Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Healing Process

Everything I have posted on this has pretty much been related to my work. It is a huge part of my life and for the foreseeable future I cannot see me doing anything else. Tonight is going to be a bit different. December 9th and 10th for me are some of the toughest days I deal with in my year. I am going to post something that is very, very personal but I feel it is needed to help me put it behind. So here goes.

November 19, 1996 my best friend (Earl) dropped me off at Spokane international airport to leave for Air Force basic training. I spent several months in training learning how to maintain and repair the A-10A Thunderbolt II. Known to most people as the "Warthog". My first base I was stationed at was Pope Air force base in North Carolina. My squadron was the 75th Fighter Squadron, 23rd Fighter Wing. I was part of the famous "Flying Tigers" squadron.

I worked feverishly to be the best at my job and advanced fairly quickly. My squadron had a yearly rotation into Kuwait at a base called Ahmed Al-Jaber air base. I found out how much I appreciated the good ole U.S. of A. Needless to say I spent 3 months a year in the Saudi Arabian desert protecting the southern Iraq no fly zone that was sanctioned after the 1991 Gulf War. It was a lovely 20-23 hour flight around to almost exactly the other side of the world from my home in Washington State. I usually ended up working the swing shift to stay out of the 120 degree desert heat. I was really proud to be able to do my part for what I believed in.

Several rotations later and it is November 1999. My squadron flew out of Langley AFB on a C-141 to make our way to the Azores Islands off the coast of Portugal. Pretty much a typical boring flight for several hours landing in a cross wind on the island. We were there for a few days because of bad weather and when it came time to finally depart the island one of our A-10s had a maintenance issue and I and another Sgt stayed behind to repair the jet. The last thing my Lt. said to me was "when the plane is fixed find a way to Kuwait". What that meant was do what you have to do and find military transport into Kuwait and Al-Jaber AB. We were both kind of excited due to the fact we did not have to bother with so many other people and we were in a different country for part of the holiday season. We ended up fixing our aircraft two days later but were stuck with no flights out of the Azores until the 8th of December. Finally on the 8th we got a flight on a really comfy (by military standards) KC-10 Stratotanker. We flew into Sigonella NAS on the island of Sicily and stayed until the next day to hop a flight into Kuwait City. We arrived in Kuwait City as planned and called our Lt. to let him know the last leg was a 15 minute flight on a C-130 into Al-Jaber and would be there about 2200 hours (ten o'clock pm for the non-military types).

After a few hours in Kuwait City we finally began the loading process of lading into the C-130. I was in line with a few people and the weirdest feeling came over me and I stopped and let a few people ahead of me to wait for my friend. We loaded up on the plane and as usual the old Air Force motto "hurry up and wait" kicked in. We sat on the tarmac for quite a while before we took off. When we finally got airborne I was ready to get to the base and try and relax in the tent I knew I was assigned. A few minutes into the flight I was sitting in the very uncomfortable jump seats on the aircraft when I heard the hydraulics kick in and figured that it was the flaps going down on our approach. All of a sudden there was a jolt like I cannot describe with noises all around of screeching metal grinding noises. I was jarred so hard into my jump seat that it actually collapsed and the next thing I knew I was sitting directly on the floor of the airplane. There was a huge rush of air coming into the plane and several hoses that appeared to be hydraulic lines that had burst and were spraying about 2500 pounds of pressurized fluid all over the cargo hold of the plane. AS I tried to collect myself and get my bearings I looked over at my friend who was sitting almost opposite of me next to the right rear door of the aircraft. We shot each other the old O Shit look and I noticed at that time something in my lap. I grabbed the object and realized with shock that it was a schrader valve. (a vital piece of the landing gear) I held it up to my friend and at that moment noticed another Airman begin to slump over in his seat. He was about two places forward from my friend and next to a woman who noticed at the same time. The woman began to scream and several people moved to try and assist the Airman. So many things were happening all at once, and in a blur, but during about that same moment several steel pieces that had been strapped up higher on the aircraft gave way and began falling on our heads. People were getting hit by this shrapnel flying around the hold. Some people were trying to get the collapsed airman to the floor when on the opposite side of the plane a Captain collapsed, complaining that he could not feel his legs and he was having trouble breathing. Within moments another Airman was on his side screaming in pain that he could not move his legs. Absolute chaos was the order at that moment and people began yelling and screaming at all that was going on. Many people were doing all they could to help the 3 downed troops and all had to be given CPR. Once we were notified by the flight crew that we had struck the ground and were once again airborne many of us began to get upset that we had not returned to land and help the injured. Turns out we had to fly out over the Persian Gulf and dump the excess fuel and get rid of the chaff and flairs that we were carrying. 40 minutes later we were instructed to get prepared for a crash landing because it was discovered that our main landing gear had been destroyed and was laying 2800 feet shy of the runway at Al-Jaber. With the scene becoming more somber due to the reality setting in we all prepared for a harsh landing. We removed all the doors to the aircraft and strapped them down as well as pulling the escape hatches on the top and bottom of the aircraft. By this time I could hear the hydraulics screaming because all the fluid had been pumped out and the pilot was flying the plane on manual reversion. (very difficult) With all the doors open on the plane and a huge gash in the right side of the plane which I could see through we braced for a hard landing. As we approached I heard the engines slow and looked out to see us coming down to the runway. I was relieved to see foam and when we touched down it was actually the smoothest landing I had ever experienced. The pilot slammed the props into reverse and we came to a fast stop. At this point we evacuated the aircraft and made our way from the aircraft since we were afraid of fire due to the no gear landing. People began kissing the ground and hugging each other. Then all went silent as the 3 men were brought off the plane and loaded on to ambulances to go to the emergency room. The remaining ones were shuttled to the Airport hotel to figure out what to do next. (me included) When we got to the lobby we sat down and tried to fathom what the hell just happened to us. My buddy called to me to go get a drink and when I stood up my legs went out from under me with an extreme shooting pain going down the back of both my legs. My friend helped me up and got me to the medic that had arrived and put me on an ambulance to the hospital.

