By on August 14, 2013

2006 Honda Odyssey Picture by Dave Hester

 

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.

Anonymity in Beige -Turn off the parking lots and the van blends right into the building.

Anonymity in Beige -Turn off the parking lots and the van blends right into the building.

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.

Deep dashboard provides excellent place to rest your backup Glock when your ankle starts to itch.

Deep dashboard provides excellent place to rest  a backup Glock when your ankle starts to itch six hours into a ten hour job.

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.)

SAM_2147 Picture by Dave Hester

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.

Magnum's Ferrari has less floorspace available for coolers and Robert Parker novels.

Magnum’s Ferrari has less floorspace available for coolers and Robert Parker novels.

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.

Privacy Screens Picture by Dave Hester

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.

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71 Comments on “Cop Commandeers Surveillance Vehicle: 2006 Honda Odyssey EX...”


  • avatar
    olddavid

    Not exactly the stuff of the “Continental Op”, huh, David? Well, even Dashiell Hammett and Ross MacDonald had to start somewhere.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Thanx for the Spencer tie in ~ I only get to talk to the Blue Suits most of the time and they say ” ? WHO ? ” if I mention Mr. Parker .

    Glad to hear it was a quiet shift .

    My Son just promoted to L.A.P.D.’s Central Division where they have scads of different Metro and Undercover cars , he works on anything and everything .

    Back when we had the ’84 Olympics we got to keep lots and lots of drug seizure cars and wound up with a Ferrari and so on .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    Oh, I get. I read between the lines you wrote. You’re saying he is an Islamic Muslimite without saying it outright. That’s so clever.

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-Iron

      Lighten up, Francis.

    • 0 avatar
      David Hester

      If you’re referring to the “workplace violence” snark tied to the Fort Hood shooting, well, my point wasn’t anything to do with Islam as much as to do with our goverment’s refusal to recognize it for what the perpetrator intended.

      If you’re referring to the rest of the article, then I really don’t know what you’re talking about. Sorry, but he was just a run of the mill newly unemployed and possibly unbalanced white guy.

  • avatar
    The Butler

    Sorry that your “overtime honey-holes have shrunk” but why is a lower level public servant allowed to use the “city’s (my tax dollars) Crown vic” while “hustling off-duty gigs”? I understand that on this particular “gig” you had to use this Odyessy but you certainly admit that if you were in your “sworn jurisdiction” you would be allowed to use the city vehicle for your personal gain….. Just curious, what city do you work for? Is this perk allowed for all of the city’s residents or just certain city employees?
    I’m in middle management at a large metropolitan hospital, imagine if I asked the CEO if I can take one of the hospital ambulances or courier vans home for personal use….

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      “I’m in middle management at a large metropolitan hospital, imagine if I asked the CEO if I can take one of the hospital ambulances or courier vans home for personal use….”

      I KNOW! That would be like surfing the internet on your work computer.

    • 0 avatar
      Carrera

      Most police agencies have take home cars for their officers and most are allowed to be used off duty. Eighty percent of an off duty gig is officer presence…unless it’s one of those incognito assignments where there is a surveillance component to it. In a lot of jurisdictions cops have to pay a small fee every month for their vehicles. It’s probably not nearly enough to cover the use of the vehicle but it’s a perk that comes with the job. Anyone can be a cop if he/she has what it takes you know?

      • 0 avatar
        Detroit-Iron

        The ability to get a low score on an IQ test?

        http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2013/05/01/too_smart_to_be_a_cop.html

        • 0 avatar
          Carrera

          I am not really sure if they have to take an IQ test Detroit-Iron, but I know from a friend that they have to take a psychological examination which a lot of “normal” people can’t pass.

        • 0 avatar
          morbo

          NJ State troopers actually have to have that fancy college lurnin’ ur talkin’ bout.

