The Call Box

The Call Box: More Deuces Wild

By Ed Meckle, Retired LAPD

I am now three years older and smarter (?) and working Vice with my regular partner, Frank Isbell. We find ourselves behind Hollywood’s exaggerated version of a deuce: curb to curb, then on the sidewalk, slowly through a red light then stops on green where he immediately falls asleep. Needless to say, working Vice, we are “dressed down” trying not to look “cop-like.” Our car however, is the cheapest version made and wouldn’t fool a child. Yet, it fooled the deuce.

We really, really didn’t want to get involved here but you do what you gotta do. Out of the car, he is a friendly and happy drunk. He asked who we were and when told, asked, “Are you sure?”

When asked to walk the line, he got to the end and took off running, yelling for help. With him in the back seat, we pulled into the station parking lot and he asked where we were going. When told it was the police station, he asked, “Are you sure?”

We walked into the watch commander’s office to get booking approval and he told the sergeant he didn’t think we were really the police and he was being kidnapped.

jailBy now, Frank and I realize we have not only a happy drunk but also a funny one. In the small holding jail, he got serious and asked me, please, not to book him for 502 V.C. (Drunk Driving) as he had several priors. I promised I wouldn’t but told him he was being booked for 23102 V.C. I didn’t, however, tell him the vehicle code had been completely re-written. 502 had become 23102.

Then he asked the jailer who he was. His response to the jailer was, “Are you sure?”

Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings, Characters, Jimmy Long Stick

The following stories are true to the best of my memory which is considered good. That’s because I still remember to wear my own underwear and shave with the black razor not the pink one. The character is alive, retired and living under an assumed name in Idaho. Bud Arce, aka “Jimmy Long Stick.”

First, my stories.

I’m sure that most cops have been fooled by crooks but they won’t admit it to anyone. Well, I was fooled a few times but I tried not to be fooled twice by the same con.

It’s Saturday night, we see a car full of gang members conduct a California rolling stop. For my non police friends that’s rolling through a stop sign. Whatever it’s called, it’s probable cause to stop the car and see what these hombres are up to. Before the liberal courts limited what officers could do on a traffic stop, this was a free ticket to get everybody out of the car, search them for weapons and check them all for warrants. So we figure we have a good catch.

Most cops are out hunting elephants (big game) not a traffic ticket. We stop the car and the driver immediately tells us, “The guys with the guns just turned the corner. If you hurry you can catch them. They are driving a blue Chevy.”

Oh shit, bad guys with guns? We got to catch them. We jump back into our cruiser and speed around the corner. Two blocks later we figure we’ve been screwed. I had visions of these gang members driving around, laughing at the dumb cops who are chasing non-existent crooks. I spent months looking for their car.

To my credit, it was tried a half dozen other times, but I only chased the phantom men with guns once. “Bird in the hand better than two in the bush.”

Here’s a story that still haunts me.  I’m driving eastbound on Virginia Avenue from Western. It about 3 A.M. and Virginia turns into Oxford. This northbound VW comes around the corner and almost hits us. Shit, I make a quick U-turn and watch as the VW turns southbound into an alley. Damn, he’s trying to lose us. I turn into the alley and see the VW only 250 feet ahead of us. OK, we got him now!  I watch as the VW glances off a telephone pole and continues southbound. The alley runs into Flemish Lane. I’m closing and arrest is certain. The VW is slowing down and about to cross Santa Monica Boulevard.  I was relieved when it clears cross traffic and rolls up a driveway into a parking lot. The VW crashes into a parked car. We stop behind the VW and order the driver out. No response. We approach and discover the VW is now empty.

I look at my partner and he has the same “Aw shit” look on his face that I have. The driver must have bailed out in the alley before we turned into it. The suspect jumped out while it was moving and it continued through the alley and across Santa Monica Boulevard. The VW was stolen, so we have a Recovered Vehicle Report, a Traffic Accident report at two locations: once when it hit the telephone pole and the second collision when it hit the parked car. That’s it, we’re done for the rest of the night.

We finish all the reports and submit them to the Watch Commander for approval. He reads all the reports and then tells us we shouldn’t have taken the Traffic Accident reports.

He said the car crash was City Property Involved (CPI) by influence. In other words, because we were chasing this guy we sort of caused the accident. We could have saved ourselves hours of reports if we knew better. I’ll learn as you’ll see in my next story.

