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Thread: Daily Bread

  1. #81
    Senior Member Williamsmith's Avatar
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    Continued...

    Assignments are handed out for graduating cadets. Most intra and inter troop transfers have been completed and vacancies are filled out of the academy. Vacancies are mostly at the busiest stations closest to the urban areas as Troopers migrate to supposedly less challenging counties. There is a dedicated interstate patrol troop and a turnpike troop that spans the entire length of the state from east to west. Nobody from the academy is assigned either of these two troops because older troopers are transferring in and filling any vacancies. The county troops are tasked with all manner of criminal and traffic enforcement similar to a sheriffs department in many states. You wait to see where you will end up.

    Prior to assignments being handed out you were asked to provide preferred destinations. Your top three were your home troop and two adjacent troops respectively. You expect to at least get an adjacent assignment that will leave you within 100 miles of your home. One by one, each cadet receives their assignment ...except you. Finally, you have to speak up as everyone is about to leave the room. The response confirms that you have been keeping a low profile. "Who the hell are you?"

    It seems to befuddle the leadership. But after some calling around, your assignment arrives. Troop G......smack dab in the middle of the state over two hundred miles away from home. You look on the map. It's near the largest university in the state....the same one you attended but past that, there are more deer, bear and turkeys than there are people. It's going to be difficult to find a suitable rental. Your wife accompanies you on a scouting mission. You need to find a place to live and you need to meet the Sargeant in charge of your barracks.

    Arriving in the area, you generally know the location but can't place where the barracks is. Heading up the mountain, you've been told it is up on top near the highway maintenance shed. You find it, but you are not sure what you are looking at. There is a sign announcing that it is the facility of interest but it is simply a small house. There are only two marked patrol cars and a tiny driveway. Walking in the front door, there is a trooper with his feet up on a desk, a bowl of soup and his clip on tie hanging off to the side. You introduce yourself and reach out your hand. He simply swivels in a squeaky chair and screams back toward what looks like a bedroom. "Sarge! The new boot is here!" "Send him in!" Comes the reply. The voice is decidedly feminine and when you enter the office....you learn that your new Commanding Officer is the first female Sargeant to ever command a station I. The history of your department which goes back 75 years.

  2. #82
    Senior Member Williamsmith's Avatar
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    You also learn that a new facility has just been built by a contractor who will lease the building to the state. The new station is about a mile down the road and it's ready to be occupied. Your first assignment is to leave the uniform at home and show up ready to move everything out and into the new facility. It will take two days. When you finish the move and on your first day reporting to duty you stand in front of the building and have a picture taken in uniform. The background is the state seal.

    Despite the elation of having graduated, been assigned, located housing and generally not been run off....the fact is you know nothing about police work. The training and education you get is just enough to get you in trouble. In trouble by thinking you are capable of something you most certainly aren't, in trouble by having no knowledge of local procedures, in trouble by not being familiar with area residents who largely support your agency but when push came to shove will side with any members of their family first. You also need to learn the pet peeves of each supervisor and how to stay on their good side. Especially, the Sargeant who makes out your schedule.

    There is a break in period where you are considered a probabtionary Trooper. Your are assigned to ride with a more experienced "road dog" who is supposed to show you the ropes and teach you enough to stay out of trouble and stay alive. The area is so sparsely populated that there isn't even a midnight patrol except on weekends. A Trooper spends the night in the building answering the phone and deciding whether someone will need hauled out of bed to respond to an incident. That potential responder will have worked the 3-11 shift and taken the car home with him. He is usually also working the 7-3 shift the following morning. It doesn't take long for you to figure out that calling the "on call" Trooper is something that is not done without absolute necessity.

    The coach/trainee system is designed to root out probationary troopers who just won't cut it. Most often it will be the lack of timely reporting that will tangle them up. The report system is still functioning under the carbon copy method of triplicate with each copy to be forwarded to a different location after completion. It is a burdensome holdover from years of military influence. Computers have not yet been incorporated. Your first coach is a stickler for completing paperwork immediately after it is a requirement. He is a strange recently divorced hermit who lives in a house deep up a holler tucked in the mountains. You learn that many of the current Troopers spent time in Vietnam and predictably, have their issues. But they meet the criteria laid out for law enforcement in rural America. They are capable of handling anything on their own. It might not be as per regulation on paper but they know how to quash an insurrection by simple will and brute force. And they know how to report what happened.....clear and concise. Not too much and not too little.

    Your second coach is only on the job three years but you realize that he is both easy going and fully capable when challenged. He is able to talk his way out of difficulty and fight his way out of a bar. Mostly though, he is interested in the wildlife and learning the ins and outs of fly fishing. It will be an endeavor that will lead him to a chance encounter with the 39th President of the United States. He becomes an outdoorsman, photographer, writer and environmentalist of some prominence in the county. He kindles a friendship with you that lasts a lifetime.