          4 Year degree or 2 years associates plus 3 years military last I checked.

          • 0 avatar
            Doc_G

            Not really on the college lurnin’…NJ, like LAPD and most other agencies, only apply the 100 IQ to white guys. Everybody else gets a free pass. Same on the Psych Exam (results waived or ignored) except if you are of the Cauc persuasion.
            Cool on the $30 per Hr., when I was doing that in the 1970’s it was only $10 per Hr.

    • 0 avatar
      David Hester

      We have a homefleet plan that allows us to drive our assignedvehicles home. If we want to use the vehicle for off duty employment, we have to reimburse the city $50 per month. Most gigs within the city limits require the use of the car.

      Officers who live outside Fayette county can drive their cars home up to a distance of 35 miles from the county line at a cost of $0.25 per mile. Use of the vehicle outside the county limits is strictly prohibited so using the car for a job outside the county is not allowed.

      As I write this I’m curently working an off-duty gig within Fayette County in uniform and in my assigned Crown Vic.

      • 0 avatar

        “As I write this I’m curently working an off-duty gig within Fayette County in uniform and in my assigned Crown Vic.”

        With all due respect, Mr. Hester, perhaps it was not your intention but that reads like a verbal equivalent to thumbing your nose at someone, which is what cops usually do when regular folks call them out on expecting special treatment.

        At the inaugural Crusin’ Hines Drive cruise:

        Me to a Wayne County Sheriff’s deputy standing next to his Hemi powered, mostly unmarked cruiser, while it sat idling:

        “At $4.00/gallon that the taxpayers are paying for that gasoline, you sure it should be sitting there idling?”

        “Oh, I never shut it off.”

        Perhaps there was a good reason for that when cars started less reliably. Today, cars even have stop-start systems. It takes less time to start a car than it does to put down a donut.

        • 0 avatar
          David Hester

          Were his lights, radio, and/ or computer on? If so, then there’s the reason for running the engine. That stuff drains the battery faster than you would imagine and most departments (my own included) are to cheap to wire up a dedicated battery for them.

          As for thumbing my nose at one of the B&B, my intention was to explain the difference between an out of jurisdiction detail and an in jurisdiction detail. No offense was meant on my part , fwiw.

          • 0 avatar
            morbo

            ” As for thumbing my nose at one of the B&B, ”

            Don’t let them stress ya. Everyone hates a cop till it’s their house getting robbed or their family getting mugged.

            Source. I’m from a family of cops and robbers, makes for interesting family reunions.

  • avatar
    1000songs

    This is not meant as a slight against you personally, but if I made the decision to hire a “nationally known company” to provide security, I’d be awfully pissed if they subcontracted out the work to someone who “has a security company on the side” who then sub-subcontracted the work out to their neighbour with a minivan and a glock. In this case, I think the bases are covered, in that you have (i) training; (ii) training; (iii) training.

    Is there anything to prevent your neighbour from getting their babysitter to sit in the parking lot watching Pulp Fiction and eating M&M’s?

    I’d hate to follow the trail of liability on this one…

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I would imagine business likes it because if Det. Hester gets into the s*** the original contractor has to absorb some of the responsibility to its client. If the client were to hire Det. Hester directly, he would have to assume the liability himself and probably carry insurance, lets face it he probably won’t take the gig. This way the client can get a local security presence, have some recourse/protection with a national security company, and Det. Hester is presumably covered for liability by his subcontractor.

      • 0 avatar
        David Hester

        Precisely. My department requires the off-duty employers to cover both workman’s comp and carry minimum of $1million in liability insurance before Internal Affairs will approve the employment.

        There are two ways this works. The first is through a security company like my buddy (also Lexington PD) owns. He carrys the necessary insurance policies and I am considered his employee for a gig like the one in this story.
        My checks have his company name on them.

