Saturday, July 30, 2011

Blast Off!

I just saw a little too much of the Super Wash guy.

Super Wash Man is sweet, older gentleman, with a soft spot for cops. Everytime I pulled into the car wash he would come hurrying over to my stall and feed the machine full of quarters so I could give me truck the "VIP" treatment. He'd smile and tell me to have a nice day.

I always pictured Super Wash Man, going home to his elderly wife, greeting her with a peck on the cheek, and sitting down on the front porch for a piece of apple pie that she baked specially for her sweet Super Wash husband. His cat would curl up on his lap, and he would tell Super Wash Wife all about his day- the cars he saw, the people he talked to, all the squad cars he helped keep clean...

But then.

My dream.

Was smeared.

Like a bug on the windshield.

I was driving through the wildlife area, minding my own business, listening to NPR, when I noticed a red pickup truck stopped in the middle of the road up ahead. Slowly, I pulled up behind the car.

"That's strange," I mumbled to myself. I couldn't see anyone in the truck. Why would someone park their truck in the middle of the road and walk away? Maybe it was broken down.

There was just enough room for me to pull my truck up alongside the red truck, so I could drive past it. I inched my truck up to the driver's side of the red truck, and looked into the window.

And that is when I saw it.

Someone was mooning me from the driver's window...

"What the hell?" I said. Why would someone moon me?

But then.

The person turned and looked over his shoulder. He was thin, and had gray hair. It was Super Wash Man. First he had a look of terror on his face. And then a look of recognition.

Then suddenly a woman sat up from under Super Wash Man. She had long, curly blond hair. She wasn't wearing any clothes. And she wasn't Super Wash Wife.

I got out of my truck and walked up to the window and told them to put on some clothes. Then, although I sadly knew the answer, I had to ask anyway, "Ma'am, are you here by choice?"

"Yes," she squeaked.

"Ok," I said.

I turned around, got into my truck and drove away.

My image of sweet Super Wash Man is forever tarnished. I will never be the same. And I fear, I will never again, get a free car wash.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Summer Fair Time

I worked at a booth today for the county fair. I don't know if I pinched the person who was in charge of booth locations, or not. How else could I have deserved this booth location? On one side I had a view of this:

For those of you who have not had a chance to sit next to this for 8 hours...from what I could gather it was the cow shower area. All day long cows got a good scrub down. Some even got a bubble bath treatment.
And on the other side of our booth we had a great view of the Ugliest Cake Contest.
This was my favorite:
You just gotta love county fairs.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


The boat I wish we could provide for our seasonal officers
Our state hires "seasonal" officers. These are usually college age people (usually guys) who are hired to patrol the water and the various atv parks throughout the state. I am the direct supervisor of three seasonals- two water and one atv.

Here is the thing...we give them a canister of OC, handcuffs, and a radio (that may or may not work) and send them on their way to perform law enforcement duties. Is it just me, or does this seem like a tiny liability? Therefore, I find myself becoming a mother hen to these boys. I worry about them. I bake them cookies. I call in to check on them. I insist they call me if they run into any problems, and I require that they work together on the water, especially at night.

Tonight I was sitting out in the yard watching my kids play when I got a call from one of my seasonals. He was alone (the other officer was at a funeral today), and had someone stopped on the water. When he ran the boat operator's driver's license through state radio dispatch, he found out that the guy who had a warrant for his arrest. My officer was understandably a wee bit nervous. He had no clue what to do. I told him to call the communication center and find out what the warrant was for, where the warrant was out of, and whether the person had a history of violence.

He called me back about two minutes later and said that his guy had a history of assaulting peace officers. Just when I tried to respond, I him begin talking to someone else in the background. Then he began yelling. Then the line went dead.

I leapt from my lawn chair, ran into the house, grabbed my vest, my gunbelt, and my radio and headed for my truck.

And then comes the part where it is hard to be a  mom and a law enforcement officer...Chatterbox began wailing. Here was mommy sitting in the lawn watching her play one minute, and the next I'm running in a panic for my truck. She followed me in the house bawling, and screaming that she wanted to give me a hug and a kiss. Of course, I snap at her and tell her that "MOMMY HAS TO GO! RIGHT NOW!"

But Chatterbox didn't give up. She insists on a hug, a kiss, and a butterfly kiss, and a "don't let the bedbugs bite etc etc etc." I tried my best to give her a hug on the run. But it broke my heart to leave her there with tear stained cheeks and confused. Normally when I leave for work I take the time to let her go through her routine. If I don't come home, I want her to know that the last thing she did was kiss me and tell me that she loves me. But all I could think about was my boy, alone and in trouble.

I took off down my street with my sirens blaring. I glanced in the rear view mirror and saw my sweet four year old daughter standing on the sidewalk. Crying and waving. I knew that she was probably crying because I didn't wave back. Her normal goodbye routine was shattered.

Luckily, my seasonal officer is ok. A couple county deputies and a Corps of Engineers Ranger arrived before me and took the wanted person into custody.

My officer went home in one piece. And my daughter is asleep in bed. And I still feel bad.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

It's a Keeper

It was scorching hot this morning, so I decided to stay in the air-conditioned truck as much as possible. Luckily I have many small ponds in the urban areas of my territory I could drive around and check. So, I set off to find some anglers before the sun had a chance to scare everyone off.

I came upon a pond in a housing development where a few people were fishing. Of course, I always like to watch for a while first to make sure I know who was fishing and who wasn't. There looked to be a father/son team fishing on one side of the pond. Dad was baiting the hook and helping the boy cast. It wasn't long before the bobber took a dive and the boy reeled in a really (and I mean really) small bluegill. Dad removed the fish and tossed it back into the water. Definitely not a keeper.

My attention shifted to the other side of the pond where an elderly man was sitting in a lawn chair holding onto a rod- line in the water. He was a "cute" old guy- kind of round, with a baseball cap smooshed onto his head. I hate to say it, but he was even sporting some plaid shorts. It felt like I was watching a Norman Rockwell painting.

Suddenly the old boy's bobber disappeared, he set the hook and pulled up a fish that rivaled the size of the one caught by the young boy on the other side of the pond. Tiny. But, instead of throwing it back, he threw it into a five gallon pail next to his chair. I watched him do this about three more times- the fish never bigger than a child's hand. Now, there is nothing illegal about what he was doing, I just thought it was strange that he was keeping such small bluegills. It looked like an awful lot of cleaning for such tiny fillets.

The sun broke over the rooftops of the houses and the air heated quickly. The old guy was calling it quits. He packed up his stuff and started walking around the sidewalk that surrounds the pond. He was walking in my direction, so I decided to wait until he got closer before getting out to check his license (no need to sweat if it can be helped right?)

