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.

Saturday, January 01, 2022

The call that makes it worthwhile.

Almost twelve years ago, I wrote this, and it still rings true

I'm just looking for that right stop. The guy burgling cars. The drunk side-swiping parked vehicles, while trying to get home. The runaway 14 year old sneaking out to meet her new Internet boyfriend (" dreamy. He's 29!") at the street corner. Something to give tonight's patrol some meaning.

This last shift, it was the end of 2021, and the beginning of 2022. New Year's Eve, on the end of a pretty bad year. I have a habit of almost always volunteering to work on New Year's Eve, because I like to take drunks off of the road. I also will admit to a minor thrill at "winning the toaster," or finding the first case report of the new year, preferably by arrest. I've gotten it many times. DWI (Driving While Intoxicated), DUI By Minor, Assault Causes Bodily Injury Family Violence, Public Intoxication, DWI 2nd, Possession...

So this year, I've got a rookie to train, and sergeant's stripes, and another unit out (we would have had other units out, but for COVID). We've been stopping everything. Inoperative headlamp? Stop and issue a warning. Rolling stop sign? Stop and cite. But so far, no drunks. No fights. No arrests. 

Toward the very end of the shift, we roll up on a fairly new passenger car, parked at the pumps of a closed gas station. My rookie checks out on a suspicious vehicle after seeing the driver fail to move. He walks up and speaks with the driver, and it turns out to be an elderly man. My rookie invites him out of the car, and the old man has a moment of trouble. Too much to drink? No, he has a bad hip. The old man is a charming fellow (a retired engineer), and he explains that he got lost after delivering a package to a family friend, and after his phone died. He lives about 20 miles away. I ask him about medical problems, and he mentions diabetes... and Alzheimer's. 

When we run his name through dispatch, bells and flashers go off. His wife is worried sick, and has put out a missing person report. I call her, and explain that her husband is good, and inquire if he is a good driver. "He's an EXCELLENT driver," she assures me. "He just gets lost."

So, with her assurances and his, we slowly lead out, with an amber flasher atop our vehicle, and drive to his house. He does a beautiful job of driving in following us there, just as promised. My rookie and I briefly meet his lovely wife and their terrific dog ("he's never met a stranger, yet"), and I suggest to her that it's past time to have the talk with her husband about giving up the keys. I suggest that she bring the kids in on the discussion. She agrees. 

We shake the old gentleman's hand, and leave. 

"This was the call," I tell my rookie. "This is the one that we've been looking for all night. This is the call that gave the whole shift meaning. We've had a good night. Let's go home." 

We didn't burn a case report number. Nobody went to jail. I don't care. 

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