I’m driving southbound Western approaching Santa Monica. The car in front of me makes a left turn right through the red light. He’s weaving back and forth. He’s drunk. He is now entering the Hollywood Freeway. Damn, this guy is very drunk and now he’s going to get on the freeway. We turn on the red lights and give the siren a quick blast. Nothing, he has now accelerated to 35 mph and is weaving between two traffic lanes.

My partner picks up the microphone and says I’m putting us in pursuit. I tell him, “No wait, just say were following a possible DUI.” Once you say pursuit, a sergeant has a bunch of paperwork to complete and he won’t be happy. The entire police department will listen as you follow a drunk at 35 mph—not the stuff Joe Wambaugh writes about. So we broadcast were following, not in pursuit, of a drunk driver southbound on the Hollywood Freeway. The drunk makes it all the way to the four level interchange in downtown L.A. before he crashes. We get him out of the car and of course he’s not hurt. Drunk drivers are never hurt in crashes.

The CHP shows up and wants to know, did the drunk know you were following him? I say, “No.”  No CPI. We give the whole thing to the CHP and go have a Pinks Hot Dog.  My sergeant is happy, no pursuit report. The driver had an alcohol level of .30, almost 4 times the legal limit now.

See, sometimes I learn a lesson.

Character: Jimmy long Stick

This Hollywood Character didn’t work Hollywood for his entire career, like some of us, but he made an impression with everyone he was around. Unlike my other stories, I wasn’t present for some of these incidents but they have been passed down from different officers and are just too funny not to share.

Most of the stories I’m about to describe are true and can be verified by no less than six registered Republicans, some sober. Before the political correctness illness took over the LAPD, cops had a lot of fun while still doing a difficult job. It’s how cops deal with the horrors they see on a daily basis. Practical jokes were a way of life in the LAPD.

The first few stories involve a captain that was at Hollywood during the early 70’s. He was a drunk and often could be seen driving around Hollywood with his wife during the late night hours. I once got a call to back up the captain on Sunset Boulevard with a drunk man. My captain was wrestling this drunk in the parkway. I arrived and the captain said, “The drunk was about to stagger out into traffic.”  It was a toss-up who was drunker.

The Captain’s Office was next door to the station in the old Hollywood Receiving Hospital. The building was also the offices of Narcotics or Vice. Anyway officers would come into the building late at night and find the captain passed out in his office on the floor. I heard that Jimmy Long Stick would place a card with the date and time in front of the passed out Captain and take a picture. I believe it was called insurance.

This captain was also a smoker and was constantly patting his pockets to find his cigarette package. It was rumored that Jimmy Long Stick would place snails in his pockets and wait for him to pat his pockets.

I know there are many other Jimmy Long Stick stories but I’m going to finish up with a story that legends are made from. Jimmy Long Stick was working Hollywood Detectives and he had to go to New Mexico to pick up a couple of wanted persons. Jimmy Long Stick and Dave Lovestedt, another Hollywood character, were given the task to drive an unmarked city car to New Mexico and pick up these miscreants. They arrived the night before they were due to take the suspects back and decided to spend some of the per-diem the city gives officers for overnight extraditions.

The local constable usually shows the Detectives the town’s sights which might include a cantina or two. The sun rises and Dave Lovestedt awakes in the hotel room alone. He notices that their city car is gone as well as Jimmy Long Stick. Maybe Jimmy Long Stick went for a little food. Dave sits on the bed and turns on the TV to the local news channel. Instead of news the founding fathers parade is on the TV. Dave sits back and wondering where Jimmy Long Stick is, watches the parade.

The parade is the usual small town parade, high school band, local dignitaries, an equestrian unit or two. As the end of the parade appears on the TV, Dave sees a dark police-type car, very similar to the one they drove to New Mexico. Dave leans forward and watch’s as the TV camera zooms in on the last entry in the parade. That’s right it’s Jimmy Long Stick, leaning out the car window, waving to the crowd. True story.

Your probably wondering why Bud Arce was called Jimmy Long Stick. I was wondering the same thing so I asked him. After a distinguished career with the LAPD, Bud Arce retired and moved to Idaho. Now Bud is half-Mexican and it was easier to blend in as a native Indian than Mexican. So Bud Arce became “Jimmy Long Stick.”

Bud Arce, another Hollywood Character.

