(Posted by Paula)
Michael made fun of me just a bit as I changed clothes TWICE before my "big night." One has to have the appropriate attire to fight crime. He just didn't understand that I couldn't do my duty in something just thrown together. There were standards. The appropriate color and flexibility are important when one is crime fighting.
As part of our leadership class requirements, each member must do a "ride along" with a city or county police officer. I chose the city since I'm new to town and want to know all the places to avoid and all the "bad" people who live in my neighborhood. My mission: ride with Officer Miller from seven until I feel all the bad guys are caught and my duty is done, making the streets safer for other Fayettevillians. I had already warned my class members to be careful on Saturday night...that I would be helping provide protection to the City, and they should be sure to stay out of trouble. I have no mercy on the bad.
At 7:00 p.m. sharp, I arrived at the police station. I climbed into the car, fastened my seat belt (it's The Law, and I wanted to show my police partner how careful I am at obeying laws!), and we were off. In the back of my mind, I heard the theme song from the show "Cops" playing, and I was ready to relieve Fayetteville of some of the Bad Guys. "Watch Out", I thought, "I"m coming for you!"
Our first order of business: cruise through the projects and past two known crack houses. Wow...the people were standing in the streets outside the house. I was ready to go in if the occasion warranted it. But they knew not to mess with us. Their eyes diverted away. There was a new cop in town, baby!
Next, we were called to a domestic abuse situation. But we were able to work things out to where we didn't have to take anyone Down Town. But, we thought as we drove away, we'll be back later...these people are trouble.
While we drove around the problem areas making our presence known, we listened to an actual "chase" on the radio. A drunk driver from Franklin County made the mistake of crossing the line into Lincoln County. Our guys gave him chase for a while, watching him weave and almost crash several times. I kept hearing them talk about how he was going to kill someone if they didn't get him off the road. About that time, we heard him hit a patrol car and keep going. Several expletives in our car and others. They decided they were going to set up a road block. Surely he would stop, my partner said. The next thing we heard was, "The "expletive" hit me...he T-boned me!" More expletives. This was getting serious. As we heard them "talk" about how he was getting closer to Highway 64, my partner said they'd have to take him out before he got to the main highway. No sooner had he said it did we hear another car say he was in a position to "take him out!" I kept hearing this term, and I was a bit confused by it. I ask what it meant. Were they going to shoot him? Could we help!?!?!? Darn. I left my 38-Special at home! But my partner told me that it just meant that they were going to shoot out his tires. Not shoot him. Before the officer could "take him out," however, another patrol car got hit. We heard that, too. More expletives. They went into a field. They drove through the field. More expletives. Static. Expletive. And then we heard a fellow officer come on the radio to say that the suspect had crashed. An ambulance was needed. They said they may need Med Flight. Wow. This was something I normally watched on CNN. I wanted to be where the action was. I was itching to get "into the fight," but my partner said we had to guard our domain...not leave it unmanned. I understood. Besides, the suspect was in custody, and no officers were injured. Three patrol cars, however, were killed in the chase.
