Friday, November 9, 2018

Highway Patrol – Week 5 – Part 2

Good morning FFFs,
This has been a crazy, stressful, tiring, good week. :P

My brother and his family were a part of a "Generation Joshua" camp from Friday afternoon until Wednesday morning. The students came out and did hands on political action stuff such as knocking doors and making phone calls. It wasn't nearly as educational and fun as our usual American Government Camp, but it was last minute. Anyway, my sister and I drove out to camp (about 20 min away) every morning to help with breakfast and watching the kids. I watched the kids, especially my 15-month-old nephew. Busters (that's the nickname I call him) finally started calling me "BehBeh" this week! :) I wasn't there to get him up in the morning on Wednesday (because breakfast was later) and my 2nd nephew told me Busters stood up in bed, looked around and said, "BehBeh? BehBeh?"
So that was the tiring and a bit stressful part.

On Saturday my computer, which I've only had 3 months, decided to not turn on. Talk about Stress! Thankfully our computer friend at church was able to replace the hard drive and all my files are saved. The bad news is that I no longer have Photoshop, Microsoft Word, or any other program that had been added to the computer when I bought it. I did get Word, so that's good. Now I just have to spend a lot of money and get Photoshop. I thought of trying to use Canva, but I know Photoshop, and I can do things so much faster on there. So . . . I guess I'll be spending money. :P

Tuesday was a busy day spend at the polls. I was up at 4:30, at the polls at 5:30 and we opened at 6. There were 2 people waiting to vote at 5:30. We had people in there voting all day long! Seriously, there was only a 2 minute time after 6 PM when the room was empty! Our total number of voters was 699. That's more than a presidential election! Then it took longer to pack up because we had to count the ballots and make sure we had the right number before heading to the courthouse. I didn't get to bed until almost 10:30. Yep, I was tired. :)

Right now I'm fighting a cold. Probably from the cold, the early mornings and such. I have messes all over that need taken care of. I have a Christmas Collection book that I need to finish and get a proof copy ordered. I need to get a blog post for Tuesday done. Other blog posts, things done for this, that, and the other. And the house needs cleaned. Oh, I also need to practice the violin. I'm not sure I'll have much time to read. And as for writing? Yeah, right. I want to write, but it's not happening.

