More Street Stories Tales from the Barking Muse

Congratulations and You’re Holding Over!

Petaluma, CA, Petaluma Blvd
Petaluma, CA, Petaluma Blvd (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
By Gerry Goldshine

The brass ring for pretty much any rookie officer is that final day or night in their department’s field-training program. They’ve gone through the hiring process, completed the academy and are now at the end of twelve to fourteen weeks of having their FTO painstakingly scrutinize every citizen interaction, every arrest, every citation and every report. As a Petaluma officer, I finally grabbed my brass ring on a Saturday night in December of 1980. At that time, the Petaluma Police Department’s field-training program was about 12 week long, broken down into three, four-week phases. The last week of the program was known as “Plain Clothes Week”. During this phase, your training officer wore street clothes and was along only to evaluate you; they were not to assist you in any way though you could ask other officers for help. In essence, this was the police department’s final exam to determine your abilities to solo as a police officer.

Officer Dave Long had been my training officer for my final phase, working the Swing Shift, which ran from 1630 hours (4:30 PM) to 0230 hours (2:30 AM). On this memorable Saturday night, the swing shift sergeant had called off sick. Since Dave was the senior officer working that night, he had to fill-in as the acting Watch Commander. Dave asked Officer Tom Swearingen, another FTO, to take his place as my training officer. Dave then assigned us the busy downtown beat just to make sure I had an “active” final night of training.

As I recall, it was definitely very busy that night but one incident in particular still stands out in my memory; the party on Elm Street (no, not that Elm Street). Somewhere close to 0200 hours -2:00 AM- I was beginning to let myself think about finally reaching the finish line when I heard dispatch sending units to investigate several anonymous reports of a loud, disruptive party in the beat next to mine. A few of the people calling, complained that there were more than a hundred attendees and that some of them were tossing beer bottles and cans into the yards of neighboring houses. Other callers said that there were minors consuming beer and hard liquor. I knew officers, an hour or so earlier, had already warned the people throwing the party to quiet things or we would have to order it shut down.

A few minutes later, Officer Long requested all available westside units to respond to the Elm Street situation and meet up with him. The first clue I had this was not going to be a simple operation, was the legions of parked cars lining both sides of the street and throngs of people making their way down the sidewalks to the party, several blocks before I got even close. I pulled in behind a line of double-parked police cars, in time to see other officers putting on their riot helmets. I wasn’t exactly sure what had transpired before I got there, but I had a hunch that the first requests to shut the party down had been met with less than enthusiastic compliance.

There were about a half dozen of us standing out in the street, waiting for Officer Long to tell us the plan of action when a car drove up and parked in the driveway of the party house. Now you would think a bunch of police officers wearing riot helmets, in front of that same house, might be a clue that something was amiss. Apparently not to the occupants of this car, because the passenger, later identified as ““Stu Pidteen”, got out of the car holding a glass containing some type of beverage. Given the circumstances, Officer DJ Phimister, who was nearby, suspected the beverage might contain liquor and asked the young man to wait a moment. Ignoring DJ, ““Stu”” continued walking towards the front door, which, under the circumstances, seemed to be a rather impolitic course of action. DJ then ordered the teen to stop and in response, “Stu” sent the glass he had been holding, hurtling at DJ’s head, before running inside the house. Happily, it missed Officer Phimister, who took exception at coming close to testing the efficacy of his riot helmet. Naturally, he ran after “Stu” and since I was close by, I followed behind.

Just before making entry, I distinctly remember looking back at Officer Swearingen; he was, after all, my training officer that night. He had one hand raised, as if he were about to offer some sage FTO advice but then realized it was too late. Following DJ down a hallway towards the backyard, I couldn’t help from noticing the scores of people crammed inside that house; in fact, it was standing room only. I remember thinking that more than a few of the young men I ran past appeared to be on the very large and athletic side – as it turned out they were members of the Petaluma High varsity football team.