We got a call about that time regarding a suspected drunk driver. Oh yeah! We pulled up behind the pickup, lights went on. Would he run? Would we have to chase him? His right blinkie went on, and he pulled over. Darn, there would be no chase...this time. My partner went up, cautiously, to the window, even though he knew the man, as he had pulled him over and arrested him before. A repeat offender. The worst kind. And THIS was a 72 year old repeat offender. Never knew what he would do. He had A LOT of experience being a repeat offender! He could be trouble! I stayed in the car to provide back up from afar, just in case Officer Miller needed it. After a few minutes, the man got out of the vehicle, went around to the back of the truck at my partner's directions, and attempted to follow simple instructions...follow the flashlight using his "eyes only." Apparently, that is something that is difficult to do when one can't stand up straight. Officer Miller held the flashlight in one hand and moved it from side to side. The man weaved forward; he weaved backward; he stuck his hands out to his sides as if he was an airplane or a bird that was attempting to take flight. Once the man felt as though he had steadied himself, he threw his hands down to his sides quickly, threw his head back and chin up, as if he was a soldier being called to attention. Something about that struck me as funny, so I cried tears of laughter in the car where I...ready to spring into action at a moment's notice... kept watch over the situation. Over and over again, he attempted to follow the flashlight with only his eyes. It didn't work. Inevitably, he would turn his entire head as the flashlight went from side to side. "Put the cuffs on him!" I was thinking from my place in the patrol car. "Let's take him to the Big House!" Finally, the man was completely frustrated, so he leaned against the back of the pickup, almost sliding down to sit on the bumper, as he was having more and more trouble standing up. More backup arrived. Suddenly, my partner took out his cuffs and placed them around the man's wrists. "Woooo-H000o!" I thought! "We're actually going Down Town!" I almost forgot and yelled it out loud. They walked towards me, and as the man stumbled up to the patrol car, he reached for the door handle...to MY door! "Whoa, big guy!" I thought, "I don't wanna have to hurt you!" The officer opened the back door, however, and steered him to the backseat, helping him get in so he wouldn't bump his head. How nice of him. I thought they "threw" them into the back seat! No sooner had the man hit the seat than I smelled him. The odor was over powering, and he smelled as if he'd taking a bath in a few hundred bottles of Jack Daniels. I got woozy. My eyes actually watered. I couldn't afford to be weak on my first night. I tried to suck it up. Then, I watched as my partner went to the front of the patrol car, talked with another officer, and the two of them proceeded to search the man's truck. "Wait," I thought! "Don't leave me in here with this smelly man!" I wanted to get out, but about the time I went for the doorhandle, the man spoke. It sounded something like this: "Sheeeeeeaaaaat! Ima not beeeen dreeenkin no wheeesky! Ima don drink-k wheeesky...man cant evnin wok down da streeeeet widout sumbuny sayin' he's weeevin. Ima don weavin. Sheeeeeat! Tell....tellem seach the sewcase if them wannam fine sumthin. Sheeeeaaaaaaat! Im sick-k...man cant-t be sick wiout beeeen haraassssssssssed. Sheeeeaaaaaaaaaaat!" I decided to stay. The suspect might say something that could be used against him in a court of law. It was my duty to listen. Besides, he had no idea that I was in the front seat because he hadn't opened his eyes since they had placed him in the back. He could reveal something incriminating, and if he did, I'D BE THERE. I just needed to hold my nose. I actually thought about pulling my travel bottle of perfume out of my purse and spraying him with it. I'm sure he wouldn't notice.
My partner and the other guy found a bag of pills. Did they searched the "sewcase?" I watched to be sure. Yep. They looked in there. Playboy magazines. It was full of Playboy magazines! I watched as one of the officers took them to his car. Evidence, I guess. After thoroughly searching the truck, they brought to the patrol car the bag of pills, a flask of whisky (my guess was Jack Daniels) and a collection kit to test the man's blood alcohol content...or blood pill content or something. I held these items for my partner since there was no place to put them. He went out to talk to the other officers again. While he was gone, I quietly unscrewed the lid on the flask and took a sniff. My eyes watered again. Holy Cow. I screwed the lid back on as tightly as I could. I didn't want that stuff to make contact with my skin. It might burn it off.
After Officer Miller started the patrol car and headed Down Town, I hoped he would turn on the lights. After all, we had a criminal in our vehicle. To my disappointment, no lights. He told me we were headed to the hospital to take a blood test. It would tell us what Mr. Smelly had taken. "Iant takn NUTin" yelled the man from the backseat. Each time he spoke, I thought I would pass out. Don't breathe too strongly, I thought, or I'll lose my dinner. About that time, he placed his hands on the bars behind my head and pulled himself closer to them...closer to me. "Oh....I diden know there wuz a lady in heeere," he said. "Scuse meee....I diden know yuse up thar." Officer Miller told him he must be worse off than he thought if he didn't know there was a lady in the car, and he hoped he hadn't cursed in front of me. "Nosiiirrrr....I .....I...I diden know....."
