Evidence 101

EVIDENCE 101...Wherever you go, there you are...







Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Buttsniffer Greeter Needed

Coming home at night is dreadful right when I enter the door. I am still incredibly sad. It has been a tough two weeks. Jake's spunk and memories are everywhere. I come home to an empty dog bed and toys I need to deal with, but I leave them there. My daughter is very sensitive and kind...these things affect her hard because she is so young.

And Marcia's passing away has left a hole, but I can't even think about being poopy in her case, because she wouldn't allow it. She might "haunt" me, LOL. Maybe that is why in my head, I constantly hear her voice and the message, "Just deal with it", her favorite saying when the going got tough.

Telling the Captain and Lieutenant today about Jake choked me up, yet again... but I had to hold it together so they didn't think I was a "Sissy Bedwetter." And the sinking feeling when they look at you with shock and they just say, "Oh...shit." I mean, what can you say? It just sucks all the way around.

Crazy as it sounds, we see bad shit everyday...beyond what anyone can ever imagine...believe me, I have stories. They will be sealed in my "vault" (brain) because they are too icky. But when tragedies or death hit you or someone you know, you become a pile of jelly. Trying to be stoic just is a crock. In your mind, you know you have to go on and you do... it just takes a little time. Maybe I should put out an ad..."Buttsniffer Greeter Needed"...no, I think I will just settle for some chocolate...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Jake's Last Adventure

I'm on break right now. Hard to concentrate at work. Same old hum drum of accidents on icy roads and drunks tonight. Started out as a bright, beautiful day...the sun was shining and some of the snow was melting. It actually got up to 37 degrees...a heat wave.

At about 11:00 a.m., my daughter let out Jake,(the police K-9, retired), to go pee. He took off on his usual route and then darted toward the cliffs and the river. I saw him go on the trail by the brush where the pheasants hunker down. Now, his spunk is always limited to about 10-15 minutes, 20 tops. He is old, has arthritis, and has had leg surgery over the years. I called him back. My daughter called him back. He didn't come to us.

I got on heavier clothes and went out, following his trail. The bunny tracks were next to his paw prints in the snow and he was on that little bugger's trail. He never catches them, but I am sure the hunt is fun and entertaining even if he never sees the reward of the snatch.

As I came through the brush and trees to the opening of the "mighty" river,( which is about 24 feet deep in places near our house), I pursued the tracks. Once in the opening and gazing around at the partially frozen river, my heart sank. No Jake.

I continued to follow the tracks and they headed, along with the bunny trail, straight out on the ice where there was an opening of water. The sides were thick slippery ice, the middle parts were crunchy. Then I stopped and looked down. My weight had cracked a thick piece of ice and in that area, I was on a floating piece. Yet, the river was too frozen to melt it all the way open. So, realizing it was dangerous, I turned back. But before I did, I saw Jake's tracks heading straight for the edge of the ice. With tears in my eyes, I got back on the bank and ran down the river's edge, calling for Jake, hoping to see him where I could rescue him.

Getting on the phone, I called my husband. He came home to help and discovered the same thing I already knew. He, too, could not go any further on the ice. We scoured the river for miles. Only about 1/4 mile was open water with very slippery icy edges. The rest was frozen shut. I knew Jake couldn't have survived if he fell or slipped in. Now, I was balling.

Going back to the house was the longest trek. What I had to tell my daughter would break her heart. What I had to tell my sergeant would crush his. Jake had been his service dog and he and Jake had won many regional and national awards. They had apprehended robbers together, found evidence, searched buildings, etc., and most importantly...they were companions at work and home. That is a bond I only learned when I had him for the little time he spent with us. I can't imagine over years what that bond entailed. His new police dog had been attacking Jake, so when asked, I gladly offered to take Jake in. He really cared about Jake and I think if he had had a choice, he would have chosen Jake over Max. But Max was in service and Jake was retired. Max didn't like Jake...probably because Jake was famous and the ladies loved him. Yes, us girl cops would baby him any chance we got. Go figure.

We sat down with our daughter and told her the news. She, of course, was hysterical because she treated Jake as her dog. She said it was her fault because she let him out to pee and he didn't come back. It doesn't matter how much you tell your little girl it isn't her fault, she is going to carry the weight of the world. I held her for as long as I could while she cried. I told her Jesus would take good care of him. I can imagine what he will do when each person enters the Pearly Gates. LOL. Look out folks, no one is touching Jesus. Jake is a monster when it comes to protection.

On top of this tragedy, I had to get to work. So, I donned my uniform and gun belt and headed to town. On the way, I called my sergeant, balling, and explained to him what had happened. He was so sad, but so gracious. He said, "At least Jake went out with his boots on. It's ok. It's not your fault. He was doing what he loved to do." Our conversation ended in mid sentence because I think he had to hang the phone up. His voice had started to crack, I heard sniffles, and he last said he had to tell his wife who was also very close to Jake.

