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Small Town Crazy

October 30, 2011 28 comments

I was out early chasing cows when I snapped this picture of Small Town. You can see the trees just beginning to change color. I’m sorry I wasn’t doing something glamorous like apprehending bad guys but it wasn’t that kind of day.

My husband and I were raised in the city and always dreamed of moving to a small town. My love started young with the Anne of Green Gables series. The eccentric people made me crave that small town atmosphere. I now live the life and get to imagine I’m Anne. This post is dedicated to all the people who make Small Town wonderful.

A few years ago, I had my first “sheep” call on a Saturday afternoon. I was working on a report, at my desk, when dispatch contacted me and said they had Mr. Tackshaw on the line. I told them to forward the call. A gruff voice said, “I’ve seen a prostitute walking down Main Street.”

We’ve never had a prostitute in Small Town and I thought I misheard, “A what?”

“She’s walking her sheep.”

“I’ll check it out.” This was all I could say, I was not commenting on the connection between sheep and prostitutes.

Indeed, she was walking her sheep and her dog. Marla let me take the picture in this post. I see her all the time now and she is sometimes more scantily clad than what is considered acceptable here. Marla doesn’t care; this is how she feels comfortable. Her sheep is named Jo Jo and her dog is Sunshine. How she could be confused as a prostitute is a true sign that I live in a small town.
One of our lifelong residents died recently. He was 97-years-old. He lived a wonderful life and left behind an incredible family of sixteen children. Instead of using a hearse to transport him to the cemetery, the family built floats on trailers and had a parade. The colors were garish and the entire effect gaudy. They played 50’s bebop music from a stereo system. What a sight! I’m wondering if they would be willing to plan my funeral. I want pink flowers made with tissue paper strung everywhere. I want ACDC music blasting (Highway to Hell would be apropos). I want…I’ll let them know the rest.

The tallest flag pole in town is at the post office on Main Street. Some industrious juveniles placed used car tires from bottom to top and we never saw them doing it. The pole is fifty feet high. It was great! Everyone laughed and the unknown culprits were front page news. Every year we wait to see what the next wave of juvenile delinquents will come up with. The flag pole incident has yet to be topped. I was the investigating officer but quite frankly, derelict in my duties.

Here in Small town, we live hundreds of miles from the big city. Yes, we are Arizona Diamondback and Cardinal fans but mostly we are devotees of our hometown football team. The neighborhood stores post weekly signs, “Spear the Tigers,” or “Pulverize the Pirates.” The entire town gets into the fever. Friday night arrives, the stores shut down, dinner is served early and everyone makes their way to the high school. The stands are packed with home team colors displayed proudly. Our department ordered special long sleeve t-shirts with Police imprinted across the back. We wear them on football night, it’s the only time you see our police officers out of blue uniforms. We walk around proudly greeting people or we go down to the field to watch the action up close and personal.

While the parents sit in the stands, their children have impromptu games on the practice field. Five games will take place at once as different age groups divide up in teams, including the girls. I would not be surprised to have the first female NFL player come from Small Town. Those girls are tough and give the boys a run for their money.

During those few hours we don’t worry about crime. Its Friday night football and our criminals are in the stands cheering on our boys.

A few years ago, half our town was faced with the consequences of major flooding. No lives were lost but cattle, horses and dogs were taken. Everyone, even those with houses destroyed, pitched in to clean up. Sunday church was not held. The entire town came together and praised God beneath cloudy skies by helping their neighbors.

Our front yard washed out and my fishpond was filled with muck. I thought my fish were goners. When the main crisis passed, my neighbors came over to help. It didn’t matter that everyone was exhausted and in need of rest. No one took time out until everyone was cared for. If you couldn’t lift a hammer or transport materials, you cooked. I will never forget the mud covered goldfish we unearthed, alive and well. It was such a small thing but to me it was a miracle. In the picture you can see Dos sticking his head out of the water to say hello.

Cities have malls and attractions, high paying jobs and cultural centers. Small towns are large families; sometimes dysfunctional but never boring. Small towns are where people care about others and finding an open store on a Sunday is a miracle in itself. We are the heartland of America. I’m proud to be considered a small town hick. My husband and I fit in perfectly.

Policing, Suzie Ivy Style

October 23, 2011 31 comments

Recently, my squad car partner Jim asked how I get away with the rules I police by. I laughed because I think it’s a mom/grandma thing.

I’ve written about the juvenile hooligans in town loving my pink handcuffs and it’s true, but there are times they hate to see me coming.

I’m a seatbelt fanatic! I cringe when I see someone not wearing one or God forbid, not buckling up their children. I’m not even a little bit nice about it. The kids in town know my rules. If they are caught driving without a seatbelt, they get out of their vehicle and give me 100 pushups. This goes for every child in the vehicle twelve and over. If they are under twelve, the driver does their pushups for them. I’ve stood by, on the sidewalk, and had as many as six teenagers taking their punishments. Cars honk as they drive by. No parent has ever complained.

