Working security on my day off, undercover on the city bus line.

In 1993 the police chief changed policy and allowed officers to work private security on their days off. A couple of police supervisors quickly started a company and got a few local contracts. There were four positions on the city buses and on the trolly. I worked both details, but the bus was the most fun. It was undercover work and we were to watch for crime on the bus. It was mostly “tagging” (spray painting the bus walls) and some other minor stuff. We had to be on one bus line for the run to school and in the morning and the return in the afternoon. One intersection in the downtown area had a major bus stop and a trolly stop about 50 yards apart. There was a convience store between the two and that lot was known for sales of narcotics, mostly marijuana. Since we had nothing to do around 9am to 1pm we throught it would be nice to arrest a few drug dealers. The four of us would meet in a fast food place across the street. It took a couple minutes to identify the dealers and then we would leave and wait for them to approach us. After the arrest we would walk them 2 blocks to the main police station and book them there. In a few months we, as a group, make about 30 or more possession for sales arrests. It all came to a halt when a dealer ran from us and the working police went after him. A deputy police chief responded to the call and wanted to know why off-duty cops were involved. Cops had been watching the action from a rooftop and had seen the dealer take off from us. One of the cops I worked “UC” with still laughs when he recalls me running down Broadway with a backpack in my hand and a cigar in my mouth.

Stage diving, San Diego style.

For several years the city would allow an open air concert event in the downtown area. There would be several bands and various streets and parking lots would be shut down and fenced in. One year  I worked it on  sunday, the last day of the 3 day event. My partner and I were in the “childrens” area and we were looking foward to a slow day. The last band came up and the area in front of the stage was totally packed with people. A couple of knuckleheads climbed up on a city power box that was attached to a small telephone pole. They grabbed the pole and started to move it back and forth. They were right above the crowd and if the pole came loose it would hit several people. I had private security get below them and order them down. They got the “one finger” response. We thought about spraying them with mace, but that would lead to other issues. After 10 minutes past one of them “stage dove” into the crowd below. He hit several people and the ground. He was handcuffed and taken away. I was watching the second guy when I got bumped from behind and I bumped into a girl standing right in front of me. She turned and gave me an elbow in the ribs. She didn’t know she had just hit a cop. The second moron followed his friend, but the crowd moved and he hit the ground. He was cuffed and they both went to jail.

Juvenile arrests

I was working southeast on 3rd watch in the mid 90’s. The recent “push” had been to arrest minors under the age of 18 for being in violation of curfew. The command thought it would be good to get them off the street as both a possible victim and/or suspect. I was focused on drunk drivers and didn’t care much for curfew arrests. One night I was headed for our trailer on 47th St, to get a cup of coffee, when I saw 2 males walking toward the trolley station. They looked under 18, so I stopped them. They were both 16 and it was 11pm and 10pm is the latest they could be out. I arrested them and found 2 stolen city schools hand held radios on them. The radios had been taken in a recent burglary from a school 6 blocks away. Sometimes the little things become big things. They went to Juvenile Hall instead of home.

Northpark in the late 1990’s and I saw a couple kids on bikes and they were not wearing helmuts. They turned into an alley and as I turned the corner one of them pulled a military bayonet out of the back of his pants and threw it behind a wall. It is a felony to conceal that type of knife on your person. He went from a fix-it ticket to a felony arrest. Still in Northpark a 15 year olds mother calls us because another kid took her son’s bicycle. He came up to him and pushed him off his bike a rode off. I took the kid with me and his mom followed in her car. The suspect had taken off S/B on 30th st and thats the way I checked. I found him riding the stolen bike a couple minutes later. Happy ending, the victim got his bike back and the suspect got a ride to Juvenile Hall. (Juvenile Hall is more of a scare tactic. The 1st thing they do is call the parent to come pick up their child. It does give them a taste of the system)


Death and “check the welfare” calls.

I cannot remember the amount of “check the welfare” calls I went on over the years. The call usually comes from family or friends that have not heard from someone and want the Police to see if they are ok.

I went on a call in the North Park area in a retirement home. When we got out of the elevator I knew the person was dead. The smell of death is something you don’t forget and sure enough the lady had been dead a couple days. She had a security screen door and the wooden door was open. She was dead in the living room.