(part two soon)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

"Run Forest Run"

As part of my duties I am required to perform field checks on the inmates on my house arrest program. It is really one of the duties that is on the more entertaining side. People have the oddest and craziest reactions to when an officer shows up at the house.

One nice summer day I was out with one of my female partners and I was near one of the houses of a guy we will call "John" for the sake of this story. At the time of this field check I was driving a dark green undercover Crown Victoria Interceptor. Now not having a light bar did help a bit but the spotlight, push bar and antennas gave it away. So as we roll up to Johns house the first thing I notice was all the empty beer cases. I first thing upon this observation is to grab my portable breath test machine and a spare tube. We walk up to the door and knock a few times until a female comes to the door. I ask to speak with John and they say he is out of town. I proceed to identify myself visually as well as verbally and they say he left town. Now these people on house arrest sign papers allowing us to search their house at anytime. I ask the female her name and she gives me the old "none ya" response. ( "none ya" meaning none of your business for those non smart ass types ). I then proceed to tell her I thought I must have met her brother last week. She did not find it funny but still moved out of the way of the door to allow a search. I looked for his house arrest equipment and it was as placed originally. He had a GPS unit and it was still in the house. Just as a side not I also have a receiver in my car that tells me the ankle monitor is in the area. Which it did indicate when I arrived. After a quick search of the house and no contact with John I decide it is time to call in some more support. I went around to the back of the house while my partner called for back-up and noticed the back door ajar. So as you can guess this guy had been drinking and when we showed up bolted out the back door as we came to the front. I just couldn't fathom why someone would risk so much for drinking. Needless to say we chased him around for several hours until we got word he was seen on a local reservation.

So a few weeks later and lots of work goes in to this escape artist. ( not that it was tough ) He gets caught riding around with some friends who were all drunk and high. Now John is looking at 35 months for escape all for drinking and might have lost 10 days of his good time. He was to be released in less than a week! I will never understand that kind of desperation.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Love can be a real "pain".

I have found over the last few years of doing this job one thing that never ceases to amaze me is what people will do or tolerate in the name of love.

This little ditty here is about a girl I will call "Jill" for the time being.

Now Jill here is a girl who has a penchant for the "bad boys". She is not even interested unless you have had more than a few run-ins with the local boys in blue.

I have been dealing with Jill for several years now over various DUIs or driving with a suspended license. No big deal. Then there is her ex-husband. Notorious thief about town all the way up to the Fed level. Drives a BMW M3 yet appears to have no real job to speak of. Funny how that works.

Then there is the current boyfriend. Not a thief, but a guy who likes to party and fight with all the liquid courage he can muster. These two manage to find each other of all places in a DUI intensive supervision court. Kind of like a drug court to lessen the charges and jail time for habitual DUI people. Very intense program that takes dedication from the participants.

