We’ve come a long way as a class. We’ve finished basically all the academic stuff, and now we’re into a week of practical work: patrol scenarios and standardized field sobriety testing. On this first day of patrol scenarios, we’re sent out to a range of things, alone, as we would be on a one-man patrol.
The idea is that we arrive and do everything that we would do on patrol, gathering enough information in our initial investigation to follow up and either close the case or bump it up the line to detectives.
This is non-trivial. Anyone who ever thought that a uniformed patrolman is not conducting an investigation at a “My cat may be missing” call is not seeing the amount of detail required. I think of Joe Friday reading his flat, monotoned jive at the beginning of each scene of the old Dragnet show. Now I understand.
For the first one, we’re sent to an office. I’m dispatched on 1 November 2010 at 09.03 by radio to visit Scott Dobson, 5122 South East Academy Drive, Room 201. That’s all the information I’m given. The temperature is 62°F, skies are cloudy.
09.07: I arrive at the door and knock.
“Mr Dobson, officer Old, DW Police Department, did you call the police, sir?”
“Oh, yeah,” he says, looking a little sheepish. “I, uh, look I feel really stupid about calling cause it’s probably nothing,” he says.
“Well, okay, why don’t you tell me what happened?”
“Sure,” he says, and points to a chair, “Please, sit down.”
“Well, as I say it’s probably nothing. I was trick or treating last night with my son, and we stopped at this house and it kind of looked… I don’t know, I just got a weird feeling, and I asked my son if I could see the candy he got, and when I looked at it, it looked weird – there’s this white powder on it.”
And Dobson shows me the piece of candy, which is exactly as he describes it, sitting on his desk.
“Okay,” I say, “Let me just ask you a few questions,” and I get my notebook out and start writing stuff down. “Just to be clear, you’re Scott Dobson?”
“Sir, have you got your driver license with you?”
“You know, I don’t, it’s in the car – but believe it or not I know the number, because I write it on checks a lot: it’s 77538692″
“Oh, great. What’s you’re date of birth sir?”
“May 16, 1982″
“Okay, and your Social Security number?”
“Thanks,” I say, looking into the recesses of my mind to remember the other crap I’m supposed to get just to begin the conversation. Contact! “Sir, I know you gave your number when you called in but can you please tell me your cell phone number and your work number?”
“Sure,” he says, and gives them to me.
“Thanks. So you say you were trick or treating – this is last night, the 31st?”
“What time was this?”
“Well, I guess we left the house around 6, so probably about 6.45 or 7 pm.”
“And you were with your son, what’s his name and date of birth?”
“Chester, and it’s 9/12/98.”
“His last name is Dobson?”
“Okay, were you alone with your son, or were others with you?”
“Actually I was with my friend Raffy and his son, cause his boy is in Chester’s class.”
“Right, this is Raffy what’s his last name?”
See what I mean? This stuff is going on forever, and I haven’t even got to the part where he goes to the house and gets the candy and what was weird about it. Every minute or so, when under questioning, this highly cooperative person is remembering details he left out the first telling. So coaxing these out of him is the key. The final report I wrote (because you know we had to write reports on this) looked something like this:
On 1 November 2010 at 09.03 I, officer Old, was dispatched by radio to see Scott Dobson, 5122 South East Academy Drive, Room 201. Temperature is 62°F, skies are cloudy. I walked to the call scene from my location at the Academy, and arrived at 09.07. Dobson (WM, 6’6″ 245lbs, DOB 05/16/1982, DL 77538692, SSN 150-05-5533, tel 971-102-7263, W 971-012-2836) reports that on the evening of 31 October at approximately 1845 to 1900 while he and his son, Chester Dobson (WM 4’11”, 110lbs, DOB 9/12/98), Family friend Raffy Horton (HM, approx 6’0″ approx 200lbs, DOB 5/12 approx 1980-1983, tel 971-291-2783) and his son Jack (HM approx 4’8, approx 100lbs, dob approx 1998) were trick or treating, they approached a single family dwelling at the south-west corner of St Anne’s Court and Horn Drive. The house was decorated for Halloween and there was a “Take One” candy box outside, however when Dobson and Horton stood at the fence and allowed their sons to approach the box, the front door opened and a man dressed in blue surgical scrubs whom Dobson described as “like a nurse or doctor” appeared. Dobson cannot describe the man’s face because, he says, “It’s Haloween”, but said that the man appeared to be a white male of “average height and weight”. The man offered the children candy from a different box kept inside the house, which caused Dobson to become suspicious – other children had received candy from the box outside. On Chester’s return to Dobson at the fence, Dobson asked Chester if Dobson could examine the candy, upon such he discovered that the candy appeared to have been re-wrapped and was covered with a white powder. Dobson says he put it in his pocket. Dobson says that Horton’s son’s candy appeared normal. This officer donned latex gloves and placed the candy in an evidence bag (1) and returned it to the station in evidence.”
I’m sure any cop worth his salt will find ten things I missed or did wrong, but that’s what I did. I explained in the report that I would send the candy to the lab and, after 16 to 26 months or whenever we got it back, if it tested positive for poison or drugs, further investigation would be warranted.
Later Dave told us that very few of the cadets remembered to ask for the things that I and a couple of others asked for, like whether the son’s name was the same as his, or whether he was alone, etc. So it felt good.
After lunch I got to go speak with the woman who arrived at the precinct and told something like this (I’m removing all my many, many questions, which kept getting these new details to pop out):
“Well, I don’t want to get anyone in trouble, I mean, it’s just …He said he’s kill me if I came here but…Well, last night Bob, my ex-husband, came to the house and I have papers that say he can’t come near me or the kids, the lawyer woman got those for me after the divorce. And he said he wanted to take the kids trick or treating, but I said no, but when I looked up about an hour later he was in the living room, and he was shouting that he would take the kids, and when I said no, he got really mad and said he was going to take the stereo – even though that’s my stereo and I bought it myself at Wal Mart – can you get that back for me? And he said he wanted it and I said no and then when I woke up he was gone. Oh, well, he choked me. Yeah, but I didn’t want to argue because well, this was my stereo, I’d bought it myself in wal mart far after he left, so when I saw the gun I didn’t want to argue, but then he put the gun down and after I woke up I heard him arguing with Hank outside. Because Hank is my boyfriend and he’s a good man and the only took out that knife to defend himself against Bob, because Bob doesn’t want to go back to jail. Well, he was in jail for a couple of years before, and … Well, they said it was murder, but he said that he didn’t do it. So when he hit Hank I got scared. Because…Well, can I just go now? I mean, he said that if I went to the police it would be the last thing I did and I don’t want. I mean.. Do I have to stay?
Holy Crap! I got all the information I could from her – her name, address, those of her kids, of Bob, of Hank, of the lawyer whom she said got the protective order, of the mother in law who appeared in telling number three; a description of the gun (“a black one”), the stereo (“a black one”), the car in which Bob drove away (“an old black one”), the date of the divorce, a description of Bob and his tattoos (a gang tattoo, she helpfully remembered), the second attack on her, which resulted in the bruising on her face….Oh it was a doozy.
I forgot to give her the victim’s rights pamphlet and to take photos of her injuries. I remembered to get the contact information for everyone and say that I would be in touch to get the detectives on the case to enforce the protective order and put Bob in jail.
Then I wrote the report.
We had a few more, all good. This is the best day I can remember at the academy – this is the first real taste we’ve had of what is to come. I’m liking it a lot.