Better And Better

If you don't draw yours, I won't draw mine.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Responding to a comment from an old post.

I just got a reader comment about a post that I had written over two years ago, in which I was asked,

"Why is your off duty course different from your duty course of fire?
Wednesday, October 12, 2016 12:25:00 AM
The answer I gave was: "A worthy question. Frankly, we want our officers armed while off-duty, but we don't want them inserting themselves into every hazard which they might come across. By policy, if they carry off-duty, they are are to carry concealed. For that, and for convenience's sake, off-duty guns are typically much lighter and more compact than duty guns. They are frankly harder to shoot well. An Airweight Chief 1 7/8" barrel five-shot revolver just isn't as easy to hit with, as a full-sized Glock with good sights is. Our duty qualification far exceeds the state-mandated qualification minimums, includes multiple timed reloads, and shooting on the move. (In fact, 24% of our shots are fired while moving, at 10 yards.) Our off-duty qualification, however, meets the state mandate." For the past couple of years, we've considered differentiating between "Off-duty" and "Backup Gun" qualifications, but have decided not to. However, if an officer wants to wear a gun that he's qualified with for off-duty, but wants to wear it in uniform (say, for an off-duty gig, or if it is approved for carry on duty), he must shoot the full duty qualification course with it, from his proposed duty rig. The question may be posed: "Why aren't you holding your off-duty shooting to the same standard as you hold your on-duty shooting?" The answer is that, usually, the off-duty officer is not going to have the same duty to intervene as he would when on-duty. The off-duty officer is carrying, first and foremost, to defend himself and his family in the face of retaliation. Some of us will carry bigger guns (which are easier to shoot) during the cooler months, and then switch to lighter, smaller guns during the summer months. The fact of the matter is, we need to adjust our response to an off-duty deadly force encounter to meet what we are equipped and prepared to work with.

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Saturday, October 01, 2016

October 1st. The best month.

--The weather has finally taken a cooler turn, with highs only in the low 80s, or even, on some days, in the high 70s. This has done wonders for my mood.

--We've been having minor car problems. The aged-beyond-its-years-and-miles '97 Honda Civic which I passed on to my elder daughter has required three rescues in the past month and a half. Two of these were simply old hoses needing replacement. One was a new coil. The Check Engine light came on about the time that the muffler started getting loud, so I replaced the muffler, and it got quiet, but the light came back on after being reset, and the code continued to say that the catalytic converter was the problem. On this car, that's on the exhaust manifold (stupid design; don't put one of the most expensive parts on one of the cheapest parts, the latter of which is likely to need replacement due to cracking.). I had this replaced about 130k miles ago, and it was a $900 part back then. This time, it was about a $650 part, and that's getting too close to the cost of the old car. I shopped around, and found an aftermarket one for $189, with just $8 for shipping. My shade tree mechanic said that he'll change it out for about $50 for me. (I always tip him heavily, though.) So for under $300, I get that problem fixed. Come March (when the lack of an AC makes my daughter whine again), I'll sell it, and buy my elder daughter (now a freshman in college) a newer car. Nothing fancy, you understand. Maybe a 10 year-old Accord with a manual transmission. (Did they still make them with manuals, in 2007?)

--I've been working a fair bit of off-duty, lately. Gotta pay for those car repairs, those college expenses not covered by scholarship (they are legion), a little trip up to Colorado I'm taking, soon, and a little rathole money for this fall.

--I'm training a new guy at work. Smart young fellow. New to the work.

--I went shooting yesterday, and was surprised that, at 15-17 yards, my shots were dropping off the bull that I was shooting. I approached, and found that some of the missed shots were keyholed. They had tumbled. This was Speer Lawman 125g TMJ .357 Sig out of a fairly-clean Gen 3 Glock 31. I checked the bore: still shiny. WTH?
I suspect that the two in the 7 ring were also tumbling, as well, but they weren't full-profile when they struck the paper.

