Thursday, January 26, 2012


I knew it was going to be bad..I didn't know it was going to be this bad. My task this month has been attempting to finish a big project I started in the spring of last year. It is not anything too exciting (therefore the lack of blog posts for the last week or two). I've been tasked with coming up with a "report writing curriculum" to teach new incoming officers as well as our seasonal law enforcement officers how to write a good police report.

I've always been a little shocked at the poor quality of reports coming from officers who supposedly somehow graduated from college. But now I'm questioning the quality of some of our state universities! Granted, those of you who follow this blog may say that I'm a pot calling the kettle black, but in my defense, whatever happens to appear on the screen before me the first time I type it is what gets posted on the blog. I'm typing with one hand while changing a diaper with the other- I don't have time to edit. However, I do write a column for a magazine bi-monthly and I edit the hell out of that. I think the only thing I edit more than my magazine column are my investigative reports.

So, recently in my pursuit to finish my report writing training booklet that will be used later this spring, I decided to add several "good examples" of investigative reports for officers to use as models. This sounds like it would be rather easy doesn't it? Just shoot some emails off, get some reports back, change them all to first person (as our department has always written in the 3rd person and I've managed to change our future practice to bring us into the modern era of police writing), spell check, grammar check, change all the names and stick them into the appendix of my booklet. I was wrong.

I sent emails out, I received reports in return. And I was horrified. Mostly because I sent these requests to officers who I thought would be decent report writers. Instead what I received were a slurry of documents chock full of "police jargon", entire pages that were entirely made up of one sentence, randomly punctuated paragraphs and extremely poor choice of quotations (but without the quotation marks of course).

Here are a couple examples (names changed):

Officer Smith went to the rear of his truck opened the tail gate and sat down; To Smiths surprise so did Mark. Officer Smith looked at Mark and stated in 27 years of law enforcement you are probably one of the worst liars I have ever encountered. Mark did not say anything, he did hang his head.

I don't know about you, but I think, aside from the obvious problems with the structure and punctuation, the choice of quote might make the officer look, oh, I don't know, kinda nasty mean? Or, how about this:

When the door open Officer Smith stated Mark, The man answered yes, Officer Smith stuck out his hand and shook Mark's hand introducing himself as a Game Warden. Officer Smith advised Mark that he would like to talk to him about his turkey hunt, Mark said OK and Officer Smith let go of his hand.

It is good to know that he held his hand throughout the entire greeting.

Officer Smith gets up from the tailgate and moves to about the front door of his truck, Mark follow, and Officer Smith tells Mark that he has been doing this for a long time. About 90% of the people Officer Smith deals with are good people, 20% would bend the rules if they thought no one was looking. The last 10% are just poachers.

Hmmm....I'm no math prodigy but....

I feel bad poking a little bit of fun at the officer here, but really? Anyway, I better get back at it. This might take awhile.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Til Death Do Us Part- A Deer Poaching Story

Sometimes I just plain don't understand people. This little, elderly, balding man fell into that category. All I know, is by the time I heard my neighboring officer fill me in on "Bob's" (fake name to protect the idiot)background, I REALLY wanted to pinch him for spotlighting.

Turn's out that Bob found himself in a bit of hot water about five years ago. At that time my neighboring officer cited him for killing a deer over bait (illegal in this state). My neighbor (I will call him "Scott") received a tip from Bob's WIFE that Bob had poached a deer.

When Scott was telling me this story, I was a little surprised that Bob's wife had turned him in. Ex-wives and  ex-girlfriends make pretty good witnesses, but rarely current wives. So I asked Scott if Bob and his wife ("Nancy") were still married. Scott replied, "Nope. Nancy died 3 weeks after she turned him in."

Now I was interested.

Here is the story:

The one thing that Nancy took pleasure in was feeding "her deer" a bucket-full of corn every day. She filled her bucket, took it out to the backyard and scattered it around. The deer would come into the yard every day and devour the corn while she watched from the kitchen window. She LOVED the deer. But especially loved a small doe that she had nicknamed "Sweety". Sweety was especially trusting, and was never spooked if Nancy decided to step out onto the back porch to watch her eat the corn.

One day Bob decided that he wanted to kill a deer. He is the type of guy who always obtained the really cheap "landowner" licenses. And he was known to spotlight deer at night by driving around his cornfield and shining a beam out the window. My neighbor Scott had been working on him ever since receiving a call from one of his neighbors a few years back, but so far hadn't had luck catching him hunting by artificial light.