Highway Patrol
Week 5 – Part 2

    We all had a break after that, and then Sgt. Lueckenhoff divided us into three teams. “You can take your stuff to your car,” he told us. “Then meet out in the parking lot.” Six other HP troopers were there, and Sgt. Lueckenhoff sent them to find some good place to do the practice stops. They found a place, but no one knew where they were. They were back behind the dorms in a nearly empty parking lot. Some of us walked over, others drove. It was a chilly, overcast night.
    When we had all gathered, Sgt. Lueckenhoff sent each team to a different pair of patrol cars with two officers. Dad and I were with two other men and Sgt. Lueckenhoff’s wife. We were given some basic instructions about how they do a stop, and then we were handed the gun (it was an air-soft gun that shot little cornstarch-type of bullets) and a flashlight. (The officers took turns being the driver of the car that was stopped, and they also had a gun, only it just shot air.) The officer who wasn’t in the car sort of walked with us and gave some suggestions at first.
    Dad went first and had a very easy stop, gave the driver a warning and let him off. However, before anyone else took a turn, the officers talked about how important it is to keep an eye on the traffic. “Remember,” one of them told us, “this is a highway. More troopers have been killed by someone driving by than by a criminal.”
    The next stop went well, and then it was Nick’s turn. (Nick is one of the few classmates that I learned his name.) He was very nervous. As he started to approach the vehicle, after making sure there was no traffic coming, the driver jumped out with something in his hand. Quickly Nick drew his gun and then realized the man had a cell phone. Nick ordered the driver to get back in his car and end the call. He then approached the vehicle and continued with the stop.
    After he had finished, the officers talked a little. “How did it make you feel when the driver jumped out of the car?”
    “Like he was going to shoot me!”
    “There are always those people who think they should get out of the car when they get pulled over.”
    Then it was my turn. I got a grumpy guy who was driving without any lights. He complained that he’d had them set to turn on automatically, but that they hadn’t turned on. He also didn’t have his proof of insurance. I gave him a ticket, and he went on his way still grumbling. After each turn, we were taken to the other side of the car and asked if we’d noticed the gun on the dashboard. Not one of us had! We were so busy watching the driver’s hands and worrying about the “traffic on the highway” that we hadn’t even looked on the dashboard.
    “When we train,” one of the officers told us, “we spend an entire week doing traffic stops. At first they are just like these, easy. Someone messes up, we stop and iron out what you’re supposed to do, then keep going. Here you get everything pretty quickly. You don’t have time to practice the same sort of things over again.”
    Sgt. Lueckenhoff’s wife didn’t do any stops, so Dad was up again.
    He got out of the car and took a few steps toward the vehicle when the driver jumped out with one hand behind him. (The rest of us were all standing around watching.) Dad ordered the driver to show him his hands. The driver pulled out a gun and started shooting. Dad attempted to pull his gun, but it was in his sweatshirt pocket and wouldn’t come out at first. The other officer told him to shoot the driver when he did get it out. Dad tried. The gun wouldn’t work. That’s when it was discovered that the safety was still on, and no one had told us how to turn it off. The driver was kind enough to cease firing until the gun was fixed. Then Dad shot him.
    “Was there much difference between this driver with a gun and the driver with the cell phone?” one officer asked. There really hadn’t been much difference. Both had jumped out quickly, both had one hand either partly or completely behind their backs. “Some people will even point their cell phones like a gun at an officer,” we were told. “Usually it’s because they want suicide by an officer. In the dark it’s hard to tell if the guy has a gun, or a phone, or something else. Why is he jumping out? What is he planning on doing? We have to be ready for anything.”
    I don’t remember what the next stop was like. I don’t think it was very exciting.
    Nick’s turn was up again. Standing near the car that was being pulled over, I saw the driver pull the hood of his dark sweatshirt on. I knew something was up. Nick decided to approach the vehicle from the passenger side. Those of us watching were motioned to the front of the car and away from the doors. It was soon obvious that this driver was a “sovereign citizen.” (There really is no such thing as a real sovereign citizen. They are simply a group of people who don’t think they should have to follow any of the country’s laws. They usually have their own version of a driver’s license, don’t want to comply, and want to get into huge arguments.) The driver started right in with complaining and refusing to comply when Nick asked for his ID. He started quoting sections of fake laws and rights. Finally Nick told him to get out of the car so they could talk. The driver agreed and quickly, before Nick could get around to his side, he opened the door and jumped out. I saw at once that he had a gun. The driver went to the back of the vehicle and started shouting, “Where are you? I got out.”
    Nick was trying to decide which way to go, because he was a little nervous about this guy. Finally the driver came back up and started shooting at Nick over the hood of the vehicle. Nick admitted he was shot, but the officer observing told him that he should draw and shoot back. He did.
    “One of the things we look for in training,” we were told after this scenario, “is if a trooper freezes or if he keeps going. In training an officer is never dead. We want to see if they have what it takes to keep going, to act even when things are crazy.”
    Sgt. Lueckenhoff came over and told our group to change places with another one so we could have a different perspective on things. We headed to the far end of the parking lot and met the next two troopers. They gave us a quick bit of instruction about where the lights were for the spotlight, the red & blue lights, and where the flashlight was.
    Dad was first. He approached the car where both a driver and passenger were, and told the driver he had a tail light out. The driver wanted to see, and Dad told him he could in a little bit, but first he needed to see his driver’s license and insurance card. The passenger decided at this time that he was going to get out and go see his girlfriend. Dad told him to remain in the car. But the passenger got out, with his hands up, and started to walk away. Dad wasn’t sure what to do, so after an order to the man to return to the car, he pulled out his gun and shot him.
    The scene ended there, and we were told that if a passenger decides to leave and isn’t acting threatening or anything, they just let them go. They have no reason for detaining him since he wasn’t the one driving the car.
    When it was Nick’s turn again, I could see the driver leaning down and reaching under the seat while calling out the window, “What did I do wrong?”
    Nick told him to stay there and he’d tell him. Then Nick walked around to the passenger side of the car. It turned out the men were headed to Taco Bell to get some supper but had been driving too fast. Nick gave them a warning and let them go after some friendly chat.
    The officer who was behind the wheel asked Nick afterwards if he had seen him reaching under the seat. Nick hadn’t. “If you’d come up to the driver’s side, we were planning on doing some things,” he said, “but you didn’t, so we didn’t have the chance.”
    Dad had the last stop, and it was a drunk driver who got out of his car. Dad arrested him, and the driver willingly staggered back to the patrol car and got in the back seat.
    “How do you safely get someone out of their car on a busy highway?” someone asked.
    The senior officer asked someone to get in the car and they’d show them. I got in the car. The officer goes around to the passenger side, then walks to the front of the car where he can see oncoming traffic. When it was clear, he told me to get out and walk back to his car. This officer said that he does most of his sobriety tests and questions with the person sitting in the passenger seat of his patrol car. “I stand in the opening holding onto the door if I need to,” he said. “I just like doing it this way, as it makes it more difficult for the person to run if they decide to.”
    The highway patrol officers don’t put people they are transporting to jail in the back of their car. They keep them in the front. “It’s easier to keep an eye on them. And if one of them tries to do something, we are right there to stop it. I’d feel more concerned if they were in the back.”
    Sgt. Lueckenhoff then called everyone together. He asked if we’d all learned new things about the highway patrol. We all had. He had a few more things to say, then dismissed us. We’ll have a dinner next week for our “graduation” and then classes will be done.
    Thank you for joining me. I hope you have learned a lot too.