More Street Stories

Why people see cops as ‘arrogant’



Reposted from and

For cops, letting down one’s guard is a good way to get yourself or someone else hurt or killed

A question posted recently on Quora .com asked, “Why do police officers often come across as arrogant?” Former Patrol Officer Justin Freeman gave his opinion in an imaginary conversation with an average civilian.

Because they have different priorities than you do.

Humans, like most everything else in the universe, seek to maintain a sense of equilibrium in things. This is true for not just matters of physiology, but for social interactions, as well. Think about the interactions you have on a daily basis: In most all of them, you enter an interaction with at least a neutral mindset and perhaps even an assumption of goodwill. When one wakes up next to their partner, they don’t harbor an innate suspicion about the partner’s motives — they assume that the partner is as good-willed as they were when they fell asleep, and their interactions proceed founded on this assumption.

Or think about your interactions at work. Absent narcissism or self-deprecation, when you go into a job, you default to considering your peers as more or less equal. Of course, as time wears on you begin to categorize people, but those initial interactions will be civil and respectful, because that’s what’s expected — that is the silent understanding wrought by the norms of your workplace.


Okay, Richard Gere isn't a real cop but I got your attention, didn't I? His expression could easily be interpreted as "arrogant."
Okay, Richard Gere isn’t a real cop but I got your attention, didn’t I? His expression could easily be interpreted as “arrogant.”

A Day in the Life of an Officer
Now, think about the workday of a police officer. Her job assignments consist, primarily, of being dispatched to successive 911 calls. When someone calls 911 for police service, there is a tacit admission by the caller that the situation at hand has deteriorated beyond his or her control, and police are needed in order to bring the situation back under control. That is the unstated assumption that the officer has going into each situation — not that a social equilibrium needs to be maintained, but that a situation needs to be quickly and efficiently brought back under control.

Further than this, when she gets to the scene of many to most of these 911 calls, she encounters people who seek to frustrate her endeavors.

She talks to witnesses who lie in circles about not seeing anything.

She talks to suspects who lie about where they’d just been or what they were just doing.

She talks to drunk people who can’t coordinate themselves and won’t remember what she said in ten minutes’ time.

She talks to addicts who try to conceal the fact that they’re high even though involuntary tics have consumed their body.

She talks to grade school kids and teenagers who have been conditioned to mistrust or despise police.

She talks to people who lie about their identity because they have warrants or because they just want to frustrate her.

She talks to people who act nervous and take too long to answer simple questions, raising her suspicions.

She talks to people who have drugs, guns, knives, and any manner of other contraband hidden in their residence, in their vehicle, or on their person.

Now consider that the officer is doing this many times per shift — ten, twenty, maybe more encounters every day. She will quickly learn that, in order to get anything accomplished with these liars and obstructionists, she is going to have to employ tactics that in any other field would be unacceptable. She is going to have to be blunt, brusque and curt. She’s going to have to call bluffs and smokescreens and BS. She’s going to have to interrupt rambling, circular explanations. She’s going to have to look people in the eye and say, “We both know that you’re lying to me right now.”

And through it all, she will begin to develop the opposite assumption from the freshly roused partner and the guy at the water cooler — work interactions are not among peers, and people are likely not worthy of implicit trust.

Enter, You
Now, you, who I will assume is a normal, everyday citizen, comes into contact with this police officer. Even though she can probably surmise that you’re not a frequent flyer, she doesn’t know you and doesn’t enter into interpersonal contact with the same assumptions you do. Additionally, if she’s in uniform it’s possible she has a task at hand she’s focused on. Until you are a known quantity, you may be treated coolly and humorlessly.

Now, let’s take a step back. You, the partner and/or co-worker, interprets the response of this police officer through the lens of your expectations, and judge her to be arrogant. I mean, after all, she’s acting all distant and aloof and snobby, right? However, your assessment is based on your interaction in a vacuum, and likely doesn’t factor in much of anything I just said. That doesn’t mean either one of you is “wrong.” You’re coming from different places.

In closing, I’d bid you to be forgiving. This officer cannot afford to give people the benefit of the doubt, because there are only so many people you can relax your guard around in her line of work before she gets herself or someone else hurt or killed. Be gracious to her, for her burden is great.