        The second way is for the officer to be employed and paid directly by the end client. I have another more regular monlighting gig with one of our hospitals, providing security in the ER. They have all the insurance and I’m paid directly by them. I even have to complete all of their HR quarterly training on HIPPA, sexual harassment, and the like with all of the other hospital employees.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          A regular hospital detail sounds like a pretty sweet, and low risk, gig.

          • 0 avatar
            David Hester

            I normally do most of my TTAC writing there. That way somebody is paying for it!

          • 0 avatar
            jmo

            “A regular hospital detail sounds like a pretty sweet, and low risk, gig.”

            A hospital ER is low risk? You have the psychotics, the schizophrenics, the bi-polar, the violent alcoholics, the drug addicts, the drug seekers, the victims and perpetrators of violent crimes, the spousal abuse victims and perpetrators… the list goes on…and on…and on…

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Depends on the facility. There are some rural hospitals with less than 100 beds where I imagine “action” is slim.

            There was a facility outside of Des Moines that ended up causing a stir with my former employer. The $300K pharmacy machinery started doing some strange stuff after it was installed and they raised hell (turned out because motion sensors were put in backward from the vendor we purchased parts from). My friend had to fly out there to determine the cause, and while he was there he learned their average cartfill consisted of *ten* patients.

          • 0 avatar
            David Hester

            The hospital I work for is usually pretty quiet. They’ve had an off- duty officer at night for about 12 years now, so locals know not to come up there looking for pain pills or whatever. They take their shenanigans to one of the downtown hospitals. Out- of- towners, on the other hand, don’t know about the detail.

            We’re there from nine PM to five AM Monday through Friday and five to five on weekends. Mostly we knock out delayed reports from walk-ins so that the on- duty guys don’t have to come take them.

            Most troublemakers leave pretty quickly and easily once they realize that they’re talking to real police and not the unarmed security guards. We try to handle things by just tossing them instead of arresting so that we don’t have to leave the ER for an hour to take them to jail. Maybe once a week somebody decides to do things the hard way.

            Most nights I spend the whole shift in the security office, goofing on my computer and watching Netflix. Every hour or so I enter an “internal foot patrol” in the log, which is code for “walked through the ER and smiled at nurses, then went to the bathroom or Pepsi machine at the end of the hall.”

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    Good story. I’m not trying to tell you how to do your job, but I’m curious as to why you set up in the front of the building when it had that vulnerable wide-open loading dock in back.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      I’m curious about this too. I’m sure the front of the building also had a way in. Point being, one person can’t provide security for a large building with multiple entrances. Sounds like the company could have splurged on some surveillance cameras. Might not be a bad idea anyway.

      • 0 avatar
        David Hester

        The main entrance and the road leading to it was in the front. Where I was parked I could see vehicles approaching long enough to identifty if they matched the suspect’s cars and move to intercept him before he made it to the front door.

        The flaw was, of course, the back entrance which couldn’t be seen from the front. It really was simply too big a job for one person.

        Normally the company didn’t have any security guards at all, not even the stereotypical 65 year-old armed only with a giant key ring holding 80+ mismatched keys. I thought it was strange that there wasn’t at least some effort being made to keep their products from being walked off the back dock, but I’ve also realized over the years that most people don’t think about security concerns like I do.

  • avatar
    drewtam

    “With no arrest authority, my role was no different from that of any civilian security guard.”

    Police are civilians. They are not armed forces (army, navy, marine, air force). They do not operate in a combat environment, under martial law and military codes.

    Police are civilians. They work in a civil environment, under civil law and cannot violate civil rights. Civil law gives police very specific powers of arrest, but it is still a system orchestrated under civil control.

    For example, violation of civil rights can result in an officer being personally sued under a section 1983 lawsuit, stripping them of sovereign immunity.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      The Coast Guard never gets a mention.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Isn’t it technically now under the command of the civilian DHS and no longer a branch of the military?

        • 0 avatar
          burgersandbeer

          http://www.uscg.mil/top/about/

          “The U.S. Coast Guard is one of the five armed forces of the United States and the only military organization within the Department of Homeland Security.”

