Y’all. First off, let me say this: I WAS SICK THE FIRST HALF OF THE WEEK AS WELL AS LAST WEEKEND and tried to get out of this week’s class but the Captain totally “coerced” me with “Awe man. You are going to miss a fun night” and even though that doesn’t LOOK like a power play to get me to show up, anyone who knows me KNOWS how much I love a fun time, so off to class I went, “twisted elbow” at my side and a large dose of Dayquil in my belly. Oh, and there were “power rings” waiting for all of us, which I can never say no to. (Power Rings = Krispy Kreme Donuts)
This week’s class was on Communications and Traffic Stops. The first half was held indoors as two amazing ladies from Bartlett Dispatch went over, in full detail, how they handle calls, volume, and chaos. The second half was outside, but more on that in a bit. (OHHHH, just you wait! Y’all are in for a doozy of a story!)
First up, Communications. When I say the gals from Dispatch (who’s names I totally didn’t write down) were “readt to go”, they were “readt to GO”. (One of those super women was just awarded Dispatcher of the Year! Congratulations!!!) We started before Cap (I don’t know if he knows I refer to him as Cap, but I do for this blog, and feel I earned the right after last night’s class; you’ll see why in a bit.) came in to officially kick off the class, which earned the gals some fun ribbing from him throughout their portion of the class. They showed us pictures of their desk set ups, which we had the privilege of seeing firsthand during our tour of the facilities on the first night of this course. They have 5-6 screens at each desk, with multiple windows open on each. They have to be MASTERS in multitasking. I’m not even kidding. They take it all in stride, handling everything from calls regarding burglaries to traffic stops to murder. Yep, murder. They played us actual audio from a murder/suicide call that ole Cap was on (he was a Detective at the time) and it was both adrenaline rushing and sad at the same time to hear.
OH, and butt dials. They get a lot of butt dial calls. Did you KNOW your Apple Watch WILL call 911 if the lil button on the side gets pressed for too long? If that happens (anytime you accidentally call 911 for that matter), just stay on the line and explain to them what happened so they don’t have to call you and/or track you down to ensure you are ok. The more you know.
One of the sweetest, but most emotional videos, they showed us was from a 911 call a 5 year old little girl was on for her daddy, who was having a heart attack. She kept reassuring her daddy as she spoke so calmly and sweetly to the dispatcher. She was so worried about what she was wearing, though, which tempered the overall seriousness of the call. (Daddy made it, btw.) Here’s the video they shared with us (you might cry, I did):
Basically, if you want to be a Dispatcher, I’d say you must have nerves of steel, but also a calmness that transcends the chaos of the moment, as well as an ear to hear EVERYTHING else happening around you at the same time, while also processing that information. Good luck with that. It ain’t for me, it’s not for a LOT of people. However, I DO have TREMENDOUS respect for them. (I got to tour a 911 facility in Little Rock after my assault several years and personally thank the dispatchers. It was a very rewarding experience for all of us!)
One of the coolest things we learned was how they use code words between the police and dispatch. (cause, let’s face it, you don’t want everyone around you to know what you are calling in about if it’s something super sensitive or would put someone in danger.) They explained to us many of the different codes they use, as well as gave us a sheet called the “NATO PHONETIC ALPHABET” that tells what each letter is when they are calling out code words to dispatch for things such as a traffic stop. (ex: when they say Alpha Bravo Charlie, it stands for ABC, etc.) I found a copy on the innerwebs:
Also, it’s interesting to note there are 3 different types of “Code Calls” the dispatcher sends an officer out on:
Code 1 = Something such as a burglary in progress, etc. They go straight to the call, with lights & siren on.
Code 2 = Something such as a domestic dispute. They go straight there but no lights or sirens.
Code 3 = Something such as a noise complaint etc. They have time to get there without a rush.