Enough history lets get to the good stuff. So Jill and this other guy take a liking to each other and as tends to happen they get together in the horizontal sort of fashion. So as you may guess Jill gets a surprise a few weeks later. (no need to elaborate). Jill and her man decide the "best" thing for them would be to abort the baby and continue on their lives.

Come 3 months later and Jill and her man have a few domestic issues and are forbidden by the courts to see each other. Jill actually initiated this too. She moves around to a few places including her own place and her grandparents house in a secured gated community. The boyfriend just keeps showing up and creating problems. So one night after sneaking around and hooking up for a quickie she feels guilty and leaves him. So about 1 am or so he decides he is not through with her and shows up and grand daddys place and knocks on her window. Jill being ever the smart one lets him in to "talk". Silly girl. After a quick smack in the face from him then a full weight knee to the groin he jumps out of the window and runs.

So here is where I come in. I get a call from our control dispatch that Jill is in the hospital from an assault and being that she is on house arrest I have to go check it out. I call a partner and we go to the hospital and get the story I just told. Turns out Jill is not angry with the boyfriend or wanting to press any charges. She explains that she feels guilty because of the abortion and loves him all the same. Talk about a jaw dropper. We have all heard of these incidents but until you see it for yourself it just does not hit home. This girls groin was swollen to the size of a grapefruit and doubled over for a week from the pain.

Needless to say as far as I know they are still together although he has done quite a bit of jail time due to the assault and other legal issues. Maybe one day she will see the light.

As a closing I just want to say I hope a few people who have dealt with a domestic violence issue can come around and realize nobody deserves that kind of treatment. Woman or man. Please find a way to overcome the fear. Check out the visual below. Some things may surprise you. I know they did me.
Until next time,

Saturday, August 9, 2008

It only takes one

So as a small digression from speaking about defendants and the silly stuff they do I am going to take a second to talk about what are supposed to be the good guys.

Recently in my area we were fortunate enough to have a few motorcycle related events. One about 35 south of here in a small town and another the following weekend at our County fairgrounds. Well as you might guess for those two weekends and during that week there was a heavy law enforcement presence to help discourage some behavior inherent to any big event.

On one of the days during that week a close friend of mine was pulled over on a freeway exit and ticketed for doing 45 in a 40. Now if you know anything of the geography of the Hamilton I90 exit in Spokane you know that it is a very long bridge and many people frequently go much faster than 45 coming off the freeway to go down the hill. So just for the record my friend rides a KLR 650 (not exactly a rocket) with large bags and he wears enough safety gear to keep a GP rider safe in a 130 mph sweeper. Basically saying he is not a casual rider, but a professional motorcyclist that rides defensively and also has never had a ticket in his life. This blog is really not that he recieved a ticket but more of the treatment he recived during his interaction with the State Patrol Trooper.

So as he is exiting and coming around the corner, out from behind a tree and the corner steps a WSP Trooper pointing and shouting for him to pull over. My friend was a bit surprised by it all and hits the brake slightly locking up the rear brake and pulls over to the side of the exit ramp. The trooper approaches and my friend steps off the bike and asks whats wrong. The Trooper asks for the normal paperwork in a very rude manner and heads back to his own motorcycle. The trooper comes back a few minutes later and has him sign a ticket and hands it to him and begins to walk away. So my friend never having a ticket before has no clue what is next so he asks the trooper what to do with it. The trooper comes back and gets right up in his face and tells him to read it and he will figure it out. I know I am not totally accurate in all this but what I am getting at is the Trooper was way out of line as far as I am concerned.

So continuing on later that evening my same friend is riding down the road and comes to the freeway entrance ramp. Working his way in traffic puts on his blinker and goes a block and a woman waves at him to let him in ( not a usual thing here). Next thing he knows he sees a Trooper in a car hit the lights and pull in behind him and pull him over. So by this point with the frustration of the morning still fresh in his head he shuts off the KLR and awaits the Troopers approach. When the Trooper gets to him he is told he cut the woman off. My friend now on the defensive tries to explain that the woman waved him in and there was no way he cut her off. The Trooper looks him in the eye and says "well I guess she is not here to verify that is she."

So taking a second to soak that in, him telling me this already has me apologizing for the representation of my proffession BUT.........it gets better.