Just as he came up to where my truck was parked I got out and started chatting with him. He was a friendly guy- reminded me of my own grandpa. When I asked for his fishing license, he set down the bucket, and a cloth grocery bag he was carrying. I noticed that inside the bag was a half a loaf of Wonder bread. He dug out his lifetime fishing license from his pocket and handed it to me.

"So, did you catch some keepers?" I asked, nodding in the direction of his bucket.

"Oh, no. I'm not keeping those," he said.

"Ummm. Can I ask why you have them in your bucket then?" I asked, trying not to sound like an idiot.

"Well, I'm going to dump them out over there," he said, pointing toward a house on the other side of the pond, "I want to make sure there are fish in front of my house."

"Oh," I said (because what the hell are you supposed to say to that?). I didn't want to sound rude by asking him if he really thought the fish would stay where he dumped them. They do swim, you know.

I gave his license back and watched him continue to his house. Sure enough, he reached the house he was talking about, and dumped his bucket of teeny tiny panfish into the water. Then he sat on the bank and proceeded to rip the remaining half of the Wonder bread loaf into teeny tiny pieces and throw them in the water after the fish. When the loaf was gone, he stood up, brushed the dirt from the back of his green plaid shorts, walked up to his house and went inside.

I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. But I decided to laugh-just a teeny tiny bit.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

This Land is Your Land...Maybe

I left a meeting this morning feeling pissed off moderately frustrated. There may have even been some steam coming from my ears, and it wasn't because it was 100 degrees today. I sat around a table with the Sheriff in my county, 3 city police chiefs, 2 DNR biologists and a county supervisor. Sound like fun yet? I didn't think so.

The purpose of the meeting was to be bullied into discuss the possibility of "giving" ten acres of one of the state's wildlife areas over to the law enforcement agencies in my territory so they can build a private shooting range. Am I the only one who thinks this doesn't sound right?

I am in a unique position here...I am a law enforcement officer who understands the importance of regular shooting. My life may depend on it someday. But my heart tells me that taking 10 acres away from the hunters/anglers of the state is a poor choice.

Here are the problems I have with this plan:
1. The DNR already has a public rifle/pistol range (25, 50 and 100 yards) and a shotgun range. We offered to reserve the ranges for various agencies as needed.
2. The hunters of the state have been paying for the use of this wildlife area for many years, and it doesn't seem right to hand it over to a private group.
3. More than 10 acres would be affected--it is a shooting range that will be located right next to a waterfowl refuge on one side, and good waterfowl, deer, turkey, and pheasant hunting on the other.
4. This state ranks low in percentage of public land...very low.
5. Even if the law enforcement agencies give the DNR more than 10 acres in return, it wouldn't be contiguous to this wildlife area.
6. The sheriff apparently wrote a letter to the biologists and other interested parties. In the letter he said that "the DNR officers in the area" (me) are FOR this shooting range because I would be able to use it. This is a complete lie- I was never even told that there were talks about this issue two years ago, let alone ask for my opinion. The sheriff completely made it up.
7. Can't they purchase private property??
8. The interested agencies have already "saved up" half a million in "drug money"...couldn't they build an indoor range and make a little money by charging outside agencies to use it?

Of course I brought up all my "issues" with this plan at the meeting and in the process didn't make any friends with the leaders of all the law enforcement agencies in my territory. Not a good feeling when I rely on them for back-up sometimes.

But what is the role of the game warden if not to try to protect the wild animals and their habitat? Wouldn't any conservation minded person want to keep a wild area wild for the sake of their children and grandchildren?

One of the biologists told me that this kind of thing happens all the time...and it usually goes straight over our heads to the director and then the governor. We will likely lose the 10 acres.

Why is it that so many people see a big wildlife area and only see empty, unused space? What is the value of this land?

All the photos I included are taken in the wildlife area in question...I don't see any empty space.

What do you think?

Monday, July 18, 2011

10 Comments That Make a Game Warden Cringe

I can't speak for all game wardens, but here is a list of things people say to me on a fairly regular basis that drive me batty. Unlike my previous top 10 list (see: 10 Things I Secretly Enjoy Saying to Violators), this list contains responses that I would get great pleasure from saying, but for fear of a complaint to the governor's office, refrain from doing so. I'm really not quite as bitter as some of these sound...(and no offense to anyone actually named Billy Bob).

10. Billy Bob: "I was going to be a DNR, but decided not to."
What I want to say: "Really Billy? I've never heard of anyone aspiring to be a governmental agency before. Maybe you should look into becoming a Department of Human Services instead. I hear they are looking for more of those."

9. Billy Bob: "Since when do they give you guys guns? Do you use them to shoot animals or something?"

What I want to say: "No, Billy. Actually we save most of our bullets to shoot people. It is kind of a dangerous job considering that every Billy Bob we run into is carrying a shotgun, handgun, rifle or knife (or more likely, all of the above plus a six pack). Thanks for asking though."

8. Billy Bob: "There is no sign saying I can't do that."

What I want to say: "Billy, there aren't enough signs in the world to keep you from doing something as stupid as this. Here's your sign Billy-just carry it around with you."

7. Billy Bob: "You have the best job in the world. All you have to do is drive around in a boat all day."

What I want to say: "Billy, it's 95 degrees today-why don't you take my bullet-proof vest for a while, my 15 pound duty belt, and my polyester shirt. Oh yeah, and give me your beer. Let's see who has more fun."

6. Billy Bob: "I'm just calling because I set a live trap and caught a skunk in it. Just wondering when you will be able to come and take care of it."

What I want to say: "Billy- did I tell you to set a live trap? No. Did I tell you that I would come and release whatever you caught? No I did not. Here is a piece of advice though, another game warden told me that if you dress completely in camo and approach very slowly you will be perfectly fine. Give me a call back and let me know how it goes."

5. Billy Bob: "My friends and I are drinking a few beers and we got to arguing about whether or not you can party hunt pheasants. My friends say no and I say yes- thought I'd call so you can tell them they are wrong."

What I want to say: "Billy, it is 2:00 am, I'll look it up after I wake up and call you back. What is your phone number?"  2:00 am the next morning: "Billy, sorry it took me so long to get back to you. The answer is no."

4. Billy Bob: "Just calling to let you know I rescued a fawn. It's mother abandoned it so I brought it in the house a couple days ago to protect it from the dogs. Any idea what I should feed it?"

What I want to say: "Billy, just because you did not see the mother does not mean that it was abandoned, and you probably just ruined her day by kidnapping her baby. And by the way, congratulations- you probably just signed its death certificate."

3. Billy Bob to his son, Junior in a stage whisper: "Junior, you be good now and eat your cheeseburger or I am going to call her over here to arrest you.  But just don't tell her about the deer we rifled last night."

What I want to say: "Billy, this was not funny the first 6789543 times I heard it while eating in a restaurant, and it isn't funny this time either. Be more creative."

