As a child I had a fascination with police officers. They represented authority, an awesome uniform, and a courageous presence that I found intriguing. Why do kids grow up wanting to be cops? What will the next generation bring to the badge?
Cowboys and Indians were big when I was a child. I always wanted to be the Indian; wild and fighting back against the big bad cowboys. Yes, I know this is politically incorrect today but in the sixties it was big. I had a small bow and arrow set and fought against metal cap pistols totally out-gunned. I played with the boys because girl games were boring. Add small plastic dinosaurs and Match Box cars when indoors and I could entertain myself for hours on rainy days.
Even my music back then was considered badass for the time. I sang “Sunshine” by Jonathan Edwards loud and proud. “He can’t even run his own life I’ll be damned if he’ll run mine.” Cher’s “Cherokee Nation” was another. “Took away our ways of life. The tomahawk and the bow and knife.” I realize now, by screaming these lyrics at the top of my lungs, I was preparing for defensive tactics. What I was subliminally saying… “No one is taking away my weapons and I’ll fight any cowboy who tries.”
My mother had a lead foot when driving our 1966 Buick Sportwagon. I met quite a few friendly police officers who liked my mom’s smile. She was always respectful and courteous. I honestly don’t remember her getting a ticket. “Slow down ma’am,” and we were back on the road. My mother never passed the buck. “I need to drive slower,” was her usual response when we pulled away. I had blue stars in my eyes because the cop cars were so much cooler than ours.
I was the kind of girl who broke her arm playing football and broke it again roller skating down suicide hill. In high school I became a cheerleader. Not because I actually wanted to cheer the boys on but because they wouldn’t let me play football. Standing so close to the sidelines, I could hear all the grunting, swearing, and yells clearly. It made the short skirts and ponytails almost bearable.
I was the kind of girl who grew up to be a cop.
To friends: Merry Christmas and joyous holidays. Thank you for visiting me.
Seeing the worst of humanity becomes second nature and the daily expectation when many officers put on their uniform. It wears on you, causes depression, lack of motivation, and discontent in our jobs. When those down and out times come along and I’m not seeing the sunshine through my patrol vehicle windshield, something always happens to lift my spirits.
During one of my Christmas day shifts, I was trying to shake off a fatality car accident caused by a drunk driver. I wondered if this was really the job for me. I hadn’t slept well the previous three days since the crash and feeling Christmas harmony was far from my mind. Though I enjoyed working the holidays, that particular day I wanted to be home with family to take my mind off the images that wouldn’t go away.
I stopped at the local twenty-four hour convenience store to grab a cup of hot coffee and try to put a buzz in my dragging boot steps. A man dressed in weathered clothes walked up to me and handed a plain black folded wallet over. He said he found it on the ground in the parking lot. I asked for his name and information but he said he didn’t want to give it. He turned and walked away. I thanked him but he never looked back.
I paid for my coffee and headed out to my patrol car. After getting myself situated, I opened the wallet looking for identification. Three very crisp one hundred dollar bills rested inside. The wallet also held an out of town driver’s license, a debit card, and a few business cards. I lay it on the seat beside me and continued my patrol. Approximately thirty minutes later, dispatch notified me there was a man looking for a lost wallet at the convenience store. I couldn’t help my grin as I turned and headed in that direction.
When I pulled up it was easy to identify the man with the missing wallet. His overwhelming dejection was completely evident. I grabbed the wallet and got out of the car. He began speaking before I could say anything.
“I think I left my wallet on the trunk of my car when I filled my gas tank and I know it’s long gone but I had to report it.”
I held up the wallet. “Is this yours, there’s a lot of money inside?”
The look on his face was priceless. “The money’s still there?”
“Yes, as far as I know.”
“I had three one hundred dollar bills for my three grandchildren who I haven’t seen in several years.”
I handed the wallet over, “A man gave it to me about thirty minutes ago. He found it in the parking lot.”
With shaking hands he took the wallet.
“I guess you have your own special Santa this year. Merry Christmas,” I told him.
His glassy eyes spilled over and he kept thanking me while I reminded him I hadn’t found his wallet.
