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Cops At Christmas

I have distinct memories of my first Christmas as a patrol officer with LCPD, working the 11PM-7AM shift. I took a couple of residential burglary reports in the early morning hours after people returned home from midnight mass and found their homes broken into and all Christmas presents stolen from under the tree. The Grinch really does exist.

A couple of hours later, around four in the morning, people living in proximity to a pecan orchard called in that they heard a woman screaming for help. I got there and found a badly beaten young woman clad only in a bra. She was on the ground and could not stand, so I wrapped her in a blanket and carried her to the patrol car. Her ex-boyfriend had asked her out on Christmas Eve on the pretext of getting back together. He took her to the orchard for sex and when she refused he beat and raped her, then threw her out of the car into the subfreezing temps. Turned out to be in the sheriff's jurisdiction and the case was handed over to them. You can still see that orchard just to the north of westbound I-10 as it crosses over the Rio Grande.

But the holidays could be fun, too. Most cops are jokesters. A cop would call in a traffic stop of a vehicle, unknown make and model, with personal license plate SANTA being pulled by reindeer and driven by an elderly male in a red suit with a white beard. Another cop would call and say he had pulled that same vehicle over earlier and given the driver a verbal warning about speeding and the illegal red light on the nose of that reindeer in front. Dispatch would play along and give a DMV return with an address in the North Pole. It was the only night of the year we could screw around on the radio and supervision ignored it.

Cops would respond to calls or make traffic stops wearing a Santa hat. And every shift has the one cop who shows up to briefing with green vegetation hanging from his gun belt, and when his fellow officers do a double-take and ask him what the heck that is hanging down the front of his trousers he says he wants to be kissed under the mistletoe. Freakin' pervs. Bad enough I have to chase them down and put handcuffs on them, now I gotta work with them, too?

New Year's Eve was also fun. On my first one, I was working what used to be called District Four and was dispatched to the intersection of Locust and Rentfrow at one in the morning. The caller had told dispatch that he had observed a naked woman riding a horse. I knew it was a prank call but can you believe that four patrol cars beat me to the scene? And it was my district! I'm sure that those cops who arrived before me were just curious about the type of horse being ridden.

New Year's Eve also meant finding a place to park just before midnight. While many people used fireworks to celebrate the new year, others thought that shooting a firearm into the air was appropriate. It sounds like a war zone. Unless we were on an emergency call, we'd park our units at bank drive-throughs and wait several minutes past midnight before pulling out. What goes up must come down.

I worked holidays as a uniformed patrolman, metro narcotics, criminal investigator, sergeant and lieutenant. It was always fun, or, I should say, it was what you made of it. Some guys bitched but most of us just took the fact that we had to work in stride and made the best of the situation. I came in one Christmas morning in the mid-90s as the dayshift lieutenant. One of my sergeants was already there making out the roster. I asked him how his Christmas was and he said okay, but didn't sound too enthusiastic. I asked him what Santa had brought hm. He responded by saying, "A shirt and a piece of ass, and they were both too big."

Merry Christmas!! I hope if you are able there is a glass of holiday cheer in your hand this evening and you are in the company of those you love.

Semper Fi.


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