Sunday, April 12, 2015
"Police Work" from KIDNAPPED TWICE
My years in police work had their ups and downs. The work was interesting, never boring, often challenging, sometimes rewarding, sometimes not! Sometimes I would be on duty with a partner who I knew “had my back”…and sometimes not.
One incident that became a real challenge for me was when a young woman was brought into the station for a reason that escapes me now. I think she was trying to get away from her family and her boyfriend, as they were abusing her. After we did paperwork and it was very late, there was what I call a “what now?” moment! Everyone involved was looking at me, including the Police Chief. Since I was the only female cop, I got the job of putting her up for what I thought would be one night.
I was living in my small mobile home with two rooms built on. There were only two bedrooms, one for my son and one for me. The girl ended up sleeping on my bed with me for many months. No one “had my back” in that situation. I ended up getting her a job, taking her there every day, and either picking her up after work or making the arrangements to get her back to my place.
The whole set-up was making me crazy. I was being told that when I was working nights she would be having men coming to visit her. So my next quest was to find her an apartment that she could afford and furnish it as best I could.
It didn’t take long before I was contacted by the landlord and told that she was entertaining undesirable people and he wanted her out! Under no circumstances was she coming back to my place. She quit her job and took off with her boyfriend. That taught me a very good lesson: my home was mine, and I would never take another stranger in again.
There were many different stakeouts that I was involved in. One took place at night in the weeds, waiting for a drop-off of drugs. It was cold and damp, which made it uncomfortable. As one other cop and I were hiding in the tall weeds, a man came walking up the road with his Doberman Pinscher on a leash. That man and his dog walked within 10 feet of us. To this day I do not understand why that dog did not smell us there, but I’m thankful he did not.
Of course, every cop has to qualify on the shooting range. I was issued a .38-caliber Smith & Wesson revolver. It did not matter if I shot it 100 times: I could not hit the target. Everyone was having a good time watching me struggle. I finally gave the gun to the Chief and asked him to shoot the gun. He shot and shot with no success either. The gun was tagged as “faulty.” I then asked the Police Chief for his gun, which he handed to me. I shot a perfect score. No more laughs. I shot a perfect score every time we qualified from then on. I was proud of that then. I still am now.
I have never been good with death. I swear that the Chief knew that. We were having a snowstorm. A call came in that there was a man found dead in his house, located on top of a mountain. How we got up there with the police car is still a mystery to me. So, sure enough, a man had passed away and was lying on his kitchen floor. He was covered with a blanket. The Chief told me to stay with the body until the Coroner got there. They left me there. I sat in the chair, feeling a little shaky.
Suddenly, the blanket started to move, which damn near gave me a stroke. I went out the back door and then started calling the Chief to get me some help or I was going to start walking down the mountain, as I was not going back in that house alone. Well, when they came back, everyone who went into the kitchen found that the blanket would move and each one rushed out, too.
What had happened was that the man had a house full of cats, and some of them were under the blanket with him. When everyone had calmed down, we had to search the house to find all the cats. One by one, everyone got spooked again as we would open doors and the cats would jump out, scaring us to death.
There were times when we would get a call for “shots fired.” On one call we arrived to find a man at the top of the staircase with his victim at the bottom of the stairs. The victim was shot and bleeding. We had to talk the shooter into giving up his gun, as we had to get the victim out to a hospital. That was my first experience with having the victim, either shot or stabbed, losing control and urinating or defecating in his pants from pure fear! I felt very embarrassed for the victim when I had to interview him later in the hospital.
All of us had to learn the special codes used over the police radio and learn to dispatch these codes to the officers on duty. On my first night on dispatch duty I had a man enter the police office. The man was bleeding, and the woman with him said he had made her mad, so she stabbed him.
I radioed the police officer on duty in the patrol car. The officer on duty that night thought I said that I had been stabbed. The Police Department had windows that looked out onto our parking lot. The police patrol car came in the parking lot very fast and skidded to a stop right in front of our windows. From that point on, I carefully chose my words, both in the car and on the police official radio.