I'm sure you have guessed the end of the story by now, so I will cut to the chase. Bob decided to step out onto the back porch one day while Sweety was partaking of Nancy's corn, and put a slug through her head. Nancy was walking into the kitchen when she heard the shot. She was upset (to say the least) and called Scott to report the poaching.

Scott arrived at the house to find Sweety hanging from the tree in the front yard with Bob's landowner tag attached to her leg. He went to the door and found a haggard, gaunt, tired-looking woman with tears in her eyes. She led Scott to the attic where she had hidden Bob's still-loaded Remington 870. She handed it over to him and told him the details of the incident.

Nancy went on to tell Scott that she had been diagnosed three months prior with terminal cancer. The doctors had given her just a few months to live. Feeding Sweety and the other deer was truly the one thing she lived for each day. Her husband took away the one pleasure she had left in life.

Turns out the doctors were right. She died from cancer three weeks after the poaching incident.

After Scott told me told me this story I started to think a lot about marriage, love and human decency. What could have been so wrong, that this man would kill his dying wife's "pet" deer. It is one of the saddest things I have ever heard. And it seems to run much deeper than my husband "Red's" assessment that "He must not have liked her much."

Scott and I sat on top of a hill overlooking Bob's cornfield and watched him pull out of his driveway and slowly drive around the field. We could see his head crane from side to side, obviously on the lookout for deer. But, it was still light enough that he didn't break out the spotlight, and didn't kill a deer. Scott assured me that it is just a matter of time before he catches him. I just hope I am there when he does.

I just don't get it.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Note on Home Decor

Ok, so maybe there is something wrong with me. But, I left for work last Saturday morning, and stopped home for lunch later on to discover that "Red" had taken on some home decorating. Usually it is my territory. When we were married, most of his things ended up in a box stashed in a storage room. And yes, I admit I have made sneaky little trips to the storage room to rid our house of some of his So far he hasn't noticed.

Cruel you say? Maybe. But ignorance is bliss. Anyway, I stopped home for lunch and found that he had added this to our wall:

And I admit. I like it.

Red has built three such kayaks. The one on the wall is mine. He is a superb woodworker and really it deserves to be someplace better than hanging in the garage. Obviously the water would be the ideal place for it, but it might as well be stored where it can be shown off. It is a work of art- to me at least.

You see, I am a little picky about home decoration, so this was a bold move for my man of few words. I may be one of the only game wardens (and I hope I don't offend anyone here) that doesn't allow taxidermied things on my walls. Nothing against anyone who does like deer heads, stuffed fish etc on their walls (or I would be putting down virtually all of my friends)...I just prefer "different" things. For some reason, the idea of a deer head poking out of the wall really seems odd to me. Maybe if it was the whole deer it would seem less weird, I don't know. But we aren't going to go there. So, as it is, poor Red has some antlers in a box, and his "wildlife art", mostly obtained from various banquet auctions, in the guest bedroom.

I admit- I've grown weary of wildlife art. Maybe it is because I have attended so many banquets (Whitetails Unlimited, Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, etc etc), that after a while, the art starts to look the same. There are only so many prints of deer with enormous antlers, and turkeys in full strut (amidst a forest floor full of morels and Dutchman's Breeches) that I can look at before I get the urge to throw darts at them. Again, no offense.

So, the kayak was a good choice. It is unique. It is handmade by my dear husband, and it has some stories behind it. Not to mention, it is usable. Other artwork that graces our house are paintings done by my mother (an artist), drawings done by me, lots of photographs, lots of bookshelves, driftwood, some stones and fossils and a giant mess of toddler toys.

So...what is your favorite decoration in your house?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Preschooler Induced Nostalgia- A list of 22

Ok, this blog is supposed to be about being a game warden AND being a mommy. So, I thought it was time for a mommy post. My daughter had me thinking about this...

Being a mother to a preschool age child means many things. It means cracking up when they say something silly, or feeling helpless when they are sick. It means exasperation. You learn that there was a whole new level of humbleness that you were not aware existed before. And of course it means a whole mess of bodily fluids--snotty noses constantly gooping, midnight bed-wetting accidents, and more puke than you care to think about. It means worry, and more worry and worrying some more.

But the biggest gift my preschooler has given me are short, vivid moments of pure nostalgia. She makes me remember what it was like when I was four years old. Witnessing the way a preschooler thinks, reminds you that you used to think that way too.