DJ managed to lay hands upon “Stu” just as he was about to scale the back fence. No sooner had DJ put the “habeas grabus” on him than one of the nearby partygoers decided he wanted a “piggyback” ride…on DJ’s back. Not prepared to play horsey, DJ reflexively let go of “Stu”, who attempted to make a beeline back to the inside of the house. I was close enough to grab “Piggyback Rider”, pull him off DJ and throw him to the ground. He lunged back up at me and I drilled him in the solar plexus with my baton, ordering him to stay down on the ground.

DJ was less than amused and “Piggyback Rider” suddenly found himself the focus of his attentions. As DJ was handcuffing “Rider”, I watched his back to prevent a replay because there were now about twenty very unhappy belligerent people moving to surround us; not a particularly good sign. While this was happening, some other officers managed to snag “Stu” just before he made it inside and he was quickly hustled out to the front yard.

So much was happening; I began to feel as though I were in a three-ring circus especially when I caught sight of another officer turning in a circle, spraying mace at about six or so people who had him surrounded.  As if that weren’t enough, I saw another officer holding his 36-inch long riot baton in such a way to keep another portion of the crowd from moving past him to prevent DJ from arresting “Piggyback Rider”. At the same time, he was trying to keep an avenue of escape open to us. From out in front of the house, Officer Long asked over the radio what our status was in the backyard.

It was then that this officer holding back the crowd with his riot baton immortalized himself as a master of understatement. He calmly replied over all the noise and tumult, “It’s building!”

Finally, someone made the wise decision that was time for us all to “get the heck out of Dodge City” and make our way back out front. Officer Phimister somehow maintained custody of “Piggyback Rider” as we made our way back through the house. I think we were fortunate there were so many people crowded inside that house because none of them realized what had just taken place in the backyard.

A cacophony of noise greeted us when we got out front again. Sirens filled the night air, as units from the California Highway Patrol and Sonoma County Sheriff arrived to help us shut down the party. Up and down this section of Elm Street, you could hear the clipped voices of dispatchers and officers blaring from the various portable and car radios. Adding to the hubbub was the loud animated voices of the partygoers themselves, as they poured out of the house and into the surrounding neighborhood. In the resulting confusion, “Stu Pidteen” got into a scuffle with yet another officer and made his escape into the night, though he was thoroughly sprayed with Mace for his efforts.

In the midst of all this, I heard Officer Long calling me on the radio.

“Lincoln 36…Congratulations…You’ve successfully completed training…Now I need you to hold over for two hours.”

I quickly looked down at my watch and saw that it was 0240 hours; Swing Shift had officially ended! I was at last, exactly where I wanted to be. I wisely resisted the temptation to respond with a loud, ‘Yahoo”!

Epilogue: Since several officers knew “Stu Pidteen’s” identity from prior encounters, the District Attorney filed an assortment of charges and the Court issued a warrant for his arrest. In a town of just slightly over 30,000 people, it didn’t take long for us to find him and serve the warrant. With the passage of time, “Stu Pidteen” eventually became a far wiser adult.

As for the phrase “It’s building!”, for several years after, it became almost obligatory to describe any situation, large or small, that seemed to be spiraling out of control.

Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings: 5150’s Part 2

By Hal Collier


My last Ramblings dealt with 5150’s, the California Welfare and Institutions Code for crazies, or to be politically correct, the term for the mentally impaired.  As I stated, some people with mental problems can be treated with therapy, some with drugs and others with the firm arm of the law.  That’s where I come in: “I carry a badge.” 


Mental Health can be treated with drugs.  Some are very good and allow people to function without notice.  The problem comes when they decide to stop taking the drugs, they start acting bizarre which attracts the attention of the local constable, or the clerk at the 7-11.