After the trip to the hospital where we collected evidence, we drove the man to the jail. The patrol car pulled around to the back of the jail where a heavy door raised, and to my amazement, we drove inside. It felt as if I was entering the Bat Cave. Upon driving through the door, it lowered itself. We were inside. We were inside a fortress. Another officer-looking person came out. He helped my partner get the man out of the backseat. "Want to go in?" my partner asked me. "Are you kidding? Sure I do!" I heard myself say much too enthusiastically. Darn...now he'd know I was an amateur. Act tough! Act Cool. Act like you're not scared Sheeeeeeeeeeaatless. I got control of myself. The four of us walked down a long corridor. Much to my dismay, I had to walk behind the prisoner. Believe me, it smelled worse back there than it had in the front seat. But I kept a stone-cold face.
We entered a huge room where two people in uniforms help my partner get the man inside. One of them wrote information down in a big book, and asked the prisoner to remove his belt and shoes. I noticed that once he had removed his shoes, Mr. Smelly had holes in his socks and his second toe stuck through one of them. I bet if he had known he was going to get arrested, he would have put on a better pair of socks.
At that time, I decided to take a look around. I turned in a slow circle taking everything in. As I turned, I saw large glass doors which I heard one of the officers refer to as "booking cells." As I looked at the doors, a man appeared at one of them, dressed only in his underwear! I turned away quickly. There was an almost-naked man looking right at me! I tried not to looked shocked as I turned away from him and met the eyes of the female officer who was in charge of writing the information down in the Big House Big Book. I knew it was important for me to act like I saw strange men in their tighty-whities all the time. I could do this. I decided to look again, just to make sure I had actually seen what I thought I saw. Yep. Briefs, not boxers. Yikes! And then another man appeared at one of the other doors. He, too, wore the same looking undies. Did NO one wear clothes around here?!?! I looked away again, but tried to do so nonchalantly as if I see men in their underwear all the time. I'm no amateur.
As they finished taking down the information and began to lead Mr. Smelly away, he turned to thank Officer Miller for arresting him. And he thanked me. He thanked everyone, as a matter of fact. He was very, very thankful.
I turned to go, and as I did, I took one more look at the two men in their panties. I, after all, had just arrested a drunk, smelly man. No one could intimidate me. I looked them straight in the eyes as I followed Officer Miller out of the room. I wasn't afraid to look! I could look at nearly naked criminals (who I found out later had committed serious felonies). I felt better that I hadn't diverted my eyes like a Sissy-Girl. I felt empowered.
It had been a long night, and it was nearing 1:30 a.m. by the time we arrived upstairs in the jail so that Officer Miller could complete the paperwork on the prisoner. Things were quietening down. The county guys were back from their chase and were discussing it in detail inside. I went to look at the cars. They looked muddy and mangled. But in the end, the Good Guys had prevailed. I went back up to the room and listened to them tell about the night, over and over again. They were excited. The adrenaline was still pumping. They had all had a good time.
As much as I hated to admit it, it was getting way past my bedtime, and the yawns were coming every few minutes. I needed to leave while I was still awake enough to walk out with energy, I thought. I called Michael to come get me at the jail, we needed to get my car, and go home. When he arrived, I said goodnight to my fellow officers. It had been a good night. I had fulfilled my duty well. As I walked out of the jail with a new-found purpose, I felt as though my head was held a little higher. I had protected my fellow Fayettevillians from danger. I had taken a drunk driver off the road and lived to tell about it. Shoot, I had even seen men in their Fruit-of-the-Looms. I was a New Woman.
Michael dropped me off at my car in front of the police station and waited as I started the engine and pulled out behind him. It annoyed me a bit that he waited, as if I couldn't protect myself if something happened. Didn't he realize that I was a New Woman? Didn't he know that now, drunk drivers everywhere would cower in fear? And men in their underwear were no match for me? Still, I thought, growing a bit softer at the thought, it was a nice gesture.
As I drove out of the parking lot, I actually considered taking a detour through the projects. But only for a second. It was time to go home. My mission was complete.
Disclaimer: Parts of this story may be greatly exaggerated.
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