From the Cop side: Ok, I’ll end the suspense.
Getting back to my “worst rookie” story….
Our shift started at 1500 hours (3 pm for normal folks). This was the “swing shift” which is still my favorite shift for actually doing police work. My second favorite shift was when I worked DUIs and started in the evening and worked until 3 am to catch drunk drivers.
In the time of this story, I was also going to college full time—using up the rest of my VA college assistance. In those days I really needed the money, so even though I had no free time, I went to work or school, or studied.
Since I had college classes that day, I hadn’t had time to stop for lunch before going to work. So, I arrived for work, put on my uniform, met the new rookie “C”, talked to him about what I expected and then we got into the car. “C” had already been in training for over a month, so I figured he must have some clue as to what to do. I learned a lot that day…like never assume anything where you life could be on the line. “C” was totally fu--ing clueless in regards to how to be a real live cop.
After we drove around our “beat” for a quick check, I told him to head down to the local diner. I needed food and caffeine or I was not going to make it through the night. At first he looked at me with a confused look, then I repeated: “let’s go to code 7 (dinner break) now.”
He said: “but it’s early, I’m not hungry yet.” To which I responded with a polite: “I am. I didn’t have lunch today.”
So, he pointed the old Dodge in the direction of the diner and off we went. Since I am a driving instructor, I often look over to see how fast a trainee is going. We were in a 35 MPH zone, but I noticed the needle was creeping up to 50 MPH. I gently said: “There’s no rush, follow the speed limit.”
Still, the needle was near 50 MPH. So I repeated: “There’s no rush, keep it at the speed limit. Slow down!” It took a third time to get the message across before “C” slowed the da-- patrol car down. I decided he’d need a class on basic patrol car operations after dinner. This was not going to look good on his DOR (Daily Observation Report).
We somehow made it to the dinner without a crash. We went inside and I looked at the menu and ordered a simple sandwich so we could get back to work right away. Just as soon as I ordered, we herd the dispatcher give another unit a residential alarm call. No big deal, it wasn’t our call. So I took a sip of my caffeine beverage. “C” looked at me and said: “aren’t we going to go?”
I looked at him and said: “It’s not our call. It’s only a residential alarm….it’s just some home owner who came home and set off their stupid a-- alarm…relax.”
Then the patrol unit that was dispatched told the dispatcher that he was coming from a distance and he’d be delayed. So “C” looked at me and said: “Shouldn’t we go?”
I told him: “No, we haven’t been dispatched. Can you relax a little, you’re like a monkey on crack or something.”
Just as my sandwich was served to me, the dispatcher got back on the air and asked if we were clear to respond to the alarm call. “C” looked at me and it appeared that he had stopped breathing. This was a bad sign. I know that the human brain must have oxygen to properly function. Those who deprive their brains of this valuable element, often do really stupid sh--. (Stand by for stupid sh--.)
I told “C” that I’d show him how to answer the dispatcher: “Control, we’re at Z diner on break. We’ll be delayed in that response by a few minutes.” The dispatcher acknowledges our answer, and I could tell that they were less concerned about the alarm call than I was.
(a little back ground. I had responded to this stupid a-- residential alarm about 15 times in the last month. The home owner was too stupid to use it correctly, so we’d put it on our “don’t give a sh--” list.”)
(so I won’t keep you in any more suspense.)
I inhaled my sandwich and we walked out to the car after paying the bill. I could tell that “C” was really over excited, so I told him: “It’s an alarm we’ve been to 15 times in the last few weeks, don’t get too excited, but handle it like it’s real.”
I sat in the car and put on my seat belt, but “C” started to drive without his on. I suggested that he put it on. He didn’t move for it. By now all the commute drivers were coming home from the “city” and clogging up the streets. The speed limit was 35 MPH, but most could only get up to 10 or 15 MPH for a block or two before stopping. “C” had turned on the emergency lights and started tapping the siren.
I thought this was a little too much, so I suggested he not try to go so fast. I looked over at the speed needle and saw that he was up to 50 MPH again. I could see that traffic was not moving up ahead and we were heading for a crash. I YELLED: “Slow down!”
Now I was actually starting to get worried. This rookie really had stopped breathing, but somehow he was like a monkey on crack. If we didn’t have doors and a roof on the car, I think he would have sprung out of the car! He slammed on the breaks just as he realized that yes, traffic was stopped….then he move from the #1 (left lane) to the #2 (right lane) while he still had the emergency lights on.