Bizarre behavior can be caused by taking illegal drugs or not taking prescribed medication.  Kind of a Catch-22 for the cops to figure out.  Illegal drug abusers become paranoid and think someone is out to get them.  We once had a guy run into the police station lobby and demanded protection from the guy who was following him.  The desk officers ran outside to find no one was following him.  They told him he could sit in the lobby for a while.  He refused and demanded that we arrest him and give him protection.  The officers couldn’t arrest him because he hadn’t committed a crime.  The officers never should have told him that.  He punched the desk officer and was arrested.  He was given the jail cell he wanted but only after he received some medical treatment.  He had what we use to say was D & S: Dents and Scratches!


I often would ask an individual who was acting bizarre if he was taking medication. If he replied “no,” I would ask him if he should.  The answer was usually “yes.”  That was a warning sign that he might be dangerous.  Another danger sign was when you’re talking to a possible 5150 and he seems to be listening to someone else.  I would ask him, “Are you hearing voices?” If he answered “yes,” I would ask, “What are the voices telling you?”  The voices might be telling him to grab the officer’s gun or fight to the death.  Both of these can be dangerous to the officers and the individual.  I hated fighting the voices and the nut listening to them.  I felt outnumbered, especially when the voice he was listening to was God.


This is a similar condo on Kings Road
This is a similar condo on Kings Road

My most scary incident occurred when I responded to a “meet the Fire Department” on Kings Road.  It was at a very nice condo building.  We met the fire captain who stated the tenant started a fire by lighting charcoal briquettes in the kitchen sink.  He had also ripped off the cupboard doors and tore up pieces of the kitchen counter, all by hand.   The captain pointed to the biggest man I ever saw.  He was about 6′ 6″ and 375+ pounds of muscle—he looked like a tackle for the Rams.  He was calmly sitting on the sofa and holding a long-stemmed rose.  His wife, all 100 pounds of her, said he stopped taking his medication and been acting bizarre for days.  Uh oh. Too late to call in sick!

I told my partner to watch him, I’m going to look around.  I walked into the den and suddenly I felt a soft brushing on the back of my neck.  I spun around and looked into the chest of that giant of a man.  I felt a chill go up my spine.  I swallowed my gum and as calmly as I could I called for my partner. 


My partner and three firemen came into the room.  You’ve heard of having a command presence in stressful situations, I mustered up a “go sit down!”  He did and I sucked in some air for the first time in 2 minutes.  I estimated that my weight, my partners, and his wife didn’t equal this guy.  If he had decided to fight we would have lost unless we shot him (numerous times). 


We broke protocol and allowed his wife to ride along with us the mental ward at USCMC. (County Hospital).  I think she was the boss in the family.  We never had to fight him but I couldn’t wait to drive away from the mental ward that night.


Sometimes, I wasn’t so lucky.  A fight with a person who believed he was talking to God or was going to die can have the will and strength of an army.  You couldn’t reason with them and only brutal force will overcome their will.  Almost all of my fights involved 5150’s or illegal drug intoxicated individuals.   My longest fight involved a little guy who got high on PCP at the Palladium.


Ok, you’ve just got a 5150 handcuffed and you’re going to place him in your police car.  In his twisted mind, he thinks he’s going to the gallows.  He will kick, spit and bite.  Try getting him in the back seat of a police car with the front seats all the way back.  We didn’t have cages or 5′ female partners in the old days, so the seats were always back, how else could you get in a little nap.


In the early 70’s we would lay the patient flat on the back seat or remove the back seat and lay him on the floor board.  Unfortunately, that caused some to receive burns due to the hot floorboard and a few to die due to Positional Asphyxia.  Unlike dinosaurs, we evolved and sat our suspects upright.  This created new problems because our arrestee would kick out the car’s windows and the passenger officer who was required to sit in the back seat with him.


The department came up with all kinds of new restraints for controlling 5150’s.  I spent a whole day at the academy being “Net” trained.  That’s right—we had a large net that took four officers to handle.  The first two officers would run past the nut and throw the net over the suspect and then all four officers would run outward with a rope that would cinch the net around the suspect.  It looked like an episode of Animal Kingdom.  The net worked great if your suspect was standing still in the middle of a football field.  Not so good in a small apartment, where most of our encounters occurred.