Before I go any further...I must show off my four year old daughter "Chatterbox". Here is a photo I took of her just the other day:

If you don't mind me saying so, I think she is a beauty. But behind those little eyes, that brain of hers is in overdrive. And though her mouth is closed in this picture, this is usually not the case (hence the nickname "Chatterbox"). She is a pistol and a wildflower and I love her more than I thought possible.

Watching her grow up and listening to her thoughts reminds me what it was like when:

1. Going to the grocery store was not a chore that needed finishing. It was fun. It was time spent alone withm mom. It was all about heading straight for the cereal aisle and looking for the box offering the best prize regardless of calories or sugar content.

2. There was nothing better than getting permission to go outside after dark, past bedtime, in pajamas to run around and catch lightning bugs.

3. The only use for money was to listen to it plink into the bottom of my piggy bank.

4. Women became mothers merely because they wished really hard to have a baby.

5. There was absolutely no concept that the world was round, that there was war, that there was famine, that some people were evil, that the people I loved would die someday, and that it was not a given that tomorrow would be just as good as today.

6. Going to "school" meant entering a colorful place filled with the smell of paint, crayons, and Scholastic book orders. Where teachers read stories, and passed out snacks, and where it was fun to take part in show and tell. Where there weren't rich kids, or poor kids, black or white kids, fat kids or skinny kids, smart kids or slow kids- there are only "our friends".

7. No matter what, it was safe when lying between mommy and daddy in bed.

8. Someone would bring  "just one more drink" every night after getting tucked in.

9. There wasn't laziness, or bad headaches or too many chores to prevent playing outside. The answer was always "yes". 

10. It was the best feeling in the world to cross the monkey bars the whole way all by myself.

11. Mom and dad always knew the answer. And they could fix absolutely anything.

12. Looks were not important. Clothes were not important as long as my new tennis shoes made me run fast, and panties were pretty enough to show off to strangers.

10. The best part about vacation was swimming in the hotel pool and sharing a bed with mommy.

11. Going for a walk didn't have anything to do with exercise.

12. There were no reservations about believing that a fat man would squeeze down the chimney and deliver toys.

13. Bedtime stories

14. There was no shame in answering "Dish washer" or "be a dog" to the question about possible future careers. 

15. Streaking naked through the house after a bath was acceptable.

16. Using imagination was an every day occurrence.

17. It wasn't necessary to "fit in" with anything.

18. No days were thought of as "wasted"

19. Looking at the pictures and inventing a story were just as good as actually reading it.

20. Someone would hold your hair while you threw up and bring you 7-up and Ritz Crackers with peanut butter when you started to get your appetite back (while you watched Brady Bunch).

21. There was no comprehension that someday you would move out of your parent's house.

22. All you felt, all the time, was unconditional love.

A Word to the Wise

I'm glad to see that almost everyone here shared my thoughts regarding this "accident". Working alone all the time, sometimes I question my own perspective.

The first thing that struck me when I arrived on the scene were the small children watching tv in one of the houses. ALL I could think about was, "What if..." If I had been their mother, I doubt I would've slept that night. Living in town, I'm sure it is easy to take your safety for granted, at least in terms of hunting accidents.

I was also rather irritated that the hunter immediately dismissed his own actions. He excused them because of the distance. And actually, another officer that came to assist me that day also dismissed his actions. That day the officer said to me, "Well, you don't have anything- he was outside 200 yards." My immediate thoughts were, "But wait...that doesn't seem right".

We teach not to shoot at deer (or anything) that is running up a hill or standing at the top of a hill. Why? Because you don't know what may be coming up the other side. We teach to look beyond your target. Either the hunter didn't pay any attention to what was beyond his target, or he just didn't think his 12 ga. Remington 870 would shoot a slug that far. Well, guess what...a word to the wise- if you lob a slug at an angle, it goes a hell of a long ways.

I told the hunter that he was lucky he didn't kill someone in the process of discovering how far a slug will travel. At that distance it still packed enough punch to go through the siding and shower wall of one house, and the window and drywall of the next house.

And, lastly...if you haven't hit the deer in the first four shots, what are the chances you are going to hit it with a Hail Mary fifth shot? I'd say the chances are slim.

So, I made an appointment with the county attorney. After describing the incident to him, and letting him research "case law" he decided that he didn't feel comfortable prosecuting a "reckless" charge. Careless? Stupid? Yes. But "Reckless", no. Unfortunately sometimes the law works against us. Because of the definition of "reckless" he didn't think he could get a conviction. But my opinion is...isn't it worth a try?

