Friday, June 12, 2009

Homicide - Hussey - Copspeak

This week, Detective Mark Hussey shares those special "ways with words" in the world of law enforcement. Let's listen in.

This chapter is dedicated to all those sayings that cops everywhere have made famous. You know, those cop witticisms, those clever, albeit sarcastic, little sayings that all policeman find it necessary to employ, whenever some low-life, scumbag, I.Q. of room temperature, asshole does something really stupid or dangerous or both.

I've found that each year I spend as a cop I get a little more cynical and a little less tolerant of stupidity. Don't get me wrong, I've done some dumb things in my time, but that's me, and for some reason, cops consider themselves after a number of years to be a little better than anybody else. It's not a dig, it's just that we are required to keep our personal and professional lives free of problems. We deal daily with those people who get arrested on a regular basis. A couple of nights in the drunk tank is no big deal to some people.

If I were to get arrested and have to spend even one hour behind bars, it would be the most devastating experience of my life. The personal embarrassment would be more than I could bear. So after years of handling other people's problems it gets difficult to be objective and becomes more and more necessary to belittle the common man and sometimes add to an already bad situation.

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Some of my best improvisations have been made when I was under extreme pressure. For instance once I stopped a guy for a traffic violation. As I looked through the window and he opened his glove compartment to retrieve his registration, I saw a gun. As his hand closed around the pistol grip, I Cleared leather and jammed the bull barrel of my Smith and Wesson model 64 against the back of his neck so hard it left a red mark.

"I hope that's a sandwich in that glove compartment," I quipped, "Cause' whatever it is you're gonna eat it". Where did that come from? I wondered.

The gun turned out to be a Browning 9mm with the safety removed, and the driver turned out to be a wanted felon.

On another traffic stop, as I walked to the driver's door, I shined my flashlight inside. It was then that I noticed the driver had his hand concealed from view by a small white pillow on the seat. I whipped out my service revolver, cocking it next to his ear, "If your hand comes out from under that pillow, you'll never know it." The man was wanted and had a .38 Derringer in his right hand. On yet another stop I heard a cop say, "Move your hand and I'll make your birth certificate a worthless document."

Another time two Lakeland cops became the first canine officers, when they responded to a burglary in progress at a local convenience store. The two drove up and took up a position at each side of the front door, which had been broken out. Kenny Wnuk yelled, "You better come outa' there mother- fucker, or I'll send this big, nasty dog in after your ass."

Officer Mike Butler began barking and growling furiously as he crouched near the door. Several seconds later, a young black male yelled from inside, "I'm comin out' and please don't send that dog in here." A second later his partner followed. The pair was arrested without incident.

On another occasion, my partner Tom Brown and I responded to a peeper down off West Memorial Boulevard. The female victim was about sixteen years old with the body of a twenty-five-year-old. Her father had no sense of humor and was ready to kill this guy who always showed up at the daughter's bedtime and stood outside the window while she undressed. We handled several calls at the address and the voyeur was coming pretty regularly. Tom and I parked several blocks away and sneaked down through the woods near the house. I took up a position at the northwest corner of the house and Tom stood near the southwest, near the victim's bedroom. Several minutes later I heard Tom yelling "Freeze asshole, police."

As I rounded the back of the house, I saw Tom on top of the young lad with his service revolver screwed into the guys ear saying, "Son, if you fart, your heads gonna' land out on the Boulevard." Trust me there's no way that guy was going to fart for a long time as tight as his ass was just then.

Sometimes an irate motorist would ask, "Did I help you get your quota?" And we would say, "No sir, my chief lets me write as many tickets as I want." Of course this would really piss the guy off.

Or they might say, "Why are you bothering me, don't you have robbers or rapists to arrest?" To this you might say, "Well actually I already arrested 14 robbers and seven rapists this morning, not to mention a couple of murderers, now I'm just looking for idiots." This would certainly generate more dialogue.

Some cops have signs and bumper stickers made to reflect their attitudes toward the citizenry. One guy I knew had a bumper sticker on his dashboard which read, "Get in, sit down, shut up, hang on." Another had a placard made which he affixed to the back of the "cage" in his patrol car. The small blue plastic plate read, " No, you can't smoke, no I won't loosen the handcuffs, and yes you're really going to jail." I've got a bumper sticker on my desk that says, "My child was inmate of the month at the county jail." Many people just don't find those things humorous.