    Climbing in a patrol car for the first shift on your own and responsible for a large area, you can't help but feel intimidated. Will you be able to be fair and make good decisions. Can you develop a repoir with the locals? What awaits you? The only tools you have at your disposal is your marked patrol car, a radio that has two channels, a hand held repeater which doesn't work when you get more than a hundred yards from the car, a wooden night stick, handcuffs, and a .357 caliber Ruger revolver with a speed strip of six rounds. That means you have twelve total rounds with which to defend yourself should it come to that. Shotguns have to be signed out. Some do, some don't. Rifles are 30.06 caliber with open sights. They mostly remain in the armoury.

    Your mind is constantly stirring up scenarios. You think of some of the worst ones. Shootings, fatal accidents, missing children......and the silence is broken by the crack of the radio. Central to Central 2. "Central 2. Go ahead." Central 2, we have an incident for you.

  3. #83
    Senior Member Williamsmith's Avatar
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    This is a reaction you'd better get used to. In fact, it will become an addiction. Your pulse picks up pace. There is a little tightness in your back muscles and something called dopamine is created in your brain. You are preparing for fight or flight. As time goes on, you will barely be aware of the increased attention and tunnel vision it provides you. It will become second nature. But now, as a new boot, you prepare to be dispatched, and it can be for almost anything.

    The radio barks in response, "Central 2 I got an incident for you. Theft. The complainant will be a Mrs. Anderson at RD 2 Box 236, Port Royal.....that's down in the valley. There will be a white Ford F-150 in the driveway and the house will be of red insulbrick". You respond, "10-4".

    This is before the 911 system mapped out the county with easy to find addresses. This is where your coach/trainee sessions pay off. All the traveling around and paying attention helps you know where to look for the house. Many mailboxes have the box number written on them but not all. You also carry a map of the county with you with handwritten notes, local names for roads and appropriate zone assignments and district justice jurisdictions.

    You find the house. Out near the end of the dirt drive is an old refrigerator next to a garage. You notice it but don't pay it much mind. A German shepherd lopes across the front yard toward your car. He looks friendly enough but still you put down the window first to see his reaction. Meantime, a woman comes out on the porch and says,"Don't worry, he won't bite." Dogs are famous for attacking people in uniform, that you know but as a kid you used to roam the neighborhood and pet all the dogs that were either running around or tied to a box. You figure the dog is trustworthy and get out of the car.

    He circles around behind you as you introduce yourself to the woman who obviously must be Mrs. Anderson. She is unkempt but not dirty. She appears to live by herself and scrapes by, probably with social security ....she lives on what used to be a dairy farm. Now she keeps free range chickens. And hens in the coop behind barn.

    She has a serious look look on her face and something troubling her greatly. You expect to hear something like her stash of cash has been taken from her house or maybe a car is missing. You are resolving to do whatever it takes to get to the bottom of whatever is causing her this much grief. She starts explaining, "Young man, you see that refrigerator down by the road? Well, this has happened a few times and I just let it go. I was sitting on the porch here and a car pulls in. They go to the frig and open the door. I don't hear any clinking noise. Nothing! And then they leave. Well, this time I am ready. I got these here binoculars and as they pull out I got the first three numbers of the plate. "

    You still havent gotten what the crime was. "Mrs. Anderson, what happened?" She looks at you sideways and asks..."Young man, are you going to get my money or not?"

    "For what, Mrs. Anderson?"

    "The thirty-five cents for the dozen eggs they took without putting any money in the coffee can!"

    There is a part of you that just wants to reach in your pocket and hand her the thirty-five pennies. But the compassionate side wins out and you tell her you'll do your best to find the culprit.

    Armed with a description of the vehicle and having checked that the coffee can was indeed empty...you drive south in the direction of the suspects vehicle. A few miles south is a crossroads with several houses and a few side streets. You drive around not expecting to find the car but needing to put something on the report to say you tried. But there it sits. The right color and the right first three numbers of the registration plate.

    A woman meets you at the door door when you knock. She is shocked to see a State Trooper at her door and probably is expecting to be informed of the untimely death of a family member. There is no easy way to suggest to a person that they are a thief. Especially when the amount is less than the cost of a postage stamp. She is apologetic and immediate produces a quarter and a dime for restitution. You assure her it must have been a misunderstanding. She asks you to apologize for her to Mrs. Anderson.

    On your way back to the scene of the crime, you can't help but think at least someone will have their faith restored in the justice system. You pull into the drive, hop out and drop the two coins into the coffee can. A voice booms from the porch, "I heard that!" It was a valiant attempt to not have to explain but you reluctantly return to the porch and apologize for the egg thief.

    Retuning to station at at the end of the shift, you drop the assignment report into the shift supervisors Box along with a few Traffic citations. Feeling pretty good about your first day, you undress and go home. When you return the next day there is a discrepancy notice in your box from the crime unit supervisor. You can't believe what you are reading.

  4. #84
    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    What a great story. I love the telling details in simple language. I'm thinking Dragnet meets Hemingway.

    Really interesting window into your world and the world of law enforcement.
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
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  5. #85
    Senior Member Williamsmith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by catherine View Post
    What a great story. I love the telling details in simple language. I'm thinking Dragnet meets Hemingway.

    Really interesting window into your world and the world of law enforcement.
    I was thinking more on the lines of William S. Gray and Zerna Sharp....."Fun with Dick and Jane" meets "See Spot Run."

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