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Meth For Christmas

To keep things light, I don’t write about my serious homicide and sex crimes cases where I tend to shine. Instead, you get to hear about my missteps.

In order to keep this job, I must be a little smarter than I sometimes appear. I swear.

My partner Jim has been gone for several weeks and he took his drug dog Astro with him. I miss them both and blame Jim for the following events.

I had worked the day shift and was relaxing at home when I was called to assist Officer Benito Chavez. Benito discovered a vehicle at the cemetery (A really popular party spot). A group of young males were smoking marijuana and having a good time. There were three juvenile delinquents in the vehicle with an eighteen year old driver.

Benito needed me to give the boys a ride to the police department and to call parents. When detaining juveniles and adults, Arizona law requires the juveniles be kept out of “sight and sound” of adults in custody. Benito detained the driver and called his dad, the registered owner of the car, to come and pick it up.

I drove the terrified kids back to my office. They were acting tough but their eyes were huge.

“Okay guys, these are the rules when you’ve been arrested. There will be no talking to each other. There will be no talking to me until after I have read you Miranda rights. If you need to use the restroom, you can ask but understand you will be monitored and I really don’t want to watch. Hold it if you can and Officer Chavez will help when he gets here. I will speak to each of you after I call the phlebotomist on duty to come to the station.”

They can never keep their mouths shut and start asking questions. Phlebotomist is a big word for juvenile pot heads and I haven’t had one yet that knew what I meant.

“What’s a phlebotomist?” The cockiest of the boys asked.

“I’ve already told you not to speak to me but the phlebotomist is the person who will draw your blood. You’ve all said you’re not high, so we need proof that you were actually smoking the marijuana.”

I really needed no proof. Jim had a pipe, a small bag of a green leafy substance and the odor of marijuana. I had no intention of obtaining blood samples or reading Miranda. I just wanted them to tell the truth.

I planned to call the parents, explain the circumstances and hand out juvenile referral forms. In a few weeks, the judge would slap their hands and issue some community work service. The eighteen year old would not be as lucky because he would be charged with contributing to the delinquency of minors, as well as the marijuana charge.

I know most kids hate needles. The first boy spoke up. “I’ll just admit I was smoking. You don’t need to draw my blood.”

“Yeah me too,” The other boys start agreeing with their friend.

I took the kids into the office and sat them at a table after turning their chairs around so they couldn’t look at each other. I pointed out the monitoring camera and pulled the first youngster out of the room.

One by one, I had them call their parents and explain why they were in custody. I then had them pass the phone to me. “Your son is under arrest but he has been cooperative and that’s why I’ve decided not to place him in juvenile detention. You need to pick him up from our office as soon as possible.”

Everything went smoothly but I began wondering what was taking Benito so long. After an hour, I heard him walk in and secure the adult in a holding room. He then stepped into the room where I was waiting for the last boy to be picked up. He asked to speak with me privately.

We walked into my office and Benito shut the door. I could see his excitement. I watched as he opened a large manila envelope and pulled out a quart size baggie half filled with a white crystalized substance. “Dad gave permission to search the car before he drove it away. I think it’s meth but I need to be sure.”

Benito left to start questioning our unlucky young man and I was given the task of testing the suspicious substance.

I’ve never tested drugs before. I’m not sure why but I’ve always had someone else around to do it. When my ex-partner Jim left, he was nice enough to give me his field testing kits. How hard could it be? There are directions. I pulled a test kit out of the box and gloved up. I began reading and started the testing process.

After placing a small amount of white substance in the thick plastic test bag, my phone rang. It was the parent of my remaining juvenile. His car wouldn’t start and he told me to take his son to juvenile detention. I explained that I would bring the boy home and jump start the dead car while I was there (I’m a really nice person).

While this conversation was taking place, I continued with the test. I began breaking the ampules inside the kit, left to right, just like the directions say. The chemical reaction began immediately. The smell coming from the test kit was horrible so I secured the top, keeping the obnoxious odor inside. The liquid at the bottom immediately turned blue. METHAMPHETAMINE! I had never seen that much meth in my career.

I jumped up and ran to the interview room. My adrenaline was rising and I asked Benito to step out.

“It’s meth! Oh my god, do you realize how much you’ve got?”

Benito was smiling ear to ear. “I’m going back in. This guy won’t tell me anything. I just hope the other kids haven’t tried that crap.” Benito returned to the interview room.

I went to check on my remaining juvenile. The ground started spinning. I placed my hand on the wall and realized things were starting to whirl even worse. I can only explain it as a whooshing feeling. I realized what was happening; I had somehow spilled meth on my skin or inhaled it. I made my way to the phone and called dispatch.

“Send an ambulance right away!”

