As Sick As Your Secrets

I was working during a concert being held on campus, and during such events, we often have lots of people hanging out, drinking alcohol, smoking pot, doing other drugs, etc. in our parking garages. This tends to make the students and staff who are not attending the concert, concerned for their safety. So we do a lot of foot patrols and we issue a lot of tickets. It is a very effective tool of the trade that when one person is seen receiving a ticket, many others decide it is time to go to the venue and not hang out in the parking garage.

I saw one young man drinking a can of beer (drinking alcoholic beverages on campus is a misdemeanor) so I approached him and asked him for ID. He was with his friends so he smiled broadly and told me that he had forgotten to bring it with him.

“Okay, so what’s your name?”

“Ummmm. Troy Lindsay.”

“And your date of birth?”

“Ummmmmmmmmmm. May 3rd, 1980.”

“Okay, and what year did you graduate high school?”

Dead silence. His face got red and I could see his eyes trying to perform the appropriate addition and subtraction, which had been fogged over by a couple of cans of beer. “Nobody remembers that!” he sputtered out.

I placed him in handcuffs (to keep him from running away-I was old and fat even then and chasing people is not my thing) and sat him on the ground as he was technically under arrest for drinking alcoholic beverages on campus.

“Does this help you remember your name and date of birth?”

Also, at this point, his “friends” left to go to the concert.

He provided his true name and date of birth and I issued him a citation for minor in possession of alcohol (he was just 18) and the false information. When we were done, he took his citation and apologized, saying he just wasn’t thinking.

Fast forward about twelve years and I was attending an awards ceremony for police officers who had demonstrated excellence in DUI arrests. An officer from another agency approached me, his award in his hand.

“Sgt. Blalock, it’s good to see you again.” It was Ofc. “Lindsay.”

“It’s good to see you, too,” and I used his real name (okay, it was on his name tag).

Lindsay introduced me to his Chief of Police, who happened to walk up and I introduced myself and said, “Yes, I’m the one who arrested him.”

Lindsay’s face reddened and he looked very serious. “You didn’t have to throw me under the bus with my Chief,” he whispered.

Flashback: About seven years before this, I met with a background investigator for this other agency. He asked me about Lindsay’s arrest and what my thoughts were on whether or not he should be a police officer. Sitting in my office, I thought about it and asked, “Well, what was his response when you asked him about it?”

The background investigator consulted his notes and said, “He said that he had been really stupid and after having a couple of beers, had compounded one bad decision with another. He said that your interaction with him, treating him politely and as an adult who simply made a bad decision later made him think he wanted to have career in law enforcement.”

I smiled. “I don’t think he could have answered that any better, do you?”

Back to This Day: The Chief leaned forward and whispered, “We wouldn’t have hired you without his recommendation. It’s a public record, not a secret.”