--I just got a Don Hume leather pocket pistol for the G42, and it has a useful feature: a hook on it (cut into the leather pattern), to drag against the bottom of your pocket when drawing (as seen on the Emerson Wave lockblade pocketknife), so that your pistol pulls free from the holster every time. At $35, this was an inexpensive piece of decent kit. No, I don't carry a .380 as a primary gun, but it makes a nice BUG on my vest at work, and there are times when I can't get away with any kind of gun burka, and must pocket carry.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The opportunity

I was on patrol, and saw a little car pull through the parking lot of the convenience store to avoid the stop sign. I shrugged, and pulled it over at the next intersection. The driver dutifully pulled off the state farm highway, and onto a residential surface street. I approached from the driver's side, and introduced myself and explained why the driver had been stopped. He began to contest it, but I told him that I would need his driver's license and insurance. He handed over the insurance right away. Huh-- that's what most people have to look for. I asked him for a driver license. He hemmed and hawed a bit, and I asked him if he possessed one. With his palms up, he admitted that his was under suspension.

"Go ahead and step out, Jerry," I told him, as I stepped back from his door.

I could see it dawning on him: I had never asked his name, and he had never given it during this interaction. Yet I knew who he was.

I could hardly mistake those prison tats, and his scars and marks. I had been a jailer who had hated him, once.

"Hate" is a strong word. I don't use it a lot. But I had felt that emotion for this man, whom I had served many a breakfast in his solitary cell. Jerry couldn't be with other inmates, because he stirred up too much trouble. Maybe that was just the way he liked it, and something that he had figured out in the 22 prior stints that he had done at our jail. Jerry was an equal-opportunity criminal, who, in addition to dealing drugs, seemed to be working his way through the index crimes, though he hadn't yet committed murder, to my knowledge. Bored and in a cell all day, George would figure ways to screw with the jailers. Noisy arguments, spreading rumors to other cells (they could talk to each other), false reports about other inmates, false written complaints about jailers-- he did it all and more. And he had focused on being a particular ass to me.

I will tell you that I never retaliated. Not once. Not after having to explain away BS complaints about me (thank GAWD for CCTV and stored video) by Jerry. Not after having been made late going home to write him up (at my sergeant's direction) for starting another disturbance.

So, when I came across him on this traffic stop, I thought, "Huh. This feels like one of those tests which we sometimes have to give ourselves."

I decided not to arrest him for his suspended license. I issued him a citation for Failure To Present Driver License. I did not impound his vehicle. I asked him about drugs in the car, which he denied having. He offered to let me search his car, and I did. He then shook my hand, thanked me, and drove away.

I thought: man, there was your opportunity for a little payback. John Van Maanen might have been a bit disappointed with me; I had not kept "The Asshole" in check.

At some points, though, you just have to let a thing go, and I guess that I had. I'm a little embarrassed that it even occurred to me to turn the screws on old Jerry, just because of how he had been.

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Tuesday, June 07, 2016


The week before last, on Monday, the Tribe started blowing up my phone. I got the word that Ray Carter, AKA Gay Cynic (of Northwestern Free Thinker), had been sent home from the hospital for hospice care. He was given about two weeks to live. I called Ray, and told him that I was coming on the weekend. He said that he looked forward to it. He seemed in good spirits. We texted and emailed through Wednesday, but I had to work on Wednesday and Thursday, and was so busy, I wasn't even getting by enough to see my father in a rehab hospital, where he was mending from an infection in his ankle. (And still is.)

I flew up to Seattle on Friday, 27 May. I arrived tired and with a headache, and checked into my room as quickly as I could, and sent Ray texts to let me know when he was ready to receive a visitor. After a few hours, I sent some to his mother, but got no response. Finally I called her, left a message, and was called back: "He's not doing well. He took a turn yesterday, and he's not really able to receive visitors just now." I told her that I didn't want to be a burden, but that I would come over in the morning, after calling ahead.

