Evidence 101

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







Monday, December 30, 2013

Crackin' Up

Most times I crack myself up. This time I cracked others up. Check out one of my favorite blogs by a very funny and talented lady. Her book is also marvelous. You can find my fingers spewed crazy greatness all over her comment field...

Love me some CHOCOLATE! Love Robyn!

Cop Moms or Mom Cops...What Comes First?

Women balancing motherhood and cophood. It's happening. Most make the best of it. Balancing being a single mom and the cophood is another whole ball of wax. Do a double take when you next see a woman in blue...

It was hard at times. Now, with teenagers, it was a perk. You can really keep an eye out on your kiddo, embarrass them as much or as often as you like. What was difficult to swallow was when cop's kids were ashamed of their parent's profession out of fear of peer pressure. Top that with all the dynamics at home and work and it makes a woman crazy. Plus, it is different being a cop mother than a cop father. Reality, but truth.

So...next time you look at a women in blue with a shiny badge, think twice about all the outside forces, home life, or motherhood affecting her every minute of the day. Think about how she keeps all that together at home-her personal life, her work situations, the pressures of every day life, citizen pulls, and administration pushes, just so she can be a good, stable cop and outstanding law enforcement officer to her community. Chances are...being a mother is first on her mind and she has to put that aside to focus on the task at hand...fighting a bad guy, arresting a child molester, making a traffic stop, talking to a parent, buying a glass of lemonade at your kid's lemonade stand...or maybe in this weather...hot chocolate.

And yes, cops are moms and dads, too.

Police Topics Are HAWT

Topics in law enforcement bring razor sharp debates from the civilian side to the cop side. In fact, both sides have varying difference of opinions. Sizzle, sizzle. I can picture your discussions now. So here we go. Fargo's HAWT topics for a Monday...

  • Liability Trends and Issues
  • New Case Law 
  • High Risk Personnel and Administration
  • Fit for Duty, Fitness Programs, Wellness
  • Character/Integrity Issues Of Police Officers From The Bottom Up
1) Liability Trends and Issues-
          This is a deep topic...as in the abyss. Some have clear cut visions of what is and what isn't acceptable or what is to be the department and officer's liability, and including vicarious. For example, many of you felt the handcuffed prisoners getting a gun or shot (Yuri's Points of Discussion) brought up a whole gamut of liability concerns. Some of your comments were downright fiery. It is easier to speak of liability with specific examples rather than as a concept or in general terms. Overall, the liability of an officer on duty all the way up the chain to the department as a whole, has increased significantly. Why? Give me your concerns here.

2) New Case Law
          Case law always sets the tone for officer conduct, new rules, new laws, and standards. Some view it as a noose on law enforcement and others view it as "growing pains", "learning tools", or necessity because of some trend or procedure impacting the entire US law enforcement. Many times, case law comes about because of a trial, appeal, and lobbying. It's all political in the long run. Not all case law is bad. Some really puts the foot down on procedures. Some opens the door. What do you think? 

3)High Risk Personnel and Administration
         The old system "the good 'ol boys" versus the "new wave" law enforcement. Under the first system, things were dealt with internally, swept under the rug, or ignored based upon "who you were to the administration." There is still a lot of this unspoken atmosphere at many departments. Here's my take...NO DEPARTMENT ANYWHERE CAN AFFORD ANYONE HIGH RISK-FROM THE TOP DOWN OR THE BOTTOM UP. GET RID OF THEM. As a citizen, I don't want them. As a cop, I don't want to work with them. Then comes the employment laws, fairness in labor standards. Documentation is the key. What if the behavior is not illegal or immoral, but is on the fence? You have an employee that is on the verge of going over the edge of what is right, but you want to get rid of them before something bad happens. No department is immune to this in their lifetime of doing the law biz. What do administrators do to avoid a law suit? What do departments need to do to keep citizens safe from risky personnel? What do you think of right to work states? Unions? Your opinions?  What do you think?