Nicknames used to be popular with cops; not so much anymore. We have to call everybody "Sir" and "Ma'am," even if they're cussing us out. We used to have names for people though like, Hotrod, Sport, Bubba, Boy, Hero, Darlin' Pal, and Ace, to name a few of the nice ones. Dickhead, Asshole and Scumbag are a few of the not so nice ones, and are still used today in police circles, privately, to describe the citizenry we "Protect and Serve."

Every once in a while, you'll hear something on the radio that was not meant to be broadcast over the airwaves. In 1983 Billy Hyatt responded to a burglary in progress. As he announced his arrival at the scene, his voice raised an octave and he was heard to say, "Lakeland, I got a black male comin' out the back door...he's got something in his hands...freeze mother-fucker or I'll kill you."

I was taking a prisoner to Bartow. The arrestee heard the radio transmission and said, "Damn, you guys are pretty serious."

Of course the report read, "As I confronted the suspect, I identified myself as a police officer and asked the suspect to put down the items in his hands and place his hands into the air. Suspect complied without incident." Guess it loses a little something in the translation.


25 comments:

Dara Edmondson said...

DH is a corrections officer and also has some very funny lines. I've actually used one or two in my books.

Kathy Otten said...

I look forward to these blogs, so funny. I work in a field where we get a little jaded as well, and I can especially appreciate the difference between what actually happened and the incident report.

Donnell said...

Great! Fun read and I love the graphics. I imagine when you're in that stressful of a situation political correctness flies out the window. Have you ever been reprimanded in a case like this? I'm seriously hoping the answer is no. Or if it's yes it's said firmly tongue in cheek with watch your mouth??

Terry Odell said...

Thanks, Dara - Writing fodder is everywhere. There's a scene in Hidden Fire that is "borrowed" from an evening I spent with Detective Hussey and two of his colleagues. On the job or off, they have a certain ... "attitude."

Terry Odell said...

Kathy -- I'm delighted you look forward to these blog posts. I know I love sharing them.

Terry Odell said...

Donnell: I'll make sure Detective Hussey sees your question, although it might take a while for him to respond.

And glad you like the graphics. I will take credit for spending too much time digging them up. Alas, his manuscript has a few 'on the job' photographs, but nothing that illustrates his post. Hey, he writes the words; I have to do something for Fridays!

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Good stuff! Makes me think of Joseph Wambaugh's novels particularly Hollywood Station and Hollywood Crows.

Jacqueline Seewald
THE DROWNING POOL, Five Star/Gale

D2TM2 said...

If I EVER get stopped for a traffic violation I'll remember this blog, laugh my head off and be in BIG trouble. Hillarious!

Terry Odell said...

Maybe you should print out a copy and keep it in the car, by way of explanation, just in case.

Galen Kindley--Author said...

You know, these are all good. However, I think my favorites are: "I hope that's a sandwich in that glove compartment. Cause' whatever it is you're gonna eat it". And, "Move your hand and I'll make your birth certificate a worthless document." But, if I’m real honest, I gotta admit, the Fart blurb was best of all. I guess it’s the bubba in me.

Best Regards, Galen
GalenKindley.com

Officer Friendly said...

From K. Tabke's hubby...

Myself and another officer assisted a motorcycle officer who arrested a driver for DUI and possession of coke. Upon walking him to the patrol car for transport we broke into song: She don't lie, she don't lie, she don't lie...cocaine! And promptly shut the car door with him in the backseat.

Giving speeding ticket to a citizen, I noted another citation in his glove box and asked to see it. I had issued it to him one year and two days earlier in the same car, same spot, same time frame for the same violation. Upon giving him his copy of the notice to appear I cheerfully asked, "Sametime next year?"

