Better And Better

If you don't draw yours, I won't draw mine. A police officer, working in the small town that he lives in, focusing on family and shooting and coffee, and occasionally putting some people in jail.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Live video.

Thirteen years ago, Ambulance Driver and I, along with BabsRN, did a little compilation post, called "Perspectives.". Ambulance Driver, ever the consummate performer, now wants to read it aloud, and I've agreed to do it with you. Babs has declined to read, but Jennifer has agreed to read Babs' part aloud. We're doing this on the Facebook Live platform tomorrow morning at 09:00 Central. (GMT -5) If you know Ambulance Driver's real name and know how to find him on Facebook, this is really easy. If you don't, then I don't know what to do for you. After 13.5 years, I'm probably pulling back the curtain a little. We'll see. I think that AD started this as a little treat for people staying at home.

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Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Cults and Music

I never did care for anything resembling a cult of any kind. Religion, philosophy, mechanics.
But it’s the cult of personality which probably rustles my jimmies the most. This was my biggest (not only) complaint about our last President, Obama, and it’s my biggest (not only) complaint against our current President, Trump. 

Best friend Scott and I saw Living Color perform this song at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas in October of 1989. We were seniors in high school. They were opening for the Rolling Stones. (At the time, we thought that if we didn’t seize the chance to see them perform, we would never get an opportunity again. It never would have occurred to us that, 30 years later, the Stones still perform on tour.)  

Brass Against The Machine does a solid cover, with featured guest vocalist Mazz Swift shredding the solo on an electric violin. 

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Thursday, April 11, 2019

You matter

Back in college, I got a job as a fry cook at an ice cream place that sold burgers. It was very poorly paid (college town), and the managers were underpaid and arguably mentally ill. I had to wear a bow tie while flipping burgers over a hot grill.
One day, the shift manager yelled at me from the back desk, and said something hateful for the umpteenth time during a busy shift. We were short-handed. There was a line of customers. This was when she had decided to do paperwork, and she was cussing me.
I took off my foam-and-net screen-print uniform baseball hat, ripped off my clip-on bowtie and my apron, and put both into my hat, and put the hat on the counter, with every intent of walking out.
I glanced past the food prep area at the large group of people waiting for their food.
No one was going to get them their lunch if I didn’t. It wasn’t their fault. Most of them had already paid, and those who hadn’t, had already invested part of their lunch hour in coming there.

I put the apron and cap back on, washed my hands, and got their orders out.
But I didn’t put that fucking bowtie back on.

You finish what you started. People COUNT on you, who don’t deserve punishment.

Friday, October 19, 2018


There's nothing like reviewing a body camera, and a car camera, of footage of your use of force, to make you second-guess yourself.

I have had more than a few talks with another officer on scene about what we did, and what we maybe "should have done."

So tonight, when I watched the movie Sully on my computer, I was struck by the way we second-guess ourselves in life-or-death situations. This movie was about an airplane captain who saved 155 lives by making an emergency landing on the Hudson River, and how he then had to rehash the event over and over.

I thought about how my young subordinate officer had kicked himself for not having taken the shot on a man who had threatened him (and me) with a gun. I thought about how I may have made a mistake, also failing to shoot the armed man when he pointed his pistol at me.

I thought about how other officers, from other agencies, have told me that we had screwed up. How we had "been lucky." How we should have shot the guy.

And, watching the movie, seeing the depiction of Captain Sullenberger being second-guessed, I broke down crying.

I am so proud of my officer. I don't want to work with a man who doesn't second-guess himself on issues this important. My officer didn't shoot for all the right reasons. And it turned out fine.

I'm just so damned proud of him.

We did our jobs.

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Work. Small Town Policing.

I haven't posted a lot, lately. I will admit to having been a bit busy.

While our PD is down a man, I've had to step up and work patrol as a shift supervisor, instead of doing my investigator gig.

