by Michael Quinn
What Did You Do Today, Daddy?
There are lots of calls for service. Most cars are an hour or more behind in getting to their assigned calls. Now I am waiting in the drive-up lane at the local fast food restaurant; there isn’t time to sit down and eat a real meal. As I pull up to the pickup window there is a call for “Officer Needs Help!” a block away.
I hit the lights and siren, stomp on the gas pedal and with a hard cut to the
right I grind the squad over the cement divider and down the exit lane, tires
squealing and burning onto the street. I reach the officers in seconds —
with a serious leak from a damaged transmission pan.
see a really big man up against the wall of the corner photo shop. He has an
officer dangling from each arm. I can’t tell who has a hold of whom. He
is shaking them like rag dolls. I run from the squad and stepping on the back
of his left calf I jump up, wrap my left arm around his neck as I make a fist
with my right hand. I drive my right thumb into a pressure point just below
his right ear and he collapses on the ground beneath me. I maintain the neck
restraint while I press my forehead into the back of his wet and slippery head
to keep him immobilized. The officers handcuff him, and then we slide him into
their squad car headfirst.
I step out into the streetlight and realize I am covered in blood from my forehead
to my gun belt. I can taste it and immediately start to get sick thinking of
every ugly possibility. As I try to get most of the blood off my face with diaper
wipes the senior officer tells me what happened.
The officers walked into the gas station to pay for their gas and this guy starts
screaming and sweeping the shelves with his arms throwing everything on the
floor. When they approached him he got even wilder and they ended up chasing
him to where I caught up with them.
He pauses and I look at the rookie officer. The rookie avoids my eyes by looking
at the ground. Not a good sign. The senior officer continues saying “I
hit him several times on the back of the head with my flashlight in an attempt
to knock him down, but he only got wilder.” I know I am not getting the
full story, but it’s clear I won’t get any information out of the
guy in the back of the squad, and it’s just as clear that the rookie is
going to stand by the training officer’s story.
I remind them to get all the details into the report and I leave. The Code was
at work. I run home to change clothes, and I am back on the street in 30 minutes.
The fast food joint is closed, but it doesn’t matter. My stomach is too
queasy to think about food now.
There are four drive-by shooting calls in the next hour. The same car is described
in each one. Finally one of the squads on my shift spots the car with multiple
occupants, and they make the stop. I am the second car on the scene. As I drive
up I can see several people in the car. Once I am in position behind my squad,
I rack a round in the 12-gauge. The squad making the stop uses their PA system
to talk the suspects out of the car. They direct the first passenger back to
us where we have cover behind the squad cars.
The suspect, in his gang colors, is visibly agitated. Several times he reaches
toward his waistband and starts to turn toward us. The shotgun aimed directly
at his chest convinces him to put his hands in the air as he backs toward us.
Other squads arrive. When the suspect reaches us an officer takes control of
him and immediately finds a loaded .38 caliber pistol in his waistband.
He removes it, but as soon as he takes his hands off the suspect the suspect
brings his arms down and reaches into his waistband. The officer grabs him in
a bear hug from behind holding onto his hands. He yells that the guy has another
gun in his hand. Now we are fighting for our lives. Several officers immediately
step in to help.
In the struggle for control of the gun, the suspect sustains injuries to his
shoulders, arms, torso and neck. A rookie officer gets carried away in his use
of force. It’s his first felony stop with armed suspects.
bad guy is handcuffed, searched and stuffed in the rear of a squad. Suspect
#2 comes out of the car, and by now four other squads have responded. We have
eleven adrenaline-charged officers pointing weapons at him as he walks back
to us. He has a loaded semi-automatic pistol in his coat pocket. He is shaking
with fear and secured without incident.
Two more suspects are taken out of the car, and the other squads transport them
all to jail. Before I can leave a citizen approaches and wants to make a complaint
about the brutality she witnessed when we “choked and beat” the
man we arrested. I assure her that we did only what was necessary. Not entirely
true, but I am not going to take an excessive force complaint about a guy that
just tried to kill us. I’ll “walk with the Devil” on this
one, but I also make a mental note to talk to the rookie about his use of force.
At the courthouse I dictate my statement and get back on the street. My adrenaline
has peaked and bottomed out twice already this shift, and I still haven’t
had any dinner. My stomach is starting to eat itself. I have to put something
in there, soon. As I start toward a local all-night café I get flagged
down by a citizen in a bus stop. Thirty seconds later I am wrestling with a
wino who hasn’t bathed in at least six months. There are visible bugs
on his neck and in his dirty matted beard.
This old, homeless drunk has just assaulted a senior citizen in the bus shelter
because she refused to give him a dollar. I handcuff him and search him, peeling
back layer after layer of rotting clothing. The odor is strong enough that people
25 feet downwind are gagging. But I have to do it. I need to be sure he doesn’t
have any weapons. These old-timers often carry knives, and sometimes guns, for
self-defense, and he is going in the back seat of my squad.
Putting my hands into pockets that store this guy’s little treasures completely
creeps me out. I get the job done, but I am no longer hungry. I feel dirty and
itchy the rest of the night. Not only that, but the jailers are angry with me
for bringing him to jail and not the county detox. I complete the paperwork,
drop off the squad to get it deloused and pick up a spare squad.
As I pull out of the police garage a car swerves completely across the street
from the oncoming lanes and nearly hits me. I make a hard U-turn, hit the lights
and stop her in the next block. I can smell the alcohol coming from her car
as she rolls down her window. As a matter of record I ask if she has been drinking,
and her response is “All God damn day!” She is a smiling and cheerful
thirty-something and wants to know why I stopped her, and if I’m single.
There is a two-year-old baby sleeping on the back seat. I am on overtime when
I finish this one.
night as I lay next to my wife I imagine I can feel bugs itching and crawling
all over me. I wake up repeatedly, jerking and twitching from bad dreams about
hepatitis, HIV, and other yet-to-be-named blood borne pathogens from the guy
with the split open head. About 3 a.m. the phone rings. It’s the on-duty
watch commander, and he tells me “Great job on shooters in the car. Guns
were stolen. Probably get a commendation. The problem is the guy whose blood
you “shared” had to be admitted to the hospital.
You need to get down to the hospital right away in the A.M. for your gamma glob
shots and blood work. Now get some sleep.” Injections of gamma globulin
are used to create a rapid but temporary immunity in patients who have been
exposed to certain diseases.
Now I am wide-awake, wondering: “Where is my bloody uniform? Did my wife
touch it? Did my children touch it? I go to the laundry and find the uniform
shirt in the washer. I pull it out. It’s ruined from the blood. Shit,
$35.00 down the drain. I didn’t need that. As I fall asleep my final thought
is “I wonder if the Air Force will take me back?” ||
You can find more information about Quinn’s self-published
book, “Walking with the Devil,” at BooksByQuinn.com
or by writing P.O. Box 24166 / Edina, MN 55424. The book is also stocked at
several local bookstores.