After learning all the code words and code call levels, we were shown how to call in to dispatch on a traffic stop. For example, an officer is referred to as “Charlie 11″(each officer is assigned a number, mine was 11 for this exercise) and when they call in to dispatch, they must identify themselves, what they are doing, where they are, and who they are with (in this case, it’s the person they pulled over who’s info is given). Cap and a couple of officers demonstrated how they do a traffic stop for us, which was a blast to watch, and should have clued me in on what was to come. It didn’t. I was too busy being entertained to note what we were about to walk in to.
When I TELL you that this police department pulls out ALL the stops for training, take my word on that. (I’m still a bit miffed that the Memphis PD CPA class didn’t do anything NEAR this hands on for our course.) They had the parking lot blocked off, with an SUV parked in the middle with two squad cars pulled up in position behind it as if it were an actual traffic stop. We had to put on utility belts (to wear fake guns) a radio, and a flashlight (at this point it was dark outside) and we each had different scenarios for our individual traffic stops. Have I mentioned that it was also COLD? Yep, and here I was, feeling the Dayquil effects quickly wearing off as the cold temps settled in all around us.
I could go into each person’s unique traffic stop, but I won’t. Mine was the most labor intensive, and hence the reason I said earlier I feel as if I earned the right to call the Captain “Cap” in this blog. When he asked for volunteers, I felt my “body” shrivel up as if I’d been hit with a blast of cold water, but my damned mouth said “I’ll go” as my brain and body tried to make sense of what I’d just said OUT LOUD. WHAT THE ACTUAL HELL? Thankfully, a sweet lady in my class, Melissa, volunteered to be my partner and off we went, being set up with our scenario.
Our Scenario: A traffic stop on a driver who was doing 65 in an active school zone with a passenger riding shotgun. Pretty simple, right? NAY NAY, I SAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We got situated in the squad car (where I felt the beginnings of, dare I say, balls sprouting from the effect of sitting in a “power seat”). Y’all, we had lights going, radios going, and the Cap going, “LET’s GO!”. Settling in, I looked over my cheat sheet of codes and began to call in my traffic stop over the radio to dispatch while my trusty partner sat next to me in the car. Here’s how I called it in: “Dispatch, this is Charlie 11, I have a “Special” at 3730 Appling Road, license plate 123 Alpha-Bravo-Charlie.” So far, so good.
Then, I got out and as my feet hit the pavement, with about 20 folks watching, I lost all train of thought and all the things I had just learned in class went BYE BYE! So, I went with the only thing I could think of in that moment as I began walking up alongside my perp car. I went full on Barney Fife mode. That’s right, I pulled my pants up, sniffed, and turned my flashlight on. I peered into the back of the SUV as my partner did the same on her side, quietly following my lead. I got up to the driver side window, couldn’t remember my words, realized the Cap was taking pictures of ME in that moment, and snapped back into Barney Fife mode. (I dare any of y’all to do this, seriously. You’ll come away with a newfound respect for what these officers do on a daily basis.)
“Sir, do you know why I stopped you?” “No, Officer, I was just out cruising when you pulled me over”. “Sir, you were doing 65 in an active school zone.” “WHAT? No way! We were just out joy-riding and didn’t see any lights going at all! Are you sure?” At this point I forgot to ask for the driver’s license, and began to ask him to get out of the car. Then, I remembered and said, “Sir, let me ask you to just stay in the car and hand me your license please.” My partner and I walked (backwards for our safety in the event this was a wanted felon with a gun, etc) to the car where I radioed in the license (once I could remember to read both the license and the cheat sheet) What came back from dispatch is where this story goes off the chains. Buckle up.
Dispatch to me: “We’ve got a FQW”. I was like a WHAT?! I know YOU DIDN’T JUST COME AT ME WITH THAT NONSENSE!!! A FQW is a Felony with Warrant. This dang man has a warrant and that’s bad, very, very bad! So, Cap, standing right next to me says, “You know what this means, right? You gotta get him out of that car right now!” and proceeds to tell me to use my best outside voice and go to town yelling at this man to get out of his car. Which, is where I feel my newly sprouted balls shrivel up and disappear as I “yelled” at this man to get out of the car NOW!! Cap was like, WHAT? NOOO! Ok, HERE’S HOW YOU YELL AT THIS MAN TO GET OUT OF THE CAR, and proceeds to yell, in full on POLICE MAN MODE, for this man to get out. I had to keep the “Fife” mode from going into overdrive at this point, cause all I wanted to do when he was yelling like that was to get down on the ground with MY hands behind MY back. Dang.
