By Ed Meckle, Retired LAPD
With all the crazy, funny, bizarre things that cops experience, some happens right there in the station house.
I was working a radio car and along with my partner. We were in the juvenile office at the station. In custody, we had one defiant 12-year-old boy, one red Ryder model BB gun and one tube of BB’s. He was given to us by an angry motorist with a BB hole in his windshield who’d chased him down. The juvenile ditched the gun (which we found) but he still had the tube in his pocket. He denied everything but couldn’t explain the BB’s.
The juvenile officer, Leroy Goforth, also got a denial. Goforth directed me to bring him an office trash can. Goforth emptied it. Then he instructed me to place it across the room open end toward him. He fired one BB into the basket. I retrieved the basket while he rummaged in his desk drawer producing a large pair of tweezers and a Sherlock Holmes-sized magnifying glass.
He asks the boy, “Do you know what ballistics is?”
“It is the scientific method the police use to tell if a particular gun fired a certain bullet. Understand?”
The kid shrugged.
“Well, we are going to do a scientific ballistics test on your gun.”
At this point, Leroy retrieves the bb from the basket. Holding the BB with the large tweezers, he examined it with the large glass for a good 10-15 seconds.
He gave the kid a long look. Then back to the BB. Kid, BB, kid, BB, kid, BB. Finally, shaking his head sadly, he pronounced, “Without a doubt, there is no question that this gun not only belongs to you but also fired the shot that struck the car. I also know it was an accident, you are sorry and will never do it again. Right kid?”
The kid nodded, “Yes.”
The Wisdom of Age
Many years later, I was the uniformed watch commander and notice one of my “old timers” with a quarter-sized hole in the front of his uniformed trousers. Knowing he was two weeks from retirement and not about to buy new trousers, I told him, “Charlie, do something about that. We can’t have you walking about with your chalk-white leg showing.”
“Ok, Elltee.” An hour later, as he entered the office the problem seemed solved.
I asked, “That looks much better, what did you do?”
He grins, drops his trousers and I see where he has taken a dark blue marking pen and colored his leg.
The Education of a Young Patrol Officer
Back in the day when we carried .38 revolvers, I held a firearms inspection. On command you drew your weapon, emptied the 6 rounds into your left hand which was held out for viewing. The pistol was held at “inspection arms” in the right hand.
One of my probationers held a bright shining revolver smelling of gun oil and an empty left hand. He also had a terrified look on his face. I quietly told him to see me after roll call.
“What was that all about,” I asked.
In a tremulous voice, he replied, “I cleaned my gun the other day and forgot to reload.”
I calmed him down and told he was not in trouble. I asked if there was anything I could say that would make him feel any worse than he was feeling already?
He shook his head. “No.”
I told him he would have to come up with some gimmick to make him think of his gun. Was it loaded? That sort of thing.
Years later the probationer, now a detective, entered an elevator I was on.
He stood next to me but did not acknowledge my presence, As he got off, he laughed, patted his gun hip and stated, “When the Elltee says stay loaded, I stay loaded.”