Let me point out a critical bit of safety information here before I continue. I the state of California, emergency vehicles that are using their emergency lights MUST stay in the far left lane and allow traffic to move to the right. This is Basic Emergency Driving 101 that is taught in the basic police academy.
I almost got car sick. That is not something a rookie cop should make his/ her FTO do. If I get car sick, I’m going to puke on whoever is doing the sh--y driving. I told him: “drive smooth, not fast. If you have the emergency lights on, you MUST stay in the left lane.”
He started to argue with me and he said: “I can get there faster if I pass around the cars.”
I looked at him, now using my old Army Sergeant Voice (ASV) and said: “Are you fu--ing arguing with me? Now, do what I fu--ing say, or pull the fu--ing car over.”
He slowed down a little, then started to gain speed. I repeated: “Slow the fu-- down now! Slow down or I’m driving the rest of the shift by myself!”
He only slowed a little, and still passed on the left and the right. I finally said: “Slow this fu--ing car down now, or I’m going to kick your stupid fu--ing ass. Are you a retard?”
That got his attention. And yes, we used to talk to rookies like that if they were that stupid.
He got up to an intersection where we needed to turn left…but he continued in the going straight lane, then like a spaz, made a hard left turn. We almost got hit by two cars who’s drivers were totally caught off guard. I yelled: “what thefuckwasthat? You should turn in the turn lane. This isn’t a life or death call.”
I was thinking about pulling my .357 magnum revolver out and using that to get his attention. I was in great fear of my life at that point. (I was considering how I was going to write the use of deadly force report) But he began to slow down as he was looking for the address of the alarm call.
I got back into my FTO mode and tried to salvage the situation, even as fouled up as it was. I gently said: “OK, it’s a residential alarm. How do you want to approach the house? What equipment do you need? What do you tell the dispatcher when you get there?”
No answer. OK. I guessed he heard what I had said and he was contemplating it over in his feeble mind. Remember, no oxygen had been supplied to his brain for over 10 minutes now…so brain damage was setting in….
He pulled up right smack dab in front of the house. No cover for me. It was just starting to get dark, and as he left the patrol car, he left the keys in the ignition, left the headlight on and left the emergency lights on. I grabbed the keys so some kid wouldn’t steal our patrol car.
“C” ran to the front door and looked very much like a monkey on crack---now with his head cut off. He was actually jumping up and down looking around for an answer to what he was supposed to do. I suggested: “why don’t you check the front door, then work your way around the house.”
He did that, but when he got to a back door that was unlocked (again) he really looked confused. I knew that this would be a great learning experience for him, so I said nothing. He looked at me and said: “I forgot my flashlight, can I have yours?”
I said: “Pretend like I’m not here.” And he walked into the house without a light. I knew the back room had no lights since it was under remodel….so the dumbass stumbled around a while in the dark. I have no idea what he though he was doing, but it was so funny I couldn’t control myself. About then he realized that he really needed a flashlight, and he came back out…but he couldn’t get back into the patrol car because I took the keys and locked the doors (but left all the lights on).
Finally, we took care of the call. The house was “cleared” and we went back to the office with me driving. When I sat “C” down and tried to explain what he had done right (nothing) and what he had done wrong (everything), he actually began to argue with me and try to justify why he did the dumb shit he did.
I looked at him, then pulled out the training manual. I pointed to the section where it said something about the trainee should not argue with the FTO. He still argued. I told him to sit in the office the rest of the shift and read the manual.
I went into work early the next day to talk to the boss about the dumbass rookie. I said: “Sergeant, I have never seen somebody who is so fu--ing stupid in my life.” I explained everything he had done wrong and how he argued with me.
The sergeant said: “Oh, you’re being too hard on him. I think you just need a few more days with him.”
…and this is why it took me so long to get promoted…I said: “There is no fu--ing way I am having that idiot in the car with me ever again. He is not trainable. If you keep him on, we are going to get more citizen’s complaints than ever, he’ll get us sued and he’s going to get himself or somebody else hurt bad. He’s not ever going to be a real cop! I refuse to be his FTO.”
They put “C” in a car with anther FTO. He made it through probation, and he had an average of one citizen’s complaint a month, crashed several car and got our department sued and finally had to be fired when a more competent chief was hired later.