2. Billy Bob: "I know my son Junior and he would not do something as stupid as that. I raised him to hunt by the rules. You got the wrong kid."

What I want to say: "Billy, the apple apparently doesn't fall far from the tree. Your son is a little smart-mouthed, disrespectful shit who needs to learn his lesson. Unfortunately I'm the only one willing to teach it to him."

1. Billy Bob: "I pay taxes and I pay your salary. I'll have your job!"

What I want to say: "Actually Billy, since I caught you taking a buck out of season with no license, you actually DON'T pay my salary. I'm paid through hunting and fishing license fees, not taxes. So buy a license and then come and talk to me. Oh, and I think after your employer sees your name in the paper, it is more likely that I'll have your job."

Saturday, July 16, 2011

To Fish or Not to Fish

My husband,Red, doesn't take hints. For instance, if I want him to give the kids a bath, I can't say, "I have so much to get done, but the kids really need a bath. I wish they were old enough to give themselves a bath, because then I could do the dishes while they are bathing. I'm  beat after working all day, I wish I had ten minutes to sit here and close my eyes--but then the kids wouldn't have time for a bath." Red would simply remain reclined on the couch, perfecting his slug impersonation.

I have to give very specific instructions, "Red, can you fill up the tub with water, take off Chatterbox's clothes, put her in the tub, wash her with soap, get her out, dry her off, put the towel in the hamper, drain the tub, take Chatterbox to her room and get her pajamas on?"

Oh, but even those instructions aren't quite perfect enough. He would say, with a confused look on his face, "Can I?"

And I would have to say, "I meant, WILL you?"


So, when I wanted a fly rod for Mother's Day (last year), a game warden I work with called Red on the phone and said, "Red, get your wife a fly rod for Mother's Day. That is what she wants."

It worked! Then it sat in the package for two years. Until today.

It is my only weekend off this month, so we drove up to my parents house for a visit (AKA a built in babysitting expedition). My location is still undisclosed, but let me just say- it isn't trout country. My only hope was to try for panfish.

Here is a list of my catches:
1. A tree
2. A stick
3. The back of my shirt
4. The line
5. The back of Red's shirt.

Here is a list of what I didn't catch:
1. Fish

Red is a pretty good fly-fisherman. In general he is very good at pretty much anything he does (except taking hints from his wife). He is a perfectionist-check out the kayaks he built in the photo below. When we have remodeled rooms in the house, after I spent an entire day spent re-painting the bedroom, Red would waltz in after getting home from work and point out all the paint drips that I missed. In retrospect, he probably wasn't the best choice for a fly fishing instructor. But he was all I had since I forgot to pack the instructional video that came with the rod.

Red's actual instructions weren't is just that his gaze made me nervous. He got out his fly rod and started fishing, but he kept looking over at me. He had that pained look about him like he was struggling to hold in criticism. Or like he had an acute attack of appendicitis.

Finally, after watching Red catch two bluegills and a smally, I sat on the park bench (no mountain stream for us) and untangled my line, intending to call it quits for the day. He came over, probably feeling a little sorry for me and asked, "So do you like it...aside from not catching anything."

I said, hoping for a little sympathy, or maybe a kind word, "Well...I wish I knew what I was doing wrong. I'm embarrassed by my form-I obviously need practice."

He didn't take that hint either. He just nodded.

So, unlike all the other great fly fishing blogs (of which I am extremely jealous), there will be no cool photos of a trout grabbing a fly under the surface of the water, or me kneeling down and holding my beautiful catch for all to see. Nope. I'm tempted to post the picture that Red took of me fishing, (after I said to him, "It would be nice to have a picture of me trying to fly fish for the first time." And after he looked at me blankly, clearly not taking the hint, "Red, take a picture of me.") but I'm worried that my form is so bad, I will lose the few readers I have on this blog, who will no longer take me as a serious outdoorswoman.

The one thing I haven't told Red yet is that I AM HOOKED. I might hint about it tomorrow morning.

Friday, July 15, 2011

OFF with You!

Ok. This is not funny. Except that it is. In a dark, cop-humor kind of way.

Dispatches to wildlife areas are not always about poaching. Sometimes people get lost. Other times people are cooking meth. There are times when someone is stranded in a boat. Sometimes people go off-roading. And there are times when someone tries to commit suicide.

In this state, much to my chagrin, people can camp in a wildlife area without paying. They may not even be hiking, birdwatching, hunting or fishing. They may be homeless. Or they may be on the Sex Offender Registry and "unable" to find somewhere "safe" to live. So, they (and I am generalizing here of course...don't mean to profile or anything) take there belongings to a parking lot in the wildlife area, pitch a camp and light a bonfire. Then they start drinking Busch Light. Why Busch? I don't know. All I know is the last time I drove through the biggest wildlife area in my territory I counted the boxes of thirty three empty cases of Busch Light strewn along the roadway.

Last night, just as I was getting Towhead into bed (he is fully recovered by the way), I received a call from dispatch, "Can you go out to "Big Castle" (the wildlife area with a fake name)? We received a 911 call that someone tried to commit suicide with an Off can in a parking lot across from the boat ramp. We have an ambulance en route, but the deputy wants you to respond."

"What do you mean, with an Off Can?"

"Like with a can of Off."

As usual, the dispatcher was less than helpful. The only Off cans I knew about were of the insect repellent variety. So I went.

I arrived to find a sheriff's deputy wandering the wildlife area roads in his squad car, searching for the right location. He was lost- no wonder he wanted my help. The ambulance however had better luck- they had reached the scene and loaded the patient before I even stepped out of my truck.

The parking lot was strewn with junk (including some Busch boxes!). A dirty green tent was pitched near the back of the lot and a campfire was smoldering in a makeshift ring in the middle. A middle aged woman was sitting in a lawn chair smoking a cigarette. Tied to a tree was a little black and white dog.

The deputy and I approached her and asked what had happened. Long story short- she and her sex offender registered son were "staying for while" at the wildlife area while they looked for a suitable (legal) place for them to reside, where they were outside the required distances from schools, daycares etc. She started complaining, "This is the only place we can live. We figured we couldn't bother anyone out here." I begged to differ.

Anyway, she and her son had a little drunken spat. In the end, her son was forced to pull the guilt card on his poor old mom, by raising the can of Off insect repellent high into the air and proclaiming something along the lines of, "You made me do this Mom!" Then he tossed the can of Off into the fire and leaned over fire- arms spread-eagled, hoping to bear the brunt of the explosion in his face, ultimately causing his own tragic death.

Except it didn't work.

Turns out Off insect repellent (or at least the 3/4 spent can he tried to use) didn't carry the bang he longed for. It poofed in his face causing some burns. But he didn't quite get the drama he was shooting for. Nothing along the lines that would cause him to go down in history as the martyred sex offender son of a drunken, abusive mother.

