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Thursday, July 23, 2009

StoryTime With Adoro: Criminal Law

It's been awhile since I told a "story". People seem to like my stories, even if they don't comment. They ask for them. And, by the way, I don't make these things up. If it's fictional, I say so up front.

Tonight's StoryTime comes as a result of two independent and unrelated inspriations. The first is Anita Moore's post at V for Victory! on the utter ridiculousness, amusement, irritants, and head-shaking she experiences (or has experienced) in Criminal Law. As, at one time I aspired to be a Criminal Attorney, and of course, saw the field from a different perspective, the following is my take in relation to her post:

Amusement: everybody who gets pulled over for drunk driving had "a couple of beers." Everybody who gets caught with marijuana last smoked the stuff "two weeks ago."

~ Anita Moore

Back in my very short time as a cop, I had to work on Thanksgiving. We had early snow that year (technically normal for Minnesota) and the roads, especially at "rural" corners, were covered in snow. It was common knowledge which bars/restaurants were having "parties" that night, and so we patrolled those areas heavily, as well as taking time to cruise our respective assigned zones.

That evening I remember confronting a guy named "Zack" (as we shall call him) outside of Champp's, a local sports bar chain. (I'm not sure if it's national as I'm too lazy to check.) Zack was drunk and was starting fights. But he didn't want to fight me and every time I found it necessary to get in his face and yell at him, he immediately calmed down and became malleable to direction. It helped that at the time he was in handcuffs.

As I recall, we let him go after charging him with Disorderly Conduct, because, in fact, by his willingness to cooperate with me he proved that he actually could take care of himself in spite of his lightweight "couple beers", and some of his friends were a bit wiser than he and desired to get him out of there. So we left and headed to the southern end of the large metro suburb. As we approached a hard left turn in one of the more "remote" heavily wooded neighborhoods, knowing the roads and turn were icy, I had no problem slowing and keeping the Squad under control. Yet it didn't surprise me to see a sedan stuck on that curve, and it surprised me less that there were four guys somewhere around 21 or 22 years of age sitting in that car.

(Mind you...I was 22 years old at the time myself. And yes, wearing a badge and carrying a gun and the authority of the law.)

As I approached the car, I noted they had their windows open and quite jovially greeted us with the air of innocence that belongs only to the guilty. These guys were really really friendly, the sort you'd want to meet any time of the day, and they were working hard to project that image.

I knew immediately they'd been drinking. (As if the car that welded to the ditch could have been suffering anything less!)

Of course, it's not illegal to be tipsy and sitting in the backseat of a ditch-encrusted car. As I joined in their overly-friendly banter, I shone my flashlight through the car, looking for evidence that the guys were still drinking. But my main focus was whether the driver had been drinking. (The fact the car was THAT FAR into the ditch was pretty damning evidence, but not enough for an arrest!)

The driver, too, was very happy to see us and as the peanut gallery in the back seat assured us that a tow had been called already, he showed us his cell phone to prove it, obviously in hopes we would move on.

Clearly they were operating off of the paradigm of "helpful cop" that would move on and ignore the obvious reality that not a single other car had managed to go off that road, and if so, they had managed to not be THAT stuck.

So I played the game, which wasn't hard. After all, I was their age! I knew what I would have been doing if I was still in Winona (although my friends were wise enough to take a cab!)

We talked a little about the weather, the slippery roads, the fact it was Thanksgiving and how our meals had been, etc. And then I "randomly" sprung the key question on the chatty guy in the back seat.

My question was focused on him because he was the obvious spokesperson for the group. I was sure he was the one telling the other guys "what to do". Yeah, I had friends like him, too, and knew that "that guy" was usually wrong, especially when there was trouble. And that made "that guy" the weak link. He had the pinache to think I was wrapped around his finger.

He was wrong.

Me to Chatty Guy in the Backseat: So you guys, how was the party at Champps tonight?"

Chatty-self-appointed-spokesman-guy in the backseat: It was great, there were TONS of people there!