4)Fit for Duty, Fitness Programs, Wellness
        This might be the most talked about topic in all history internal and external to each department and raises holy hell. And it's not even about dirty cops, laws, or community problems. It's about policies. It's about image. It's about physical ability.  Cops need to be fit. How fit? What's the standard? What's the best and most fair standard? Should they be allowed to workout on duty (getting paid)? Should they have a regimented program similar to the military or personal trainers? How many people are going to get upset when they see law enforcement getting special gyms, programs, expenses associated with being fit for duty? How much do you want to spend on your taxes to be safe? Do you get upset when they eat out on break? Eat a donut? A candy bar? 

Citizens get upset when police officers chat with another officer in their car in a public parking lot or park to write reports. What are you going to think about having a fitness program instilled into breaks, after hours, as a paid job requirement? What are you going to think when you see them at Planet Fitness, Lifetime, the YMCA, or other gyms working out on duty? Why do citizens think cops don't need breaks which are standard to anyone in the work force, but not to first responders? Why do we put police in the same fitness category as superheros (non-firemen type, but action figures-[grin]) and get angry when we see one that is unfit? Are we raising the bar? If so, why?

5)Character/Integrity Issues of Police Officers From the Bottom Up
This is wide open. I have my standard. What is yours? We will compare at the end of the day to see how close we are or how disparate our thoughts might be. What do we do with the substandard ones?

The Boogie Man is open for discussion...



Friday, December 27, 2013

RETROgrade

Yep, you guessed it...old pictures day. This one...was not so long ago. The ones below...were...circa 1974-5ish. I thought we all needed a good laugh. Mom just sent them to me. I instantly recognized how famous and cool we were back then to be driving Madea's smoke wagon...

 

What you might not realize in the left picture, is we were famous before we knew it. The car...was later used in Tyler Perry movies as the hawt Madea ghetto ride. Well, they had to modify our car for the movie a little to make it more stylin'. Not really. It sounded good, though, didn't it?

Also...because it's Friday fun day...The Boogie Man Is My Friend goes on Kindle Countdown sale on December 29th for 99 cents which has nothing to do with a Friday.

My wonderful friend has a better deal. Hers is free-NOW! Get it! It's great! I dubbed it AWESOME SAUCE! You will like it, too!


So...have a great weekend. Watch for some book reviews to come. Watch for some funny stories. They are new ones being released...from my cop days....surely to make you smile. Happy Friday!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Pot Stirred the Cop Kettle

In other news...ammo is still running off the shelves.  A bucket of .22 long rifle ammunition=1400 rounds=$80.00. Beat me. The last time I bought a brick of .22 it was $14.99. Ok. That is dating the last time I purchased .22 ammo, because usually as a cop, we trade around.

On the forefront today...Yuri found a good topic of discussion as I thought he might. Let's see how you like it...

 
(1) Obviously the suspect was not searched properly
(2) Why did the police leave him unattended in a car? How far away were they? Where did they go?
It doesn't sound like they hear the shot, but discovered him shot when they returned. Hmmm...
(3)It was ruled a suicide, but are police departments held to some accountability or liability when these things happen?
(4)Wrongful death suit against an agency?
 
Some of the same concerns come up in the second one and apparently it appears the family has already made efforts to sue.
 
What are your opinions?
 
I can tell you as a cop, everyone misses something sometime. A gun? I never did, but I saw it happen to a fellow coworker. NOT cool. What's going on with our police officers? Are they getting complacent? Are they "too shy" to search those areas that make everyone uncomfortable (you know the G-spot...ie. the spot where bad guys put the gun...the GUN SPOT-the crotch) Are they too lazy to do a good search? What happens when police officers miss guns that aren't used for suicide, but to kill the transport officer or plan an escape from a patrol car?
 
 
The Boogie Man is open for discussion...

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

May All Your Christmases Be Bright!

Christmas has always been a special time of year. My parents both instilled in our heads the true meaning of the time and what it means to love and to give to others. We didn't have elaborate gifts, but what we did get, we were grateful for and very happy. The most important thing was to BELIEVE. My mother was probably the most responsible for teaching us about Christmas and making it special. I remember my favorite thing was to pull the cord on the old wooden musical box she hung on the wall which would have wooden figures turn and play Christmas music. I would get scolded because it was an old piece and mom NEVER threw away anything. Even if the ornaments were past their prime, they had MEMORIES.