          I guess it is both military and DHS?

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            That must be an interesting command flowchart.

          • 0 avatar
            morbo

            Navy runs the boat during wartime, DHS during peacetime.

            I am unsure of the difference between the two anymore, however.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            “Navy runs the boat during wartime, DHS during peacetime.

            I am unsure of the difference between the two anymore, however.”

            I was gonna say the same, what are we in right now? Is there ever a peacetime if we’re always fighting with someone? Like how we’ve always been at war with Eurasia for example.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Wartime probably also equals “national emergency”. If we were got into a real war again with a serious enemy, they’ll just go to the war powers act and declare an emergency. Gone are the days of consulting the Congress for a declaration of war.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Very cool story, perfect undercover vehicle.

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    It should be illegal for cops to moonlight in any sort of “security” type role.

    Here in Phoenix, they will hire off-duty cops IN UNIFORM as bar security. An off duty cop being paid while in uniform to do someone’s bidding is a disgrace to say the least.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      Why?

      Notice that Mr. Hester was quite clear that he has no special “cop powers” while not being paid by the Government to Be A Cop.

      Police have relevant training (“how to carry a gun without shooting people”, “how to defuse a confrontation”, “here’s what the law says someone can and can’t do around force and so on”).

      The issue of “in-uniform off-duty” is thornier – and I tend to agree it’s a bad policy to allow it – but doesn’t apply here, again, because no uniform (at least in my reading).

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “two vehicles the suspect might be in, described as either a Chevy Colorado or mid- eighties Volvo.”

    Nice, classic Volvo. Its good to see would be murderers show a little style in the commission of their felonies. Kind of like the Town Car in Heat.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    In a past life, I was a private investigator. On rare occasions we would get requests to do surveillance work; but we would generally either beg off or refer out the jobs. The reason is that it is incredibly inefficient. It is easy to run up huge bills with no results, and if there are no results, the client is always unhappy with the bill. If you end up discounting your bill to keep the client happy, you feel like you spent a suck-o night (or nights) for nothing.

    • 0 avatar
      David Hester

      Indeed. This detail only lasted a couple of days and everybody was happy, but I’m not looking to camp out in my wife’s van again any time soon.

    • 0 avatar
      I've got a Jaaaaag

      I was PI as well and I did Find Minivans were the best surveillance vehicles. You are right about hours of nothing and running up big bills. It was a relief when we got out of the insurance fraud game and into high value shipment tracking.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        “high value shipment tracking”

        That sounds interesting.

        • 0 avatar
          I've got a Jaaaaag

          It actually was from cars to computers we would place covert GPS trackers with a 30 day battery in the shipment and then watch minute by minute to make sure the truck didn’t make any unplanned stops. For extremely expensive shipments we would shadow the truck 2 miles back ready to call the police if anything weird went down.

          • 0 avatar
            Sigivald

            How expensive are we talking, to justify that kind of treatment?

            I can only imagine what would justify a constant escort … truck full of new MacBooks? Ferraris?

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            That certainly makes it harder for things to “fall off” the truck.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I see, so hypothetically you’re guarding a shipment of Vicodin, gold, or whatever out in BFE nd the shipment is hijacked… you’re only allowed to call the police?

  • avatar

    “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.”

    I’m sure there’s an official excuse for this (your local PD always has an excuse, particularly when it comes to their perks and them breaking the law), but let me ask those of you who work in the private sector this question: How many of your bosses will let you use a company car to work for someone else? This isn’t just a matter of using the car to get to work, the car itself is being used while working for someone else.

    I know, duly authorized, jurisdiction, blah, blah, blah.

    Seems to me that most private sector employers would at the least be concerned about liability issues. Just wondering, if an off-duty cop murders someone using an officially issued gun, after chasing him down with an officially issued car, is the city civilly liable?