The next morning, I called, and Ray's mother said that he wasn't doing well, but maybe a visitor would help. I arrived at his house on a lovely street, full of flowers, at about 8:30AM. I was let in, and waited in his room to meet Ray. I met his brother Tim, who was very nice. When Ray came into his room where I waited, he was lethargic from the OxyContin and Oxycodone that he was receiving to ease the pains from end-stage liver failure. But he was there. We talked as he lay in his bed. He swung his feet off the bed and said, "Let's go." He wanted to sit in the living room.

Under an afghan on the couch, Ray fielded all kinds of questions that I had about his early life. I've known this guy for over 7 years, and I really didn't know his origins. He had wanted to be a police officer, but felt that a gay cop at that time (the early '80s) would never receive backup. He had worked as a night security guard at a college, and as a dispatcher. He had been an office worker. He had sold electric cars and bikes. He had worked for the Second Amendment Foundation. Throughout the talk, his mother and brother filled in what Ray couldn't say. Ray fell asleep often, and then grew cold and had to go to bed.

I excused myself, and got lunch, and spent a couple of hours at the Pike's Market. I bought fruit from a stand where the vendors used sharp knives to hand slices of peaches to passers-by. Some years ago, Ray had led my family though the market, and an attractive Asian gent handed each of us slices of peach. He was probably about 21. My then-14 1/2-year-old daughter was grinning and blushing as she accepted the peach, obviously quite taken with the looks of this guy. I then realized that behind her, Ray had a very similar expression as he stood back a bit to appraise the bounty of the fruit stand, before accepting his own complimentary slice. I laughed at the memory of this.

I didn't find the coffee shop where I had gone with Ray down on the Market, some years back. He had to use the restroom, and since I was in line, he handed me a $10 and asked me to order for him what in my family has come to be known as the "Ray Carter Special." It's an accomplishment when an order for a drink can make a downtown Seattle barista's eyes widen, but apparently asking for 8 shots of espresso over ice in a to-go cup will do just that.  I did find a nice coffee shop in the Moore Hotel, and ordered a latte, which came to me with coffee art on it.

I went back to Ray's house a little bit depressed. It is a lonely thing, to go alone to a place where you had enjoyed yourself with family and friends.

Ray looked better. He was awake and sitting up on the couch. A new crocheted afghan was laying across his lap, sent by our friend Bonnie. He liked the flowers that I had brought from the Market. His sister-in-law and niece were there, too. We talked some more. He sat on his recently-delivered hospital bed.. He fell asleep. I talked into the night with his brother and mother, and then went to the motel.  The family wanted to know about Blogorado-- they said that Ray always lit up when he talked about it, and looked forward to it, year 'round. I knew that they weren't of my political bent, but it was important to me that they know that this was a group of people from different walks of life who loved each other as a chosen family.

In the morning, I bought a cup of coffee from a bikini coffee hut, and went back to Ray's house. I was met at the door by his brother Tim, who told me that Ray had passed away in the morning at about 3:30 AM. I was fine, and entered, and said nothing, and then realized that I had owed Ray a lot of hugs sent by friends, which I hadn't really given him. In our group, no one gets away without a hug, but that's for leaving, or maybe initial greeting. I'd sat in bed with Ray, and held his hand, and gripped his arm, but I hadn't wrapped him up. I started to mention this to his family, and for some reason my voice cracked.

My friend Zercool had sent me an email that he had tried to send to Ray, and had asked me to read it to him when I could. I had failed there, too. So I read him what Zercool had sent me to say to him. I didn't do well. In fact, I blubbered a bit. But I got the words out over Ray's remains.

I hugged his family and left to SEATAC, playing Grateful Dead's "Box Of Rain" on the rental car stereo from my iPhone. I'm not a Grateful Dead fan, but this song spoke to me, as it was written by one of their band members, for his father who was on his deathbed. I played it on repeat, and sniveled a bit as I drove through the softly-falling Seattle rain. And then I came back home to north Texas.

Ray Carter was a good man, who cared more about family and friends than anything. He was a man with eternal optimism, who went by the moniker of "Gay Cynic." We are all --even his political adversaries-- diminished by his passing. I'm glad that I got to see him one last time.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

4/20 -- It's All About The Hamiltons, Baby!