I drove away with a lighter heart and my faith in humanity restored. Really it was such a small thing but it came at just the right time. With all the negative press about police officers, I feel it’s important to remember why we do our jobs. We need to look for those small things that put smiles on our faces and soothe our souls. I don’t think the man who found the wallet was someone else’s Santa, I think he was my guardian angel.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of our E.M.T.’s, Firefighters, Military, Police, and Readers. May your guardian angels answer your prayers and lift your spirits high this holiday season.
The Thanksgiving Spirit
I love the holidays and always have. During my years on patrol, I worked every Thanksgiving and Christmas. I loved the cheerful smiles when citizens saw me out on holiday patrol. And, I missed these days after my promotion to detective.
I’ve been invited into people’s homes for dinner, handed gifts, and thanked numerous times for my service. If you know anything about me by now, you know lots of hugs happen on these days too. Maybe that’s why they will always hold special memories.
In 2005, my patrol car was fitted with a back cage for the first time. Why you may ask, wouldn’t a patrol car have a cage? Simple really… budget. I always worried someone I arrested would slip their cuffs and assault me from behind. So, in 2004, I was thankful for a cage.
In 2006, we received our first Tasers. Each morning I uniformed up and popped my Taser. This is a test to make sure it works properly. Every police officer loves the orgasmic sound a Taser makes. I was very thankful that year.
In 2007, due to seniority, I moved up to a new Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor. This baby could fly. It had all the bells and whistles including a cage and plastic seats in the back. So nice because when arrestees pee, vomit, or worse you can wash it out with a hose. That was a thankful year.
In 2008, I made detective and was transferred into an older unmarked Crown Vic. It went from zero to thirty in about ten minutes. Don’t feel sorry for me though, I was able to store my non-flattering uniforms away and wear comfortable casual clothes. I exchanged my clunky black boots for ones with a pointier toe and also took my hair out of a bun styling it in a bouncy ponytail. Out of everything that year, I was mostly thankful for weekends off and no more shift work.
In 2009, from September through the end of the year, I worked a missing child case that went from one missing boy to three dead at the hands of the same person. As Thanksgiving loomed closer, the FBI joined us and I learned a lot about teamwork. They also shared all their great toys that a small town detective can only drool over. As sad as this case was, it’s one of the highlights of my career in law enforcement. That year I was thankful that my family was in good health and safe.
From 2010 through 2013, police life was not as eventful as 2009 but my list of thanks was never-ending. I gained a new partner who came with a K9. I gained weight though that didn’t make the thankful category, and I gained an appreciation for the small things in life.
This year my list is filled to the brim. At the very top is a special thanks to my family and friends for supporting and believing in me.
For many police officers mandatory overtime is a favorite phrase. Twice a year, even in the toughest economy, it’s the rule. The first is New Year’s Eve and the second is Halloween. I’m a fright night lover so you can probably guess which my favorite is.
I learned early in my career how best to enjoy this fun and crazy night. I always put my name in to work the day patrol shift. The other cops give me strange looks. They want the nightlife because Halloween day is when the ghosts and goblins, better known as teenagers, rest up so they can terrorize the town when the moon’s at its zenith.
This means I have a chance to catch up on reports and prepare for skeletons rattling out of the darkest closets once the sun goes down. I go home at five, eat dinner, and await the early ghouls, better known as sweet young children, before heading back out on the street for overtime at nine.
I have a list of names, reported by the local grocery and convenience stores, for those restless zombies who purchased eggs during the day. The stores actually stock up on embryo supplies just to keep the monsters at bay. A simple phone call, using my evil cackle has the clerks spilling their guts.
With my holy water and stake at hand, inconspicuously appearing as chocolate candy bars and dollar bills, I’m ready to fight evil.
The calls start coming in and my police radio heats up. I can hear excited voices on the car to car channel as officers zero in on the culprits and head that direction only to be thwarted. Not me. I’m older and wiser than the average patrol super hero. I head to the do it yourself carwash.
To keep their brooms from melting, the flying monkeys make mad dashes through the stream of immortality before heading back out. This is where the chocolate and dollar bills come in handy. I pay the heathens for wicked intel and enjoy the candy bars myself.
A few calls to dispatch and my crime fighting brethren are now heading in the direction of the next ambush. I confiscate the blood-filled eggs, or at least that’s what the begging and moaning vampires have me believing they are and wait for my next victims. My voodoo list of names comes in handy when I need to summon demons aka a phone call to their mothers if they refuse to cooperate.