The deputy gave the mother a ride to the hospital in his squad car. The mess in the parking lot was left for me. They never did come back to claim the dog, or their belongings. The dog went to the animal shelter where it was hopefully paired up with better home, and the dirty green tent and all its contents went into the dumpster.

Lesson one can gain from this story? Not much, except that Off cans in fire do not make effective tools for suicide. All you get is a burned face and maybe, if you are lucky, life-long repellency from mosquito bites.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wilderness Refuge

“It was my university, my theater, my refuge and strength. When I rejoiced, I went there to celebrate; when I was sad, to be consoled. In every weather, I worshipped there.” – Paul Gruchow
One thing was very evident from the moment I became a mother. Kids have a way of screwing up your plans. It didn’t matter that I had four hundred and twenty two things I needed to get done today. It didn’t matter that I my work phone rang twenty one times today (no- I’m not exaggerating). It didn’t matter that I up until this very moment, I didn’t have any peace and quiet.
Towhead woke up with a raging fever. His cheeks were flushed, his ears were red, and he was bawling. It was quite clear that my sweet little boy felt like shit. Nothing makes a mother feel quite as helpless as a sick child. Aside from timely doses of ibuprofen there was nothing much I could do except put aside all plans of getting anything accomplished and hold little Towhead all day long (or at least it felt like it was all day).  
After reaching a fever of 104, I took him for a field trip to the doctor. Going to the doctor at a teaching hospital is not fun. I think it is possible that it is less fun for the mother than the babe. The clumsy resident that we were forced to see before the real doctor would come into the room, tried (for way too long) to fish chunks of earwax out of Towhead’s ears so he could determine whether there was an ear infection.  As Towhead wailed like a banshee, Doc Jr. kept looking up at me and whispering, “Very sorry, still can’t see.” Finally, worrying that he would pierce Towhead’s eardrums with his little earwax digger tool, I told him that we would just wait for the real doctor. “Yes, very sorry. Very sorry,” he said as he slunk from the room.
After Doc Jr. left the room, I paced back and forth. Just when I managed to stop the steady flow of tears running down his cheeks there was a knock at the door. It was Doc, Jr. again, “Um, I’m sorry. I guess I kind of forgot to finish the exam. I still have to get a throat culture and palpate his stomach.”  Needless to say, this didn’t instill any confidence and the day went downhill from there.
You are probably wondering how all this ties into the quote that started this post…it was bedtime. Red had to work late (of course, conveniently had to band some doves on the night I needed him home!). I managed to get Towhead to sleep. Then it was Chatterbox’s turn. She is more challenging. She won’t stop talking and she has a bedtime hug/kiss/butterfly kiss ritual that takes at minimum 10 minutes to complete.
I read her a few stories and turned off her lights and lay down next to her. And then it happened—it was quiet for ten whole seconds and we heard the cicadas.
The long, pulsating drone took me back thirty years, to trips to my grandma’s house. We always went in July-prime cicada time. I slept in a bed next to my brother and listened all night to the chorus outside of the window. At first the sound only brought a trickle of tenuous memories, rusty from disuse. They slowly started to come faster in a strong rush, full of sights, sounds and smells. I remembered the morning smells of fried eggs on the gas stove, the sound of Grandpa listening to a Cub’s game, the sound of Grandma and my mother talking and laughing at the kitchen table, and the smell of the musty old basement where my brother and I dug through boxes of old Mad magazines.  I remembered Grandma’s yellow bedroom, the lacy curtains in the room my brother and I sometimes slept in, the smell of Grandpa’s pipe, and the laughter of my brother watching Bozo the Clown on the old console tv.
My point is that it need not be a towering mountain range, a raging ocean shore pounded with waves, or a million acres of pristine wilderness. Something as simple as a cicada can create a place for my mind to escape. Maybe next time it will be the smell of an old brown oak leaf that will give me a little peace in a hectic day. Something will remind me that the search warrant that I needed to serve today, the phone calls I needed to return, the wildlife area I needed to drive through, and the pile of laundry that needed to be washed don't rank anywhere near my kids on the list of priorities.
My little blonde girl was lying next to me, her hair a tangle on her pillow and her left eye shaded in a birthmark that surrounds her eye and creeps down her cheek. I told her about the cicadas. She smiled when I told her to listen to the cicadas outside her window and think about me, when I was her age, lying on a bed in my Grandma’s house and listening to the cicadas outside the window.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Darth Warden

It is evident that I suck at pretending. I can handle playing store with Chatterbox or pretending that Towhead is a dog so he can fetch stuffed animals...but when it comes to game warden training, I will never win an Oscar. Unfortunately "scenario training" is a big portion of any career in law enforcement. Whether you are a city cop, a state trooper, or a conservation officer, there will surely come a time when you will have to put on your uniform and "play cops and robbers" with the boys.

There are a few problems with scenario training...namely that the scenarios that trainers come up with are never like real life. The most recent training scenario I took part in was at our statewide training session.

At first I was encouraged because we were told to pick a partner. Usually we have to do scenarios alone while everyone watches (and heckles). Being one of the lone females, I usually have to secure a partner before it is necessary, so I'm not left standing there like the last kid picked in gym class. Luckily I thought ahead and had already my neighboring officer, Smithy, to be my partner in case we should ever need one during our training weekend.Smithy and I get along well out in the field, and I work with him quite often, so I figured the scenario would be a piece of cake--I would just make him do all the talking.

When it was our turn, we went to the training area (located behind a truck that was hooked up to a big camper) to get the instructions from the trainers. That is when things went downhill.

It was raining, so all of us (the three bad guys-which were actually other game wardens, Smithy and myself) were wearing our raingear. All of our raingear is state-issued, and therefore, identical. Mossy Oak Camo pattern. I knew that it wasn't going to go well as soon as they started strapping knee pads, elbow pads, and a Darth Vader mask, and helmet on all of us, including the bad guys.

Here were our instructions: You have just arrived at a deer camp. If you go outside the cones you are out of bounds. Just do what you would normally do. That's it.

Then they took away our real guns and gave us "Air soft" guns, which are basically paint guns that hurt when you get hit.

My first mistake was not looking for the cones before starting the scenario. I was too busy arguing with Smithy about who was going to be the primary officer (the one who has to talk) and who was going to be the secondary (the one who stands there and makes fun of the one who talks).

I lost the argument.

When you go into a deer camp wearing elbow and knee pads, a facemask and helmet, you have to fight the urge to pull your gun in the holster. It just seems like something bad might happen when you are surrounded by four big guys dressed in identical camo who look like they are about to de-fuse a bomb. BUT, you are supposed to "do what you would normally do." Normally I don't draw down on a group of deer hunters unless they give me a good reason to do so. In real life if they were wearing those outfits, in my book it would qualify as a good reason.