Today at about 1:00pm eastern time, the Treasury Department announced that they will be putting Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill. Probably some will rail about this, but I am not one of them. 

Andrew Jackson was arguably insane, and inarguably violent and unstable. He hated paper money. 
Tubman was a courageous, smart woman, who made a life's work of helping people. She will not be the first non-POTUS to grace our currency. Interestingly, they plan to leave Jackson's portrait on the back. This is some interesting balance: Jackson was a slave-owner. Tubman was a slaver liberator. 

What cracks me up is that this is a distinct departure from the previously-announced plan, to replace Hamilton on the $10 bill with a woman. Hamilton's popularity has recently surged due to a currently-popular historical/biographical/fictional Broadway rap musical about Hamilton. (Reportedly, there will be on the back of the $5 bill a picture of African-American classical singer Marian Anderson singing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, and there will be notable female suffrage leaders in a march on the back of the $10 bill.)

The announcement came on 4/20, which is a sacred day for pot-smokers, who traditionally revere 4:20 as a time when they spark up. This makes me think of the Samberg/Parnell SNL video of the Chronic*(What?)les Of Narnia

Yo, reach in my pocket, pull out some dough
Girl acted like she'd never seen a ten befo'
It's all about the Hamilton's, baby
Throw the snacks in the bag
And I'm a ghost like Swayze
Roll up to the theater, ticket buyin'
What we're handlin', you can call us Aaron Burr
From the way we're droppin' Hamiltons.
*If you're in the know, kids during the early 2K0s were using the term "chronic" for marijuana. Basically, the entire SNL video is a nod to how people who smoke a lot of weed get snack attacks and focus on silly esoteric issues.

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Monday, March 28, 2016


It was 01:30, and I was doing some serious neighborhood patrol. We had recently been hit with a series of overnight car burglaries in our neighborhoods, and I was damned if I was going to let it happen again, even though I had case reports stacking up on my desk. I was slowly driving up and down the neighborhood streets, shining lights into parked cars. Either I was going to find some car burglars, or I was going to scare them into stopping their activities. Or I was going to waste my time. It was so far looking like the last possibility was the most likely.

As I slowly approached a car parked on a corner of a residential street, I saw that it was occupied, and that the person in the driver's seat was in his late teens or early 20s, and was facing lighted screen in his lap. He cut his eyes at me as I passed. He looked scared. I turned around and parked behind him. I got out and approached, making sure that my body camera and car camera and body mic were all turned on. At the driver's door, I opened with, "Whatcha doin'?" This isn't actually part of the 7 Step Violator Contact, but this wasn't actually a traffic stop, and I had no evidence that the young man sitting there texting was actually a violator of any kind. He was actually free to leave, without answering my question. This was what we call a Consensual Contact. That he chose to roll the window down and speak to me without a stop command was his own decision.

"I'm, uh, waiting for a friend," he answered quickly.

"Oh, okay. A friend. Who is your friend?"


"Nadine who?"

"Nadine, uh, um, Perez."

"Oh, a new friend! How old is Nadine, sir?" I inquired.

"A-about 16," he answered. You notice that hesitation? That means that she's 15.

"And where did you meet her?" I asked him.

"On the PlayStation Chat Board," he answered, and I believed him.

"And you were just now texting her," I said. He nodded. "May I see your cell phone?" I asked. He handed it over to me. I looked at his text conversation:

Her: "So, are you coming over, or not? I'm not staying up all night."
Him: "I'm leaving the house now, headed down Hwy 830 from [location 35 miles away]."
Her: "Where are you...??"
Him: "I'm coming around the loop toward you."
Him: "I'm now on Farm Road 1234, headed toward Smalltown."
Her: "OK."
Him: "I'm outside your house, parked on the street next door."
Her: "OK. I'm coming out in a sec."
Him: "Wait. Someone is coming down the street, really slowly."
Him: "I think that it may be a cop. If it's a cop, I am soooo busted."
Him: "OMG, it IS a cop. He's about to pass me. Oh God, he passed me and looked right at me!"
Him: "He's turning around!"

