It’s not just firearms that some cops have problems with, many of them have trouble operating their police cars too. Again, many officers are highly skilled and competent – but what they do doesn’t make for very good stories. This is about the others, the ones that are downright scary in how they go about their daily duties. We had one guy who actually locked himself in his patrol car. He got in,

and when he closed the door, the door handle broke off. Now, most people would just slide across the seat and get out the passenger side – but because of the radio rack and equipment, he couldn’t do that. So, you or I would have just rolled down the window and opened the outside door handle, or maybe got on the radio and said “Hey Bob, can you meet me in the parking lot, I’ve got a question for you…” something like that.

Not this guy – he sat in the car for 20 minutes, waiting until someone came out to the parking lot where we had the cop cars. And when they did – he frantically started waiving to them indicating they needed to come over to the car. When they reached the driver’s door the guy kept pointing at the outside door handle, the other officer opened the door, and the guy said “thank goodness, I didn’t know how I would have gotten out of there….” When I heard the story the next day at shift change – I called B.S. – sure the officer wasn’t very bright, but this was just too much. A few minutes later the officer that had “rescued” the trapped guy came into the room – and he confirmed the story completely.

This guy didn’t do well with cars. One morning at about 6:00am, he was headed up to the motor pool, going to top off the gas tank before he headed into the station at the end of his shift. The trash guy was out and about, they had a one ton truck that had a hydraulic twin fork set-up in the back, they used the truck to go around campus and get the full dumpsters behind the buildings. They would then bring them up to the motor pool area where they would be emptied into a trash compactor, and later, the compacted trash taken to the dump.

As the cop pulled up to the gate, he stopped right behind the trash guy. The trash guy was at the gate, and started backing up to empty the dumpster in to the compactor, which was right near the gate. The truck had those annoying “BEEP” “BEEP” “BEEP” things and they were sounding off as the truck started moving backwards. Now the dumpster was lifted up, blocking the view to the rear, and the cop has his car right in the trash guy’s blind spot. As the truck got closer, the cop panicked. He didn’t put his car in reverse, he didn’t blip the siren, or hit the car’s horn – he just sat there as the dumpster got bigger and bigger.

“C-R-A-S-H”   The dumpster got knocked off the forks, and was now sitting on the hood of the cop car. About 20 minutes later, my wife and her boss were working elsewhere on campus and someone told them what happened. They jumped in their department’s old pick-up and drove up to see. Sure enough – a cop car with a dumpster full of trash on the hood. My wife’s boss was about 11 months pregnant (about to pop any minute), and my wife was afraid her boss was about to go into labor she was laughing so hard.

At about 2:00am one morning, we had an interior alarm go off at an off-site location several miles from our main patrol area. The sergeant was ahead of me and arrived in the area first, he said he would approach from the front and had my partner and I – who were riding together – to go around to the back. The approach to the building was by cresting a small hill, as until then the building was out of sight – and, anyone inside the building would not see us until we crested the hill and were just a few hundred yards from the building.

I took a dirt road that went around to then rear of the building and on the rear of the hill, and with my partner we blacked out the car headlights and positioned ourselves at the back of the building. After a few minutes, the Sergeant directed us to go ahead and enter, and clear the building – he was going to keep an eye on the front of the building. That seemed unusual, but he insisted – so we went ahead and cleared the building, and went back to our car – we then drove around to the front of the building and found out what had happened.

The sergeant, had also decided to use the sneaky approach, and turned out his headlights as well. The problem was that when I turned out my lights, I did so with enough light to see where I was going on the dirt road. The other guy had really poor night vision, and since he was driving on dark asphalt – couldn’t see the road. As he drove toward the entrance driveway to the building, he turned about 20 feet before the driveway. This being in a hilly area, he drove straight down into a deep gully – to the point his car couldn’t be seen from the roadway only a few feet behind him.

This was before the wide proliferation of cell phones, so not only did we need to get involved, the sergeant needed to let the dispatcher know as well – she needed to call for a tow truck to respond. The patrol car wasn’t damaged, but did have some brush and weeds stuck up under the wheel wells and under the car. The tow truck didn’t have any problems getting the car back up onto the pavement – and the sergeant used his own personal AAA card to pay for the removal – so no one would be the wiser.

For a time, our police cars were painted white – standard motor pool issue, as purchased from the factory – since the purchasing agents discovered that buying all the cars, trucks and fleet vehicles in one color was easiest. At one point, we also went through a time when the condition of the cars became a major concern (someone had an issue – and everyone had to deal with the fallout for a few months). Sergeants were required to physically inspect the vehicles at the beginning and end of each shift – to check for dents, and if none were found, scratches and other evidence of contact between the cop cars and something else.

An officer was working swing-shift, and backed into something – with just enough force to create a chip in the paint. It was most obvious because the dark black spot showed clearly on the white panel. Of course he knew in a couple of hours, during shift change, he would be found out and get documented for this “damage.”

Now, cops are very resourceful individuals. They can be incredibly creative and innovative in the performance of their duties. This enterprising officer was no different. At that time, a crime fighting tool that was more in use that the red lights, firearm, or handcuffs – was the “Liquid Paper” or “White Out” correction fluid. Writing reports, this substance was the lifeblood of law enforcement everywhere.

The officer grabbed his handy bottle with the built-in brush applicator, and with some judicious application of several coats – the dark black paint chip, was soon covered and much harder to see or notice. Later, the two patrol sergeants teamed up and inspected each patrol car – so they would both be able to document any damage. Of course his shift change occurred at 11:00pm, when it was dark outside, and his work was good enough to remain unseen in the dim light.

Of course, the next day, in the light of day, the feeble attempt to cover up the damage was discovered. As is often the case, the officer actually responsible was on his days off, and with sergeants having inspected and documenting the pristine condition of the panel – another officer got yelled at, first for the damage, and secondly – the attempt to cover and hide the damage.