The department also tried using plastic cuffs, similar to the ties that you can buy at Wal-Mart for bundling almost anything.  The thin plastic ties cut into the struggling nuts wrist or ankles.  They later modified the plastic cuffs so they didn’t hurt the guy who just tried to kill you.


Cord handcuff
Cord handcuff

Finally someone came up with a cord cuff made out of a material that you could easily apply and remove.  The best part was that you could reuse them over and over again.  It was best if you cleaned them after some nut crapped his pants with your cord cuffs.  You’ve got a kicker? Cinch the cord cuff around his ankles and let the strap hang out the car door and close the door on the strap.  Your kicker can’t kick anyone or damage your car.


Here’s a twist: ever try to hand cuff a one armed man?  You can’t cuff his hands together so you cuffed his good hand to his belt or the cord cuff wrapped around his waist. 


Other department compliance restraints were Tasers and tear gas.  Both could be effective on sane people who feel pain but fruitless on a mind that thinks he’s going to die.  Tear gas (mace and pepper spray, too) a suspect and then place him in the back seat of your police car, is similar to having your dog sprayed by a skunk then climbing in your car.  No one happy!   


Ok, so you squeeze your handcuffed, cord cuffed nutso in the back seat and start to drive him to the mental ward.  In Hollywood you had to stop at Detective Headquarters (DHQ) downtown, and have a detective determines what you already knew: he is nuts.  He writes up a report stating same and you drive your new best friend to USCMC Mental ward.


Now, I have a lot of respect for the medical staff who treat mental health patients but I believe they are a little too sympatric to their new patients.  I walk, or in some cases carry in some whack job I just fought with.  I have ripped my uniform pants and have an abrasion on my knee which I suspect is bleeding.  First words out of the doctor is, “Take the cuffs off of him!!!!”   I look the doctor in the eye and say not until I walk out the door.  I fought him once and I won’t do it again today!


Dealing with 5150’s was difficult most of the time but sometimes they were fun.  I’ll describe some of fun incidents in the next Ramblings, unless I get that ride to USCMC in the back seat of a police car.



More Street Stories Tales from the Barking Muse

Some Fights

A Fight to Remember

By Gerry Goldshine


Altruistic motivations aside, one of the reasons many of us chose police-work as a profession was the unpredictable nature of the job. Each day presents new and differing challenges; one shift might be filled with mind numbing reports while the next might involve ducking punches trying to quell a bar brawl. Business professionals are not usually going to find themselves involved in a physical altercation with a customer. Yet, such confrontations are almost a given in police work, more so depending upon the number of drinking establishments your town happens to have.  In an officer’s career, most of these fights usually blend into the tapestry of innumerable, long forgotten calls for service, traffic stops and arrests. That said, there are always some fights that you never forget.

Swing shift briefing this particular afternoon was unremarkable save for a warning about not using our flashlights in place of our batons. Apparently, a not so happy “camper” was suing officers of a Southern California department for doing just that. I filed that tidbit away in the back of my mind, thinking it would never be of importance, before heading out to patrol my assigned beat, on the east side of town. By the time Graveyard shift hit the streets later that night (around 2200 -10:00 PM) I was buried in reports; since it was the early 1980’s, we actually had to write our reports by putting pencil/pen to paper. This is the less than glamorous facet of police work seldom, if ever, portrayed by Hollywood fiction which in reality, typically makes up the larger part of an officer’s day.

Traffic Officer Gerry Goldshine circa 1985 in his patrol car
Traffic Officer Gerry Goldshine circa 1985 in his patrol car

Our patrol cars were our offices and we would have to park somewhere within our beat to complete our paperwork so that we were available to handle any calls. Back then, a favorite spot to park and write was an old abandoned gas station at the corner of East Washington and South McDowell Boulevard. I had parked facing west, directly across from the “I Forgot Its Name” restaurant and bar, which was nestled in the middle of a Best Western Motel complex.