Throughout the month of September and the beginning of October, I've been hit with pretty major Index Crimes. Small towns still have them, though not as much as bigger towns. Here's the problem: because we don't investigate them as often as the bigger cities, we're not as experienced at the investigations thereof. The good news is, that barring other cases landing at the same time, we have more time to focus on them.

In this case, we (A) lucked out, and (B) knocked it out of the park.

At the beginning of September, I had come in to the office on my day off (I find that I do that a lot, lately), and tended to some paperwork. I wore a polo with a badge and gun and ID displayed, and had on some decent cargo pants and athletic shoes on. On my way home, I made a traffic stop, and towed the vehicle. Toward the end of the stop, the on-duty patrolman was dispatched to a disturbance. Over the radio, he reported that it was actually a serial burglary in progress. I responded from my traffic stop, in time to meet a couple who exited their house, having fought with the burglar-turned-home-invader. They directed me in the direction the man had fled. I got lucky, and found him in a back yard, and coaxed him at carbine-point to lie on the ground. When my cover officer arrived and tried to cuff him, the burglar attacked him physically. Long gun in hand, I used appropriate force to prevent the man from getting to my officer's gun, or escape. The burglar was taken into custody with a pretty good bruise to his backside, and a couple of taser barb marks in his back. I worked the case.

Two weeks later, I was on duty, and responded to a disturbance. When I knocked on the door at the disturbance, the resident briefly pointed a gun at me, and later at the responding officer who covered me. He fired a round in the air. I set up a perimeter, and we eventually took him into custody. I got a warrant and we got the gun.

Last week, we had a commercial armed robbery. I was off that week, but I came in. My chief and I checked a neighborhood outside of our town, and located the suspect vehicle. I got a warrant for it, and canvased the neighborhood, and we met the robber that evening. I took the robber's confession, and we recovered the gun used.

Our cases are rock-solid, and we're going to get good convictions on all of them.

Now I'm back on duty after a week "off."

And I'm nearly done with the paperwork.

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Saturday, September 29, 2018

"Look a how mean/distasteful/condescending/dumb/Other-Side he looks!"

You can generally tell a hit piece, lately, by the photo which accompanies it.
As a junior baby wannabe amateur photographer, I will tell you that I delete the portraits that I take which make my subject look bad. If I'm taking a candid shot of an event, I only keep the unflattering ones if the subject is doing something which I don't have another shot of, and the real subject is the action.
Photographers covering a newsworthy event with talking heads take a LOT of pictures of those talking heads. While it is not unethical for a news photographer to publish an untouched photograph of what happened, it causes me to wonder about their objective journalism, when they ONLY publish photos of the subject with his or her face in an unpleasant expression.
We ALL can get caught momentarily with our face in such expressions.
Oh, and don't try to make out that it's only The Other Team that does this. Your team is just as bad about it.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2018

It was just a day in September.

I had worked all night, and come home to find that my wife had the day off, for some reason. She took our daughter to daycare down the block, and we chatted. We had been married for about three and a half years, and were comfortable and familiar, but still, this was a nice day when she was home. I stayed up and might have even had a late cup of coffee, well into the mid morning. It was nice.
We stepped out onto the front porch of the apartment, noticing the less-hot, but still sticky air. Our apartment manager Mac, from next door, told us that he reckoned that we had heard the news. Strangely, I hadn't. I normally would have killed an hour on the internet on my desktop computer (internet on cell phones was in its infancy, and anyway, we didn't have a cell phone), or listening to the radio, but this morning, because my wife was home, I had just enjoyed her company.

So I turned on the television, and we saw the news, and the re-recitation of it for about 3 iterations of the cycle. And the phone rang, and it was my best friend, who told me that we HAD to nuke the Muslims who did this.

I really don't remember what my wife did or said, the rest of the day.

I got to bed at around 1:30 or 2:00 that afternoon (5 hours late), slept poorly, and got up around 7:00pm to hear our President declare that they had identified the group that had attacked our country, and that we would go after them.  I then got ready and showed up early for work for another midnight shift.