I asked him, "So? Let's go meet Nadine's parents!"

He got out, and we walked up to the door of the house. I knocked loudly on the front door, and found that it was standing ajar. A minute later the lady of the house answered. I introduced myself, and asked her if her daughter Nadine was permitted to have visitors at 1:30AM. She answered no. I asked that she go fetch her daughter as well. She returned with her husband, but no Nadine. Nadine was missing from her bed.

We found Nadine hiding between two cars in the driveway. She was in fact 15 years old. My young Lothario was almost 18. I demanded of him, "So you chose to take it upon yourself, to tempt this girl whom you have never met, into leaving the house and protection of her parents, after they were asleep? Just WHO THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU ARE, MISTER?!!?" I glanced at Nadine's father, standing  shirtless, wearing just a pair of pajama bottoms. For a middle-aged man, this guy was in great shape. His chest rose and fell a little bit too rapidly for the boy's safety. Big puffs of steam entered the cold night air from the man's lips. Nadine's papa was pissed off.

"I'm nobody," answered the boy. "Nobody. I don't know why I'm even here. If you will permit me, sir, I will go, and never come back..." He was beginning to babble. I filled out a Criminal Trespass Warning on my clipboard, and witnessed Nadine's parents' signatures on it. I had the boy sign receipt of it, and gave him and the parents each their copies of the document which ordered my young Lothario to leave the property and to never return, under penalty of being arrested should he return again.

My junior officer had by this time arrived, and asked if I wanted to do anything else with him. "Write him for violation of Restriction G on his driver license," I answered. The boy wasn't yet 18, and was driving after midnight for a social visit. The boy signed it gladly, declaring that he would pay the citation the first thing in the morning.

I think that it's important for parents to know who there children are dating.

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Sunday, March 20, 2016

This, that, and the other. Guns.

I just tonight had a cover officer from another agency arrive with a 1911 on his belt, and three Wilson 8 rounders on his belt. On his external vest carrier, he work six Wilson 8-rounder magazines. He said that he rounded that out with a tenth in his pocket. That's 80 rounds, beyond the 9 in his sidearm. Meanwhile, I had two spare magazines, for a total of 46 rounds, between the gun and the spare mags. Oh, I suppose that I could count the 7 rounds of .380 in the Glock 42 that I had on me, but really, that gun is in the all-too-appropriately-named-holster for it.

The circus came to town. No tigers, this time, but we had a dancing elephant. I was stationed at the circus for the evening. Y'all know that I have zero interest in shooting a circus animal, right? But a man is a fool if he doesn't prepare for the worst. I parked the squad near the tent, and had an extra box of slugs in my pocket. Yes, that's the sum total of my preparations, beyond caffination for the long standing session. The fact is, should Jumbo suddenly go rogue into the stands, I was not going to have time to fetch a long gun, and standing there with a long gun on me would just have been too alarming. I suppose that I could have stuffed a few mags of FMJ into my pockets. Maybe I've gotten complacent. The elephant did some neat tricks, and she was charming. Both crowds at both shows loved her. She may not have been dangerous, but in that arena, she killed.


Tuesday, I administer Firearms Qualifications to our department. Every officer will qualify with duty pistol, patrol rifle, shotgun, and backup or off-duty piece. I'm also teaching a short bloc of training. I've gotten an extra 50 rounds approved to be issued to each officer, and we will be shooting the Dot Torture Drill, in memory of the recently-late, great Todd Green. Everyone who shoots it clean will  get their names thrown into the hat, and whoever wins the draw will get a new set of Howard Leight electronic earmuffs. (These things are possibly the best deal going in firearms. They hold up at our county range, and yet they're almost cheap enough to be throw-downs. Put them in your fast-response kit with the jumper cord to your radio, and you're instantly ready to respond to an on-duty incident, and can shoot indoors.) My chief was surprised that I bought these out of my own pocket. Guys, your instructor has to have some skin in the game.  I never got to train with Todd Green, but I gathered that his dedication and caring, combined with his interest in having fun, made him immensely effective.


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