I had been writing for about an hour or so, my clipboard stuffed with reports yet to be approved by my sergeant. I was engrossed in some residential burglary report that had no leads, when the sound of a man yelling broke my concentration. I could tell, without even looking, that it was the type of howl made by somebody having consumed a snoot-full of booze. I just knew that he was probably going to require my attention, putting me further behind in completing my paperwork. I grudgingly peered out the front windshield in time to see a middle-aged man stagger over to a shopping cart that someone had abandoned in the parking lot. Clearly unaware of my presence and for reasons known only to him, this likely intoxicated clown proceeds to push the cart right into the street where it rolled to a stop in the middle of the far right lane, posing a hazard to traffic.

At almost the same time, Officer Dave Port happened to be making a right turn from East Washington onto South McDowell and witnessed what I had just seen. Dave got on his patrol car’s public address system and ordered this inebriated moron to pull the cart back out of the street. Neither of us was especially pleased with his response, which was in sign language and involved a contemptuous display of his middle finger. I fired up my patrol car and drove across the street to join Dave, who by then had pulled into the parking and removed the cart from the street.

By the time I got out of my car, Dave was in the process of explaining to “inebriated moron” that he was going to get a rather costly citation for causing a traffic hazard. Not surprisingly, he responded in a less than pleasant manner, giving both of us another emphatic, “Fuck you!” only this time, verbally and rather loudly, too. He turned to walk away as Dave and I looked at each other in disbelief. I stepped in front, blocking his withdrawal as Dave told him that he was under arrest for disorderly conduct. It should go without saying that “inebriated moron” was not having any of that and whirled around, quite obviously prepared to fight. I grabbed one of his arms, intending to apply

Demo of compliance holds, wristlocks
Demo of compliance holds, wristlocks
photo courtesy of

a wristlock, when another man came running toward us from between some parked cars. Without a word, he proceeded to shove me away from the first subject. Speaking with a heavy German accent and his breath laced with the unmistakable odor of alcoholic beverages, this new player demanded to know what we were doing with his brother. Given that we were now facing two drunken combative morons, Dave notified dispatched we needed more help.

I tried to explain to our newest “friend” that we were arresting his brother for pushing the shopping cart into the street, creating a traffic hazard and for public intoxication. I had already decided to arrest him once we got some more help, figuring for the moment, a modicum of discretion was the best course of action. Naturally, as Murphy’s Law is wont to do, he swung a balled up fist at me catching me with a glancing blow to my shoulder. The fight was on, Dave grappling with one brother and me with the other. Somehow, Dave had managed to use his portable radio and told whoever was coming to help us, to step up his response to “Code Three” – with emergency lights and siren. This in and of itself was a sign to other officers, that we were undoubtedly in some “deep Kimchi”.  

An instant later, I unexpectedly found myself fighting with not one but two men. My first thought was that Dave had somehow lost control of the idiot who had caused all of this. That was until I saw that he was also fighting with two men. What started out to be a simple “routine” arrest for public intoxication had turned into a donnybrook and we were outnumbered two to one. Dave and I both had the same disquieting thought; where were these guys coming from and how many more were going to join the fracas?

I had already taken a couple of well-placed body shots when I managed to get my hand on the microphone clipped to my uniform shirt’s epaulet and called a “Code Twenty” meaning that we needed any and all help we could get, immediately if not sooner. Just as I heard dispatch sounding the alert tones over the radio, someone knocked the microphone from my shoulder and the next thing I knew, I was on the ground beneath two attackers.  From out of the corner of my I caught a brief glimpse of a third person running towards me. That “Oh Shit!” moment quickly turned to relief when this person tackled one of the two atop me and pulled him off. For the moment, I was back to fighting one on one.