    It’s rather amazing how many perks LEOs expect as part of the job. I’m not just talking about the routine violation of traffic and parking laws or getting a ride home instead of a DUI, that’s just routine cop corruption. I’m talking about doing personal business while on the clock, the expectation that department policies will cater to cops who want to moonlight, the overtime for court appearances.

    All for a job that’s less dangerous than being a garbageman, seemingly staffed overwhelmingly by people with scorn and disdain for those who pay their salaries.

    How many other jobs need a special department just to make sure their employees aren’t criminals?

    • 0 avatar
      SC5door

      “All for a job that’s less dangerous than being a garbageman, seemingly staffed overwhelmingly by people with scorn and disdain for those who pay their salaries”

      Do you have facts to back that up?

      For example:

      Indiana State Police has had since the 1930’s 18 officers killed by Gunfire. How many sanitation workers are killed by gunfire yearly? In fact how many walk up to a garbage can only to have a shot-gun pointed at their face and their lives taken away?

      Put it this way, 20 officers have died this year alone from gunfire across the United States, 47 last year.

      Source: Officer Down Memorial Page

      I have yet, and I mean YET to come across an officer that was at minimum disrespectful. Yes, they’re out there I won’t even deny that. But seeing the driving public, it wouldn’t shock me that the majority of public is rude, disrespectful and uncooperative more times than the LEO is a jerk.

      The last time I had face time with a LEO, was with the Chicago Police. And the responding officers, all 6 of them were pleasant, caring, respectful and helpful.

      But this “overwhelmingly” majority you speak of is hearsay at best.

      • 0 avatar
        mikedt

        Pretty easy to find data on this, just the top hit:
        http://finance.yahoo.com/news/10-of-the-most-dangerous-jobs-in-the-u-s–191643548.html

        Just google dangerous occupations and I don’t think being a cop ever makes it into the top 10. Since that’s their justification for most of their “privileges” I guess fishermen should be allowed to rape and plunder at will.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        “Indiana State Police has had since the 1930′s 18 officers killed by Gunfire”

        That doesn’t matter.

        Deaths – any cause on the job; getting run over and dying is just as dead as getting shot – per (e.g.) 1,000 employees matters.

        Rates, not totals.

        (I found this – http://www.governing.com/gov-data/law-enforcement-fatality-rates-by-state.html – claiming the highest rate in the US is S. Dakota at 11.5 deaths per 50k officers. [4 over 5 years; SD doesn’t have a lot of cops! – that one’s probably an outlier due to sample size and 3 dead cops in 2011].

        Most states at the high end seem to be at 7-8 per 50k, or a rate of 1.5 per 10,000.

        Various sites claim the BLS stats for garbage collection (2010) show a fatal injury rate of 29.8 per 100k, or 2.98 per 10k.

        So, garbagemen REALLY DO die at twice the rate of cops, in teh states with the highest rate of police fatalities, from work injuries – and it’s easy to see why if you’ve ever seen someone drive around a garbage truck as if they don’t have people working around them.

        It’s just not the sort of injuries that make the news.)

        (I speak only on the matter of “danger”, not the comment about police attitudes, which vary widely. I certainly don’t see Mr. Hester as a “bad cop” with an entitlement complex or scorn… but I also know such police, sadly, exist.)

      • 0 avatar

        Someone’s already pointed out that cops are rarely in the top ten most dangerous jobs. As Sgt. Joe Friday said, just the facts.

        The last time I had “face time” with an LEO, was when he chased me down a highway and pulled me over for having the audacity, as I rolled by slowly as the light turned green, past his car parked dangerously in the middle of the street in the left turn lane, and suggested that he was illegally and dangerously parked. Michigan law only permits cops to illegally park when on emergencies or when pursuing or apprehending actual criminals or suspects, not routine traffic surveillance – not that cops in general seem to have have much regard for the law.

        He put on his lights, chased me, pulled me over, got out of his car so angry at me that when his boss reviewed the dash cam I actually got an apology.