The other night, two Mormon missionaries ran a stop sign (they drive a vehicle because we are so rural). I pulled them over and asked what the book of Mormon taught them. The driver wasn’t sure how to answer so I asked if it says anything about running stop signs.

“No, but I’m sorry for running the stop sign.”

“It teaches you not to lie, so thank you for the truth and next time STOP.”

As I got back in our unit, Jim was shaking his head. “How do you get away with these things?” Jim gets quite a few complaints. He’s a good guy and a great cop but he does not have the GRANDMOTHER touch.

I’ve arrived at domestic calls where kids and parents are yelling at each other. I’ve sent them all to their rooms for the night. It’s comical to see adults trudging away with their heads down. These moms and dads have no parenting skills to speak of. I teach them about taking personal time outs.

I never spanked my oldest two children. My youngest was a handful and she was spanked regularly. It never helped her but for the most part made me feel better (It’s too late to call CPS, she’s grown and moved away). On the job, I’ve stood by and watched as parents spank their kids. I’m there to make sure it doesn’t get out of hand but mostly for the embarrassment factor. Usually, I tell the parent they can spank harder.

A young man in high school stopped me at the park the other day. He was with his friends and asked if I remembered watching as his mom spanked him several years ago.

Yes, I remembered. “Did she ever spank you again?” I couldn’t help but ask.

“No, because I was afraid she would call you to watch.” His friends all snickered.

“Well then I guess it worked.”

“Will you watch me spank my kids when I have them because I don’t really want to do it more than once?”

It did work, what can I say?

My granddaughter was refusing to poop on the potty but was made to sit in her pull up on the toilet seat while going. She’s four-years-old. I suggested cutting a hole in the pull up. My daughter said I was brilliant. She’s the one I spanked. She’s a great mom and will be a brilliant grandma. This paragraph has little to do with policing but I wanted to pat myself on the back.

Now let me talk about hugs. I’m a hugger. I’ve hugged quite a few people before I leave them at the jail. They hug me again when they are released and let me know how they’re doing. At the very least, I shake their hand. I’ve had maybe ten arrestees I haven’t done this with. I live in a very small town. Sooner or later I run into everyone. I feel hugs make me safer. I also get wonderful information with whispers in my ear, “I have some info for you.” or “Such and such knows who’s doing the burgs.” All this in a hug.

If you are a big city cop (my son-in-law), you are jumping up and down and screaming by now but that’s okay. I’m hoping you can feel my hug from here.

I love my job. I’m often unorthodox in performing my duties but that’s just me. In twenty years Jim might be able to get away with some of the things I do. His smile needs improvement though.

Bill Trantham is the artist for my caricature. You can find him at http://sillybill.com

If you are troubled about my perspective and the way I do my job, please bypass the chain of command and take it straight to the top. Email President Obama

Memories of a Bad Luck Halloween

October 16, 2011 11 comments

As we draw closer to one of my favorite days of celebration, I can’t help but think back to my childhood in Columbus, Georgia and the town’s most popular destination for Halloween.

The couple called it “Trick for a Treat” and the fee could be as simple as a summersault or as melodious as a tune.

Even knowing the mouthwatering treats came at a price, costumed children lined up in front of this house to earn a small bag of the best candy in the neighborhood.

In 1971, I was ten years old. My mother was divorced, raising three children and taking electronics courses at Columbus Tech. We lived in the heart of southern Bible belt country. She supported de-segregation of our local schools, and obviously, never won a popularity contest in our community. Her music was my inspiration. I was raised to be strong, think for myself and to NEVER go with the flow.

At the time, I fancied myself the next Cher, with the dramatic flare of a future Mariah Carey who was a baby at the time. I sometimes wonder if Mariah somehow obtained a video of me in my glittering princess costume and copied the way I artistically lifted my hand on the high notes. My elevated hand gesture was, unfortunately, the only similarity between Mariah and me.

In my early teens, I recorded myself singing and was crushed to realize I could rival nothing better than a blood hound.