So, Smithy and I stepped from our trucks and walked into the camp. While the bad guys and I were in the midst of our fake conversation, I found an untagged deer and Smithy found a loaded rifle leaning against a tree. Smithy ordered them to move away from the rifle so he could walk over and get it unloaded. I thought that we were in the clear...obviously the point of the scenario must have been that you needed to find the weapon and clear it. I was wrong.

After the gun was unloaded, I asked to see their deer tags. Bad Hunter 1 displayed his license, Bad Hunter 2, who was sitting by the campfire cleaning under his fingernails with a machete, said his license was inside the camper. Smithy, being the observant officer he is, noticed the machete and told him to put the knife down. Bad Hunter 2 didn't want to put the knife down. Smithy gave him the order again. This time Bad Hunter 2 made a run for the camper.

As Bad Hunter 2 ran for the camper, I started running for cover. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Bad Hunter 2 grab a rifle from inside the camper. I screamed "GUN!!" at Smithy, and Smithy made a dive for the other end of the camper. This wasn't good. Now, in order to shoot Bad Hunter 2, Smithy and I would be firing towards each other. On top of that, I wasn't sure if I was out of bounds. I stood there trying to ask the trainer if I was still playing by the rules, all the while taking fire from Bad Hunters 1 and 3 who must have pulled handguns out from inside their raingear.

As I felt myself getting pelted with bullets, I fired back at Bad Hunter 3. Finally Bad Hunter 3 fell to the ground and pretended to be dead. Still the trainer wouldn't answer my question about the cones. I guessed that meant that I must not be out of bounds.

Meanwhile, one of the trainers started yelling at me, "Can that rifle shoot through the camper?" Umm..yeah. Just as I was about to run for cover, someone came up behind me. I drew my gun and pointed it at the man clad in camo wearing the Darth Vader mask. He raised his gun in response. Just as I was about to pull the trigger, I  realized it was Smithy. Luckily I didn't shoot him.

The trainers blew the whistle and the scenario ended.

We were gathering around for a debriefing when one of the trainers asked me if I was ok.

"Yeah, why?"

"Look at your hand," he said.

I looked down and saw that blood was gushing out of my finger and running down my hand. It was swelling up rapidly and looked nasty, covered in the tell tale blue ink of my partner's gun.

Smithy was standing off to the side of the group looking like a dog who had just peed on the carpet.

"Sorry," he said, "I didn't know it was you. I can't believe I shot my partner."

He will never live this down.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Educated by a Dog: 25 Lessons I learned from the life of my K9 partner

About a month ago I had to put my partner down. She was a 12 year old lab/Chesapeake mix. She rode along on patrol with me for her entire life. She lived to go to work. Though she wasn't trained to sniff drugs, she sniffed her share of birds, entertained me, was an extra set of eyes and ears, and was my constant partner and friend. She developed a massive tumor on her spleen and I had to make a decision for my partner. Her collar hangs from my rearview mirror of my squad now and the truck is a much lonelier place. Out of habit, I still say, "Stay" every time I get out of my truck. Here is a list of 25 things I learned from her life:

25. Don't let anyone lead you down a path you don't want to take. Dig in your heels, put your head down, and charge forward in your own direction.

24. Be tolerant of a point.

23. Give strangers the benefit of the doubt. Greet everyone with an enthusiastic smile and a kiss until they give you reason not to.

22. Baby bunnies are fun playmates...until they stop squealing.

21. There is more to a walk than walking. Go out of your way to splash through puddles, get your tongue tickled by cicadas, and do somersaults in the grass.

20. Quit worrying about whether you wll be able to stand up unassisted tomorrow and climb the hill right now- there might be something good up there. If not, it is still better than staying at the bottom.

19. Don't ask what lives in that hole. Stick your head in, take a good whiff, and start digging. Curiosity only kills cats.

18. Just because everyone else fetches on command does not mean that you have to. You are an individual-think for yourself. But it isn't a bad idea to humor them now and then.

17. One animal's waste is another's perfume (or snack). Re-purpose.

16. When it comes to dropped food, the five second rule applies. So does the two week rule.

15. Halitosis is in the nose of the beholder. My people love me just the way I am.

14. Lively conversation is not a requirement of a good friendship. A silent shadow can be more comfort than a thousand words.

13. No matter what anyone tells you to the contrary, there is no fun to be had at the doctor.

12. Don't be self-conscious. When you are happy, run like you have a worm in your brain; when you are sad, put your head down and sit quietly until someone notices; if you have an itch, scratch it; if something needs to be cleaned, lick it.

11. Forgive and forget. Quickly.

10. Love your work. At least appreciate going for a ride and watching the world go by.

9. Chasing birds in a dream can be just as much fun as chasing birds while awake. Use your imagination.

8. Performing tricks for treats is just silly. Stare at them until they give you one.

7. Don't waste a good snow day.

6. You only get one chance at this life, so live it for all it is worth...unless you are really sleepy, in which case a nap is good too.

5. Don't let a few gray hairs get your down. They indicate you have reached alpha status and no longer need to listen.

4. Macaroni and cheese, doughnuts, and bacon are always worth the resulting stomachache. Just remember that consuming carpet, Elmo underwear, and blankets won't make it feel better.

3. Christmas songs by Alvin and the Chipmunks reach unnatural and confusing decibels. They should be banned from the radio.

2. Be there for your friend. Always.

1. Leave your mark wherever you go. Make people glad to have known you.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

10 Things I Secretly Enjoy Saying to Violators

Don't get me wrong, I'd rather nobody poach, or drive off road at a wildlife area, litter or drive a boat while drunk...BUT if I catch someone sometimes I secretly take pleasure in saying:

1. That's good, because I don't think I want you to come back to this state to hunt either.
2. That's funny, because I've been watching you for a half hour and that isn't what I saw.
3. Well, if you are a cop that means you probably should have known better.
4. You might have wanted to think about the fact that it is a two-wheel drive before you left the road. Now I have to impound it.
5. I personally don't think it was a good idea to dump your garbage out here...especially since it contained some x-rated photos of you. That isn't your wife is it?
6. Are you sure that is the story you want to go with?
7. See that? That is a camera. You are on it.
8. I've been called worse.
9. How many is "a couple"?
10. Sorry Sir, that was a decoy you just shot.

Time to Get Off the Water!