All police officers are issued a gun after qualifying. As long as you are a police officer, you can and should carry a weapon. I decided to take the course provided by the county to obtain an “all carry” permit. After passing this course, I bought a .357 Magnum, which I carried for the rest of my years of police work, and I still have that gun and that permit today.
One night while I was on duty, we received a call over the police dispatch network to assist an ambulance that was on call. We were given instructions to go with no flashing lights and no siren. A few moments later those instructions were changed, and we were given the code indicating we should come with all lights and siren on.
We arrived at the location and saw a very large man in cardiac arrest. We assisted with moving the man into the ambulance as CPR was being administered. We transferred his wife and her sister to the hospital, and we stayed there for a period of time to assist in whatever way possible.
The medical team worked on the man until they knew that nothing more could be done to save him, at which time the doctor came to my partner and me to tell us that no more could be done.
My partner and I said that we would tell his wife, as we had done in similar cases many times in the past. The doctor said, “Oh no, that’s my job. Let’s go to the waiting room together, and I’ll tell the wife.”
We entered the waiting room, and the doctor announced, “Which one of you ladies was married to Mr. -----?”
The wife jumped up and started screaming, “What do you mean ‘was married,’ did he die?”
My partner and I looked at each other in disbelief. It was a very bad situation for a long time in that room. Other people waiting for news about their loved ones went out into the hall to escape the turmoil.
We received many different calls. A fast way to find out how your partner would handle a dangerous situation would be the call, “Shots fired.”
One particular partner that I had, when we received that call, started driving slower and slower. I asked him what he was doing. I said we needed to speed up, and get to the location quickly. His response was, “Do you want to get shot?”
I replied that I didn’t want to get shot, but that it was our job to get there before someone else got shot
While on our way, we received another radio dispatch call, asking where we were and how long it would be before we got there. He gave a location that was much farther away than where we really were. From that night on, I did everything I could not to work with him again.
Another incident goes back to the defective gun I was first issued and that was sent back to Smith & Wesson to be fixed. While waiting for the repairs, I was using the Police Chief’s gun, as he had other guns. When my gun was finally sent back to the Police Department, the officer on duty that night brought the fixed gun to my house. At this time, I had the Chief’s gun in a cabinet in my dining room.
My son was watching television, but he could also see me and the officer on duty. As I stood and turned around to open the cabinet to get the Chief’s gun to hand over to the officer on duty– a man who was my friend both then and now– he raised the repaired gun and fired it!
When a gun is shot inside a dwelling, it makes such a loud noise! I think both my feet left the floor. The look on my son’s face was pure fear. To this day I cannot understand what my friend was thinking when he fired that pistol.
My officer friend was frozen in position. I asked him to hand me the gun and to sit down. He kept saying that he did not know the gun was loaded. Every cop reading this is jumping up and saying that this is one of the first things we are taught: never point and shoot a gun, unless you are at a shooting range or your life or somebody else’s life is in danger. The bullet went through my kitchen wall and through my garage wall. Fortunately, no one was hurt.
I had to call someone to come and repair the wall in the kitchen with artificial brick to cover the hole and to blend in with the kitchen décor. To his credit, my officer friend went to the Police Chief and reported what had happened. I had told him that night that I would never tell anyone about it if he wanted to keep it a secret. He said that he would report it, so I can tell the story.
As the years went by, there were many different arrests, often drug-related: burglaries and robberies, shootings, assaults, etc. The friends I made during these years were then and still are very important to me.
The night that I decided that enough was enough was when I had worked quite late. I got into my car, pulled onto the highway, and my leg and foot started shaking so badly that I could not keep my foot on the gas pedal. I pulled over to the side of the road and waited until I thought I would be able to drive home. I never told the Chief or anyone else about that night, nor can I remember just what it was that set me off, but that was the end of my police work.
On reflection, these years were the best years of my life. I knew I was good at it, and it taught me to trust my instincts.
We are serializing here the memoir Mary E. Seaman wrote with me, KIDNAPPED TWICE: Then Betrayed and Abused, published in paperback and ebook formats by Outskirts Press and available from OP and from amazon.com and other on-line booksellers. This is a story of her decades of partial recovery from child abuse by her stepmother, primarily. April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month.
My writing-coaching editing site is http://writeyourbookwithme.com.