Moonlighting is as much a part of the job as donuts and Crown Victorias. As municipal budgets have gotten squeezed over the past few years, the overtime honey holes that I and many of my fellow officers had become accustomed to shrunk as well. In order to make my nut I’ve had to go back to hustling off- duty gigs. My neighbor runs his own security company on the side and had a detail for this weekend. The catch was that it was outside of my sworn jurisdiction, which meant that I’d have to use one of my own cars instead of the city’s Crown Vic. My options were my ’02 Camaro SS, my ’01 Silverado, or the wife’s ’06 Honda Odyssey. I decided to channel my inner Roger Murtaugh and commandeered the family truckster.
The gig was fairly routine in this day and age. A company located just north of Lexington had to fire an employee, who had taken the news less than well. Threats were made, vengeance was sworn, and management made the decision that the employee was just odd enough that his ravings needed to be addressed. The fact that a somewhat underreported workplace violence trial began this past week no doubt figured into their decision. They contacted a nationally known company, which then subcontracted the work to my neighbor, who hired me to observe and report for $30 an hour from 2130 hours on Sunday evening to 0800 on Monday. With no arrest authority, my role was no different from that of any civilian security guard. If the subject showed up, I was to tell him he was trespassing and call the local PD. I was only to apply force in self- defense or to prevent injury to other employees.
The plan was for me to sit outside in my car and watch the road leading into the facility. If the subject pulled into the lot, I would intercept him and direct him to leave. August in Kentucky makes air conditioning mandatory, even at night. I selected the Odyssey primarily because it gets the best gas mileage of any of my personal cars, the better to protect my profit margins for the gig.
It’s also the most comfortable for an overnight shift of staring at a mostly empty parking lot and waiting (hopefully) in vain for a disgruntled moody loner with homicidal tendencies to show up. The high sitting position and minimal blind spots give me a decent view of the area from either the front driver’s seat or the second row captain’s chairs. I spend the first couple of hours in the driver’s seat, backed into the rear corner of an auxiliary parking lot across from the plant. With five cupholders in reach of the driver’s seat my Mountain Dew was always convenient. The door lid of the central cubbyhole makes an excellent shelf when opened to rest my Kindle Fire on. (I bring it on these jobs to watch law enforcement training videos like “Pulp Fiction.” Multitasking, you understand.)
The seating is comfortable enough, although after a while I find the Odyssey’s surprisingly aggressive seat bolstering presses in on the hard plastic of the holster holding my Glock to my hip. I dig into my backpack for a leather holster that tucks inside the waistband of my cargo pants and switch out. Problem solved.
Every hour or so I drive the perimeter of the facility. Securing the place with only one person on the outside is not a serious attempt at security. The back of the plant is wide open, with loading bays off of the factory floor. The suspect could have gone inside from the rear and killed everyone inside. I’d never know.
Still, the Honda works well for the detail. Nobody pays it the slightest bit of attention as I roll between empty trailers and through the lot, checking the rows of employee cars for either of the two vehicles the suspect might be in, described as either a Chevy Colorado or mid- eighties Volvo. If life was an episode of “Magnum, P.I.,” I suppose I would end up in pursuit of him through the hills and dales, maybe through the interior of some of the nearby warehouses. I figure the Odyssey would probably hold its own against either of those two vehicles.
After every loop I return to my darkened corner of the auxiliary lot and back into a space. As the night drags on, I decide to get a sense of the surveillance capabilities from the back of the van. The rear privacy shades on the center widows make the interior almost impenetrable from the outside. I’ve no sooner settled into the leftside captain’s chair when I get my only looky- loo of the night. A Jaguar leaving the employee lot pulls up perpendicular to me. I sit quietly, waiting for the driver to get out and approach. He or she looks for awhile and then drives away . After they leave, I get out and shine my police issue flashlight at the blacked out windows. The privacy screens, combined with the factory tint, really are impenetrable from the outside, even when you walk directly up on them.
As dawn begins to break traffic entering the facility picks up. A madman intent on mayhem would be impossible to stop before he caused a lot of chaos. My relief arrives early and I start the most dangerous part of my shift, the 40- mile drive home after working all night. I stop and top off the tank. My profligacy in running the A/C most of the night has cost me $29.56 in low- grade unleaded. My other cars would have no doubt cost me more. I tuck the Odyssey into the garage and stumble off to bed. Sooner or later another moonlighting gig will come up. Minivans might be boring, but that’s definitely an asset for surveillance work.