About the author
“The Question” section brings together user-generated articles from our Facebook page based on questions we pose to our followers, as well as some of the best content we find on

, a question-and-answer website created, edited and organized by its community of users who are often experts in their field. The site aggregates questions and answers for a range of topics, including public safety. The questions and answers featured here on P1 are posted directly from Quora, and the views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of P1.

More Street Stories Tales from the Barking Muse

Man Down

By Gerry Goldshine

Very early in my police career, one of my training officers hammered home a crucial aspect of officer safety. When an encounter devolves into a physical altercation and fists are flying, it is essential to remember there is always at least one gun available to the attacker and that’s my own gun. This is one of the primary reasons that when an officer becomes embroiled in a fight, as Hal so eloquently stated it in one of his recent stories, “we don’t fight fair—we fight to win as fast as possible.” There is no greater mortal fear than having a suspect gain control of your weapon. When that happens, the outcome is usually fatal to one or both parties involved and perhaps others as well. This is why an officer treats every fight as being for all the marbles.

Front lawn at Petaluma Valley Hospital
Front lawn at Petaluma Valley Hospital

One fall evening, dispatch sent me to check a report of a man down in front of Petaluma Valley Hospital. When I got there, I found a young man, who appeared to be in his early twenties, lying on the grass right by the hospital’s sign. He had no obvious injuries that I could see and though he seemed conscious, he was unresponsive to any external stimulus. I didn’t smell any odor that would indicate he was drunk, so that left some type of medical, mental or pharmaceutical issue. As the saying goes, “The lights were on but nobody was home.” I requested an ambulance to have the paramedics evaluate him.

Once they got there and checked the young man, they radioed the Emergency Room to consult with the on-duty physician. Since it was unclear what was causing his condition, we loaded him into the ambulance. All these years later, I can’t recall precisely why, but I locked up my patrol car and rode in back of the ambulance while it covered the short distance to the back of the hospital, where the ER entrance was located. As safety protocol dictated, the paramedics restrained him to the gurney with its safety belts. No sooner had the back doors to the ambulance closed and we got underway than the kid began trashing about and let loose a series of inhuman shrieks. I had seen this sort of reaction in people with severe head trauma but there wasn’t a mark on him.  

Suddenly, he did a great impression of King Kong, ripping free one of the gurney straps from its anchor point. I immediately suspected he might be on PCP, a very nasty drug that hyper stimulates you, often instilling unbridled aggression and super-natural strength. In seconds, he freed his other arm and began swinging wild punches at us while trying to free his legs from the other straps. Much of what happened in those next few moments is still a bit of a blur. I vaguely recall hearing the driver call for more police units. I remember being alarmed at the number of things in the ambulance he could use as weapons. I was about to find that was the least of my worries.

Petaluma Fire Department ambulance
Petaluma Fire Department ambulance

My adrenaline spiked after when a well-placed kick connected, bouncing me off one of the equipment cabinets. An instant later, he was tugging on my Beretta, trying to pull it out from the holster. Words cannot convey to you what I felt at that moment. In a flash, everything appeared to be moving in slow motion. I was experiencing time compression, a phenomenon that frequently occurs in such critical incidents. I realized that not only was my life in danger but so were those of both paramedics; I was responsible for their safety. As my mind raced to formulate a strategy, instinct and training took over. I yelled a warning that he was trying to pull my gun from my holster. The driver slammed on the brakes thinking that would be helpful. All it did was add to the chaos. The ensuing tangle of bodies eliminated any chance of reaching my back-up gun in my ankle holster.

Thankfully, I was wearing a state of the art safety holster, designed to prevent someone from pulling my pistol out, particularly from the front, which was exactly what he was trying to do. That bought me time. I don’t recall making the conscious decision to do so but I put all of my 140 pounds of brawn behind a punch that I delivered to the left side of his jaw. It was the first time I had ever punched someone in the face and it stunned him just enough that he released his grip on my gun. All three of us piled on top of him and held him down on the gurney. About then, the back doors opened and two more officers jumped inside. The five of us quickly trussed him up better than any Thanksgiving turkey, using every strap we could find.

He was still shrieking and violently thrashing about when we delivered him to the ER a few minutes later. The doctor put him in a darkened, quiet room, still strapped to the gurney. Reducing all external stimuli was the recommended way to treat someone reacting violently to PCP. I honestly don’t recall what happened to him after that.

