Running on Empty
I was a brand new officer and had just been released from training earlier that shift. I had notified my training officer that we had a medical call and he asked me why I was dawdling around the station and not responding to the call. I started to explain that I had come to get him when I realized that he wasn’t coming with me. I responded to a medical call all by myself for the first time. I then responded to another call, and another, and another, then patrolled around the jurisdiction for a couple of hours. I was free, seeing my reflection in store windows, waving to motorists and pedestrians. I was having a good day. Then I checked by gas gauge and realized that it was on empty.
I ran out of gas on my way back to the Corporation Yard where the gas pumps were. I pulled to the side of the road and (this is before cell phones) called dispatch on the radio, but I used our backup channel to do it secretly. I told the dispatcher that I had run out of gas and I needed her to call the Facilities staff to drive a can of gas out to me. She acknowledged, but I did not know that my sergeant was in dispatch when I called. He told my training officer to go find me.
My training officer pulled up behind me and I wanted to roll up the windows and lock the doors. He met me on the sidewalk and asked if he should stamp a big “Never mind” on my training release letter. He didn’t, but I never ran out of gas again.
Hittin’ And Runnin’
One of the most common police reports I took as a University police officer was property damage only, hit and run collisions in the parking garages. These collisions happen all the time; someone scrapes the car next to them as they pull into or out of parking spaces. But sometimes, something else happens.
I will arrive on the scene and the young person will explain that they just came out to their car and found this terrible dent and scrape on the side of their car. Their parents told them to get a police report for the insurance. I look at the location of the damage, usually over one of the rear wheel wells, and see that the dent is uniformly deep from top to bottom. Sometimes, there’s even flakes of concrete still sticking to the damage, or slivers of wood, or the transferred paint isn’t the right kind of paint. Either way, I ask the young person if they are certain that they want to make a hit and run collision report, because making a false police report is a crime. Sometimes, they insist and I tell them that I know what caused the damage, a pole or fence or wall, and all the air leaves their sails. Sometimes they admit it right away and I explain that I will write the true collision report, if they want. They usually want to check with their parents.
On one occasion, the young person and her mom came to the police station to make the report. I walked up with them both and saw a Mercedes convertible with a broken rear axle, flat tire, and serious damage to the area of the wheel well. Mom told me that her daughter had come out to check on the car that morning and found it in the parking space like this. I looked at the scene and then looked at the daughter and asked her if she wanted to tell her mother the truth.
The daughter said that she didn’t know what I was talking about. Mom asked what I meant. I pointed to a long drag mark in the concrete floor that led right up to the Mercedes’ broken axel. All three of us followed the drag mark, which was almost half an inch deep, for about fifty or sixty feet, until we reached a load-bearing, concrete support pole in the garage. A significant amount of concrete had been scraped from one corner.
I told the daughter that I had one question, “How did you get the car all the way to the parking space after hitting the pole?”
Stand And Deliver
I was working an overtime shift in the Communications Center, providing backup to the primary dispatcher, as we had our regular patrol staff working, a sporting event going on at the Stadium, and another special event going on downtown. For some reason, we had officers providing security to a massive, three-on-three basketball event, out on a two block stretch of a city street that had been closed to provide space for the courts and players. Four University police officers were assigned to provide security to the event and now, as the event pushed into the evening, were getting hungry.
The officers called dispatch and asked if we could order them a couple pizzas. The primary dispatcher, who regularly ordered pizza delivered to the Communications Center, said that she would make the arrangements. Now this was in the days prior to cell phones, apps and DoorDash, so she called her regular pizza restaurant (we will make up a name, we’ll call it Pizza Hut). She called Pizza Hut and ordered the two pizzas and asked that they be delivered to the intersection of Market St. and Park Ave., that there would be a police car there with police officers standing by.
“We don’t deliver to intersections,” the Pizza Hut employee told her.
“I understand, but this is for some police officers working an event. They can’t get away from their post.”
“Yeah, we still don’t deliver to intersections.” And they hung up.
The dispatcher looked at me surprised.
“How about Domino’s?” I offered. I had personally never ordered from Domino’s before, but, what the heck, it was worth a try.
The dispatcher looked in the phone book (a big paper book that listed the telephone numbers of almost everyone on thin yellow pages) and got the number for the local Domino’s.
“Hello, I’d like to order two pizzas to be delivered to some police officers working a special event at the intersection of Market St. and Park Ave.”
“Okay, and will you be paying by credit card or will the officers be paying at the delivery location?”
“The officers will be paying.”
“Okay, is there someone the driver should ask for?”
“No, whichever University police officer is standing by the police car at that location will take the delivery and pay for the pizzas.”
“Okay, let them know that it’ll be about twenty minutes.”
Thank you, Domino’s.