Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Page Twenty Two - Mack the Dog (Copcast #137)

It was late on a Friday night when George and a couple of his colleagues were in the custody office looking pleased with themselves while George’s latest probationer was booking in his prisoner. The man had been seen looking suspicious on a street corner near the centre of town late in the evening, hanging around near a couple of clubs and acting furtively. The two units had approached him from opposite directions thinking he was either looking to follow and rob drunken revellers as they left the clubs or possibly looking to sell drugs to them.

Sure enough, when they turned him over and went through his pockets they found a dozen or so wraps of an off-white powdery crystalline substance that led the officers to believe that the man was in possession of drugs with the intent to supply them – in other words, they’d found themselves a street dealer.

Given the circumstances it didn’t take George long to persuade Inspector Brigstock to authorise a Section 18 PACE search of the prisoner’s home to find further drugs or anything connected to the distribution of drugs. George and the others gathered in the canteen for a few minutes to go over their plan for the search. “I know what’ll be a good idea” said George, “Let’s see if there’s a drugs dog available to give us a hand”.

Now this may seem a little obvious but in reality, finding an available drugs dog is a bit like finding rocking-horse droppings, there aren’t many of them. The dogs also tend to be rather overworked as well which cause problems with their effectiveness, but it was worth a shot anyway.

They were in luck, the Control Room told them they’d managed to get Kilo Nine assigned to them and they would meet them at the address.

George and his colleagues arrived at the address at the same time as Kilo Nine, the dog van. After the introductions had been made and the plan of action gone over a final time, they let themselves into the flat led by the dog handler Doug and his drug search dog, a spaniel called Mack.

Mack was a blur of activity, in and out of cupboards and cubbyholes, poking his snout in almost every nook and cranny imaginable. George turned to Doug and said “That’s one seriously enthusiastic dog you’ve got there, how come we haven’t had you out with us before?” Doug looked a little uncomfortable as he hesitated a moment before replying “Well yes, he is enthusiastic and while he’s concentrating on the job there isn’t a better dog. The trouble is that Mack’s a little easily distracted, if he sees something shiny he’ll be off and you won’t get him back for ages. I reckon we’ve overworked him and he’s probably snorted too many drugs.”

At that moment, as if to prove Doug’s point, Mack accidentally knocked the stereo, switching it on and filling the room a pounding dance track. Mack suddenly stopped and stared at the television standing near the window before throwing himself at it and attempting to perform a sex act on it while howling at the ceiling.

The occupier of the flat was apparently in the middle of redecorating and there were a number of large cans of paint around the room. Mack suddenly began racing around the room in a frenzy, knocking over a couple of the paint cans and spilling their contents on the floor which he immediately started rolling around him, turning his coat a pretty shade of lilac.

Finally he dashed off towards the bathroom and shoved his head down the toilet and began to drink he water noisily from the bowl. Doug was blushing furiously by now, obviously intensely embarrassed by being shown up so badly by his dog and he turned to George as he moved forward to clip Mack’s lead back on his collar, “Do you see what I mean? It’s at times like these that I’m really tempted to just pull that flush on him.”

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Page Twenty One - Sgt Pearson's Last Day (Copcast #136)

Welcome to this special edition of George’s Pocketbook, where our colleagues around the world take time to share their experiences of what being a Law Enforcement Officer means to them, where they work. The incidents portrayed are real but where necessary, names and places have been changed in order to protect the innocent, the not so innocent and the plain stupid.


Michael Pearson is retired living in Utah. He was a Sergeant on the Tacoma School Police force in Washington State and finished off his law enforcement career as a Lieutenant at the Utah State Penitentiary.

A recent story on Copcast about a stolen police car had this old cop reminiscing about the good old days, specifically his last day as an officer for the Tacoma School Police force back in the ‘70s.

Early that morning the radio began with reports of a Escaped Prisoner in Seattle who had managed to scale down from the roof of the King County Jail and find an unattended police cruiser with its engine running in the parking lot below. It later transpired that the Sheriff had left the car there for a moment as he dashed inside to grab his smokes. The suspect jumped into the police cruiser and began what turned into a high-speed pursuit down Interstate 5.