Fortunately, I had a hell of a good Sergeant that night. He had me park my car at the hospital and then drove us to Denny’s. I had a very bad case of motor mouth – I couldn’t stop talking and my hands shook seeming to move about of their own volition. It took a while for all that adrenaline to bleed off. I was also lucky in that I was about to go on my days off. With that in mind, my Sergeant told me to write up my report of the incident and then go home; he would take care of everything else. Three days later, I was back on the job.

So yes, when cops fight, the Marquis of Queensbury rules go out the window. Absent a Taser, the most effective and safest tactic to neutralize a physically combative suspect is pretty much along the lines of General Schwarzkopf’s  strategy in the first Gulf War; use overwhelming numerical superiority to make the opponent realize his position is untenable and more importantly, unwinnable.

Tales from the Barking Muse

The Fairer Sex? A Lesson Learned

The Fairer Sex? A Lesson Learned

By Gerry Goldshine


As a Baby Boomer, I came of age in the late nineteen-sixties and early seventies, fully cognizant of the upheaval in traditional roles, as women fought anew for equal rights. All too often, I found myself disgusted at the misogynistic response by members of my gender. Though in full agreement with feminist ideals and equality for women, my thinking was none-the-less colored by a touch of traditional male chivalry. By that I mean, I stood when a woman entered a room, I held the car door open for my dates and above all, I firmly abided by the coda that a man never physically assaults or harms a woman. However, I was rather quickly and quite pointedly disabused of that last notion during my first month of field training as a Deputy with the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office that.

My FTO (Field Training Officer) and I were working Swing Shift and assigned to the Roseland beat area. Roseland is an unincorporated part of Sonoma County, southwest of the City of Santa Rosa. It is considered an “active” beat, just the sort of locale for a rookie to gain a wealth of experience. On a lovely spring night, while driving by a school, we spotted a disheveled woman, staggering haphazardly along on the sidewalk. She was clearly under the influence of some type of intoxicating substance. As I was in the very early part of the Field Training program, my FTO was handling most of the tasks and my job was to learn from his example. By the time we notified dispatch that we were going to contact this person and stopped our patrol car, the fair maiden had fallen upon her fundament, spilling the contents of her threadbare purse in the process. There, amongst her wallet, empty pill bottles, used Kleenex, miscellaneous feminine hygiene products and keys were several hypodermic syringes, a dirty blackened spoon and a wad of cotton. That partially explained the reason for her inebriated condition. Above the mix of “quaint” odors emanating from her person, I could easily smell the odor of many consumed alcoholic beverages. Drugs AND alcohol; swell. Then, much to my surprise, my FTO gestured to her and told me, “Go hook her up.”

Drunk woman
Drunk woman

This would be my first arrest as a Deputy. I dutifully explained to her that she was under arrest for public intoxication and illegal possession of hypodermic syringes. I told her to put her hands behind her, moved in smartly and took one of her arms to place her in a control hold. Though quite pickled, she quickly made it obvious that she had other ideas; none of them included complying with a rookie sheriff’s deputy and going to jail. Responding to me with a hail and hearty, “Fuck you, asshole!” she swung her free arm in a wide arc, just missing my head. From that point, as they say, the fight was on. So, with my FTO looking on rather bemusedly, I went through a repertoire of control holds, none of which worked as they did in the academy – big surprise there, right? Then I tried bringing her down to the ground. Considering her indelicate state of balance, that shouldn’t have been a problem, except when she realized what I was trying to do, she became possessed of stability rivaling that of the Flying Wallendas. After about five of these fun filled minutes had passed, I grew weary of this dance; after dodging loads of wildly swung haymakers, well aimed furious kicks towards my groin and the occasional attempt at a bite, I looked at my FTO, expecting some type of help or suggestions.

He merely cocked an eyebrow and said, “You know, we do have other things to do tonight. Stop playing around and arrest her.”

I can’t imagine why that response would tend piss me off but anger led to one of those defining moments of clarity; I suddenly focused in on the knot of her pony-tail. With little tactical forethought, I quickly grabbed it and holding it tightly, I pulled her down to the ground. Once there, I immediately put a knee in her back to hold her still and quickly completed handcuffing her. Well before Kevin Costner said it to Al Pacino in the “Untouchables”, my FTO reacted to my triumph by slowly clapping his hands and saying, “Here endeth the lesson.” Now deigning to help me, my FTO and I “delicately” placed her squirming, struggling form into the backseat of our car; as we headed to the jail, I considered what I had learned.

