Years ago, back when I was a new police officer, the police environment was a bit more jovial. We found humor at awkward moments, and oftentimes at someone else’s expense.
To ease the downtime between calls, we did a lot of joking around, and for some of us it was really a science. Right or wrong — and certain instances of our brotherhood’s antics were wrong by all standards — humor did ensure we were a tight-knit shift.
On one night in particular I was working, but just stood by as a witness to an urban legend in the making.
I was in my patrol vehicle sting sitting side by side with another officer in a darken parking lot about 0230 hours.
It was a quiet night and boredom had set in.
Suddenly, the radio was filled with the excited voice of an officer attempting to stop a speeding vehicle. It took a few long seconds to establish who was calling. This was before all the sophisticated communications equipment of today.
The officer was attempting to catch up to a speeding vehicle that was now driving recklessly down the main street in the city. Remember it was a very quiet night and most of the officers were “resting’ at various locations around the city.
At first, no one jumped in — officers appeared to be waiting for an updated direction of travel. A few seconds later, and each second seemed so very long, a second and third officer jumped in.
The broadcast now had three officers giving updates and status checks as they were now in the chase.
I sat in the parking lot listening to the chase. It was far from my zone and with each passing mile I thought, “Those three officers are doing a great job of calling the pursuit.”
The chase now went in and out of the city limits. Surrounding jurisdictions were advised and they were moving toward the path of the chase. A number of supervisors were attempting to gain control of what was happening.
I remember hearing that there were two occupants of the vehicle along with a very-complete description (except for an unreadable vehicle tag). I was now on the edge of my seat as radio calls indicated that the chase had reached speeds of almost 100 miles per hour.
The chase was now almost 15 minutes in duration, with the pursuing officers sounding a bit out of breath on the radio. At the 20 minute mark, the lead officer called the chase off. He had lost the vehicle during a series of well-known “S-turns” just outside the city limits.
As the officers were returning to their patrol zone, another officer jumped on the radio. He was behind the vehicle and was stopping the vehicle about two miles from the pursuit termination point.
He had the driver at gunpoint.
Other than that officer’s call, there was complete silence on the radio.
You guessed it. There was no chase. The officers involved in “the chase” were sitting in a darkened parking lot just like I was.
For grins and giggles, they created the chase without moving from their location. The sirens and raised voices were just to add realism to the chase.
There was no vehicle. They made up the description and everything else.
The vehicle which was now stopped by another officer had nothing to do with the imaginary chase. This was just an innocent citizen and passenger driving home from working a late shift at a local restaurant. The vehicle was similar to the fake description given.
One of the officers that created this mess left the parking lot he was sitting in and set out to the stop to save the motorist from whatever was in the mind of the officer who was surely thinking “I got the suspect car!”
It was an April Fool’s joke.
While it seemed funny that night, somehow it lost all its humor the next day in the chief’s office.