But on that cold frightful Halloween night when I was ten, I was blissfully unaware of my vocal deficiencies. My brother, sister and I went to the “Trick for a Treat” house. Though I was nervous and my palms were sweaty, I eagerly waited in line for my opportunity to shine. When my turn finally came, I stepped forward, with a thumping heart and my princess crown slightly askew. I raised my small voice and belted out…

I am woman, hear me roar 
In numbers too big to ignore 
And I know too much to go back an’ pretend
’ cause I’ve heard it all before
 And I’ve been down there on the floor 
No one’s ever gonna keep me down again

Oh yes I am wise
 But it’s wisdom born of pain 
Yes, I’ve paid the price
 But look how much I gained 
If I have to, I can do anything
 I am strong (strong) 
I am invincible (invincible)
 I am woman

You can bend but never break me
, cause it only serves to make me 
More determined to achieve my final goal 
And I come back even stronger
 Not a novice any longer
’cause you’ve deepened the conviction in my soul

I am woman watch me grow 
See me standing toe to toe
 As I spread my lovin’ arms across the land
 But I’m still an embryo
 With a long long way to go 
Until I make my brother understand

Oh yes I am wise
 But it’s wisdom born of pain
 Yes, I’ve paid the price
 But look how much I gained 
If I have to I can face anything
 I am strong (strong) 
I am invincible (invincible)
 I am woman 
Oh, I am woman 
I am invincible 
I am strong

No applause came at the end of my song.

The shocked looks are now comical in my far reaching memory, but, to a then ten year old, the reaction was devastating. I was handed my bag of goodies and ushered out with a “Run along now.”

I held my tears back until I reached the street where I had to wait while my sister did a cartwheel and my brother barked like a dog.

Though my young ego was destroyed, I ate every bite of candy. And, in a few short weeks, I began planning for the following year’s trick. The lyrics were perfect and the chorus a sign of my upbringing.

How much does it cost, I’ll buy it 
The time is all we’ve lost, I’ll try it
 But he can’t even run his own life 
I’ll be DAMNED if he’ll run mine, Sunshine

Thank you Mom for everything. And thank you Helen Reddy for I Am Woman and Jonathan Edwards for Sunshine.

May everyone have a safe and memorable Halloween!

A Morning with Barney: King of the Couch

October 9, 2011 24 comments

I write quite a few animal stories on my blog because they contain some of the more humorous situations I experience on the job. Small town policing is different from city law enforcement. We handle just about everything thrown our way including animal control.

I’m the nature lover at the department and when I see coyotes, owls, rabbits and even snakes while patrolling, I’m in awe. Their incredible beauty is a gift.

Unfortunately, the guys I work with see target practice. I live in a cowboy ranching community where hunting is taught from early childhood. If it has four legs it’s open season. Harsh but accepted here.

The day I met Barney (my name for him), I finished working ten hours on the night shift and drove home as the sun was coming up. Two hours later, the morning duty officer was at the scene of a traffic collision and not available. My phone rang and I groggily answered. An unknown Pit Bull was on someone’s porch and growling as they tried to leave for work. Could I help?

I put on my previous evenings uniform and drove to the address given by dispatch. The beautiful Pit Bull was occupying a six by six foot raised porch. He was king of his hill. As the owner of a one hundred and sixty pound Rottweiler, I have a healthy respect for big dogs but have little fear.

I parked fifteen feet from the porch and climbed out of my vehicle. Barney had no intention of allowing me to move closer. He aggressively stepped to the end of his domain; his large fanged teeth displayed and low grumbles rumbling from his throat.

Making no sudden moves, I slowly took out my Taser. When I didn’t walk closer, Barney’s growls diminished and he settled back into his territory. The nervous homeowners spoke to me through their living room window asking what I was going to do.

Our animal control truck was at the department, and no one would be there for another hour. I was being told by the homeowners that the Mrs. needed to be at work. Thinking on the fly, I came up with a plan. I told the woman I would get the dog off the porch with instructions to come outside and walk slowly to her vehicle when my goal was achieved. I assured her I would stand between her and Barney, Tasing him if he attacked. I knew in my head that if the Taser didn’t work, I would be forced to shoot this gorgeous animal.

I returned to my vehicle and revved the engine getting Barney’s attention. With my hand pressing down on the horn, I put my foot to the gas petal and charged the porch. Barney leapt down and ran to the side of the house. I jumped out and guarded the woman as she made her way to her car, placing my Taser in my left hand, keeping my gun hand unencumbered.

Barney moved to the back of my vehicle and watched as the woman drove away. I stepped onto the porch and took my position. Barney’s tentative steps brought him closer. I sat down with my legs dangling over the side, assuring him softly. Barney, knowing the King of the Hill rules walked up to me as pleasant as could be and rubbed against my legs. I then got kisses for my trouble.

The big baby then followed me to my vehicle, jumped in the back and off we went to the kennels. I don’t have a cage in my unmarked unit but Barney was happy with his backseat kingdom. He followed me inside the K9 prison without difficulty. He then saw the couch and jumped up.

Barney was again king of his hill. He refused to budge from his throne even with gentle nudging. I enticed him with dog food for thirty minutes before he followed me into his short term home. I snapped the picture above as Barney proudly reigned over his kingdom.