Rather stupidly, on some now unfathomable level, I had expected this drug-addled, intoxicated flower of feminity to behave in a genteel, lady-like manner when faced with the prospect of going to jail rather than reacting like one of the mythical Furies. The most extreme hazardous point of any police-suspect encounter are those very first few seconds when an officer is effecting an arrest and moving in to handcuff a suspect. No one wants to be denied their freedom. Fear brings out adrenaline which brings about unpredictable responses. The meek can explode like hellions possessed while brawny behemoths fold like a house of cards. In not taking decisive, forthright action the moment I went to handcuff this woman, I placed myself into serious jeopardy.

While there may still be a time and place for chivalry, arresting a drunk drug addled woman is inarguably not one of them.  Had she been an obnoxious, slovenly drunken man, I would not have hesitated in applying escalating force, resorting to perhaps CS spray (a tearing agent) or if necessary, my baton the second I met physical resistance and other less “forceful” tactics were not working. Equal opportunity applies to arrest situations. Over the ensuing years, I have been kicked, slapped and spat upon during the course of arresting combative members of the so-called “fairer sex”. One demure, 54 year old grandmother, drunk and resisting arrest while squabbling with another patron on the floor of a local tavern, grabbed one of my legs and sank her teeth into my calf. It took three other officers assisting me to pry her loose.

At the start of each of these encounters, I always recalled the lesson I learned in Roseland that spring day, now so many years ago. The ancient Greek poet, Homer, perhaps put it better when he wrote, “Oh, woman, woman! When to ill thy mind is bent, all Hell contains no fouler fiend.”

As they say in these contemporary times, “Word”.

Traffic Officer Gerry Goldshine circa 1985
Traffic Officer Gerry Goldshine circa 1985

Gerry was born in Providence, Rhode Island but raised in Southern California. 

Upon graduating from California State University, Los Angeles, Gerry enlisted in

the Army and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant. After leaving active duty

in 1979, he worked for Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office. From 1980 until his retirement

Writer's Notes

Under the Affluence of Incahol

Under the Affluence of Incahol

Guest Post by Gerry Goldshine

The one thing that police officers can count on coming across at least once during a shift is someone under the influence of alcohol, otherwise known as “The Drunk”. The over consumption and abuse of alcohol is a serious problem in this country. According to the National Institute of Health, 17.6 million adults are alcoholics or have serious drinking issues. The US Department of Justice says that alcohol is a factor in over 40% of violent crimes and where domestic abuse has occurred, that figure jumps to over 90%. One third of all traffic fatalities involve someone driving while intoxicated. Most of my Law Enforcement career was in Traffic; that included traffic accident reconstruction, traffic law enforcement as well as the detection and apprehension of intoxicated drivers. Of all the traffic fatalities I investigated, only 6 did not involve someone who had consumed alcoholic beverages. Consequently, I developed quite a knack for spotting the inebriated motorist and getting them off the road. While I want to clearly acknowledge that the abuse of alcoholic beverages is a serious issue, not to mention the deadly ramifications that result when a motor vehicle is involved, some of the most memorable and often humorous encounters I had as a police officer came about during an arrest of a suspected drunk driver.

Since I’m going to be talking about Driving Under the Influence (also known as Driving While Intoxicated and abbreviated as either DUI or DWI) it would usually follow that some aberration in how a person was driving caught my attention. I say “usually” because there were occasions when I came upon a car completely stopped in the middle of a street, engine running and no obvious malfunctions that would explain why the. More often than not, these sort of occurrences happened around 2:30 in the morning, which is shortly after the bars and clubs in town closed. Since a car stopped in the middle of a main thoroughfare is a clear traffic hazard, especially if it is within an intersection, I needed to check and see if anything were amiss. I’d pull in behind it and turn on my patrol car’s emergency lights to warn other vehicles. As I made my approach to the car, invariably I would see that the driver was staring straight ahead, his face a mask of intense concentration almost as if he were paying serious attention to his driving. After checking for any obvious visible officer safety concerns (such as guns, machetes, rocket launchers and such) the first thing I would usually do is to have the driver put the shift selector in park, if it was not already. Then the ensuing conversation would go something like this:

“Good morning, sir. Officer Goldshine, Petaluma Police. Are you having some type of problem with your car?”