The continuing reports stated the fugitive had passed through the towns of Renton, Midway, Fife, and Lakewood and was nearing Tacoma. All the towns along the way had assisted in the chase. Sergeant Pearson, as he was then, and his partner listened with curiosity to the updates as they exited the Winchell's Donut Shop. To the surprise of the two men, they witnessed the suspect speed down the highway in front of them followed by the amazing sight of what looked like as many as 100 police vehicles in pursuit.

Getting caught up in the excitement of the moment they both jumped into their own Cheyenne pickup to join in on the fun. They managed to work their way through the line of pursuing vehicles although they had a couple of close calls on the way where they were almost sideswiped by other vehicles that were just as eager to be involved.

In the end they were close enough to witness the stolen cruiser finally get contained with a vehicle in front and another behind before being eased off the side of the road against a chain link fence. Unfortunately there was a third vehicle against the driver’s door, which meant there was a slight delay in getting to the occupant. Because there were so many vehicles stopped so close to each other, they all had to be patiently moved back one at a time before they finally managed to get access to the escaped prisoner.

Michael and his partner jumped out of the pickup and ran towards the Suspect and assisted in apprehending and securing, the kicking and screaming man then shoving him into the back of a squad car. It took six officers to finally subdue the escaped prisoner.

Once the Suspect was safely tucked away Michael took a gander at his surroundings. He’ll never forget the scene before him; the impressive display of cooperation between several jurisdictions was quite a sight to behold. There were Cops from different towns all mingling together laughing, shaking hands and patting each other on the back and talking excitedly. It made him proud to be a Police Officer that day.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Page Twenty - The FM Button (Copcast #135)

In the UK, police personal radios have a little orange button. It sits on top far, far away from the working end of the radio, the keypad. The purpose of this button is to get help pronto, on blues and twos from wherever and whomever possible. Hold the button down for a few seconds and everyone in your division is alerted to your peril by a loud intermittent bleeping noise that cuts in over all transmissions.

Everyone can hear you, whether its screams of fear or shouts of ‘Get back!’, normally followed by various expletives. In training you are taught to shout ‘location location location’ but no-one ever does. In essence this is the modern day equivalent of the police whistle and is, fortunately, rarely used. Most of the time they are accidental activations; normally CID officers leaning on it whilst stretching for their coffee cup or over zealous PCSO’s who are following someone ‘of interest’.

The noise from the activation immediately grabs your attention and there is usually a slight pause before the officer calls up to say sorry for leaning on it. George has happily been to precious few real activations, probably only about ten in his entire career, although as you may remember he has had cause to use the little orange button himself.

Not everybody is entirely comfortable with the whole ‘FM’ button thing, recently for example George was in the station half monitoring radio traffic, half trying to complete a court file. He was with his skipper talking about almost anything but work when all of a sudden they heard the words “10-9 officer assistance”. It was spoken fairly quietly, the officer a little out of breath but sounding calm and no orange button activation. The radio traffic fell silent as dozens of police officers listened intently. Was this a joke, had they misheard the transmission? No, ‘10-9’ is what hey used before they had the new radios and you had to literally shout to get assistance and not rely on technology. The caller was a dog unit and he was in trouble.

George and the skipper stared at each other for a micro second then bolted towards the door where they saw a great sight, at least half a dozen response cars with lights activated all scrambling to get out of the rear yard. They jumped in a station van at the rear of the convoy and headed towards the last known location of the dog unit and arrived within a few minutes to find a house completely surrounded by at least twenty police officers. George went to the front of the house for no reason other than that the back garden was full of coppers and he felt like a spare part. He saw a man trying to fight about five officers in the hallway.

He lost and was dragged out, handcuffed and limb strapped. He certainly wasn’t very happy, there was a lot of confusion and an awful lot of blood. George took an arm and helped place the struggling prisoner into his waiting caged van destined for the hospital.