The Trooper never asks him for any paperwork and says get moving this is a high traffic dangerous area to be. ( um ...excuse me who pulled who over? ) My friend looks at the Trooper and asks him if he can take a second to cool off and relax from the anxiety of being pulled over again. The Trooper looks at him and said "get moving unless you want to cool off in the back of my car". So as most would do he fires up the bike and gets out into traffic and on the way home.

Like I said my point of this blog was not the tickets or being pulled over. My real point is that I am a bit ashamed to even say that I am a Law Enforcement Officer. I want to sincerely apologize for all those that have been truly treated wrong by any law enforcement and to let you know that for the majority of us, we take a lot of pride in our duty.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Cleaning 4 You.

I am sure anyone can agree that you get better at your job or hobby or interests simply from the time you spend doing them. Otherwise known as experience. I had an In-Law grandfather that had a ninth grade education but was one of the wisest men you could ever meet. He once said to me "You can't buy experience". I knew what that meant when he said it and it rings more true as I get along in my career and life. The more I do this work and learn things some thoughts become instincts which brings me to my next inmate incident of some mild humor this time.
I work with 2 other officers that do the same job as myself but have different days that we spend in the field checking on inmates. On one particular day I was working with a partner and was looking over some notes from an officer about the type of work a particular female had listed. This woman had a maid service called "Cleaning 4 You". I also had noticed that she had procurred her license for the business just about 1 week before being put on house arrest. This leads back to the experience thing. So in my mind she was simply creating a business to be out in the community doing work under the table which does happen frequently. Upon reading her profile that was set-up on her I noticed she was telling us her daily work location (which they have to call in daily)was also one of her personal references. She called in and claimed that she was going to be cleaning this persons house for the remainder of the week starting Tuesday. Now knowing what part of town this was in I was having a hard time remembering any house in the area that took 4 days to clean. I decided it was time to do a work field check on this individual.
So my partner and I arrive at the address of employment and go to the door to find our "client" as we put it sometimes. We knock on the door for about two minutes until a man comes to the door and I identfy myself and ask to speak to the client. ( I knew she was at the residence since my reciever had an ID on her monitor bracelet) When she came to the door I asked her to step outside to speak to me and stepped back from the door. At first glance I was astounded at the choice of clothing for someone to be cleaning in. Short skirt, spaghetti string top, and 3 inch heels. Not really the cleaning attire expected in this conservative little town. I spent a few minutes going over some issues with her pertaining to her business such as the contract with the home owner and how he was paying her as well as her form of transportation. ( no license of course) She went back in the house to find the "contract" and came back out with an older gentlemen who told me that they had a verbal contract. I am sure at this point most of you have an idea all sorts of red flags are flying over this situation. Not to mention she was visibly nervous, shaking and stammering a bit. I explained to her at this time I did not feel she was performing a legal service for this man and would not authorize her to work here anymore. She readily stated that was fine and asked if she could call for a ride home. I asked her what her rides name was and she said it was "Bart" but as always does not know his last name and has known him for 5 years. So as the huge red flag smacks me in the back of the head I decided to turn up the heat a notch and ask why she was dressed as such to clean houses. At that point she pulled up her top quite fast to reveal a swimsuit top and told me she had been cleaning the hot tub and wore a swimsuit so she could get wet without ruining other clothes. Yea I bet she was cleaning the tub alright. I decided I had enough by now and continued with some other normal field check issues such as asking her to provide a breath test to make sure there was no alcohol use. I bet you can never guess. Yep she blew a .089 BAC. So after all the hoopla she gets placed in custody for a nice ride back to the jail to explain to a Sergeant her write up, loose 30 days good time, and more than likely get more time from a new court hearing. So for the ones that get caught............is it really worth it?

Until next time.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

What's in a name?