“Uh, no. I’m just driving home.”

“I see. You are aware that you’re stopped in the middle of the street?”

The driver would, more often than not, get this incredulous, almost goofy expression, as if he didn’t believe me, even though I was standing next to his car. He would check his mirrors and swivel his head around, looking at other traffic passing by, as if just at moment he had become aware of their surroundings.

“Well, that explains…that certainly explains how you caught up to me on foot!”

Sounds silly, doesn’t it? Keep in mind that person, while stopped when I came across him, had driven his car to that spot. Call it luck, kismet or divine intervention, but whatever the reason it was fortuitous that his slightly pickled brain made him think he was still driving at the same time it was telling his foot to remain firmly planted on the brake pedal.

Seattle PD DUI test
Seattle PD DUI test

Another night, not surprisingly around the same time, I was dispatched to investigate a hit and run accident that had just happened. I knew something was amiss when I turned a corner and came upon over a dozen damaged parked cars along the right side of the street, all seriously banged up. Some were pushed into the car parked ahead while others were knocked askew into the street or up onto the sidewalk. Glass, undercarriage debris, bumpers and other debris littered the roadway. As I drove down the street, the mess got only worse. I followed the trail of damage which began to include the remnants of shredded tire, fluids and gouge marks in the asphalt for nearly a quarter mile until I abruptly came upon what could best be described as a wrecked hulk stopped dead in the middle of this residential street. Billowing clouds of stream swirled up and around from what was left of the engine compartment reflecting back the hues of red and blue from my emergency lights. As I got out of my car, I could hear a loud clanking noise a result of the engine fan banging against what was left of the radiator as the engine coughed and sputtered in its death throes. Assorted fluids were pooling beneath the wreck. All four tires were either completely shredded or flat. One of the front rims had gouged itself deep into the road surface. The passenger side door was sprung off its hinges held in place by the door latch. There probably wasn’t a square inch of the car body that didn’t have some type of damage.

By then, a fairly large group of bystanders had gathered, some of them the unhappy owners of the damaged parked vehicles. I had not walked halfway from my patrol car to the wreck when that unmistakable odor of someone who had imbibed far too much liquor or beer assailed my nostrils. By the time I reached the driver’s door, the smell was overpowering. Despite this, I make a quick check to make sure the driver had not sustained any visible injury. Seeing nothing obvious, I asked if he was okay. Still seat-belted behind the wheel, he just stared at me with eyes so bloodshot that they could have passed for pages in a Rand McNally road atlas. A half minute or so passed while he slowly turned his head to survey the scene and what was left of his car. From the blank expression on his face, it was clear he hadn’t a clue as to what he’d done. Then he turned to me, swaying unsteadily in his seat. Sounding just like the late comedian Foster Brooks and totally matching the Hollywood stereotype of the quintessential drunk, the driver finally says, “Good…good evening…offisher. I’m fine…just fine. How…how are you? May I ask why…why have you stopped me? Is there…a problem? Have I committed some…some infarction of the law?”

Though I realize we have narrowly averted a serious disaster, I cannot help groaning inwardly at the hours of report writing I now face. About then, the driver tries to get out of the remains of his car; however he forgets that he has his seatbelt fastened and it is all that I can do to keep from laughing as he struggles vainly to throw off his restraints.  When at last he finally does, he nearly does a faceplant right in front of me.

Fortunately, I catch him and lean him against the side of his car, where he inspects the wreckage. With the most uncomprehending shocked facial expression I had ever seen up to that time, he then says to me, in all earnestness, “Offisher! Offisher! I do believe…someone has wrecked…wrecked my veh…hicle!”


Traffic Officer Gerry Goldshine circa 1985
Traffic Officer Gerry Goldshine circa 1985


Gerry was born in Providence, Rhode Island but raised in Southern California. 

Upon graduating from California State University, Los Angeles, Gerry enlisted in

the Army and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant. After leaving active duty

in 1979, he worked for Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office. From 1980 until his retirement

in 1996, he was a patrol officer, traffic officer, and a trainer at Petaluma Police Department.

Gerry is married, has a daughter and lives in Sonoma County, California.

Next week, we return to Pahrump, Nevada for the “Cadet Diaries” — see how new recruits are trained in the basics of law enforcement.

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