Then my daughter called, "Mommy, will you please print those pictures of Jake from your camera. Thank you. I love you." She started to cry and said she had to go now. I arrived at work with my tears wiped away and my sturdy work face on. The guys could tell I was a wreck underneath because something just wasn't right about me. And they pry...because they are "Neanderthals" that don't know when to shut up, but God love them. But, I couldn't tell them yet. It was too new and I couldn't cry in front of them.

Then my husband called and said he had put on the ice rescue suit and went out on the ice to look for Jake. He said Jake's tracks went straight for the water and near the edge...his last tracks were at a run. On the edge of the ice were duck feathers-some on the ice, some floating in the water, and the rabbit tracks had veered to the right. My husband was crying as he told me this and he said, "There is no way. No way he could have survived. It is too cold and frozen and you know what happens in the river. I am sorry. We are all sad."

I snuck into the back hallway of the police department,where they keep Jake's trophies, photos, and newspaper clippings. Not that I don't have access to go there, just didn't want anyone to see me cry. He was a hero to our department for many years and to my little girl for just a short time. Here I am about 6 hours into my 12 hour shift and I have been crying on and off all night alone in my patrol car, in the hallway, in the locker room. Good thing it isn't busy. God must be watching out for me. I have to suck it up. When I go home tonight, I am going to miss my greeting...no more soft warm noses up the butt...Jake will be surely missed by all and especially me.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Jake

Since taking in Jake, the retired police K-9, our family has come to love him already. He has motivated my daughter to clean her "hoarder" of a so-called bedroom. YIKES! She told me today after taking out two bags of donations and garbage, "Mom, I'm sweating fire. I have to have a clean room so Jake doesn't get lost." She knows he has arthritis and seriously...she knows he would get lost in that disaster. He has come to love the feather comforter on my bed and the rug by the fireplace. A dog after my own heart. I wonder if he likes red wine...just kidding!

He has developed, however, my old age view of THE CHASE. Today, in sub zero weather, he started chasing a rabbit. He went about 20 feet, turned around, and came back. He then slept for an hour. Jake, buddy, I feel your pain. He and I truly know the thrill of the hunt...and to know when the chase is futile. I will have to show him that even if we are too old for the chase, we will always win the hunt...with our Crown Vic.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Last Call

Yesterday was Marcia's funeral with full police honors. All her female police officer friends were instructed to carry her remains from the police department to the church with a police processional...that's what she wanted. We lined up our cars in front of the police department and waited for our time to leave.

We had our police cars running, warming up, and Marcia's remains were in the lead car. We all started to freeze because we are in our dress blues with no coats, no long underwear...because we wanted to look sharp. So, we decided to go inside the corridor of the police department where the heater is and we started to talk about our memories of Marcia. Then, we all panicked at the same time...we had better get out there and guard our cars...what if someone stole Marcia? So, we took turns guarding the police cars. And then we all laughed...because if someone stole Marcia, she probably would have had a great ride and would have been saying...whoopie! Well, anyhoo, no one stole her, thank God!

So, just as all of us were in our line of cars with lights and activating sirens through town, we thought, what a sad day to say goodbye. It was cold, below zero weather, and snowing.The processional always chokes me up, especially when citizens salute on the sidewalks as you pass by. As I rounded the corner near the church, one of our senior officers raised his hand in a crisp salute. More tears. It is a great honor to do this for your fallen officer, let alone, a friend.

Tears are running down my face and then all of us started to laugh and the phones were ringing to each other...a call came out just before we got to the church. The sergeant said, "Did you hear that call? Marcia would have laughed." We all had heard it and thought the same thing.

"Units in the area of the Budweiser building...copy for two females tangled in a fence. They are covered in snow from rolling around in it and can't get out of the fence." The radio was silent, because the police processional was approaching the church, all officers were posted. No one wanted to take calls. We had a duty to Marcia. The deputies were covering the city calls. Then you hear an officer on the radio, "Dispatch, are they drunk or just stuck in the fence?" Then the dispatcher replies, "That would be a good assumption." A deputy got on the radio and volunteered to take the call. What a hoot!

So, we arrive at the church and take Marcia's remains to the altar. We then take up posts ushering people into their seats. I know it sounds crazy when people say, "It was a beautiful funeral," but it was. As people spoke about Marcia, I looked back at my own life. She led by example and had a strong faith in God and was not afraid to die. I am not afraid to die either, but I was examining my own life during the funeral. I had in no way conducted myself to her level and started to think how I wanted to be remembered. Looking at her kids, I felt for them. Marcia held the whole family together like glue and I know what it is like to lose a parent at that age. Marcia was just 52.

She was a U.S. Marine and a police officer, among owning two businesses and being a community pillar. Her kids were successful, and her husband was our retired Deputy Chief. Her life stories went on and on and words could not have been chosen better to describe her.

Then came the final songs for her. As I was singing, "Here I am, Lord", tears ran down my face as I sang the words. They were perfect and she, herself, had selected the song. I knew why. After the police and military honors were finished, the police radio rang out in the church, "Adam 165, Adam 165...Out of Service. Rest in Peace." Her flag was presented to her husband. Everyone started to tear up and "Taps" played as the funeral ended. As we exited the church, the sun was shining bright. We all smiled, because we knew Marcia was no longer in pain and she was in a better place.