        “Are you having a health issue? Is that why you were hollering?”

        So that was his bull$hit excuse to set me up for a disturbing the peace beef. Okee dokee.

        We jawed for a while. He insisted that state law allowed him to park there. It doesn’t. Look up Michigan Compiled Laws 257.603 (I’ve even gotten my local city council and city manager to agree with me on that).

        He said, “You better watch out!”

        I replied, “No, you better watch out.”

        He got back in his car and picked up the mic of his radio, you know the one he’ll use to call in how he’s pulling someone over for using their cellphone? I figured he might be saying that I threatened him for repeating his own words verbatim.

        So I walked back to my car, now parked in someone’s driveway, locked it up, walked down the sidewalk and waved goodbye.

    • 0 avatar
      carrya1911

      An officer who acts outside the boundaries of departmental policy is on his/her own, whether on-duty or off. Most department policies don’t really allow for murder…so no, the city/state/county wouldn’t be liable if a police officer drove his cruiser to his wife’s boyfriend’s house and murdered them both with his issued MP5. (Real case…the only legally owned machine gun used in a crime that I’m aware of, the owner being the department that employed the officer) Knowingly misusing department equipment in blatantly criminal behavior isn’t on the department any more than it would be if you took the company car and decided to run over your ex-wife. The Supreme Court has hashed that sort of stuff out already.

      Court appearances are a part of the officer’s job as much as doing patrol or working a case. If I work a computer forensics case, there’s the time I spend actually working the evidence and then I might be required by the court to show up and testify for however long that takes. I don’t get to just not show up for work on those days because I was in court, because on a relatively small department it’s not like there’s a ton of people who can cover my shift, especially if I’m one of the guys with stripes on his shoulder. Somebody somewhere is going to have to get paid some overtime to provide coverage. That’s one of the drawbacks of being an entity that *has* to function 24/7.

      Moonlighting policies vary, but in a lot of places they are seen as a mutually beneficial arrangement. The officer gets some extra pay, and the place paying for the officer gets somebody who can actually do something useful with bad guys. Security guards can tell someone to leave, but can’t force them…a police officer can. A police officer can lay hands on a shoplifter instead of just hollering at them…and bad guys tend to take actual police officers more seriously. The knowledge that the cops are real tends to make a dent in bad guy tendencies to offend in that area. Those that do are just bad guys the department was going to have to deal with anyway.

      As for the job being no more dangerous than being a garbage man…well:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1Pj1-Iw-X8

      I don’t think police officers as a whole are “disdainful” of people who pay their salaries. They do tend to be disdainful of people who don’t know as much as they think they do insisting that they know the job better, or entitled people who seem to think that the officer’s duties and powers shouldn’t extend to *their* behavior.

      Are there asshole cops? You betcha. About in the same proportions as asshole lawyers, asshole accountants, asshole doctors, asshole school administrators, asshole clergy, asshole professors, asshole baristas, asshole writers, etc. Far fewer than asshole politicians, as that seems to be a requirement for that particular line of work.

      You know who *really* hates asshole cops? Other cops. The dude busy hassling you for 5 over is the dude who is probably going to take his granny sweet time responding to my call for backup when something serious happens. The dude who drive-stuns somebody who isn’t providing meaningful resistance is the dude who causes me to get run through the wringer when I use the taser on a multiple felon who is trying to take my head off. (Don’t get that too much working the garbage beat) The dude who lies in court is responsible for me having to spend ungodly amounts of time on the stand certifying every word I say and documenting every last jot ant tittle of everything I do so that I can prove beyond any doubt (let alone reasonable doubt) that the dude we busted for kiddie porn (who was about to marry a woman with a daughter in the age range of his porn collection) didn’t end up with 8 gigs worth of video and images collected over a period of 8 months on his computer because of a “virus”.