Large dogs and especially Pit Bulls pose a major threat to the public when they are not properly trained and contained. Barney was claimed and his owner paid a $30.00 kennel fee as well as a $125.00 misdemeanor citation for allowing his dog to be at large. I am the last person to want any breed of dog banned but owners must take responsibility for their pets or it will happen!

Barney was a challenge but we all came out unscathed. He hasn’t been seen running around Small Town since.

The Murderous Rendezvous

October 2, 2011 20 comments

Everyone knows there are hazards in making online friends. I’ve taught the “Dangers of the Internet” class to many young teens. I’ve tried to make an impact on how easy it is for a predator to find private information; where you live, go to school, etc.

Adults are also at risk but we don’t often think that one of our Twitter, Facebook or Linkedin friends may actually be out to do us harm. We continue to make unknown contacts and build a community that exists only online, far away from where we perceive danger.

As a woman, I understand the extra precautions that need to be in place. We can never take safety for granted. We carry items for protection, stay out of shadowed places and watch closely what is happening around us. Women exist in this world of heightened awareness without even thinking about it.

Every once in a while we get a chance to meet an unknown someone from our social network. A person we think we know after 140 character Twitter conversations, or Facebook messages. We plan a simple lunch or dinner at a public restaurant where we can feel safe and finally make eye contact with our special but really unknown friend. We’re eager, and that small unidentified “threat” factor adds an element of excitement.

So here I was, a police officer, making plans to meet one of my online acquaintances face to face. She (as portrayed online) lived on the stretch of road I travel when attending autopsies. We were online friends. We knew a lot about one another through the other’s blog. She was a sister writer like me.

When we planned our lunch date, we exchanged email addresses. Being a detective, I know what can be learned by exchanging this information. I’ve used “view full header” to find people emailing child pornography. It’s not some top secret FBI program, it’s available to everyone. The header on an email shows the IP address of the sender and receiver and using an IP address locater, found on any search engine, I copy and paste the info and presto, I’m on the path to getting my guy.

So, I guess I consider exchanging email addresses mistake number one. As the time of our pre-arranged meeting draws closer, we take the next step. We exchange phone numbers. If you use your phone number for any public drawing, you know, to win a house or a car, guess what? I can find your home address. There are other ways as well and I’ve gathered information on unlisted phone numbers quite easily. So here we are with mistake number two.

Early that morning, I drive to the autopsy, excited about my death by toaster case. Sincerely I could not make this up. The pathologist didn’t believe me either but before we entered the dissection room, I asked him to Google death by toaster and see the thousands of pages of information dedicated to this topic. He laughed at me as we gowned up and put on our facemasks. He wasn’t laughing after two minutes of viewing the body. I and my investigation were completely vindicated. Sorry, but I can’t go into further detail but maybe someday I can post the story.

So here I was making the drive home, meeting my Twitter pal, feeling excited and a little apprehensive as I drove off the main highway onto a long road, continuing out into nowhere, to a Mexican restaurant chosen by my unknown friend. My handy Verizon Navigator giving me directions as the Arizona desert landscaping became more desolate.

Up ahead, I see one lonely vehicle parked at my destination. A woman steps out, and eyes me closely. Then her hand tentatively comes up and waves. Even in the uninhabited surroundings my anxiety gives way to relief. We meet halfway between the vehicles and hug each other. She is sorry, she had no idea the restaurant was closed. She has another idea if I follow her. We get in our separate vehicles and make a drive into even more isolation. The small mom and pop café with its blinking open sign is a relief.

Within minutes we are old friends. We can’t get our words out fast enough. Her cell phone beeps and her husband is checking on her. She took precautions like I did and sends back a message saying “Having fun!” Minutes of laughter go by as we talk about our security measures for this meeting. Her phone beeps again and she shows me the return text, “Having GUN?”

Oh, that man is a riot and teasing her about meeting an online serial killer. Minutes later her phone rings, I can hear her distressed husband’s voice from my seat across the table. She assures him everything is fine. After hanging up, she looks back at her text messages and then begins laughing. She shows me what she did. Instead of typing “Having fun” she’s the one that wrote “Having gun.” Our hilarity carries on for hours, before it’s finally time for us to head home.

We did it. Both of us dodged a murderous rendezvous and proved our husbands wrong. We made a lasting friendship and await the next gruesome death so we can meet up again. We Tweet and laugh with each other still. But maybe, somewhere in the back of our vivid imaginations we wonder, what if?

Melissa Crytzer Fry, this post is for you. I truly love the inspiration you give to writers with your beautiful photography and creative writing genius. What I Saw… is one of my favorite blogs! Keep motivating us and sharing your visions. You are truly a special friend. I can’t think of a better way to meet someone and thank you for the use of your photo without knowing this post was about you.

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