The year is ending and a new one’s just around the corner. Tennyson touched on the topic, Ring Out, Loud Bells, the passing of moments, change and hope all rolled into a cautiously cadenced hymn.
Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
You’ve likely seen infomercials warning folks not to drink and drive, images of police painted to blend in with their surroundings as inebriated individuals stagger down the sidewalk on the way to the parking lot without care.
A few moments later the irresponsible individual is driving down the road, crossing the double yellow stripe into on coming traffic and weaving back at the last moment, the lights and siren bring the warning home as the driver is placed in the back of a police cruiser in handcuffs. Don’t let this be you.
While working night shift as a police officer I had my share of DWI arrests. The tell tale signs would present themselves; trouble holding the vehicle in one lane, poor reactions or inappropriate reactions alerted me to follow and observe a little longer.
One fellow was driving well below the speed limit down the main lanes of Interstate 10 from downtown. He caught my attention when he began braking for traffic lights that were on the service road. He’d stop and wait for the light to turn green prior to continuing down the freeway as other drivers figured out how to get past without tangling fenders. Thank goodness it was four in the morning and traffic was very thin.
Then there was a rare ‘foot chase’ DWI; not making this up, stopped a DWI on foot. The suspect was bouncing from one curb line to the other all the way down Kempwood in an industrial area; but headed for a residential area. My rookie was on his 2nd week of night shift so he’d earned the opportunity to actually drive the police unit. He wasn’t sure what to do as we followed the DWI suspect at speeds reaching between 3 to 5 miles an hour; but wouldn’t stop.
The red lights and siren hadn’t gotten his attention so I stepped out of the police car and ran along side the suspect, tapping on his window to get his attention. The look on his face was priceless as he came to a stop; believing his vehicle had been traveling at posted speed he must have thought he’d been arrested by Superman. He was actually relieved as his nightmare ended without anyone being killed.
Of course there are other threats on New Year’s Eve, idiots shooting guns into the air as they ring in midnight. The laws of gravity make this type of behavior doubly dangerous as pieces of lead can be heard falling through the leaves of trees all about.
I did my best to be tied up on some unimportant incident requiring a police report, a very long police report that would last until well after midnight and most of the insanity; you don’t make it to retirement by being stupid.
We had a ‘gung-ho’ new night shift sergeant one year who wanted to impress everyone with his bravado. Several units, myself included, were told to meet about a block or so from a major low income apartment project where several fireworks complaints had been reported. Off in the distance we could hear shotguns going off, an occasional rifle being discharged; all this mixed in with bottle rockets and other sundry fireworks that lighted up the night sky.
We were about to get under way when some fool let go with a fully automatic 9mm machine pistol in the middle of the project followed by a few more shotgun blasts into the air. It was about that time when our fearless leader realized how futile our presence would be; but beyond that, furnishing some tanked up idiot to use our police cars for target practice.
It was decided that we’d hold off until such time as an actual complaint from one of the citizens was lodged. Until that time we were instructed to remain in service and to ‘be careful’.
What’s to keep these degenerates from using the chaos of New Year’s Eve as an opportunity to take out an unsuspecting cop responding to a fireworks complaint? The suspect can claim it wasn’t him, must have been a stray bullet from some other fool’s gun. The world has gotten much more dangerous for the ‘thin blue line’.
I’ll pass the same instructions on at this time, y’all be careful out there. Happy New Year; and oh, try not to kill anyone and make sure you get home at the end of shift.
The Moral Liberal’s Senior Editor, T.F. Stern, is a retired City of Houston police officer, self-employed locksmith, and gifted political and social commentator. His popular and insightful blog, T.F. Sterns Rantings, has been up and at it since January of 2005.