In 1984, my parents separated right after Christmas and I can still feel that gut wrenching feeling from that Christmas. I try not to go there. Each year mom and dad went to great lengths (not financially) to make Christmas time bright again. Mom would find the biggest and fattest Christmas tree and decorate it until nothing green showed through. Dad would get creative and add new lights each year.

One year when I came home from college, he had chopped down a sagebrush, painted it with spray snow and put umpteen lights on it, topped with an angel and chuck full of ornaments. He made an injected turkey and a feast for a king.

Each year, he would rack his brain to come up with special gifts. Most often it was gun related. I was very happy with that choice. This particular Christmas I came back for spring break and the tree was still up, all the other decorations were put away, but the tree was still up and he plugged it in every night. I thought my dad had lost it. I asked him what in the world was going on. He said it was so pretty, he couldn't take it down and enjoyed it every night as it reminded him of Alex and I that Christmas day and the happiness in the house. I talked him into taking it down and moving on with spring. He was sad that day I packed everything away and took the tree out.  Maybe he knew.  It was the last Christmas we had with him.  Four short months later, my dad passed away in 1989.

From then on, even while married, I couldn't get into Christmas. Mom tried. My friends tried. I tried. The spirit was gone.

In 2000, I had Bug. She brought the Christmas spirit back. Each year, the spirit has grown more and more and I found I still BELIEVE. With each year passing, I felt my parents' Christmas spirit and magic that they passed down to us kids finally coming back.

She was supposed to be in Wyoming with her dad this year, but he cancelled those plans, so I knew I had to make it extra special. I got out all the decorations and had her help me with the tree and the house. She plugs the lights in at night, she lights candles, she plays Christmas music. This year was the first year she found out how Santa Claus traditions are carried out. It broke my heart. I knew it was coming, but throughout the years, I was a good story teller. She told me it was OK. She still knew the true meaning of Christmas and talked about Jesus. She said she still BELIEVES in Santa Claus, even if she knows his legend lives on through her parents. After giving me hugs and telling me how special her Christmas has been, I too, still BELIEVE.

I have had a very special Christmas time. I hope you and yours still BELIEVE in the magic of Christmas, even if it was reinvented again like mine. Be a kid again. Have fun. Show your love for others. Don't be a poopy pants sissy la la bedwetter. I was and I was miserable for many years past. I'm glad it is just that...in the past. If you love, you will get love in return.

I like to give. I like to show my love for my family, friends, and even strangers. We took toys to the fire station, gave cookies to the neighbors, dropped change in the Salvation Army buckets, put money in the firefighter boots, and spent time with friends delivering cheer. The family...well, they got what I could deliver with sparkle farkle and in a blingy Santa hat.

I was lucky to watch Martina McBride's Christmas concert with two of my most favorite people this year and she performed an amazing show! Here is my favorite one she sang, but let me tell you, in person, in Emens, it was much more amazing!


May all your Christmases be BRIGHT! Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Family Jewells!

Thank you to MrG for checking on me via a very nice email, as well as the pokes and prods from others that thought I had possibly passed out or keeled over on my keyboard.

May your holidays be Merry and Bright!

Hope everyone is getting into the craze of the "Elf on a Shelf" and let me tell you, I think that was a tradition started a long time ago by parents in the 50s. It's been reinvented and making millions. Whodathunk.

I know we had one. I still have it and although it's been through a flood, he still hangs on, but looks very vintage. I like the word VINTAGE. It's classy...old but good...or timeless history. Perhaps that could be used to describe myself.

For some reason...what really comes to mind when people talk about the word is a whole different gamut of things. Such as, I really think of "vintage" as old, worn out, and not worth much, but interesting nostalgia. Now, when you say ANTIQUE...I get excited. It's old, cool, pretty, and usually worth a lot if it is in good shape.

Another discovery I am really upset about that I did not capitalize on is the new craze of boxed drinking/spring water. They are selling like hot cakes on campus. Seriously?

Why did it take so long to get produced? I mean, we have been making boxed juices, coconut water, and other delights FOREVER or at least a while. And why didn't I think of that? Poop. Shit.