To answer Donnell's question about reprimands: responding to an auto burglary in progress at an apt. garage where it backed up to a wooded area, we found the two "bonedicks" hiding next to a vehicle. There were two open garages and we had searched the other one first. We tried to be quiet but they knew we were there and while they could have easily ran into the woods and freedom they froze and got arrested. Getting on the radio I advised I was 10-15 (en route jail) with dumb and dumber. It was 4AM and thought I'd give everyone a chuckle. A Sgt. bucking for Lt. wrote me up for inappropriate radio traffic.

Terry Odell said...

Thanks for stopping by, Officer Friendly, and for added a couple of stories to Detective Hussey's tales.

Gee, we have two cops and two hubbies represented here today.

Terry Odell said...

Galen, glad you're enjoying the cop humor. Thanks for stopping by.

Donnell said...

Terry, great graphics! Something has to keep you busy on Friday. And Officer Friendly thanks for sharing that story. Too bad that lieutenant didn't have something better to do with his time. I thought dumb and dumber was clever ;) Tell Karin I said hello!!!

Shannon said...

Hi Terry,
Great post. I forwarded it on to my husband who is a sergeant of our department. I'm sure he'll share with the others. And I'm sure some of them will "adopt" some of them, as they are all smart-asses who like quippy one-liners!
My favorite discussion happened though, because I'm married to an officer. I am also a librarian. And I had a couple of teen patrons who were giving me a particularly hard time one day so I called my husband up to come to the library and escort them out. When he showed up they ran and he ran after them and 'explained' to them proper behavior in the library. But the funniest thing was a male patron who was using the computers and he was witness to the whole thing. He said to me, "Who was that?" and I told him it was my husband and he replied, "Damn that explains everything." When I asked him to clarify, his response was, "I just thought you were a bitch who don't take no crap off anyone, but you're really just a woman that lives with the law!" HA! I just smiled at him and waggled my eyebrows at him. My response was, "Yeah, I don't mess around."
I couldn't help but laugh.

Terry Odell said...

Shannon - Thanks for sharing your story! I hope your husband enjoys Detective Hussey's post. He's welcome to share some of his tales as well.

Drue Allen said...

What fun, Terry!
I'm in the deep south, have been in my little town less than a year (after moving from a major metroplex), and I have to admit I've "encountered" the local law enforcement officers THREE times on the road outside my home.

Well, dang. The speed limit is 35! I'm sure there's a stereotype for the guys we have, but they're so nice I want to reach out and give them a hug. It's all, "Yes, ma'am. Thank you, ma'am. You drive safe, ma'am." And yes, all 3 resulted in warnings. Before you ask, I promise--I didn't flirt a BIT!

Sandra Ferguson said...

Great lines, and wonderful to read the officer's take on the criminal world. My son follows one of the Darwinism websites, where folks regularly do the most stupid of things. I guess it shows that criminals are for the most part just waiting to be caught. The cops do a scary job; I'd never be brave enough to routinely walk up on folks just waiting to blow me away.

Terry Odell said...

Drue, I got my only speeding ticket shortly after we moved here. On my own street. Going 35 in a 30. Heck, that's embarrassing. Speeding at 35? If I'm going to get a ticket, I'd hope it was for something a bit more outrageous. Like, maybe 40!

Terry Odell said...

Sandra - I did a ride along and it increased my respect for anyone who puts on the badge and uniform. I wouldn't have lasted three days.

Allison said...

Love the blog, Terry! Thanks for posting the link on MSW. I'm going to have to bookmark this for fridays . . .

Terry Odell said...

Thanks, Allison. And you can work backward through all the other Friday posts. :-)

Anita Birt said...

I'm coming in late on this, Terry. Loved the cop speak. Canada has strict gun laws so the police aren't faced with the guns your men are. Having said that, there's a gang war going on in Vancouver and they're killing each other right on the street. Not nice.

It's all about controlling the drug trade. Most are Chinese or south Asians in the gangs and Hells Angels.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for reading guys, I've got a million of em' and even more since going to homicide. We have what we call "misdemeanor homicides" or "shooting into occupid clothing". In Orlando the visitors are referred to by the guys in the tourest corridor as "Tourons" (A cross between a tourist and a moron). We do have our own language it seems. Just another way to endure the protect and serve game.

Mark Hussey

Terry Odell said...

Gee, Detective. I live in that tourist corridor. What does that make me?