Another word to the is pretty easy to blame law enforcement sometimes. Why didn't the cop arrest the guy? Why didn't the game warden charge him with this or that? Sometimes it is out of our hands. My county attorneys office is a never-ending source of frustration for me. If I moved one county east or west, they would prosecute, but not here. The county attorney only wants to take time with cases he is sure to win. I guess I realize they are busy with big deal things like murder and rape, but it would still be nice to have fish and game stuff taken seriously for once.

So, if your house is on the edge of town, I guess I would take the sarcastic "advice" of one of the commenters and outfit it a blaze orange vest.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

To Charge or Not to Charge

Luckily, so far (knock on wood), this hunting season has been pretty uneventful as far as accidents are concerned. I have had exactly one (knock on wood some more) accident to investigate. But this one simple property damage did leave me with a little dilema. "To charge or not to charge.."

In this accident two separate homes were shot with two different shotgun slugs. Five people had been hunting a section on the outskirts of a small town, which consists mostly of large, expensive new homes--urban sprawl to the two cities situated on either side.

Usually in these types of accidents I never find out who the shooter was. The home owners arrive home after the fact to discover holes in their houses. But this time one of the home owners was home at the time the house took the slug (luckily the person was in the room next to the one that was shot). So, as soon as the houses were shot, the hunters were gathered up by the sheriff's department and were waiting for me at a house down the road from those that were shot.

I pulled up to talk to the hunters. They had already determined who the shooter was- a man in his fifties. The first thing he said to me was, "I didn't see any houses. We were a quarter mile away! How was I supposed to know?" His story was that he was shooting at a deer that was running up a hill (in the direction of the housing development).

We went to the spot where he was when he took five shots at the running deer. The empty casings lay on the ground 450 yards from the first of the victim's homes. BUT, the rooftops of the houses WERE visible from the shooting location. When I pointed this out to the shooter he said, "Yeah, I guess so."

Next I went to the houses that were hit. The first house took a slug through the siding, through the shower wall and  landed in the middle of the bathroom floor. Thankfully, the elderly woman who was home at the time happened to be in the neighboring room (though she told me that she had been in the bathroom a lot that day working on cleaning it).

The other home was shot through the bedroom. The slug burst through the bedroom window located above the bed and lodged in a wall on the other side of the room. Nobody was home at this house, but by the time I arrived, they were home- a family of four with two small children.

So, the charge or not to charge. In this state you have to discharge a firearm outside of 200 yards if you do not have permission to be closer, so the hunter was legal in that sense. The only option I had was "Reckless discharge of a firearm."

So, you tell me, is it reckless to discharge a firearm at a deer that is running up a hill when you are 450 yards from a home?

I will tell you in my next post what the county attorney told me.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Slueth Answer

This was great! You answers were all very good. I especially like Brookfield Angler's guess of a "treasure map" or the "fountain of youth". Steve gets the award for the most detailed description- "residue traces of medicinal marijuana, bottle opener, 3 bottle caps and an electric bill to a nearby trailer court with the owner's name and address" (I wish). My all time favorite though comes from Kirk..."Hello Kitty stuff". I think it is my favorite because I am impressed that he knows such a thing as Hello Kitty exists.

But the award to the most accurate guesses belong to those of you who guessed drugs. Actually, there were no actual drugs, just this:

A nice bong made from sockets...very creative...and a corn-cob pipe (and a button nose and two eyes made out of coal).

I must admit I had visions of a stolen gun, or maybe a safe full of drugs. But most of all I wanted a box full of photos of these little &^%^$#$ shooting the pelican that we found full of shotgun pellets a few days ago near this spot.

Someone already asked how we are going to catch them. Good question. The answer is, we probably won't. But we did set up a trail cam. Here is one of the Corps rangers setting it up (can you see it?):

So, I guess we will see what happens. Thanks for all your answers!!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Slueths Wanted

Business was a little slow today. It was 65 degrees. This worries me a little because in this part of the country it should be about -6 degrees. But rest assured, one of the Corps of Engineers Rangers I helped today told me that the warm weather wasn't due to the global warming I was fretting over. No, it was because she purchased a brand new snowblower, so therefore, there will be no snow.