17 years later, it suddenly occurs to me that one of the many, MANY casualties of that attack was my lovely day with my wife.

It's nothing, I know. But we didn't have a lot of weekday mornings together, then or now.

I feel ashamed for even thinking about it. People lost their lives, and their families. We lost a little part of our country.

Tell your loved ones how you feel about them. You don't have very many chances to do so. You might even lose the next chance that you think that you'll have.

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Thursday, August 02, 2018

We aren't playing the music just to hear the applause of others.

Domestic disturbance. A teen boy put hands on his mother. I arrived, along with a couple of other cops from our shift, because it was shift change, and I was the swing shift supervisor.

I found the shrugging mother, who was unhurt and refused to give a statement or press charges,  and the almost-unhinged 17 year-old son, who was carrying his stuff downstairs to put into his pickup. The mother told him that he could not take the pickup. He protested profanely that he made the payments of said pickup. I informed him that the pickup, and his possessions, until he was 18, were under her control. I told him to sit down.

He stood stock still for a minute, and then sat down reluctantly at the tall kitchen table.  I sat down, too. I've found over the years that both of us sitting down seems to bring a chance of calmness, even though it destroys any tactical superiority that I might have. Well, there were some other cops there, too. I asked the kid to take a breath. He was shaking. I told him to try to calm down. His jaw was clenched. He was furious. He asked if he could leave.  I told him that he could, but not with the pickup that his mother had decreed was not to leave. He walked out.

I spoke with his mother for a bit. She was at her wit's end. I told her to keep her chin up, and asked a few more questions about the event, which really was pretty much a non-police matter.

I walked out, and found my fellow officers talking to the boy on the sidewalk. He looked a little lost and somewhat petulant. His clothes and boots were in his arms, and we was going to carry them... where?  It was 104 degrees out. One of our officers, who was past her shift's end, offered to give him a ride to his father's house, in the next town over. It was a kind offer, typical of her, but also a savvy way to clear the call. I had 6 hours left in my shift, and asked the boy if he had eaten anything. He had not. I offered to buy him a Coke and a hamburger. He responded, barely in control of himself, that he did not wish to have anything to do with me, at all. It was clear that he was furious at me, which I didn't understand.

One of my officers, who is junior in rank to me, walked me away from it. "You told him to 'calm down,' Matt. You know that doesn't work. You told me that!" He wasn't wrong. The other officer, whom the boy was responding well to, gave the boy a ride home. I tried to figure out how I knew this kid.

Wait. Context!
For some reason, I hadn't focused on his name, and I had never actually been to this house before this. I had only met him once, at the high school, when I had interviewed him. I had worked for a month on his case about 8 months before, when his out-of-town girlfriend had accused him of raping her. I had worked hard on that case, and over weeks of investigation with witnesses and phone reviews and site visits had proved up that he had NOT raped the girl who had made an outcry. If the initial officer's report had been a little stronger, I would have charged his accuser with perjury, in fact. I had obtained an affidavit of non-prosecution from the "victim," and had cleared his name entirely, and labeled the case report "Unfounded."  I just had not associated that boy with this boy-- one and the same.

I was befuddled. Why was this kid focused on me as a thorn in his side? I had busted my butt to save him. The answer, of course, is that for 4 weeks, I had interviewed, and investigated, and collected evidence, and put off his mother's anxious calls for updates... and he thought that I had been gunning for him. In his mind, I had come after him with everything that I had, and missed. I thought back to my interview of the accused, which had taken place in a conference room at the high school. It had been more of an interrogation than an interview, to be honest. But it had given me some leads that I pursued to prove that the accusations against him were groundless.

In the end, do I want to be appreciated by the people that I serve? I think that's pretty natural to want. But honestly, there is NOTHING that I would have done differently about the rape case, because I arrived at the truth. In this case, I would have skipped telling him to "calm down."

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