Well, what I can contribute to everyone on here still reading my fodder is some news. New news. I am getting books in like crazy and some reviews are going to be forthcoming. Probably not in time for Christmas gift recommendations, however. Sorry.

I LOOOVVVEEEE Christmas. I am not a Christmas party pooper. I used to be. I will share the meaning of my Christmas and my journey to reinvent it to you in the next post. This one is all about new things you need to know. Why? Because I said so and it is THE LAW!

A big thank you and curtsy goes to Jewells of LensTripping Photography ( a long time reader of this blog fodder- crazy girl) who Art Ambushed me. What is that you say? It is so cool. I am going to give you the link because it is that special of a project. She sent me a package in the mail with the Art Ambush card because she felt I needed an act of kindness. Not only that, it was art and I LOOOVVEE and appreciate so many artists and all kinds of media. This is hers and she is fantastic! Let me share my humbling experience with you...
 
 The Art Ambush card reads, " You've been ambushed by ART! Welcome to the Art Ambush. You were selected by a committee of people to receive a free piece of art from one of our talented giving artists. Why you? Because someone noticed you were a survivor, a caregiver, an unsung or under-appreciated hero. Our goal, at Art Ambush, is to give people like you a little smile... a little beauty. It is a reminder that there are people who notice what you do, who you are, and that those people are willing to give you some recognition-a gift of artwork, with no strings attached. We hope you enjoy this token of our thanks and esteem..." It has more, but that was the meat and potatoes.
 
Their website can be found at http://www.facebook.com/artambushproject. Additionally, she included a sweet note card about my horse who passed away, MiSue Traveler. The picture is a striking resemblance of him and will proudly be displayed along with the cards above my mounted patrol saddle in the Harry Potter House. Yes, I cried. Big crocodile tears.
 
Also...from today until December 20, 2013, you can download The Boogie Man Is My Friend: The Rookies on Kindle to your computer, laptop, android, Kindle, blah blah for FREE! Get it while you can!
 
 
Some fun topics are forthcoming. Fire away some topics or questions you might have to my email at mommafargo@gmail.com if you wish. A big shout out to my favorite pot stirrer, Yuri, whom has been very, very quiet lately. He gets some good information out there to discuss.
 
Thanks, again, MrG for looking out for me. I promise I am not knee deep in a bottle of wine, nor did I fall of the face of the earth. I am here!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Slice, Light, and Fire

Taser vs. Gun Topic #3,490,287,478

Discussion with some of my peeps lately has opened my eyes once again to the public's perception of law enforcement. I continue to be amazed at the lack of educated minds in my field. It is not because people are stupid. It is because they believe a certain way or they lack education on the subject.

For instance, the Knightstown Chief of Police recently got tased for charity to earn money for his department to afford equipment. Thank you, baby Jesus, our Chief never sacrificed the lambs of CPD for this event, nor ever had to do it himself, although I would have paid to see it. We always had large grants or a nice fat budget. Here, in Indiana, I am seeing that they have neither. I don't know if they just don't go after the grant money available, don't qualify, or don't know about it. It's out there. You do, however, have to fill out piles of paperwork and some things have strings. Maybe not all of it applies or departments don't want to comply with grant requirements. Our state offered a LOT of money in alcohol and tobacco grants as well. Not sure this state does that. I am surprised, however, at the continual lack of funding for first responders? Where is all the money going? We even have casinos and lottery here. It surely isn't going for road repair and infrastructure. Someone needs to dig deep into the state funding and cut the fat, and get to crackalackin' before things get real tough around here...like we have to have officers take a bullet for charity or something real stupid like that.

Knightstown was successful and the community also got an education in the Taser. This brought up lively discussion amongst my friends and coworkers who know I am a former cop. They told me, "You know, it is really nice that police have Tasers so they don't have to shoot people." The discussion led to the fact that a lot of people believe a Taser should always be used to disarm someone who is threatening an officer or person with a knife. I said, "No, mostly I would shoot that person."

Enter shocked looks and dropped jaws.

I gave a scenario...

A Taser would only be used in a very rare circumstance, like I shot the person holding a knife in the back while the cover officer had a gun on him and we could do it fast enough not to get cut. Rare instance.

Enter shocked looks and dropped jaws.

