FRONTLINE DEBRIEFS:
You Had To Be There

Not too long ago, a Krispy Kreme Doughnut truck in Kentucky succumbed to fire in an event best described as “vehicle flambeau.” Officers on scene displayed various stages of grief and dismay at the tragic and grievous loss of such a culinary staple to those sworn to protect and serve. Funny.

Certain aspects of police humor are difficult if not impossible to convey to those not given to service toward the betterment of man. Therefore, the following are some capers I remember fondly, should they be remembered at all.

When hitting “Rock Houses” in Los Angeles during the height of the “rock-slinging” phenomenon, it was not unusual to hit multiple locations in the span of a single laconic L.A. evening. On one particular warrant, we had secured the location and awaited the Narcotics Division entry to conduct a follow-up. Very, very faintly, somewhere in the peripheral distance, we heard a solitary voice: “Police, freeze … LAPD SWAT, freeze … freeze, police.” This was accompanied by the unmistakable sound of fracturing glass. Our Lieutenant, not one given to great emotional displays, looked around. “What the hell?”

Seems one of our members had experienced a GPS malfunction and hit the wrong location by himself and managed to break numerous windows along the entire side of a structure that had nothing whatsoever to do with our mission. The elderly occupants were surprised, to say the least.

On another narcotics warrant, my partner and I were assigned to employ very long ladders to the second-story bathroom along the backside of a Victorian-style home. Our mission was to deploy flash bangs and cover, if possible, any activity within said domestic lavatory facility.

The window was elongated and narrow, therefore balancing us, and not giving in to gravity while breaking the glass was a challenge, as was the deployment of the flash bang. I broke and raked the glass while my partner reached up very high over his head, precariously balancing himself, and ever so gently deployed the bang. A scream rang out from within and we looked at each other—uh-oh!

The entry team below simultaneously gained entry and were met by a suspect running full-throttle down the stairs with his hair literally on fire! Seems the suspect had elected to lie down in the bathtub of our window when we executed the warrant. The suspect’s hair was covered in highly flammable gel, which promptly ignited when the flash bang landed on it. We observed him later, cuffed and seated on the couch, with smoke tendrils curling up toward the ceiling from what remained of his hair.

On one “Rock House” paper we served in Foothill Division, the main suspect had acquired a mint 911 Porsche. Parked prominently in the driveway in an ostentatious display of his ill-begotten wealth, said vehicular conveyance passively awaited our imminent arrival.

Seems our V-100 (a massive, multi-ton armored personnel carrier of Vietnam vintage) driver somehow and inexplicably missed every open, obvious, and unobstructed pathway to the front of the location where the entry team (myself included) awaited the breach. I can unequivocally state that a 911 does not prevail against a V-100. Flatter than a pancake.

Prior to warrants, we often conducted flyovers for photographic surveillance. Such excursions alerted us to many salient factors, some of which could be, shall we say, rather misleading. On one particular flyover, the aerial photo revealed a filled-in swimming pool to the rear of the location, with obvious and somewhat prominent green grass positioned where water would normally be. No problem.

My partner and I hit the rear of the location, positioned on a narrow walkway with the swimming pool mere inches behind us. I covered with the Benelli 12 gauge while my partner conducted the “break and rake” of the rear window we were assigned. Somehow, he nicked the copper water-line connected to a swamp cooler at the side of the window. A light water spray shot out covering us. So far, so good.

Unbeknownst to us, a SWAT sergeant came around to the back to observe our progress. All I heard was the sound of a large splash directly behind me. I wheeled around with the shotgun and observed a green morass swirling in a circular whirlpool motion with bubbles all about. “What the f#@*?” A human head shot up through the green slime, spitting and gasping for breath as the thick green tendrils draping the entire skull shed rivulets of water. This is precisely why you keep the finger off the trigger with the safety set!

Seems our sergeant came behind us and stepped backward off the walkway, presumably to avoid the water spray (a truly sissy move) onto what he, and all of us for that matter, presumed to be a dirt-filled swimming pool. The green displayed on the aerial photo was nothing more than inches-thick algae and a god-knows-what mix covering the deep, stagnant, diseased, bacteria-laden water. A conspicuous display of sub-standard pool maintenance!

One SWAT call-up resulted in the team confronting a slightly mental offline individual standing on a residential front porch holding a shotgun. But this was not the interesting part. Seems he had discharged shots prior to our arrival and was spoiling for a confrontation of some sort. My partner and I were assigned to go “hands-on” should the opportunity present itself.

He was naked, covered head to toe in anchor chain, sported a full-on Viking helmet with horns, coated in green slime, and wearing dark motorcycle goggles. He had a long fluorescent light tube in his left hand. I liked this guy.

We tackled him only to discover, much to our dismay, that several skunks he kept in the house had copiously sprayed him, and the green slime was approximately one gallon of Scope mouthwash he had drenched himself in. You can’t make this stuff up!

L.A. is not a place for the faint-hearted!

Scott Reitz is a 30-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department and director of the highly acclaimed International Tactical Training Seminars. Course information and schedules are available at their website at www.internationaltactical.com.

Discussion
  • (will not be published)

No Comments