Glad we got the patrol boat off the water before this one hit...and glad I had the camera!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Rookie Mistake Part III

Continued from Rookie Mistake Part II
If someone were watching this disaster unfold, I’m sure the first words that would have sprung to mind when I turned and ran after the car, would have been “Barney Fife!” My legs couldn’t decide which direction to run…after the car…no, back to my truck…no, after the car. I may have looked like a moron, but at least I stopped short of firing off a warning shot. Approximately ten yards into my sprint I realized that my basketball coach was right when he not-so politely reminded me of just how slow I really was, by screaming “Pick up the piano!”
I finally made a decision and went for my truck. Thet tires kicked up gravel as I took off after the Pontiac. By this time there was a sheriff’s deputy close by, so I gave him an updated location and started praying that he might hurry up and HELP. We weaved through some more country roads.
Turns out Mrs. Knorr did have a destination in mind. Her-ex husband’s house was just down the road and she was making a beeline for it. Approximately 50 yards from the entrance to the driveway, the deputy screamed past my truck and squeezed past the Pontiac. He hit the brakes and brought his squad to a stop. Mrs. Knorr didn’t seem especially worried about making a timely stop, but managed it anyway with about one foot to spare behind the deputy’s car. Another deputy pulled up behind the first and all three of us approached the Pontiac.
We were all a bit worked up by now, and the deputy began screaming at Mrs. Knorr to “Get out of the car!” or something along those lines. But she didn’t really want to, so she stayed planted in the driver’s seat. Just as she started to lean over and reach beneath the driver’s seat, the second deputy opened the door and pulled her out. She thrashed and kicked and swore, all the while exhibiting super-human strength. Before it was all said and done, all four of us were on the ground and someone managed to get handcuffs on. I’m surprised in the melee that the handcuffs actually made it onto the right person.
We stood up and were brushing the gravel dust off our pants when we heard a young girl say, “Thank you for getting her.”
We looked up to see a dark haired girl, around sixteen years old, standing in the middle of the road.
“I’m her daughter. Can you take her to the hospital? She needs help. She’s gonna kill someone,” she said.
“How long has she been drinking like this?” one of the deputies asked.
“For as long as I can remember,” she said.
My heart dropped into my stomach. I wanted to give the girl a hug and tell her that everything would be ok, that her mother would be ok. But we both knew that it wouldn’t.
While the deputies searched Mrs. Knorr’s car I walked the girl back to the house. I explained what the procedure would be with her mother and she thanked me again.
“Guess we are lucky we didn’t get zapped,” the first deputy said as I arrived back at the squad. He pointed to a stun gun lying on the hood of the car. “She was reaching for that right before we yanked her out.”
I thought back to my attempted traffic stop with her and about how had the stun gun had been just a plain old gun, how easily she could have shot me as I walked back to my truck.
One of the deputies transported Mrs. Knorr to the law enforcement center and into the interview room where we would ask for a breath sample to determine her blood alcohol level. As soon  as I walked into the room which was wired for audio and video, she started began her rant. The following quotes are taken directly from my incident report…exactly how I typed it.
Knorr said, “Fucking DNR, fucking bitch. You know what? Somebody is going to shoot you. I know a whole lot of people that are out to get you, you dike. Dike fucking bitch, they are going to shoot your ass. Shoot you in the head. Shoot your head off.”
The deputy asked Mrs. Knorr who she was going to shoot, apparently wanting to get her threat against me on video.
Knorr replied, “I can’t stand her fucking ass, and neither can anyone in the neighborhood, they all want to fucking shoot her ass. Ask anyone. The Petersons don’t like you, they all want to shoot her ass. Shoot her in the head when she is not looking. She’s a dike fucking bitch. She’s a dike fucking bitch. Look at it.”
Oh, I could feel the love. Aside from making a mental note to lock my doors at night, the other important lesson I learned from this encounter is that spell-check does not correct you when you type ‘dike’ instead of ‘dyke’. According to the Pocket Oxford American Dictionary, ‘dike’ means: an embankment built to prevent flooding from the sea. And ‘dyke’ means: a lesbian. Believe it or not, this little error bothered me for weeks after the trial.
In my defense, I had never used this particular term before. I have friends that are lesbians, and I have the feeling that ‘dyke’ isn’t on the list of things I should casually call them. In fact, I’d never called anyone names at all to their face aside from the occasional, “What a moron, dumb-ass, or jerk”, that I yelled inside my head and which I caught before it could exit my mouth. But what did the county attorney think when he read my report? Or worse, the judge? Oh, they would surely think I was an idiom…I mean idiot.
At the end of a fiasco like this, some officers might have looked back at all the mistakes they had made and vow to change next time. But there were so many mistakes to choose from, where was I to begin? I chose the one easiest to never repeat: if someone calls me dyke again (which was and is well within the realm of possibility), I will never again misspell it.
Perhaps Mrs. Knorr said it best when, according to my report, right before we booked her into jail she said,
“There are four people who want to fucking kill her. It’s none of my business. It’s out of my hands now.”
Unfortunately the report containing all the mistakes I made were laid out for everyone to read--that too, is out of my hands now.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Rookie Mistakes Part II

Continued from Rookie Mistakes Part I...
I was hoping to give a quick littering ticket and then get the hell out of there, but she had just complicated things. I knew, (and unfortunately she probably knew), that an OWI (Operating While Intoxicated) charge would be a much harder sell now that she was chugging one down inside her own house right in front of me. All she would have to do is tell the judge that she had downed three beers in the length of time it took to answer the door. Judging from how fast she was slurping down the current one, I might have believed it too.

The other problem was that I was green. It was my first year on the job and had never actually encountered a real drunk driver before. Things may have gone differently if there had been a seasoned officer with me that day. But she was lucky, and could probably smell a newbie who had never given anyone a field sobriety test (except of course for the drunk volunteers at the police academy).
I decided to save my breath. Thankfully she had made it home without killing anyone.
"Why did you dump that garbage out in the park?" I asked.
“I wanted to,” she said. Ok…she wasn’t giving me too much to work with. I explained that I was going to give her a ticket for littering. Then the sternest voice I could muster, I gave her a harsh warning about driving while hammered.
“Whatever,” she said, and collapsed into the recliner, flipped on the tv and ignored me. I filled out a citation, and walked it over to the recliner. She was engrossed in the home shopping network, and trying desperately to develop enough coordination with her thumb to light up another cigarette. Eventually, she lit it, snatched my ticket book out of my hands and without being asked, signed on the line. I think she had gotten a ticket before.
I left, and headed for home. As I pulled into my driveway, I rolled down my window and checked my mailbox. Empty.
It turns out that I didn’t have long to wait to get another chance with Mrs. Knorr. Three days later I was returning home from work again, through the state park again when a call came over the radio to be on the lookout for a possible intoxicated driver in a tan Pontiac on a blacktop road about three miles from my house.
Rarely am I in the right place at the right time, especially for game warden stuff- like catching someone poaching a deer from the window of their truck, or watching someone over-bag on ducks- but for other things like bad drivers, accidents and my secret special talent-finding people having elusive sex in the backseats of a minivans, I’m Mrs. Johnny On The Spot.
About three minutes later I met the tan Pontiac. And sure enough there was a short, blond woman peeking over the dashboard attempting to drive. I turned around and got into position behind the car. It was classic drunk driving behavior but even more obvious. A surge of confidence rushed through my brain as I thought to myself, “They lectured us for two days straight in the police academy about how to detect drunk drivers.  Either they grossly under-estimated our intelligence, I was extremely observant in picking out the clues, or this lady was very drunk.”
 I hit my lights and sirens. She didn't respond. I changed the siren tone to the cool one that sounds like a cop car in London. Still nothing. The car inched towards the outside of the road a couple times and each time I thought Mrs. Knorr was going to pull over, she would swerve out again, crossing the center line.

