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.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Necessary evils.

Every once in a while you run across a piece of bureaucracy that is not only needed, but which does its job pretty well.

I called TCLEOSE today with a couple of questions about my peace officer's license, and was struck yet again by how courteous and helpful their small staff always is in helping me with finding out the information that I need. I've heard that their staff is around 20 people, managing the licensing, credentials, and certificates for:

74,913 Peace Officers
283 Reserve Licensees
24,047 Jailers
2,366 Temporary Jailers
8,843 Telecommunicators
940 Temporary Telecommunicators

By my calculator's count, that's 111,392 police, jailer, and telecommunicator licenses that they keep up with. (Note: many of those licenses are redundant. It's not uncommon for a jailer to go to police academy and get his peace officer's license carried, and then also to occasionally work as a telecommunicator as well.)

Every time that I've talked to those people, they were able to get me the information that I needed, and were pleasant. Not just "human," but genuinely pleasant to deal with.

Look, so long as we're going to be licensing peace officers and jailers and the ilk, we'd better have training requirements and such. And if we're going to do that, then we've got to have people administering the licensing. So isn't it nice that these people, paid by taxpayers' dollars and licensing fees, are actually doing a decent job of it?

I may actually send an attaboy letter to their director, I'm so impressed.

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, April 15, 2011

Blow you away.

We got a little bit of rain last night, but given the record-setting drought that this March was, it's not enough. Unfortunately, it's probably just enough to make it muddy for brush trucks trying to get out to fight the wildfires that are burning out of control in these winds (note that this weather station is nearest my house!): Yeah, you're reading it right; sustained winds in the mid-40's, with gusts approaching 60 mph. Probably not the very best day to go over to Fort Worth for their Main Street Arts Festival, but that's where we're headed. Y'all have fun going where ever the wind blows you.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Reassurance to a rookie.

One of my former rookie trainees called me last night, and we had a nice chat. John* has moved on to another department, and has been making a name for himself.

John described a situation that he had the other day, which frustrated him. He had stopped a girl for a significant traffic violation, and had smelled the odor of alcohol. It being a weekend night, he had her step out, and administered the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests. As he finished them, another officer with a PBT drove up. My friend hadn't been able to see much in the way of Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, which really is the gold standard of tests. She did somewhat poorly on the Walk And Turn, and One Leg Stand. But it bothered John that he hadn't seen the three clues for each eye. After some thought on the clues that he had, he let her call for a ride

While they waited, he asked her to blow into the PBT (Portable Breath Test device, not admissible in court because of inability to guarantee calibration in the field.). She blew a .21 BAC into a device that he had found to be very accurate, when the results were checked against credible instruments. John was shaken. This "girl" as he kept referring to her, apparently was a professional alcoholic, with almost 3 times the legal limit for blood alcohol content. He had barely been able to show that she was drunk, and had decided that the evidence wasn't good enough to go to court with.

After she was driven away by her ride, John told the other officer what the reading was. The other guy told him that he would have taken her to jail, John said. John felt like maybe he had done the wrong thing.

"Stop right there!" I interrupted. "Your buddy out there-- did he offer to take that woman to jail? Did he offer to do the report? No? Well it's funny what other cops may say they 'would've done,' when they don't have to carry the paperwork. He doesn't know what he would have done if he was in your skin," I said.

"When you arrest a person, you take them to jail, and then you write a charging document in which you list the reasons that you believe that she broke the law. You --not anyone else-- are the man who then signs his name below an oath that you make before God [John is deeply religious], swearing that everything you have said above is the Truth, as you believe it in your heart to be," I continued.

"If you had doubts, then you didn't fully, completely believe it. That's the time to cut. her. loose. Sure, after you've gotten more experience under your belt, you probably would have zero doubt in the same situation in the future. But this time, you had doubt, and you did the right thing. You got her off the road, and you didn't file a charge that you weren't SURE of. John, this is not a bad thing. We'll catch her some other time, trust me."

We went on to talk about other things. He's a good man, and I know he'll make a good officer. He already is one, actually; he just needed to hear it.

* Not his real name.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, April 08, 2011


Duty's a slippery term. (Okay, okay: get the giggles out now: Yes, "duty" sounds like "dootie.")

I consider it my duty to attend to the most important needs of my family. So do my peers. But some guys I know with will literally rearrange their lives and work schedules and sleeping schedules, to see their children perform in a school play, or musical performance, or sports performance. As for myself, I make the effort to attend if at all possible, but if I have to work, or sleep, then I'm afraid I'm going to miss some of their performances. They know this. They're disappointed, and so am I. But my duty to their needs often means attending to the duties of my job first. I'm not saying that my interpretation is the right one. I'm simply saying that there are reasonable differences to be had on the issue.