“What’s going on?”

“I’ve somehow ingested Meth. I need an ambulance.” I hung up and made my way unsteadily to the bathroom and began scrubbing my hands and arms. I then made my way back to the interview room and threw open the door. I don’t even remember seeing Benito. My eyes were locked on our suspect.

My rising fear turned to panic and I let loose. “Where the hell did you get that shit? I somehow got it on my skin and I’m getting high on meth. You little piece of shit, you better tell me or I’m going to make sure you don’t see daylight as long as you live.” I had gone from shouting to screaming and Benito grabbed my shoulder to keep me from laying hands on the stupid kid. I began to shake uncontrollably and left the room. Benito followed me out, and pushed me into a chair.

“Are you serious?”

“The world is spinning and the ambulance is on the way. I can’t believe this happened.”

The whooshing was getting worse and I could hear panic in Benito’s voice too. He sat with me and called the Chief to explain what was happening.

The ambulance and Chief arrived at the same time. Benito went back in with our suspect. A blood pressure cuff was placed on my arm, a pulse monitor placed on my finger and I was attached to a heart monitor with those cold, sticky, slimy things placed under my shirt on my bare skin. The questions began and I explain everything that happened.

After my recitation, I was asked if I had any test kits they could look at. I told the paramedic where to find them and one of the EMT’s retrieved the box. I was beginning to feel better and the dizziness was not as bad. I put this down to my receding panic. I knew I was in good hands. Our ambulance crew is the best!

The meth test kit box was handed over to the paramedic and he started reading. He then passed the box to the other guys and lastly to my Chief.

On the box was a warning label about the chemical testing kit. It’s very clear. “Dangerous chemicals. Do not inhale, ingest or have contact with skin. If any of these occur, seek medical attention immediately.”

I had inhaled the testing chemical, nitrogen monoxide, not the meth. I’d had a bad reaction. It happened while I was performing the test and I was interrupted by the kid’s dad with the broken down vehicle. The directions clearly state you need to seal the test kit before breaking the ampules. I was distracted and failed to read that important line.

No meth exposure. My vitals were a little off kilter, but opposite of what they would have been if I’d really been exposed to meth. They had me stand and then sit down for an hour, checking my stats the entire time. They were finally satisfied I would be okay. I refused a trip to the emergency room.

Our juveniles were brought back in and given saliva tests for meth. They all showed negative. Benito later told me about returning to the interview room where our young man was crying like a baby. He spilled the beans on his older drug addicted brother. He agreed to take a saliva test for meth and it also came back negative. He was walked past me as the ambulance crew continued to monitor my vitals. I remember seeing his face and he looked scared to death.

I’ve since watched my video entry into the interview room and understand why this young man confessed. I’ve never used the “I’m going to kill you” scare tactic before and I don’t know if I could duplicate it if I tried. True fear is hard to fake.

When I was finally driven home, I looked up the chemical, nitrogen monoxide, which is also known as Nitric Oxide. I found the following information:

The same chemical responsible for men’s erections (and, indirectly, for the success of Viagra)

Yes, go ahead, LAUGH:-)

  1. December 4, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    I totally didn’t mean to laugh, but a snort came out and that was all she wrote. I wish we could see that video! Glad you’re alright!

    • December 4, 2011 at 7:53 pm

      It’s too funny not to laugh. I died when I read what I had the reaction to. Thanks for commenting!

      • December 6, 2011 at 2:58 pm

        OMG your comment below, choked on my coffee!

  2. Emmy
    December 4, 2011 at 8:09 pm

    Very well written – nice laugh at the end. And I’m glad you’re OK.

    • December 4, 2011 at 8:23 pm

      Thank you and I’m completely fine. No erection whatsoever:-)

  3. Suz
    December 4, 2011 at 8:59 pm

    Soooo….if you’d been a man, it would be “all good?”

    I’m REALLY glad it all worked out for you, and that you got the confession. Better yet, that kid learned something! He already knew what addiction was doing to his brother, but I think you gave him a new perspective on the broader costs of his STUPID choices.

    • December 4, 2011 at 9:06 pm

      So true and I hope you’re right. Yes, and things probably would have been more interesting if I was male.

  4. December 4, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    This stuff is better than anything on TV. LOL I’m glad you’re alright.

    • December 4, 2011 at 9:38 pm

      I’m more than fine and thank you for the TV compliment, I think:-)

  5. December 4, 2011 at 9:36 pm

    Suzie, you always send me into hysterics when I am most in need. Thank you for your hilarious posts, but mostly just for being you!

    • December 4, 2011 at 9:46 pm

      I’m here to make you smile. I’m using this excuse next time I do something stupid. I’ll tell the guys, “This was just for Ruby.” I’ll laugh and pretend it was on purpose. Thank you!