I radioed dispatch to tell them that it looked as though I was in a 25 mile per hour chase. She led me on a scenic tour of the county blacktops, until she decided that maybe she’d be able to lose me on the gravel road. I stayed behind her. Finally, she began to pull over to the side of the road. The car rolled to a stop.
In hindsight, there are so many things I screwed up that I’m surprised I’ve survived as long as I have. My officer safety skills were a little bit lacking. In any case, I jumped out of my truck and scurried up the driver’s door and asked to see her driver’s license. She fumbled around and eventually managed to pull out something that resembled a driver’s license.
“Turn off the car. Stay right there. Don’t go anywhere!” I said.
Though it may have made a little more sense to just take her keys away from her, and maybe try out those fancy handcuffs they gave me which I never expected to actually use. But I felt a strange sense of confusion. She is innocent until proven guilty, right? So…maybe I’ll just check her license first and see if there are any warrants for her arrest first, THEN I’ll worry about whether or not she is drunk…because maybe she really just didn’t see my lights and maybe her music was up so loud she couldn’t hear my sirens? That must be it. Man, was I ever stupid.
Unfortunately I can’t turn back the hands of time to thump myself alongside my head and whisper in my ear, “Hello? Are you stupid? You may want to consider taking her keys away. The keys!” Instead, The instant I began walking back to my truck, with her driver’s license in hand, she fired up the Pontiac, and put the hammer down.
To be continued...

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Rookie Mistake Part I

I call it the hairless cat paradox. Some things are just so ugly they are cute- like hairless cats. No matter how disturbed you are looking at the rat-like tail held high in the air, you just can’t seem to stop yourself from scratching it on its bald little head and saying in a baby voice, “Oh. You are sooooo cute. I love those little wrinkles!”
My encounters with Mrs. Knorr are another version of the hairless cat paradox- they were so sad, in the end, you can’t help but chuckle.
The first time I made Mrs. Knorr’s acquaintance, I was driving through a state parks  on my way home after a long day of working. I lived just a few miles from the park, so I had the good fortune of driving through this scenic little place almost every day. It was a great way to unwind from the stresses of the day. But my reverie came to a screeching halt, when the driver of the tan Pontiac I was following on this particular day hoisted a bag of garbage out of the window and into the woods, without even slowing down.
I continued following the Pontiac up the hill and out of the park. Just outside the park, the road emerges from the woods and begins a series of S-turns, making it difficult to find a safe place to make a traffic stop. Following behind the car through the S-turns I was able to catch a glimpse of the the driver. The driver appeared to be a woman, with shoulder length blonde hair. Her head just cleared the steering wheel, giving the impression that she was possibly seven years old, but the cigarette she was sucking on put her age more at thirty.
As we came out of the S-curves and the blacktop stretched out straight ahead, I made my move. I flipped on my emergency lights and waited for the Pontiac to pull over. It didn’t. I tried my siren, but to no avail. Smokey Lungs Lady was completely oblivious.
I could see my turn for home coming up ahead.  For a brief moment I thought about forgetting about it, and heading for home. But, I couldn’t do it. I hate litterbugs. Just as I was coming up to my road, the Pontiac turned onto it. Apparently Smokey Lung Litter Lady was a neighbor of mine.  I lived at the end of a rather long dead end road, so it would be my luck that I’d have to cite my neighbor for littering and then proceed to drive past her house several times a day on the way to and from mine. I doubted she would give me any good-morning waves. It would also be my luck that she would be the person to whom my elderly mail carrier would deliver my mail. My mail was being delivered to the wrong address so often that it would have made more sense to stop at each house on my way home, and pick up my mail as I went. Maybe the poor guy was developing cataracts and couldn’t read the addresses, though since he drives one of those little mail jeeps at mach ten down my road, the mail should be the least of my concerns.  It was entirely possible that if I cited this woman for littering that one day she would be struck dead by the blind mailman as she scattered nails around the entrance to my driveway.
The Pontiac whipped into the driveway of the third house on my road. She quickly pulled into the garage, closing the garage door in my face as I pulled into the driveway behind her.
I radioed in my location, and stepped out of my truck and walked up to the front door of the house. My chances of someone actually answering the door were about as good as my coon eating dog brushing her own teeth.
Just as I was about to give up after the third doorbell ring, a middle aged man answered the door. 
 “Can I help you?” he asked, squinting at me from behind the screen door.
 “Well, I need to speak to the woman that just pulled into your garage,” I said.
  “Pam? Well, she is…uh…” he began, but then Pam herself staggered into the room. She was holding a Budweiser can in one hand, and a smoldering cigarette in the other. Her blond hair glistened from grease and hung limp at her shoulders. She looked me in the eye and took a giant slug of beer. An ash from her smoke dropped onto the carpet, and she stepped on it to extinguish the spark.
 “Whatd’ ya wan?” she said, slurring her words into one.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

What is that Smell?