Officers request I give up the secret spell that allows me to pin-point the next phantom egg attack but what fun would that be? And, I’d probably have to share my chocolate stash.
In a small town, everyone knows where you live, what schedule you work, and when you are home. They don’t care that you worked the night shift and need sleep for your next shift. You are their neighbor, friend, or in some cases the person who put them in jail the night before.
I arrested twenty-four-year-old Raymond Thoms for driving under the influence and open container. He was highly intoxicated and belligerent. His sexual innuendos and continued derogative gestures during the intoxilizer test had the jail detention officers threatening to place him in a restraint chair. Adding to my discomfort, Raymond’s mother was a friend and neighbor. I’d previously known Raymond as polite and helpful whenever I saw him. Now, he was the perfect example of someone who should never drink alcohol.
I understand that liquor can turn ordinary people into Mr. or Mrs. Hyde. But the effects of alcohol on Raymond were more like Dr. Ruth and Howard Stern having a love child who suffered with turrets syndrome.
I managed to control my irritation but admit I was glad to leave Raymond behind to let him sleep it off. I escaped the jail about twenty minutes before the end of my shift and took a final drive through town before going home. A short time later, I fell into bed completely exhausted. At around six in the morning, pounding at my front door had my husband cursing and me grabbing a bathrobe and groggily stumbling to the door.
Raymond stood on my porch.
I know big city cops are cringing at this point but events such as this happen in small towns. I stepped back and invited Raymond inside. I turned on the coffee pot and offered him a seat at my kitchen table. It took all of two seconds before he was balling his eyes out apologizing for what happened. I know he was still intoxicated but at least now I saw signs of the sweet young man I’d known for several years.
Apparently one of the detention officers was Raymond’s second cousin and had no trouble calling Dorothy, Raymond’s mother, and informing her of what he put me through in the jail. Raymond told me he remembered very little but the same officer quite blatantly told him about his behavior. After the judge released Raymond, he called his mother to pick him up only to be informed he was no longer welcome in her home. Raymond walked two and a half miles to my front door and now I had him sitting in my kitchen begging me to intervene.
I’m happy to report that as far as I know, Raymond never drank again. He and his wife just had their second child and Raymond always gives me a big hug when we see each other. And yes, Dorothy allowed him home after a lengthy conversation. I know she gave in more to get him out of my kitchen than to bring him so quickly back into the family fold. As a single mother, she was quite rigid when it came to her son crossing the line and I applaud her for that. I don’t envy Raymond those first weeks after he returned home but he survived.
A few weeks ago, with plenty of laughter, Dorothy and I rehashed the story of Raymond crying in my kitchen afraid he was homeless. Dorothy reminded me of the small things I miss most from the day to day adventures as a cop. No shift was ever boring and the comradery of my fellow officers was like nothing I experienced before or since. And yes, I even miss the Raymonds who made police life interesting. In my thoughts, I continue to identify myself as an officer. I wonder when that will stop and my civilian status will settle in. Maybe, that’s when my retirement will truly hit home.
Bad Luck Officer is the next book in my police adventures.
Suzie Ivy graduated the police academy and now faces the streets of Small Town, Arizona as a cop for the first time.
Against all odds, at age forty-five, Suzie Ivy graduated from the police academy. Now her life as the first female officer in Small Town, Arizona begins. From pink handcuffs to a shotgun named The Rock (Rock Hudson), life in Small Town will never be the same.
Bad Luck Officer takes you for a joy ride as Suzie works her first two “cop” years on the streets. Bulls, bad guys and humor will get her through the career of her dreams and will it?
This is the true-life adventure of a woman faced with a midlife crisis and empty nest syndrome. There are no tears in baseball but there are hidden tears in law enforcement when Suzie Ivy is on the case.
Bad Luck Officer
After my week in hell, courtesy of Sgt. Dickens, I finally broke down and told my husband everything going on at the academy. He was sympathetic and gave me a fantastic full-body massage that night. When I told him of my plan for returning to the academy on Sunday, he helped implement it and encouraged me through my tears.
Sgt. Dickens could point out anything he wanted at Monday morning inspection but he would never again be given the chance to complain about my hair touching my collar. I loved my hair and so did my husband. But I was determined to finish what I started. I took my inspiration from Demi Moore in the movie G.I. Jane deciding if sacrificing my hair would help—it was a small price to pay. My resolve only grew stronger with every snip.