      • December 8, 2011 at 5:32 am

        I don’t think I have ever in my life been so delighted and honored to be someone’s excuse for something! 😉

      • December 8, 2011 at 7:23 am

        Smiles Ruby, you can be my excuse any day!

  6. December 5, 2011 at 8:42 am

    My goodness, this is awesome! Reads like a dream, too! You go, Suzie! 🙂

    • December 5, 2011 at 8:54 am

      Thank you because I spent 6 hours editing it yesterday. For some reason I just couldn’t get it right. I must have been brain dead when I first scribbled:-)

  7. December 5, 2011 at 8:58 am

    OMG! I totally left out the erection part while I was reading. It just seemed like a post scriptum to me. And now, when I visualized the whole thing, keeping the “viagra” part in mind… Suzie, it’s GOOD you are not a male… Poor kid would have bee traumatized For Life! ROFL: just picture it! 😛

    • December 5, 2011 at 9:20 am

      You’re so funny:-) If I was a male I think it would have scared the poor kid off drugs forever. His parents would have had trouble getting him to take an asprin.

  8. December 6, 2011 at 9:17 pm

    A new take on “Scared straight.” LOL Getting interrupted while working with dangerous chemicals can lead to some interesting consequences. My hope is that you hired someone to man the phones while you’re otherwise occupied. 🙂 And yes, I concur with the other commenters, Suzie. You did a wonderful job of writing, as usual. Six hours of editing sounds very familiar.

    • December 6, 2011 at 10:11 pm

      Thank you Grace, no help with phones but I’ll pay closer attention from now on:-)

  9. December 8, 2011 at 11:38 am

    Hi Suzie, just to add to my twitter comment, I watched a pbs documentary a few months ago on crystal meth and how it permanently alters the brain; people are no longer able to experience pleasure or happiness, they just become permanently depressed. Also, there have been newspaper reports in my local paper saying that not only is the drug extremely addictive but chances are high that people using meth will become schizophrenic even if they stop using, unlike other hard drugs. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/meth/
    ps. next time don’t pick up the phone!

    • December 9, 2011 at 6:28 pm

      Your chastisement makes me smile. Thank you for caring and I promise to let the phone ring and ring and ring:-)

  10. December 11, 2011 at 9:57 am

    That is a terrifying story! I can well imagine the fear running through your mind as you contemplated exposure to the Meth! And I know if it had been me, I would have had the same reaction with the suspect. SO glad you’re okay, Suzie! (I’ve said it before & I’ll say it again: you are a brave & amazing woman!)

    • December 11, 2011 at 10:08 am

      Thank you! A good friend told me it’s just an “AFLE.” When I gave her that confused what… look she said, “Another F***ing Learning Experience.” You would need to know my friend because I had never heard her cuss. She is absolutely right though.

  11. December 11, 2011 at 7:58 pm

    Awesome story Suzie. And superbly told! Brava!!

    You sure have an interesting life.

  12. December 14, 2011 at 3:51 am

    haha, i am sorry but this is really funny! thanks for sharing! 🙂


  13. December 23, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    I am in tears laughing (with you) , your an amazingly good writer. always in the first person with a great story.

    • December 23, 2011 at 7:53 pm

      Thank you and you can join everyone else in laughing at me as well. I actually tested meth today, by myself, and did it correctly. I did it with no one around so I could concentrate. I’m now a pro!

      • December 26, 2011 at 2:22 pm

        nasty stuff. be well… What is the chain of custody required. I would think that it needs to be documented so some defense attorney couldn’t challenge it. LOL

      • December 26, 2011 at 2:42 pm

        We test very small amount then place the rest in evidence until it’s taken to the lab. Chain of custody begins as soon as we find and we account for every minute, even when sitting on my desk.

  14. December 28, 2011 at 8:18 am

    Your stories are always so gripping. This was a great one. Just one more of your job hazards. I’ll bet you’re an expert at drug chemical analysis now.

    • December 28, 2011 at 8:23 am

      I did it correctly a few days ago, meth positive and no emergency services called. I felt so proud:-)

  15. January 9, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    OMG!! LOL! What an experience to go through! So nice that we get to laugh in the aftermath!

  16. February 27, 2012 at 11:17 am

    OH MY GOSH!!! Was just cleaning out my inbox & found this post sitting there that I’d not read. And HAHAHAHA sorry, I couldn’t help but literally laugh out loud when I read the last line. But I’m glad it was all pretty benign in the grand scheme of things!

    • February 27, 2012 at 7:10 pm

      I will never live this down at work either. You should hear the jokes. They assure me they are laughing at me and not with me 🙂

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