During the course of ones law enforcement career, especially the first five or six years, first hand experience is by far the best learning tool available to a young patrol officer. Police academies, field training programs, and in-service training are all essential and required but nothing has more impact on an officer than exposure to the “the real thing”!
In a cop’s world, experience is closely aligned with the word ‘experiment’ and it’s the experiments that often make the job as a cop fun, interesting, and sometimes downright amusing.
Here are a few examples of some experiments that helped me during my illustrious career as a crime fighter:
1.) As a young Army Military Policeman at Fort Benning, Georgia, breaking up fights at the NCO (non-commissioned officer’s) Club were fortunately only a rare event but after a couple of major brawls at the club it got old real quick. When I say ‘fortunately’ I mean thankfully in the highest regard because some of the soldiers involved in these brawls could make top UFC fighters look like Urkel nerds complete with suspenders, glasses, braces, and severe acne!
My experiment went something like this: police radio squelches out “fight in progress at the NCO Club.” I would then drive my patrol car to the NCO club, looking both ways after stopping at every stop sign (making sure the brawlers had ample time to get fully exhausted). Upon my arrival I made sure I armed myself with my most important weapon: the nickel-plated Acme Thunderer metal whistle!
Once inside the club, I quickly evaluated the best place to stand so I wouldn’t get trampled because the next thing I did was blow my whistle loud and clear, yelling out as loud as I could “your Sergeant Major’s enroute!”
Nobody — not even a Butter Bar — would want to face his wrath! I then stood back and watched as the brawlers and onlookers were all elbows and assholes trying to get out the door and disappear!
No arrests. No paperwork. No Sergeant Major, not even a First Sergeant... Just me and my Acme Thunderer!
2.) Occasionally a police officer will get the opportunity to arrive on a scene before a suspect actually has time to flee or escape. This happened once when a daytime burglar was hiding inside a second-floor two-bedroom apartment. With the building perimeter set up and only one way in and one way out, our hiding crook had no place to go.
My experiment unfolded as follows: I made a voice command to the suspect from just outside the front entrance of the apartment for him to come out with his hands up. I also made the command that he only had ten seconds to do so or I was letting (non-existent) K-9 dogs loose into the apartment. As I started to count to 10 — trying to keep from laughing — two of my patrol buddies started barking and growling viciously as if they were two ferocious German shepherds being held back by their handlers before a brutal assault!
By the time I hit seven our burglar made himself visible, crying out that he didn’t want any part of the K-9s and was giving up. The perp was cuffed and led to the front door of the apartment. The whimpering suspect was cautiously looking around for the K-9’s so as not to get bit and said “where are the dogs?” I said “what dogs?” Our burglar’s reaction that he had just been hoodwinked caused us all to burst out laughing!
One arrest and three Academy Awards Nominations in ‘best deceptive voiceover sound effects’ category!
3.) While on routine patrol in the wee hours of the morning, a strong-arm robbery call went out over the radio. A lady had her purse and wallet taken while loading groceries into her car at a 24-hour grocery store.
A few blocks away, I saw a possible suspect ‘cool walking’ away from the store. I stopped him, ID’d him, patted him down, and put him in the back seat of my patrol car. I told him I was taking him back to the grocery store for identification purposes.
When I pulled up in front of the store, I got out of my patrol unit and opened up the back door and jokingly asked (experimented) the suspect if he could identify the person he had just robbed and he said “yeah” pointing to the lady. “I just took $30 bucks from her purse and wallet and then tossed em.”
After the perp showed me where he trashed the purse and wallet, I booked him for robbery. I would have also charged him with being stupid in a no stupid zone but I guess that goes without saying!
Some criminals are smart but most are not. Cops have to outsmart the criminals all the time. Sometimes outsmarting criminals means thinking outside the box. What are some examples of how you or someone in your department has thought outside the box?
About the author
Mike Peterson is a retired 23-year veteran of law enforcement. He served three years in the United States Military Police and then 20 years with the City of West University Place Police Department in Houston, Texas. Mike held a Master Peace Officer certification and was a Certified Instructor, Advanced Field Training Officer, Crime Prevention Inspector, and background investigator. He was certified in bicycle patrol, officer survival tactics, first line supervision, and City Manager Leadership Training. Mike is a graduate of Leadership Houston, Class XIV, Texas Law Enforcement Torch Run Top Fundraiser and Inductee into the Texas Special Olympics Hall of Fame (1996), three time Texas Torch Run representative for International Special Olympics torch run ‘Final Legs’ in Minnesota (1991), Austria (1993) and Connecticut (1995). Mike has received numerous Senate and House of Representative Resolutions and Proclamations for his fundraising with the Law Enforcement Torch Run as Texas’ Top Fundraiser.
Mike has appeared on ABC-TV’s ‘The View’, was a past finalist on Ed McMahon’s ‘Next Big Star’ contest and was a finalist in Houston Funniest Comedian contest. Mike has opened for such luminaries as Jay Leno, Robert Schimmel, Dave Attell, Richard Lewis, Kathleen Madigan, Jeff Dunham, Frank Caliendo, Michael Winslow, Anjelah Johnson, Ralphy May, and Alonzo Bodden to name a few. Mike has appeared numerous times on Houston’s local CBS ‘Great Day Houston’ and opened for four-Time Grammy Award Winner Glen Campbell as well as performing at police luncheons and banquets. Mike has also had the honor of performing for our Troops over in Iraq. You can see more of Mike on www.myspace.com/comedycop or www.rooftopcomedy.com.