I arrived at the study session Sunday night with short hair for the first time in my life. I just wish I was one of those women who looked good with a butch cut. My head looked like an egg with a nose.
Monday morning at physical training I made it over the six-foot wall for the first time. I was so excited I forgot to run the twenty-five yards to complete the event. It didn’t matter, the entire class was cheering and Sgt. Listberg gave me a huge hug. Everyone said it was because I was ten pounds lighter without my hair.
Sgt. Dickens never batted an eye at my shorn locks that no longer had wisps hitting my collar. Even short, he found a piece of lint on my back pocket and gave us ten push-ups. I knew I wasn’t out of the woods, but it was nice to have some of the pressure off. Unfortunately, my roommate became the next target.
If we wanted to communicate with our advisors, we had to write a memo. We were given light blue paper, told to print in all capital letters, and not to scratch out or erase anything. The blue paper showed the erasure lines. Misspelled words were another no-no. When we finished our memo, we handed it to our squad leader and he in turn gave it to our class leader. Both would review and correct each memo, giving back any they found with problems.
Donna decided she was tired of Sgt. Dickens and squad advisors coming into the classroom and monitoring us while we focused on schoolwork. If an infraction was seen during class, we were pulled outside on the next break and given push-ups. We all held our breath when one of our superiors came into the room. Donna was right; it made it hard to concentrate.
Donna wrote this in a memo to the academy staff. It was first given to her squad leader and next to our class leader, and then turned in. The next morning was the reprisal.
During morning inspection Donna was asked to step front and center. She was then asked if she wrote the memo. It had her name on it, but I guess Sgt. Dickens was making a point. Her squad leader was called up next and asked if he read the memo and if he agreed with Donna’s analysis. He stated he did and yes he agreed. Cadet Clark, the class leader, was called next. He also stated he agreed.
Sgt. Dickens asked if anyone disagreed with Cadet Chavez. Not one person stepped forward.
“The entire group of you,” said Sgt. Dickens, “are nothing but a class of fucking babies. I’m embarrassed to be your sergeant. I’m embarrassed you think you can be police officers. Not fair?” he screamed. “Not fair? I’ll show you ‘not fair!’ You will each turn in a ten-page memo by tomorrow morning on what is not fair in life. You will proceed with one hundred push-ups this morning and twenty hill runs after class to give you a start on your memos. One of us will now be in the classroom at all times and you will learn what ‘fair’ is all about. Cadet Higgins you may lead the class in push-ups.”
And so it began. If we stopped or got out of sync, Sgt. Dickens was in our face. We struggled through. During class we weren’t just pulled out during break, we were pulled out during classroom time and told to do more push-ups.
The Push-up Club did not exist that day.
After our classroom torture was finished, we headed to the hill for our twenty hill runs. Once those were accomplished, we headed back to our dorms to begin writing our memos. I didn’t go to bed until 0230. Donna cried for hours. She felt horrible about the entire class being punished for her memo. I tried to explain to her that Sgt. Dickens was psyching her out and she had to toughen up.
We turned our memos into our squad leaders before breakfast. Some came back, and cadets spent breakfast rewriting the page that had a mistake. The memos were eventually turned into the sergeant, and our classroom time continued to be hell that week. I lost count of the number of push-ups we did.
Wednesday, according to our calendar, was expandable baton training and we had to bring them to morning physical training. There was no inspection and we spent the day learning the ins and outs of controlling someone with a baton.
My biggest fear was having my baton taken away and getting beaten with it. But we learned techniques for keeping the bad guy from accomplishing this. I also learned why we did so many push-ups. I could barely hold the baton by the end of the day, and I’m sure I would have dropped it three weeks before. After completing baton training, we had permission to carry our batons on our duty belts.
Donna was talking about not returning after the weekend. I made her promise she would come back but I had my doubts. Sgt. Dickens was singling her out during inspection and she could do nothing right. The psychological abuse was terrible.
My age played a huge factor, so it didn’t affect me as hard as younger cadets. It was the physical requirements that were killing me. My body was breaking down. My back ached constantly, my joints were unbearably painful, and my muscles cramped continually. My age had caught up with me.
Friday finally came and we left for the weekend.
I called Donna several times and she said she would return. I wouldn’t believe it until I actually saw her Sunday night at the study session.