I let him go on for awhile, nodding and smiling in seeming approval.

Then I said to the cringing and strangely silent driver who had long put his cell phone away, "Sir, will you step out of the car, please?"

The driver immediately opened the door, deer-in-the-headlights, and told me as he did so that he'd only had "a couple".

In appraising the position of his car and the proportionate support of his passengers, I wondered, "A couple kegs or a couple bottles of hard liquor?"

Well, let's just say this guy failed his field sobriety test and subsequently blew something over .20. At the time, MN was .10. And because our backup officers were vigilant and quietly circled around while I was "chatting up" the passengers, he was the one to spot the Open Bottle violations in the back seat.

Yup, it was a successful night.

Tonight, a local News Station, KARE11 , had a special on the Mounted Police in Minneapolis. (Not online as of this writing)

When I was in Law Enforcement Skills, I wanted to be one of them. At the time, I'm not sure that Minneapolis had Mounted Patrol, but St. Paul did and I aspired to be one of them. To me, it was the pefect place for me: I wanted to be a cop, and I loved horses and KNEW I could ride.

As it was, it wasn't until after I had left law enforcement that I finally came into contact with the Mounted Patrol, and given the story on the news tonight, I feel I have to write about it.

The story focused on their very necessary crowd control in Downtown at bar close.

Having been there, yes, I agree it's the PERFECT place, and they do a great job! There are a great number of people out there who don't realize the value of horses in crowd control and law enforcement, so I was happy to see this story, the officers, and of course, the well-trained horses that are ready for everything!

My own experience with the Mounted Police was also as a "drunk" (of which I'm still very embarassed!) However, I wasn't causing a fight. I'd left a bar, I was with friends, and in fact, I went TOWARD the officer, introduced myself,and we had a great and coherent conversation while we "talked shop" and I patted the horse.

As my friends and I left, I realized that in walking away from law enforcement, I was also walking away from the other part of that dream I'd held dear for a long time. I had loved the idea of serious law enforcement combined with horses, and of course, the PR that went with it. It was the Farm Girl in the City, and there is more beyond that.

But it wasn't to be.

Although I long mourned my exodus of that dream, I value my experience in law enforcement and am grateful especially to those officers who hold the position I STILL, in some ways, lament.

Tonight in watching the news, I wondered if maybe the Police have a program for volunteers to come in and assist with the horses. Maybe there is and maybe I should look into that. I love horses, I don't have a lot of time, but as they noted, grooming horses is calming, working with horses is calming, and having had THAT experience, well, I miss it and wish I had somewhere to go for that kind of "therapy". As it is, the programs I know about for retired horses and neglected horses are so far out of the way or require a time committment that that simply doesn't work with my schedule. did I go from snarky cop stories to lamenting my love for horses?

I never said my blog would be organized OR predictable. Just sayin'


Warren said...

A girl I knew in high-school lived in the country, and her parents ran a riding school.

For a lot of the girls I know, including my two sisters, that would be a dream childhood.

Both my sisters own horses now, one rides english style (hunter/jumper) in competition, and the other has a few mares and a stable on her country hobby-farm, and is raising foals.

I must admit, there's just something there, between a girl and her horse. In a bygone era, men knew about it too, but they've mostly all of them forgotten it. I think it must be some ancient part of being human that it puts a rider back in touch with.


Theocoid said...

Oh, dang. I'm on the verge of stepping away from an opportunity to serve as a reserve officer, and you go and post a story about law enforcement and horses.

I'm half way through the interviewing process, and I realized yesterday that I can't seek all of my goals now. Being 44, I have only a few more years before I can seek an opportunity to become a LEO. However, I'm half of the way through my theology degree and a good ways into diaconal formation? Which takes precedence?

Well, I think God has been telling me to choose. He's not saying no to either, but He's telling me to make a choice. So I'm making a choice. Maybe the reserve option will be open in the future, but now I know that my choice this time has to be other.