I don't know if I could ever convince the public with the preconceived notions in their heads. Many I work with or know around here think all cops are crooked. Why? Because some of them around here are. But some aren't.

Here's what police training with a Taser looks like...

Although this was a pretty clean video. I have seen a LOT of cursing and strange phrases coming out of people's mouths.


I told them to erase the thought that the cops they know are crooked and look at it with new light, putting out scenarios, showing them videos. They really don't know how fast someone could kill with a knife and many think 7 feet is a safe enough distance to not get stabbed. Wrong.

What?

Head-desk.

The Taser does not replace a gun or even come close. We don't use Tasers instead of guns and most often not in life threatening instances or against deadly weapons. Tasers are mostly used for non-compliant individuals that get physical, fleeing unarmed felons, or suspects who resist, fight, or threaten to fight, for examples. We use Tasers instead of beating them with nightsticks when possible. It's just a tool on our belt. It's not the SAVE-ALL device of the world.

What?



Yeah, sometimes the Taser doesn't work.

What?



Yes, because it doesn't work on all persons because of pain tolerance, alcohol or drug induced individuals, or missed shots, or other problems including device malfunctions or operator errors.

Then, what?

Beat them? Shoot them?

Maybe.

It's a tool. It's not the Light Saber. It's not the answer to a deadly situation. Some people will be killed by cops. It's the way it is.

If you don't believe these guys...what about these guys?

How about these dudes?



Use of Force. Google it.

And what if a cop doesn't have a Taser?

What?

Yeah. Some departments don't have them. Some cops don't have them. We aren't required to use Tool 1 then Tool 2 in the continuum of Use of Force. You may have to skip tools. That's why cops are trained very well for the situations they may face and should recognize what they have to do. Sometimes, yes, they make mistakes.

Don't be so judgy. That is a word.

Ok. I feel better now. Whew. Like I had been tased or something.

The World According to Fargo

It's now been almost a year since I left the cophood. Over time, and each day, I still miss it. However, there are many things I don't miss and I am grateful to be where I am today. I am very grateful for my job and I am finding it fitting for me at this time. Will I always be at the Harry Potter House? I can't see myself here for eternity, but I do see myself owning this for the rest of my life. Perhaps if I someday can afford a place in the country, I would rent this one. The market isn't conducive to selling this, although I probably could break even or get a little return IF it sold. It depends on how patient I am.

I really am lucky to be able to have my daughter's college tuition paid for as long as I am employed by the college. I see myself there for quite some time and I want to get my Master's as well.

It is and has been a struggle going from a very nice income to poverty level. What is more eye opening, is your dreams failing right in front of your eyes. It is a very humbling experience.

Record scratch, back up the bus...I am damn LUCKY to have a job here. Period. Just thought I would throw that in. With the failure of one dream or others, comes the opportunity for new ones. People like me (crazy and stubborn) don't stay down for long and don't give up, but maybe make a right turn, Clyde, or take the 4th tunnel instead of the 1st one.

The stories I hear from locals brings home the tragic turn of events when the Industrial Age crashed in the Midwest. I was in Wyoming and far removed from an economic crash, although I worked through recessions and three busts in the oil field. Wyoming really didn't get hit as hard as the Heartland and being a cop was job security where we couldn't keep enough help. I went from a department where we hired 1 or 2 annually for about 8 years to a department that hired 15-20 annually. I couldn't have imagined losing everything until I came to Indiana.

Believe me, I have lost a lot, but not everything and not my home, yet. I say yet because we never know the turn of events in our lives that may hit us. Although, I have strived at one time to keep everything afloat, I then learned to let go of what had to be cut even if it affected my reputation and my credit rating. Many of you may not be aware that I have had to lean on family and friends, go to the food bank, go on assistance with gas and electricity when my 2nd marriage went into the tank and when child support wasn't paid on time, if ever.

I'm not proud of those moments. It took a toll on me mentally and physically (still is) and I found myself in situations I never thought I would be in at this age. The difference is it was NOT the economy or world events that changed my financial future, it was me. I chose to move here, leaving my security and career. Even though the chain of events went down in a much different scheme than my dream of moving here had been planned out, it was meant to be. I think I did things for the right reasons.