Which brings me to today's activity. I helped out the Rangers with some suspicious activity on the federal property. It seems people have been joy-riding and partying/camping in areas in which it is illegal to do so. Crime of the century? No, but it is still frustrating that whoever is doing this feels that it is completely ok to mow their own private paths for atvs:

And camp, and build bonfires:

And of course we found a bunch of beer cans, litter and other stuff:

And WAAAY back in the weeds and prickly bushes we found this:

Here is a closer look:

Yep. It is a safe. And of course it was locked. So...I thought it would be fun to take some guesses from everyone to see if anyone can guess what was inside (after we busted it open with a pry bar and hammer).
What do you think? Write your guess in the comments section!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Monkeys and Goats and Monkeys and Goats

I made the mistake of answering my phone. I thought perhaps someone had a quick law question, or wanted to know when the next hunter safety course would be. Instead I was on the phone for thirty minutes with Linda. The conversation was very random, and I had a hard time deciphering what exactly my role would be in the outcome. Here were some of her complaints:

Her neighbors were:

1. Stealing her goats.
2. Butchering her goats.
3. Shooting guns at the "bus" parked in her yard.
4. Trapping deer.
5. Shining her house. And deer. And her goats.
6. Harrassing her goats.
7. Building the fence on their property higher than is allowed by law. 8. Stealing "things" from her yard.
9. Moving "things" around in her yard.
10. Making her feel like she is crazy.

Sometime amidst her stream of complaints (mainly to get her off the phone) I told her I would come over and take a look at her property.

A few days later I called up a neighboring officer and asked him to come along with me to see Linda's place. I told him that I was questioning her sanity, but thought I could use a witness second opinion. And I promised to buy him lunch.

We arrived at Linda's place to find her not at home at the scheduled time. So, we got out of the truck and the first thing my partner said was, "Oh Boy". That about summed it up.

Let me paint a picture: there was a house that had been added on to, which had been added on to, which had been added on to; the windows of the house were boarded up; there was a chain link fence surrounding the property, though parts of it were collapsing so someone had MacGyvered the situation by stringing along black netting (like that you put on a dog kennel) to fill in the holes; there was a bus full (and I mean FULL) of rusted out random junk, trash and garbage her possessions; the yard hadn't seen the blades of a lawn mower in years (ever); there were piles of refuse more possessions scattered randomly around the yard; you get the idea. In other words, I was a little frightened of walking about the property for fear of falling down a hidden cavern full of goats (because I certainly couldn't see any on her property anywhere else).

As we were standing there aghast inspecting her property, Linda arrived. It is hard to sum up the following conversation except to say that numerous times she stated, "I know I sound crazy...I do. I know I sound crazy- but it is the neighbors that are making me seem like it." and "I know the place is a little bit of a mess, but it is hard to clean it up when you are being harrassed by the neighbors." and "the sheriff is out here all the time. You can talk to them. They will tell you I'm not crazy."

Long story short...I did some checking. I checked the backgrounds and hunting history of her neighbors. There wasn't any background of having had hunting licenses, which after much checking, I surmised it was because they weren't hunters. In my experience, most "poachers" are smart enough to buy a hunting license.

Then I called a friend sheriff's deputy. I only had to say Linda's address and the deputy said, "You mean the monkey lady?"
"The what?"
"The monkey lady. And the goat lady. She had so many monkeys in her house that we had to remove her from the house. The septic system was overloaded."
"From the monkeys? So the monkeys were using the toilets?"
"I guess so. She has been in and out of the mental ward for years."

Upon hearing this I started to laugh....then later it dawned on me- it was sad. I drove by her place later that day and found her sitting in her truck in the yard, watching the neighbors house. I counted my blessings and hoped that my children will never have to deal with a mental illness.

From then on, whenever I drive by her place- I'm reminded how lucky I have been. And I try to get a glance over her fence to make sure nobody is butchering her can never be too sure.

Help Me Grow!

Photo of the Day: Twisting Tree
 As you can see, I'm trying to grow some changes to improve my blog. I've added a couple of pages and moved stuff around.

I feel it is important to try to be a well rounded person. Sometimes for people who work in law enforcement (especially a job where you don't work a shift and therefore bring your job home with you), it is easy for your life to revolve around work. I want to incorporate some of my other interests into this blog...reading, photography and art among others. Please feel free to add comments or make book suggestions. I'm always looking for a good read!

You have no idea how much I appreciate those of you who regularily follow my blog (as irregular as my blog has been). Reading your comments is the highlight of my day sometimes. I wish I could get a few more followers, though I am not quite sure how (hint hint).

Wishing all of you a great day!

