A lot of things can go bump in the night, some more interesting than others. Having spent a good portion of my police career on the night shift, I can truthfully say that a lot more bumps occur during the wee hours. I guess it’s time for a couple of stories to illustrate the point.
Bump number one: I was training a new officer. It was about three a.m. “Nothing good ever happens at three in the morning,” I’d just finished saying. The bars were letting out and I figured it would be a good idea to cruise through the lot of this sleazy motel. The place had a bar and generally expelled a lot of deadbeats at closing time. I slowed to a stop and signaled a left turn. A couple of cars were approaching from the other direction, so I waited. I glanced into my rear-view mirror and saw a pair of headlights approaching in our lane. I looked forward again, checking the progress of the oncoming vehicles, then checked the mirror again. The headlights were almost on top of us, without any sign of slowing down. I barely had a chance to yell and I hit the gas, but I was too late. The other car plowed into the back of the squad car. Luckily, my slight acceleration minimized the injuries to us, but squad car sustained some sustained significant damage. It was the first of several times I was rear-ended during the course of my career.
Bump number two: The radio call went out about a problem with an unwanted subject at one of the bars. Again, it was about three in the morning. As the supervisor I headed over there and went in with two of my guys. The bar was extremely crowded, and it was obvious the people were pretty liquored up. One of the bouncers indicated the individual who was causing the problem. The man was intoxicated and the bartender had decided not to serve the guy. The officers asked him to step outside, and he decided to flex his beer muscles. A struggle broke out, and my guys were trying to handcuff the guy. I’d just been issued a Taser, but hadn’t mastered the ability to quickly remove it from its locking holster, so I stood there pulling on it as the crowd surrounded us. I radioed for more units and continued to struggle with the Taser while my officers wrestled the drunken idiot to the floor. Then this exceptionally large guy suddenly appeared behind me and said in an ominous voice, “You leave my brother alone.” I abandoned my grip on the Taser just as the big guy shoved me. To say all hell broke loose after that was an understatement. Fists and feet were flying, and we were being knocked around like pinballs. More officers rushed through the doors. As one of my guys was struggling with another combative drunk, this woman threw a drink into the officer’s face. He then got knocked through these thin, wooden pillars by the door. I was using an arm-lock on one guy as I struggled to memorize the nasty woman’s face. Suddenly another officer stepped forward and gave her a blast of pepper spray. The cloud rolled around the room causing immediate coughing and hacking and a stampede toward the exit. The unruly crowd took down the doors as they flooded into the parking lot. We ended up alone on the dance floor, with a bunch of knuckleheads in custody, and a very irate bar owner. “Look what they did to my doors,” he said.
I wish I would have had the wit to reply, “Nothing good happens at three in the morning,” but I didn’t.
Bump number three: It was the last Christmas I worked as a cop before I retired. Once again, it was about three-thirty a.m. We got a call about two men arguing in the street, with one threatening to shoot the other. I responded to the scene with another officer, while other units came in from the other end of the block. It was a residential area. We couldn’t find the two men, so I knocked on the door of the complainant. The lady came to the door and was giving me a description when the sound of half a dozen gunshots ripped through the night. The call came in from the other end of the block: “Shots fired.” We immediately proceeded down the block and found a guy in a long overcoat running between two houses. He was belligerent and drunk. The officer on the adjacent street had approached him and requested ID. The guy turned and pointed a silver-colored handgun at the officer. The officer fired at the man, who ran between the houses. We searched the guy and the area, but couldn’t find the silver-colored gun. I called for an ambulance to check both the officer, who was shaken up, and the offender, who was obnoxious and drunk. It was dark and cold and a heavy layer of snow covered the ground. After the preliminary search I told everyone to back off and secure the scene, thinking of at least a half-a-dozen places where the guy could have tossed the weapon. The paramedics discovered the guy had been shot in the left buttocks. He was so drunk he didn’t even know he’d been hit. The officer-involved shooting investigation began, and my entire squad got held over well after our shift officially ended. I ended up getting about two hours sleep before getting up and coming in for another night shift. Eventually, in the daylight, they found the silver-colored handgun in a snow drift. Like I said, nothing good happens at three in the morning.