Our yellow lab, Bailey, loves toast. Her ears perk up the moment she detects the crinkling sound of the bread bag. By the time the bread is dropped into the slot, the Pavlovian response is in full swing. She can be located anywhere in the house, or anywhere in the tri-state region, and still she will hear the sound of the dropped lever. Her claws clatter across the hardwood floor and she flops down on her haunches at my feet with two foot long strings of drool hanging from the corners of her mouth. Then the staring begins. She tilts her head, tries to appear pathetic, and never looks away.
My kids exhibit the same ultrasonic hearing capabilities when I enter the bathroom. They can be anywhere in the house, but the moment I drop trow and sit down for a nice relaxing…you know what, it is like moths to a campground bathroom light fixture. Within two seconds of sitting down, I look at the doorknob, willing it to stay put. But inevitably it begins a slow turn and my daughter, Chatterbox, bursts in, winging a giant pink punch balloon by the rubber band.
She is talking as though in the midst of a conversation I may or may not have been part of before entering the bathroom. She is always talking. From the moment she wakes up to the moment her eyes close at night, she is providing a narrative about the goings on around her. 
Now as I sit there on the pot she is punching the balloon into my forehead and saying, “But flowers don’t have faces, and suns don’t either. But when it shines it makes the flowers smile. But they don’t have faces though, and the suns don’t have faces either.” I don’t get it either.
Now my son, "Towhead", discovers where Mommy has gone off to and comes rushing in the door too. He makes a bee-line to the step stool in front of the sink which he has recently learned to climb all by himself. He is the opposite of his sister- he hardly ever speaks. When he does it sounds a lot like Mandarin. I think. I don’t speak Mandarin.
The pink balloon continues its assault on my face while Towhead stands proudly on top of the stool, squealing in delight and clutching the little red cup. He stabs his finger at the water faucet which is well out of his reach and implores me to turn it on. “Uh! Uh! Uh!” translates to “Turn it on, damn it! Turn on the water, you dolt! Can’t you hear me?” I reach over and turn on the water so he can fill up his cup and dump it all over the counter and floor.
Chatterbox still hasn’t stopped talking. She is pontificating about bodily functions, “But when I drink orange juice I pee. And when I eat I poop. But when I drink orange juice sometimes I pee AND I poop. But I poop when I eat. Do I pee when I drink water?”
Now Towhead begins bouncing up and down, up and down on the stool. His grin is wide. He is so happy. He can say, “Up!” when he stands up. He can’t say ‘Down’ though, so he must squat down in order to stand up again and say “Up!”
Just as I receive the thirteenth blow to my temple from the pink balloon, Towhead takes a side-step off the stool and careens towards the floor. He lands on his head, and begins crying. I’m helpless. I madly start wiping so I can come to the rescue of my boy, now splayed on the floor with his feet in the air and his face bright red and covered in tears. But this was a multiple wipe job.
This catastrophe hasn’t stopped Chatterbox- she's just louder now to cover the sound of Towhead's wailing. “But, someday I want to build a snowman. I’ll name him Frosty. But Daddy can help me, because he knows how to build a snowman…”
I’m finally in satisfactory condition, so flush the toilet, stand up and yank my pants back up from my ankles and run my hands under the faucet for the less than required two times through the Happy Birthday song. I scoop Towhead off the floor hold him while he continues the aftermath gasps of his crying jag. On the way out the door I reach over and shut off the light and Chatterbox follows behind, banging her balloon and saying, as though she is asking what is in the oven, “What do I smell?”
Though I’m trying hard to remain stressed, I  crack and start laughing.  Chatterbox, my mini-FBI agent in training doesn't relent. She must know what has caused the foul odor...I give her my best answer, "It must be your brother."

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Shrugger

Bad liar. Bad, bad liar.

I followed up on a complaint I had earlier in the week from my husband (Silent Man) who happens to be a wildlife technician for the DNR. He was working one day when he witnessed a truck with a big black garbage bag drive down a dead end road on the wildlife refuge. When Silent Man saw the truck return from the dead end sans garbage bag he decided to have a chat.

typical dump site found on wildlife areas
Silent Man asked the driver, an older, balding fellow, what had happened to the garbage bag. The driver merely shrugged his shoulders and denied knowing anything about a garbage bag. My husband pointed to the pool of brown ooze that had leaked from the bag and asked again about its whereabouts. Another shrug.

Silent Man took down the license plate number and gave it to me when he got home. "I told the guy I would be seeing him in court." I asked what the driver's response was. "He just shrugged."

So, I ran the plate through state radio and came up with an address.

Notice the Public Hunting sign-littering is my biggest pet peave
I arrived at the address today to find a very nice home with a very well manicured lawn. Obviously this guy could afford garbage service.

When the driver came to the door I said, "Did you encounter a worker out at the wildlife area on Friday?"

"I was at the wildlife area," he replied.

"Ok...can you tell me why you dumped a bag of garbage at the end of the dead end road?" I asked.

"I don't know what you are talking about," he said.

This was obviously going to go nowhere, so I cut to the chase, "The worker had a good description of your truck and he witnessed the bag in the back of your truck when you drove into the area and noticed the bag was gone when you left the area. I'm going to give you a citation for littering on public lands."

He stared at me blankly.

"So, did you dump a bag of garbage?"

"No," he said. And shrugged.

"Are you sure?" I asked (notice my superb interrogation skills).

"I can't prove anything," he said shrugging, "but how much would it be if I pled guilty?"

Hint: If you want the Fish-Cop to believe that you did nothing wrong, don't shrug and then ask how much the fine would be if you were to just happen to plead guilty to something you didn't do.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

I've Only Had a Couple

Ever heard that song....Redneck Yacht Club? I think I was there last night. And I arrested the "President". In the song the President's name is Bob, so I'll call him Bob. That's right, Party Cove on the federal impoundment in my territory was hopping yesterday. 85 degrees and sunny never makes a good 4th of July weekend for me. While my husband was home listening to the tantrums of my daughter, Chatterbox and myu son, Towhead as they came to blows over the pink play doh,  I was cruising through Party Cove with two Water Officer's on the lookout for drunk drivers.

Bob is in the cove every weekend. Bob's nickname is "Hef", short for Hugh Hefner. He is a sixty one year old guy with a pretty good body, but not good enough to attract the ten college girls he hauls around every weekend in his 26 ft. long Cobalt.

Apparently Bob must ascribe to the reasoning we heard earlier in the day from a middle aged man who answered my question, "How much have you had to drink today, Sir?" with, "I can't get drunk- I'm 55 years old." It didn't make sense to me either considering 1 out of every 10 middle aged people I meet after 11:00 pm on a Saturday night are hammered. But, I must admit his answer was unique, unlike every other person who answers with, "I've only had a couple." Yeah right.

Anyway, poor Bob had just dropped his harum off at the bar a little after 11:00 PM last night and was leaving the dock when we stopped his boat. The first unprompted words out of his mouth as we pulled up to the boat were, "I'm ok. I can drive. I'm out here all the time- you guys know me. I'm ok to drive." You don't have to be a trained detective to find this response a bit fishy.

So after a few field sobriety tests, Bob was on his way to the jail. Upon arrival at the jail there was a waiting line (yes, fine county we have here). As we waited in line to get him booked, Bob, handcuffed, barefoot , in nothing but swimming trunks still managed to flirt with a twenty two year old woman standing in line in front of him. Gotta give the guy credit for taking advantage of a captive audience I guess.

As much as I may joke about some drunk boaters I encounter, the reality of drunk boaters is very scary. Last year we lost a 12 year old girl on our impoundment when she was struck by another boat while she was in the water. And yes, alcohol was involved. I was the first to arrive at the accident scene where I found the decapitated body in the back of the victim's boat. That image will never leave my memory, and it reminds me every day I'm on the water why I'm hooking up people like Bob, and hauling them to jail. I'd rather dress him in orange and let him hit on women than let him loose anywhere on my waters.