Fish Cop

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Happy to Be Here

Photo of the Day: taken this morning-frost crystals
It was late October when I was driving through a state wildlife area in my territory. I noticed a black pickup parked in one of the parking lots, so I pulled in to see if I could decipher the activity of the owner based on the contents of his vehicle.

I hopped out of my truck and was walking towards the black pickup when I saw someone coming out of the woods nearby, carrying a shotgun. As he approached, the man greeted me with a friendly wave, and a "Good Morning Ma'am,". Sometimes when people call me Ma'am I am suspicious (the cynical side of me) that they are being overly friendly for a reason- like they are trying to hide the fact that they are indeed a dirtbag. But not this guy. His eyes were bright and kind-a true gentleman. The man was wearing camo pants and an old camo coat with a flannel shirt peeking out from the collar. He appeared to be in his late fifties.

We had a nice chat about the weather, and his lack of luck trying to get a fall turkey. Eventually the conversation lulled and the man chuckled and said, "Well, I suppose you came to check my license, not just listen to me talk. I've got a lifetime license (which means he had to be over 65 years old)" as he reached into his pocket to dig out his wallet. Because there is rarely a point in looking at someone's license when they actually offer to show it to you, I told him that I was really just interested in how his hunt went, and he needn't fish through his wallet and freeze his fingertips. The gentleman laughed and said, "Please let me show it to you- it will make it worth my money."

I obliged and took his license. Not paying much attention to the details aside from noticing that it was an old license, still the hand-written variety which isn't too common anymore.  I thanked him and wished his luck in the rest of his day. And that is when he said lightly, "Oh, I really don't care if I get anything. At my age, I'm just happy to be anywhere! I turn 88 years old next month."


He went on to tell me that he a few years back he had decided that he probably wouldn't do too much hunting anymore, so he sold his nice collection of guns to a young man and was left with an old, junky single shot. But he didn't mind. Mr. 88 told me that he planned on heading home for a bite of lunch and then he would see where the day led him after that. The game plan for the next day (unless the wind was still whipping) was to take his canoe out on the marsh to see if he could shoot a duck or two.

I think I have a crush on an 88 year old man... or at least his attitude and outlook on life (though he was damn good looking for 88!). I complimented him on his ability to keep himself active and outside. Even though I am not 88 (I certainly hope to get there eventually), he demonstrated one of the great lessons we can all learn from: Take it one day at a time. Find the good in each day. Do what you love. Don't be afraid. And be happy to be alive.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Gut Feeling

Dear My Followers,
I am so sorry for my slacking. I have a few excuses lined up to dish out...mainly my 4 year old and 2 year old, my 4 month old german shorthair, my 6 year old lab, my husband, hunting season, Christmas preparations, and did I mention hunting season?  I've been bad about posting. It is a new year, and my ambitions are high. I think I will try to add maybe a "Photo of the Day" section to this blog, starting with this one (Maple: age 4 months):

I have a few tales from this hunting season I can't wait to tell you about....

However, since reading the story last night, my mind has been with Mt Ranier National Park Service Ranger Margaret Anderson and her family. We are often notified via email regarding law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty, but for some reason this one hits home. Maybe it is because she is about my age, with two children who are the ages of my two children.

Every time I think of the events that must have taken place yesterday morning, I find myself wearing her boots and sitting in her patrol vehicle. Would I have realized the potential danger? Honestly, I don't think so. So many times we, as officers, take our safety for granted more than we should. I think this problem runs deeper for fish and game officers and park rangers. Most people we run into are decent people. Most of the time people are compliant. Unfortunately it only takes one.

Today while on patrol, I thought of Margaret and what must have been going through her mind as she set up her vehicle for a road block. Did she see the vehicle coming toward her? Did the hair on the back of her neck stand up?

I thought of her children. Did they watch their mommy get her uniform on that morning? Did they tell her they loved her? Did she tell them?

I thought of her husband. Did he hear the radio traffic? Did he hear his wife's call for help? Were his first thoughts about her or their children?

If only there was something to say to make sense out of it. There isn't. At least I can't think of anything. She should have finished our her shift. She should have gone home to her kids to make them macaroni and cheese for supper. She should have spent the first night of the new year in bed with her husband. She was a mom, and a ranger, and a wife, and it she shouldn't have been stolen from her family and ours by her random encounter with a desperate armed man.

I don't get it. And I can't stop thinking about it. All I know is that from now on I will follow my gut: no vehicle stop I make will be "routine", no person I encounter will be harmless, and every time I leave for work I will remind my daughter and son that no matter what, I love them more than they will ever know.