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.