Another call in Pacific Beach and the smell of death. The apartment was empty, except for a body under a blanket on the living room floor. He had been dead a week or so and there was a line of little critters going to and from the body. He had melted into the floor.

We had a body on the beach outside a place called the “marine room” in La Jolla. He had a drink glass near him and we figured he had too much to drink and fell asleep on the sand, during low tide. The tide came in and he drowned.

A call to check on a drunk lying on the driveway of him’s mother’s home. Some of his friends brought him home from the local bar. They tried to put him in his camper in the backyard, but the gate was locked. They left him on the driveway instead. Rule #1 with passed out drunks. Lay them on their side, not their back. He threw up and drowned in his own vomit. His mom was in the house at the time.

We had a guy in Clairemont that died putiing on his socks in his living room. He was on his back with one sock on and the other in his hand. I sat at his dinner table and did my reports while waiting for the coroner to come and get the body. The wait could be up to an hour or more. When I worked Pacific Beach I would volunteer for death calls, to catch up on my paperwork while waiting at the location for the coroner.

Take responsibility for your actions.

I was working the Mission Bay area in the early 1980’s and  checking out the local bay parks for people drinking. I saw five guys standing around a parked car. They all moved when they saw me, so I knew they were up to something. I saw a bottle of beer at the feet of one guy and I asked him it was his. He denied ownership of the beer. They were all in navy, so I started talking to them about the importance of taking resposibility for your actions and as service members they should be responsibile. The guy near the beer changed his mind and claimed the beer. I thanked him for stepping up and taking responsibility. I started to walk around the guys on the other side of the car and I saw a baggie of marijuana on the ground, then another, then another and another. As I held up each baggie one of them claimed ownership. I issued four  marijuana tickets and one glass bottle. Sometimes you run into honest people. I did thank them all for being honest.

Narcotics, possession for sales.

I was working southeast division with a female partner on 2nd watch. We went to a local park on a call regarding some males drinking beer in the park. When we arrived we saw 2 guys with beer cans near the basketball courts. We went up to them and told them they were going to get tickets for possession of alcohol in a park. The guy I was talking to then turned and tried to run. I pulled him to the ground and tried to get him into handcuffs. The other guy stepped up to help his friend and my partner had to have my back. An off-duty officer came up and helped me cuff my guy. I looked back and saw my partner handcuffing her guy as she sat stradding him. When we got downtown I asked my guy why he treid to run. He told me that he had some “weed” on him. I had taken a small metal case, like people use to carry cigatettes and the weed was in there. I told him would have just been a ticket also, until I opened the case. He had 14 small ($5) baggies of marijuana in the case. He just stepped to felony possession for sales.

I was working sourtheast on 3rd watch with a trainee. We were driving in an alley when I saw a guy urinating up against a trash dumpster. That offense is arrestable, but usually is only a ticket. We stop and when I approach him he tries to run. We get him cuffed and during a search of his person we find $16.000.00 cash and 14 grams of methamphetamine. He said that he earned the money picking apples in oreagon and he had bought the drugs with part of his apple money. He lost the money and went to prison for a couple years. Watch where you urinate.

Cops I knew that died.

During my time on I knew about 30 cops that died of various things. I also went to about 25 officer involved shooting scenes. I knew 7 that died in motorcycle accidents, 7 that killed themselves, cancer took 4 more and the rest died in the line of duty. After I retired I went to the funeral of an Officer that I knew from SWAT and southeast patrol. He was killed in an aprtment complex in that community and nineteen years before another Officer had been killed in that same complex. I had worked around that Officer in southeast patrol also. We did not have an Officer killed by gunfire in that 19 year period. How weird was it that two cops were killed in the same complex 19 years apart.

After retirement I joined the retired fire and police association. They e-mail out all the department anouncments. Since retiring I can’t keep up with the deaths of so many guys that I knew. (over 25 at this time) I worked patrol all over the city and I got to know alot of cops. Each death takes a little out of you, depending upon how well you knew them, of course. It seems like if you make it to 60 years old, then you are gonna live a long time. Whatever killed them did it within a couple years of retirement, generally speaking. I ran into a retired officer that left in 1980, when I came on. At the age of 80 he started mixed martial arts and at 86 is a 2nd degree black belt. He is an inspiration.