The ‘Dear Chief’ letter is something every career cop will eventually find themselves writing. Usually explaining an officer’s screw-up (whether it was an accident or just plain poor judgment). Lord knows, I wrote a few in my day. Now, some screw-ups eventually lead to full-fledged internal affairs investigations and are certainly no laughing matter, but we also know that in some law enforcement agencies, there are certain things we do as officers — let’s call them ‘Barney Fife’ incidents — that get us a verbal reprimand or maybe a letter in our personal file. They still get a ‘Dear Chief’ letter, but they also get more than a couple of laughs in the squad room. Like these...
1.) Trading Paint
This afternoon while enroute to a suspect shooting a rifle from a second floor apartment balcony onto vehicle traffic below, I was involved in a two-car minor at the intersection of Broad and Main. The driver whose car ended up making contact with mine was a 19-year-old blonde, chewing a wad of gum that would make any MLB player proud. Her radio was blaring ‘Poker Face’ by Lady Gaga so loud that it swallowed up the 100 watts of yelp and wail coming from my siren box! In my opinion, I think her texting with the right hand and applying makeup with the left hand may have been a contributor to the accident, not to mention she stated she was running late to a final exam at the local community college.
2.) The Fridge
I recently purchased a Smith and Wesson Model 642 .38 caliber airweight subcompact revolver as a backup weapon. Last night before roll call I accidently shot a hole in the squad room’s avocado-colored Kenmore 20.9 cu. Ft. refrigerator while showing off my weapon to a few officers. The ice maker sustained a bulls-eye to the motor, rendering it useless. The energy star rating was a 3.5 but even though I placed a band aide over the .38 caliber perforation, it’s probably a lot less now. I went online and tried to order new parts but apparently they stopped making this model in 1973. In the meantime, I put a 60 quart ice chest with wheels and telescoping handle next to the fridge with four bags of ice in it.
3.) Two Guys, Same Girl
We had a busy weekend. Friday night there was a disturbance at Filthy McNasty’s Bar and Grill and I ended up having to arrest six drunks for fighting and disorderly conduct. With no backup units available, I put four in the back seat and two in the trunk. The whole incident started when two guys were arguing over a song on the juke box! The song reminded them of a girl they both dated and got dumped by over 10 years ago! Apparently alcohol and the memory of a bad song will bring out the fight in you. When I got those two out of the trunk they still couldn’t remember her name but at least they weren’t fighting anymore.
4.) Minor Remodling
Over the weekend while on night patrol, I responded to a possible prowler call. The complainant, an elderly widow, thought a prowler might be in her attic. Wanting to put her mind at ease, I proceeded to her attic to inspect it. While navigating the cross beams with my size 13s, my foot slipped and I fell through the ceiling sheet rock landing on her kitchen table. When the white powder and fiberglass insulation had settled, I told her the City would have a building inspector come out on Monday and make sure her ceiling was repaired. The resident was happy there were no burglars or prowlers in her attic. I was happy my vest took the brunt of the impact.
5.) Slippery When Wet
While getting ready for my shift, I accidently TASERed the Lieutenant in the locker room with my X26. As I was placing the unit in its holster I slipped on the wet floor causing it to go off. In all the confusion, I instinctively pressed down on the trigger for a full five seconds. Thankfully, he was just coming back from working out in the department weight room and not wearing his uniform because it made a terrible mess. The LT was standing at the urinal taking care of business when the accident occurred.
6.) On the Subject of Wet
As you are well aware, we had over 20 inches of rain this weekend. The street flooding was some of the worst I’ve seen in years. Dispatch advised that the sergeant wanted all units to return to the station due to high water but unfortunately my patrol car stalled and the water rose over the hood. After the rain and street flooding subsided, a wrecker brought the patrol unit to the police station. This was a great patrol car, not because it was brand new unit and had less than 3,000 miles on it, but because it had the upgraded video equipment and laptop. Not all was lost. I was able to salvage the light bar and roof antennas.
7.) Alamring Situation
Over the weekend I was dispatched to an alarm call. This alarm was very loud and going off every 15 minutes. The neighbors were upset and rightly so. One of the neighbors said the homeowners wouldn’t be back from vacation for another three days, and if I didn’t do something about shutting off the alarm they were going to blast the alarm off the house with a 12 gauge shotgun! With no emergency contacts, I had the fire department ladder truck come to my location and set up a 40-foot ladder. I then dismantled the 3,000 watt exterior horn style speaker to the cheers of about 35 neighbors. I advised the alarm company to notify the resident’s upon their return that they no longer had any friends in the neighborhood!
8.) Vacation House
Over the holidays while on night shift, I was conducting Vacation House Watches and went to 4593 Houston Avenue. It was around 3:30 am. As I walked around the back of the house, I noticed someone walking around in the kitchen. It was hard to see because all the lights were out but it looked like a burglar holding a gun! I called for backup units and we surrounded the house. About that time the dispatcher advised a resident was calling in suspicious noises and a suspected prowler from my location. Turned out I was at the wrong address, the vacation house watch was across the street at 4592 Houston Avenue; that gun ended up being a meatball sub, and I was the prowler.
9.) Rocks and Roll
After a short vehicle chase, I arrested this guy for possession of a controlled substance. He had 45 crack cocaine rocks in his pocket and apparently he had four or five rocks in his mouth. When I arrested this dummy, I thought he was just a country bumpkin who talked funny. Sadly, he swallowed the rocks to conceal them from me. During the booking procedure, the suspect went into full cardiac arrest and paramedics had to be called. He was rolled in the ambulance to County General. He survived. Paperwork from the hospital ER doctor was entered in to evidence recommending he not do crack in the future.
10.) Tickets to a Show
Thank you for approving my extra job request allowing me to dance with the Chippendale Dancers on my days off. This opportunity will not interfere with my work schedule or court appearances. As stated in my extra job request, it’s a Broadway type show that’s presented in a “safe” (female only) environment. My dance role happens to be that of a “desk sergeant” and I dance to a medley from Emmy- and Grammy Award-winning composer Mike Post, who brought us songs from “Hill Street Blues,” “NYPD Blue,” “The A-Team,” “CHiPs,” and “Law and Order” to name a few. The manager said I could give some comp tickets to my wife, but considering my recent divorce, maybe you’d want me to Comp your wife some free tickets if she’s ever interested in going to a show!
I’ve listed a few of my own ‘Dear Chief’ letters as well some I’ve personally witnessed. We’ve all either experienced one or something similar. Send us an email if you’ve experienced something that initiated a ‘Dear Chief’ letter or an action that caused a chuckle around the squad room. Or add your own ‘Dear Chief’ letter in the comments below.