There are some interpretations that run to the question of duty in the face of danger. As we've discussed before, the question of whether an armed citizen should hold his position or search and destroy an active shooter comes to mind. I've friends on both sides of that issue. Frankly, my interpretation is that you should tend to the safety of those under your charge, and let others tend to the safety of their own*. If you're in a room full of people, and you're the only one armed, I think your first priority is to hold that room. If, on the other hand, you're a teacher who stepped down the hall to the copy room to run off some copies, your duty is to resume your station in the room full of kids whose safety you are charged with.

What of the captain of a sinking ship, who has dependant family at home, but crewmen yet aboard? That's a tough one, no? Best to figure your duty before setting sail, and to alert your family of them, too.

I recently chastised an officer about neglecting his Area Of Responsibility as a cover officer during a roadside investigation. Depending on your specific role in a given situation, duties change. I think of Jane Harrison (GC), who on this date in 1968 perished aboard a burning airliner as she sought to get every passenger off, including a disabled passenger who also died. Her citation for the George Cross ends simply with: "Miss Harrison was a very brave young lady who gave her life in her utter devotion to duty." Note that the citation doesn't say that she went above and beyond her duty.

Duties on some days are harder than others.


*But note: different roles change the duty. For the police officer, everyone that he can reasonably protect is under his charge. For the person who has requested an exit seat on a plane, many others are under his charge. Don't like it? Don't take on the duty. With long legs can come great responsibility. :)

Labels: , ,

Saturday, April 02, 2011

This and that.

Sorry I've not been feeling it in the form of good blogging, lately. We'll try the shotgun approach:

  • --I bought a '94 Dodge van last week for $500. It runs like a top, has good A/C, a trailer hitch and working trailer lights connections, good rubber, and a stout luggage rack. It doesn't have any seats behind the front seats. Time to do some chores that I've been meaning to tend to, and I may just put together some kind of business with my shift partner. We'll see. In the mean time, the ride makes me look like a prime suspect for any future abductions. The word "skeevy" comes to mind.

  • --I bought my wife an iPad 2 in 32gig 3G. It was difficult to find. The guy at Radio Shack was so customer friendly, he put me on a list and called me and held it for me when it came in. That guy needs a raise. The wife loves the iPad. I don't know yet just how useful it is. I can't type on it very well, though Marko says that he can, pretty well. Marko does not have hands as big and clumsy as I do. Neither did the silverback Lowland Gorilla that I saw today at the Dallas Zoo.

  • --When we took my daughters and friends to the zoo today, we found parking was $7 per car (we took two), and admission was $12 a head. Then there was the cost of food inside. The animals ate well. Giraffes eat romaine lettuce and RyeCrisp crackers that you can buy from a vendor there. The bald eagle ate fresh quail. The fossa had a very nice looking rabbit. I don't recall my parents spending so much when they took me to the zoo as a kid. Still, we liked it.

  • --Dunno what other heeled visitors were carrying, but with the temps in the high 80's, I just wore my standard J-frame stoked with +P .38 Spl, with a NY reload of a P3AT in my pocket. The roundbutt .38 rode VERY nicely in my new but steadily-being-worn holster by Mike, which I need to do a review on soon.

  • --I found myself the other day able to compare Tamara's favorite Stone's Ruination IPA with my old standard Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA. The Ruination has a more pure note of bitterness all the way from the initial sip through the fair-thee-well. The Dogfish Head has a more complex flavor, with more malt and mouth feel. The head is almost crunchy. This will require more study. --I used the van tonight to fetch home 24 bales of Owens Corning pink insulation and a blower, so that in the morning I might blow in about 12" of insulation into my mom's attic and perhaps another 6" over my garage.

  • --My wife made a wonderful curry with venison on Thursday, and it suffers not one whit as leftovers, served over fluffy basmati rice. It seems that pressure-cooked venison makes a superb base for curry. If you're concerned about the gamey flavor of venison (we're not), may I heartily recommend you try it in a vindaloo?

  • --I was able to help a local family out recently, after their kid went on the lam, merely by picking up the phone and calling a fellow law enforcement professional. It seems the run-away son got himself picked up (in Texas, you can be a runaway at 17, but can still be held in grown-up jail for your criminal actions) for a minor misdemeanor (fibbing about his age). LawDog made sure that, while his stay may not have been comfortable or fun, it was at least safe and reasonably smooth. Classification is something of an art, and sometimes it takes a nudge from an artist with LD's knowhow to keep the puppies out of the wolves' dens. Problem child is back at home, mending fences. With a little help from some people he's never even met, he'll get by. (Thanks, 'Dog.)

Labels: , , , , , ,

Add to Technorati Favorites