Despite the hardships, I am making my way back up and fighting out of the bottom. It's what I do. It's what I have to do for my daughter. The many people that have yelled, belittled, judged, scolded, and rolled their eyes at me are astounding and surprise, surprise...have been some family and friends. In those rants people told me my decisions should never be made because of my child and to sacrifice everything security-wise was stupid. When I was in my darkest moments, I started to believe them. All it took to snap me out of that was to look at her accomplishments in school, her personality, her church activities, and the growth she has made mentally. She has not lived without frustration and stress.

Believe me, she is getting a lesson in being the Master of Disasters and still we keep trucking on. Why? Because life is wonderful! We can handle it. At least that's what I am told. I always do what I am told.

It's going to be a great Christmas, even if it is a Charlie Brown one. I have a lot to be thankful for and life is grand!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

MiSue Time Traveler 2002-2013



I am so sad and broken hearted. Tonight I got a call that one of my horses, MiSue Time Traveler (Traveler) died at the River War Haus. It happened three weeks ago, but no one wanted to tell me. The vet thinks he had West Nile and tests are pending.

Knighthawk is being tested as well, but appears to be fine, just lonely. Now he is all that is left.  MiSue Knighthawk (the black horse), my Mounted Patrol and Search and Rescue Horse (retired), his brother, is also a grand horse and the best patrol horse I could have asked for. Someday, I will release the story of a grizzly hunt we were on with the Game and Fish and how he saved my life.



MiSue Time Traveler (chestnut) passed away at the age of 11. Above, he and Knighthawk (Smoke) were left to chow on grass while I retrieved the saddles for a ride the last summer I was in Wyoming. I didn't have to tie them as they didn't wander far from grass.

He was registered American Morgan Horse Association and bred in Montana by Dr. Don and Eileen Barnes near Seeley Lake. Even at a young age, he was noticed right away as a sweet soul, truly gentle, and kind. His brother was the working one and protector, Traveler was the "Curious George" type. I had him since he was two.

His training was a push and pull of sorts and we paired him with a trainer that was gentle but firm. I showed him for about two years, mostly staying the western states and often in Denver, Colorado at various Morgan shows.

I was proud to own the breed that was most widely used in the Calvary during the Civil War, an American horse. Good, solid mountain horses, Morgans are a fine breed useful for many things. Not only do they give everything to their rider and prove to be a good working and pleasure horse, but they are loyal to a good owner. Only a horse owner would understand that trade.

Above all else, Traveler was loved. I guess I gave him that.

Events like this makes me really regret not bringing them with me. Perhaps it wouldn't have mattered, but I think it would have. I found out the new owners didn't know horses needed annual shots, despite my references and list of people to call and what to do. They didn't mean any harm, they just didn't understand.

They are kind people and Traveler's new purpose was to be a horse for kids at a church camp. Selling them with the place broke my heart in two and was very difficult but at the time it made financial sense. It felt better they were going to be used and loved by children.

If only I could bring back Smoke now, I would be on the first plane. However, I can't. Sometimes things just suck but they are the way they are. I had snuck out for one last visit before parting to Indiana, and the new owners were very generous with me returning anytime for horse love.

Traveler was buried on the property at the River War Haus which was where he loved to run when I let them out of the small lot where they stayed while I was at work. He would pick up his tail and show off his true Morgan blood. He did well in all his halter classes when he was shown and it was fitting that he wanted to look pretty even in the pasture.

Rest In Peace, Traveler. You will be missed.

Tonight I have to tell Bug. Poop. Shit.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Boogie Man

Had a Facebook convo with one of my buddies at the CPD. I miss him a lot. He is a great person and friend to me. I just love that guy.

Yes, I trained him. He gave me permission to use his pictures and write our rookie training stories like they were.

His exact words were, " Go for it. I want you to know that I don't care how embarrassing it gets. Be real and raw.  It will read better with no makeup. Use any pic of me you want."


 
Well, we have a story. It's a roller coaster of training episodes chalk full of lots of funny. Here is the cover. It will be coming to you 2014...a little behind schedule, but that's the way the cookie crumbles. Let me know what you think. See if you can spot familiar faces up there.