So part of my job is to have a short interview on a weekly basis with all the people on my caseload. They come in at a scheduled time on Wednesdays and I go over there schedule for leaving the house for such things as work, school, Dr's appointments and the like. They are also made aware that at the time of their appointment with me they are to always be prepared to provide a urinalysis sample and/or give a breathalyzer test if I feel the need. I find it amazing how some will come in basically with their eyeballs floating to do a UA and the ones who think that if they tell me they just went before coming out they will get out of it. Anyway, the people who hold out on you are pretty much the ones who you suspect right away of being dirty. Especially if they have come in and provided right away in the past. So a few weeks ago I put together my list of people I want to have UA'd and as they come in I will tell them and then if it a male I will fill out the proper papers and take them to the bathroom to make sure they are not using someone else's urine or dipping into the toilet water or something similar. The females on the other hand are sent to a different building where a female officer is to monitor the UA. I have this female on my caseload who divulged to me that she had a heroin addiction and was really struggling to stay sober. I made a few phone calls to try and find a local detox that had a bed available for an intensive in-patient treatment program. This woman also suffers from depression and severe social anxiety disorder so therefore takes meds accordingly. After a little bit of looking I found out no detox will take someone who is on those kind of meds until they have been off of them for at least a week. Seemed strange to me but I instructed her to call her Dr. to make sure she could do that so we could get her in treatment. Meanwhile I also told her she needed to remain clean and that she could expect a UA soon.
So the next week comes and I decided to wait one more week for a UA since I had done a house visit that weekend and she seemed to be doing well. The following week she comes in for her appointment and first thing she asks is if she has to provide a UA. I happened to be off that day for family reasons and had someone else taking care of things for me. Since she was not on a list again she went out to the port-a-potties we have for their use. (someone smeared crap on our walls once) The following day I got to work and another partner of mine said he was leaving for work that evening and decided to use the port-o-pottie instead of getting his keys again and going through the fun of all the doors to get to our bathroom. When he went in the stall he noticed the lid was up and he looked in as he was shutting it and noticed what appeared to be a condom in it. They had also just came and cleaned them that day as well. My partner gloves up reaches in and grabs the item in the bottom of the toilet. Needless to say for some reason he just wrapped it and put it in a secure place to look at in the morning.
The following morning he shows it too me and we carefully unwrap it to find it is a prescription pill bottle with urine in it and aluminum foil over the top taped on the sides all in a condom. I have seen this before and knew immediately how it works. She puts the clean urine in the bottle, puts the foil over the top and only tapes around edges. Puts the bottle in the condom leaving the top exposed with the foil and inserts it in her vagina. At the time of urine collection they place the cup under themselves the use a finger to pierce the foil and let the urine go into the cup. Being that it is in a body cavity it will maintain the right temperature to pass that part of the UA.
As I said it was on a prescription bottle and wouldn't you know it she forgot to peel the label with her name on it! Man did that make my job easy. A few hours later she was arrested at her home for intention to tamper with her UA. She provided a good UA later which did come back positive for heroin. It is amazing what someone will go through to no get in trouble sometimes. I guess the good news is she got a bed for detox and has all the free counseling she could use. Albeit not where she wanted but it will get her off the drugs until she gets out. She also had 30 days added to her time as well. Addiction is a powerful thing.

Until next time,

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Let the Blogging begin.

Well since this is my first blog ever I guess it may turn into a silly rambling that goes nowhere as my thoughts frequently do.
I have the feeling that most of my subjects are going to be related to my profession for the simple fact it pretty much rules my life and can be interesting too.
I am a probation officer for the Spokane County Sheriffs office in good ole Spokane WA. If anybody reading this has any experience in the criminal justice system or better yet what most probation officers do, you can almost throw that out the window.
I work with offenders that are mostly on EHM or Electronic Home Monitoring for those non acronym types out there. I also deal a bit with work release offenders and the other groups that are in inmate work crews and plain old jail birds too.
The best part of my job is that I do not spend all day in an office doing referrals to treatment centers and preparing for court hearings on violations and such. I am one of a few probation officers that spends time in the field or community monitoring inmates to make sure they are complying with their probation. I am fortunate enough to have a county vehicle that I drive to and from work daily due to the fact I have to be available at all times during my work week to respond 24/7 to violations. I am very well equipped in my job with the requisite firearm as well as a x-26 taser and OC spray. I regularly wear a protective vest and operate at all times of the day whether it is arresting an offender for use of alcohol to felony warrant service.
Unfortunately, all this stuff from the outside sounds exciting, and dangerous I find the most difficult part of the job is seeing people struggle with uncontrollable addiction. I have seen my share of broken homes and hearing children cry as one of their parents are arrested on yet another violation. I think some of the most disheartening scenes are on non-violation field checks when you knock on the door and when the child sees an officer they instantly burst into tears and beg you not to take their mommy or daddy to jail.
I have so many heart breaking stories to blog about I am excited to have an outlet. On the same note I also have some very rewarding things to write about.

Until next time.