      The job would be a lot easier without the assholes.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        I knew it, I’m surrounded by assholes!

        http ://www.youtube.com/watch?v= sen8Tn8CBA4

      • 0 avatar

        “I don’t think police officers as a whole are “disdainful” of people who pay their salaries. They do tend to be disdainful of people who don’t know as much as they think they do insisting that they know the job better, or entitled people who seem to think that the officer’s duties and powers shouldn’t extend to *their* behavior.”

        Right, no disdain there. Us mere regular folks who aren’t supercitizens couldn’t possibly know the law, could we?

        • 0 avatar
          carrya1911

          Lots of people can know the law…and how it’s applied by courts. Frequently those doing the most complaining don’t actually fall into that category, though.

      • 0 avatar
        cartunez

        I think you raised nice points but the sad fact of the matter is police do a horrible job of policing themselves. From kicking the shit out of someone who is already cuffed and on the ground to the legal lying and perjury I can honestly state that society would be much better off without the state sponsored sponges called the police. I think if there was a way to instill some level of accountability into the system that would be a great start but alas the politicians and police unions ensure that will ever happen. On the plus side chicks dig a man in uniform. Just one place to discover the true value of our “heroes” http://www.policemisconduct.net

    • 0 avatar
      Carrera

      Hmm…interesting…got some tickets lately Ronnie?

      • 0 avatar

        Nope. I don’t think I’ve gotten 12 points in over 40 years of driving. I just have a healthy fear of people who can take away my liberty and my property and work for a system that is horribly messed up.

        I subscribe to Alan Dershowitz’s rules about criminal law.

        1. The vast majority of criminal defendants are, in fact, guilty.
        2. We ignore rule #1.
        3. Cops lie on the stand.
        4. We ignore rule #2.

    • 0 avatar
      morbo

      If hating on gubmint perks is the problem, the police are at the bottom of a long list of military, congressional, senatorial, departmental and local officials gaming the system. You want to see waste, Google “Dataverse Asbury Park Press”. It details the salaries of all non-military non-executive government employees. You can readjust your priorities on wasteful perks from that.

      There’s must be a specific reason you hate the po-po. Please describe it. Unlike military and federal, local and state PD are actually held to account for their actions. There are most definitely bad actors out there that need to be brought to account, but they actually (eventually) get what’s coming to them through IA and the feds.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        I don’t think it’s necessarily an either/or proposition. You can hate all Government abuse and misappropriation at once, this conversation just happened to be about local police.

    • 0 avatar
      David Hester

      The Lexington home fleet plan has been in place since the late seventies. It predates both my employment with the department and the ability of Lexington police officers to collectively bargain. Its not an “entitlement” as much as it is mutually beneficial arrangement between me and my employer.

      The advantage to me is obvious, especially to me personally since I’m assigned an unmarked car due to my current role as a detective. I get an extra car to drive back and forth to work at a taxpayer subsidized rate without putting wear and tear onmy personal cars. The advantage to an officer with a marked car is less due to the disruption of your personal life when you’re driving or parking a police billboard in front of your house. Having strangers knocking on your door at two in the morning because they think it should be socially acceptable to you for them to ask for directions or some other non-emergency nonsense gets old quick. Requests for emergency assistance, while more socially acceptable, are still equally disconcerting when your kids are asleep in the next room.

      The advantages to the city are actually more numerous, IMO. We keep our cars much, much longer than departments that hotseat cars with less downtime for repairs and the like. Individual assignment of cars means that officers take pride of ownership and better care of the cars. No one loves a pool car.

      The extra expense in fuel costs to and from officers’ homes is more than offset by lower maintenance costs. Its not just my opinion. An efficiency study of the entire Lexington government in 2006 specifically cited the police homefleet plan as one of the things the government was doing right.

      There are other advantages to the government, especially when it comes to police omnipresence. Visitors to Lexington often comment on how many cops we have. According to most metrics of authorized strength commonly cited during discussions about how many cops a city should have we’re pretty severely understaffed. All the cars in neighborhoods and driving to and from work make us appear bigger than we are… for free.

