubiquitous note pad all cops carry, exactly what it is we've found. Number, size, brand, etc., and I notice that my hand is shaking, just enough to be noticeable, which makes me notice the drain I feel in my body, as if I'd just run a marathon or something.

I'm sure the idiot doesn't realize how close things came to being a lot uglier for him that morning. I'm sure the only thing going through his head was the fact that he had to get those beer bottles out of sight. It truly amazes me that people just don't seem to grasp the realities of the situation they find themselves in when they interact with a law enforcement officer. You see it all the time on reality cop shows, people mouthing off or bucking up to a cop, drunk or not, they just don't seem to realize what's really going on. They just don't seem to realize that there are lines that shouldn't be crossed, because once they are, there's often no going back.

Ah well, all's well that ends well, and we've already laughed about it in the office. The rest of the visit was uneventful, as was the rest of the day.

The lesson reinforced here, should be remembered by all, not just law enforcement, because it applies to everyone. You may not go into as many dangerous situations as a beat cop, I know I don't, but doing what I do, I know that I go into a lot more dangerous situations than people realize, just going to the store. Keep it in mind always, complacency will get you killed.

Enjoy the holiday,