It became clear that the dog handler had stopped this chap following reports of a domestic incident at the address. As the dog handler started to check him out, the suspect made off on foot and the officer gave chase but lost him in some foliage around the corner. The suspect then jumped on the police officer from the foliage and started to pummel him to make good his escape. The dog handler used the only thing he had in his reach to defend himself, his ASP Baton and used the handle of the baton to strike the suspect over the head several times causing a three inch cut on top of his head. Hence all the blood.

The suspect then ran off, that’s when the dog handler called for assistance and the world and his brother turned out for him which must have been very reassuring.

With the suspect safely restrained everyone returned to the police station as the suspect was at hospital getting treatment for the head injury with three of the biggest, meanest officers to guard him.

A while later there was another call for assistance and George drove the van back to the hospital where he found the prisoner had decided he hadn't had enough fighting for one day and started to play up whilst being sutured. He had to be further restrained by the officers at scene during which the head wound was inadvertently reopened. More blood.

Thankfully the dog handler had only received minor injuries, his stab vest taking the brunt of the punches. If he'd deployed his dog things might have been very different but, as so often happens in this job, events happened so quickly he never had a chance to. Afterwards he openly admitted to forgetting his radio even had the orange ‘FM’ button but fortunately he had the presence of mind to say where he was immediately prior to the assault. A valuable lesson learned that day for everybody.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Page Nineteen - Mr Angry and the Kids (Copcast Episode 134)

George has little tolerance for anti social behaviour. There is no doubt in his mind that anti social behaviour stems from poor parenting, a complete lack of respect for anyone and anything, social deprivation, being victims of crime themselves and sheer boredom. This isn't an exhaustive list and he realises he may be stereo-typing your typical bored teenager, or 'chav' as they can be affectionately known.

Last week his perceptions were changed a little, things are not always as they appear and although he prides himself on having an open mind, George isn't afraid to admit when he is caught by surprise.

George was tasked to attend a nuisance youth call where kids were kicking a ball about in an estate car park. Nothing new in this, he's been to this particular housing estate many times in the past and George could imagine the scene, an elderly resident being threatened and abused by a bunch of yobbish louts with no respect for their elders. Upon arrival he saw a bunch of kids, aged between 7 and 11 and one of the younger ones was crying, his left ear looked red and swollen.

George grabbed one of the older lads and asked him what was going on, he told George that an old guy had come out of an address and called them all sorts of names and then when one of the kids told him to go away and leave them alone because the were only playing a bit of football, the old man came out and grabbed the young lad then clipped him around the ear.

A resident who was getting shopping out if his car then came over and confirmed the same story. George established that they were not 'working together' and decided to knock on the door of the old man to get the other side of the tale.

The old lad was about 72, stooped and clearly angry. George asked his name and clarified that this was also the original informant and the reason he had been called there. He barked and swore at George during his attempts to establish what had happened. He then said that if he was 20 years younger he would clip all their ears and kick George's arse too. He told him that he had had enough of the kids screaming and laughing outside his house and that he had also written to the local council on at least 3 occasions to have the swing park moved further away from his address because he couldn't stand the noise. George was a little taken aback at being told the old guy wanted to kick his arse and asked him why he felt so angry toward him but he just told George to eff off.

Mr Angry refused to calm down and continued to throw abuse at George and the kids. The mum of crying boy had now turned up and also wanted Mr Angry's blood while George was still trying to cope with his perceptions being turned upside-down. Here was a yobbish lout of an elderly man showing no tolerance for those younger than him including the police and showering them with abuse. For his own safety as much as anything else, Mr Angry was arrested for disorderly behaviour and on suspicion of assault occassioning actual bodily harm on the minor.

When they arrived at the police station, Mr Angry tried to fight George and two other burly coppers. He lost but not before he was taken down to a cell. A PNC check later revealed that our Mr Angry had served 15 years for armed robbery some years ago and had also been served an ASBO (that's an Anti-Social Behaviour Order) not to enter certain areas where youths congregate (parks etc) as he had been arrested for assault against a minor only a year before.

It turns out that Mr Angry made the 'nuisance youth' call after he had assaulted the lad in an attempt to cover himself. Perhaps leopards never do change their spots even if they aren't immediately obvious and perhaps preconceptions should be treated with caution.