In the ensuing struggle, I managed to get on top of my suspect but unfortunately, the jackass was then lying on his hands and arms, making it impossible for me to handcuff him. I yelled at him to put out his hands, though at this point, I knew it was a futile request. I upped the use of force ante pulling out my trusty can of Mace, which is essentially liquid tear gas, and gave him a generous dose in his face. Unfortunately, the Mace did not work as advertised and he still refused to bring his arms out from underneath him or cooperate in any manner whatsoever.

I reached for my baton and discovered it had popped out of the holder on my equipment belt; so much for that option. It finally dawned on me that I was holding my police issue flashlight in my right hand. It was with a great sense of irony that I looked at the flashlight, then the suspect’s head, then the flashlight. I quickly figured that it was probably an incredibly bad idea to smack him in the head with said flashlight, given the warning we just received in briefing; however, the good Lord knows just how badly I wanted to do just that at that very moment.

Then, the welcomed sound of wailing and yelping sirens piercing the night, converging upon us from what seemed like every direction, finally penetrated my consciousness.

The cavalry arrives! Photo courtesy of the Roanoak Times
The cavalry arrives! Photo courtesy of the Roanoke Times/AP 

The cavalry had arrived! In a matter of seconds, the restaurant parking lot and part of South McDowell Boulevard filled with patrol cars from not only Petaluma Police but also Sonoma County Sheriff and the California Highway Patrol. The sounds of more than a dozen police car radios echoed off the surrounding buildings, which were awash in a kaleidoscope of flashing blue and red colors.  

A couple of officers helped me convince my subject to conclude that it was in his best interests that he let me handcuff him. As one of the other officers led him off to one of the waiting patrol cars, I looked around the chaotic scene and noticed someone in street clothes assisting some officers in cuffing my other assailant. As it turned out, he was an off-duty California Correctional Officer who happened to be driving by and saw that we needed help. He was the person who tackled one of my assailants.

Within minutes, all four were in handcuffs and on their way to the station for booking before transport to Sonoma County Jail. That’s when we learned they were all brothers, living in the San Francisco area, though they were originally from Germany which explained the accents.

As has previously been mentioned on “Just-the-Facts Ma’am”, during these kinds of adrenaline fuel incidents, our perception of time is altered. For me, the wait for help to arrive seemed interminable, yet the entire confrontation from start to finish lasted no more than four and a half minutes. I’m not sure how long it was before I finally felt the adrenaline bleeding away only to be replaced by an overwhelming feeling of fatigue. Both Dave and I had torn, tattered uniforms, in addition to an assortment of cuts, scrapes and bruises; Dave had torn cartilage between several ribs while I had a couple of badly bruised ones.

Now, had this been an episode of Dragnet or Adam-12, this would be the point where the fate of the four suspects was revealed. In keeping with that spirit, some names have been changed to protect the guilty. The District Attorney, in and for the County of Sonoma, accepted the following plea agreement for the four Deutschland Brothers. By each brother pleading guilty to two counts of misdemeanor “Battery upon a Police Officer” and two counts of “Resisting Arrest and Interfering with an Officer”, the DA would dismiss the felony battery charges and request no jail time upon successful completion of 5 years probation. The guilty plea rendered moot the lawsuit they filed against the City of Petaluma for alleged police misconduct. It also meant that the counter-suit Dave and I filed against each of the four brothers was successfully settled out of court for an undisclosed sum. The Chief of Police wrote the off-duty California Correctional Officer a letter of commendation for coming to our aid.

Apologies to the band Fun. and their wonderful song, Some Nights

Check out Just the Facts, Ma’am on Wednesday for the continuation of Hal Collier’s Ramblings on calls for service–next comes part one of 5150’s. For those of you who aren’t familiar with that term, it’s the California Welfare & Institutions Code for mentally impaired. Get ready for more stories!


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