      For me it saves the department overtime money when I get called out. I can respond directly to where I’m needed instead of having to drive my car to hq, switch out to a pool car, and then drive to the scene.

      I could go on but it wouldn’t matter because you’ll never give up that chip you carry around. I’m truly sorry some cop pissed in your cheerios however many years ago but it has nothing to do with me.

      • 0 avatar

        “I could go on but it wouldn’t matter because you’ll never give up that chip you carry around. I’m truly sorry some cop pissed in your cheerios however many years ago but it has nothing to do with me.”

        Of course, ad hominem is the proper way to react to someone who criticizes policy.

        • 0 avatar
          David Hester

          You go beyond simple criticism of policy. The examples you’ve posted while trolling my article of bad police behavior have one thing in common: they were initiated by you. You’re “that guy,” walking up with some penny ante criticism to a regular working stiff who (from his perspective) is just minding his own business and here comes some goof hassling him over where he’s parked or if his engine is on. Then you want to be butthurt about it when one of them takes the bait and responds in kind.

          (Insert old Wanda Sykes routine about she doesn’t frequent her hecklers’ places of employment here.)

          From these encounters where you made an issue of being the smartest kid in the room, you go on to riff about all cops this and all cops that. It is unfortunate that the officers involved responded to your taunting. Ideally they should have been above it. But you got the reaction you were looking for, so I still can’t figure out why you feel the need to come dump on my article.

          It seems to me the reason you have problems with cops is because you go looking to have problems with cops. Take the illegal parking issue. The right way to have handled that was to call the PD and tell the shift commander “I just saw cruiser number blah blah parked at blah blah. I understand that’s illegal.”

          And then the boss would have talked to him and that would have been it. Or they’d have blown you off. And you could call in the same complaint again to the chief when you saw it again. And then the mayor after that but eventually the cop wouldn’t park there. Unless, as is often the case, there is some variance in law thay does allow the police to park there. If that turned out tobe the case then at some point that would get explained to you. However it turned out the problem of the great police parking crisis would have been actually solved.

          Instead you acted like a crazy person, the officer chased you down like a crazy person, the two of you had a genital measuring contest, and you walked home, secretly happy at your martyrdom. I bet the police still park there occasionally and every time you see it, you get experience simultaneous emotions of white hot rage and smug self-satisfaction. The problem is that the overall problem of whether or not the police should park there remains. Although maybe that’s for the best. The cops keep parking and you get to be HappyMad (bet there’s a German word for that) about it. Win-win.

          I hoped with the opportunity to submit pieces to TTAC I might be able to put a human face on law enforcement for this community. Yes, sometimes cops do bad things. There are some that need to find other sources of employment and some that should go to jail.

          But the vast majority of complaints about the police that I see are the result of ignorance about how it really works. I hope to have chances as time goes by to pull back the curtain a bit. As a profession we do a terrible job of explaining why we do what we do. I’d like to explain some of that informally here.

    • 0 avatar
      Hillman

      Internal and external auditors?

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Again Detective Hester ;

    We’re all very lucky to have you sharing your insights with us and those trolling childish whiners really should go live in some place that really has no LEW’s or really bad ones , you’d be crying out the other side of your mouth prettydamnquick .

    Armchair quarterbacking is easy but it’s a moron’s game .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    Scribe39

    Yes, thanks, Dave. As for whoever it was who quibbled over “civilian,” there is a clear difference between someone whose every move is regulated and those who think nothing of showing up late, surfing the Net on company time, having a drink for lunch, etc. I’ve been on both sides of the street, and have some knowledge whereof I speak.

  • avatar
    PeteyCrack

    geez, cut the guy some slack. most people don’t mind officers driving around in marked or unmarked cars off duty. i’m sure it has a deterrent effect on crime.


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