LET THE RECORD SHOW, I CAN YELL, AND I DO YELL, FOR I AM KNOWN AS THE NEIGHBORHOOD KAREN TO ALL THE JUVENILE DELINQUENTS WHO TRY AND ACT UP AROUND HERE. Shoot, I recently broke up a gang inhiation fight for goodness sakes. You’d think I could yell in front of these adults who do it for a living, but nope, obviously, I have to go full on “hulk mad” mode to make it officially scary.
Knowing I’d already failed, I kept going, cause, that’s what ole Barney would do, even as he would just be making matters worse. My hero. We get the guy out of the car and ask him to turn around, cause now we have to cuff him and pat him down. As we approach, he bails. WAITADAMNMINUTE! This wasn’t part of the plan! OHHH, Cap, my man. You set me UP and I realize it all too late! So, I did the only thing I knew to do, which was to trust my good ole Barney Fife instincts and set off chasing him across the parking lot. When I say my man took off like a real felon with active warrants, I ain’t lying. He was already halfway down the parking lot before my feet and brain connected.
Let me remind you, dear readers, that a mere 2 months ago I had gallbladder surgery and just this week I was diagnosed with an upper respiratory infection which kept me in bed for 5 days total. (It’s also worth noting that I ain’t no spring chicken as I’ve got the big 5-0 birthday breathing down my neck, as well.) OK? OK.
I ran like I’ve never ran before. It didn’t feel pretty, and I’d hate to think what it actually looked like, but I ran, dammit. Dude was so far ahead of me that I started yelling. “STAAAAHP YOU SUMMAMMMAAAABIIIIIIIITTCCHHH!!” He went left and I saw my chance to gain some ground on him so I cut through the parked cars to try and catch up to him. It almost worked but dude made it back around just before I could even think of catching up to him.
I’m proud of a few things that’s worth mentioning at this point. I didn’t throw up, I didn’t FALL, I didn’t lose any of my earrings or shoes. I didn’t flop a dang titty out of either side of my bra. WINNER WINNER CHICKEN DINNER!
The crowd was laughing, I was laughing, ole runner was laughing. My “perp” and I were giving each other a high five when ole Cap had to go and ruin what I felt was a successful run by asking where my partner had been throughout that entire disaster (my words, not his). She was like, “I was over here on this side of the car because I didn’t know if I had to get the passenger out or what, so I just stayed here!” He looked at me and said, “Now, had this been a REAL traffic stop, we would have just let him run because we already know who he is since we ran his license, and we had his passenger and car here with us (well, of course you would of…totally makes sense AFTER the fact!). If we HAD chased him, either he or his passenger could have circled back and stolen our squad car!” Well my damn. Of course, driving home after class, I thought of a bunch of things I could have done instead of chasing ole dude. Mainly, I could have called in to dispatch to request a K-9 unit and then said to my onlookers, “Welp, it’s time to let the dogs out.” But, I didn’t, and thus earned myself, according to Cap, a long night of paperwork, and most likely some unpaid time off. But I did the dang exercise y’all, had a blast, and he was right, it WAS a fun night!
I also realized I can run again and it doesn’t hurt like it used to so maybe it’s time to rethink my gym going. Maybe. I need to think it over while enjoying another “power ring or two”.
Next week we have Defensive Tactics. I’m already stockpiling the Tylenol.
Until then, I’m requesting a Signal 8 for a Signal 7 and then we can all do a Signal C. (that’s PoPo speak for meet up somewhere, go to lunch and then go home.)