How was your week?
Did you enjoy this report?
Would you rather watch kids or work in the kitchen?

Friday, November 2, 2018

Highway Patrol – Week 5 – Part 1

Happy November!
I can't believe it's November 2nd!!! NO!!!!!!! I have too much to get done! Don't go so fast.
This week felt a little odds and ends-ish.  I taught my final writing classes–until January. (We always end near the beginning of November.) I still have a few papers to grade when they get returned. I really worked on getting all the info I needed to put together and sent to Faith Blum who is coordinating our joint blog tour. Yes, Faith and I are hosting a joint blog tour at the end of this month for our new Christmas books! It's rather fun to each be releasing a new Christmas book. If you have a blog and are interested in joining the tour, just let me know.

Another thing I've been working on is getting my books ready for a huge Black Friday sale. No, not all my books will be on sale, but I will have several, and many other Indie authors will have their books on sale too! I'll be sharing about it when it's closer.
Another thing that has been fun is starting to plan my "24 Books Before Christmas" list for Read Another Page. And yes, I do have enough books to not duplicate any from last year, and perhaps none from the 6 or so I shared the year before.

But I still have two projects I haven't finished! One is getting Christmas Quilts formatted, cover designed, and the proof copy ordered. The other is compiling all my month stories and getting them into a paperback.

But you know, VOTING is next week! I'm going to be doing a little campaigning in the next few days, so that'll keep me busy. And then on Election Day I'll be working at the polls all day long. 
One thing I'm NOT doing, is NaNoWriMo! I really want to get back into writing as it feels like I've hardly written a thing for months! But I have too much going on to even attempt NaNo.

This report is only broken into two parts. It was our final class except for Graduation Night. I hope you enjoy it!

October 4, 2018
    It was a cloudy evening when Dad and I arrived for our final class of the Missouri State Highway Patrol Community Alliance. To my great disappointment I discovered that because of the weather we would not get to see the helicopter! I had been looking forward to it since the start of class. Sgt. Lueckenhoff introduced us to our first instructor Sgt. Dan Wohnoutka.
    Sgt. Dan has been with the HP for 29 years. At the beginning he was a state trooper working the roads. Then there was an opening to start working in the air. Sgt. Dan had gotten his pilot’s license and became a back up pilot for the highway patrol. “At that time,” he told us, “we had two full time pilots and several others along with myself, were backup. We had to have a certain number of flight hours each month to be able to fly as back up, so I scheduled them in. The other guys didn’t and sometimes only got a few hours of flight in a month. But I made sure I got my time in. And when one of the pilots couldn’t fly, I did.”
    Sgt. Dan is now one of the two pilots for the HP and flies both their plane, a Cessna 180, and their helicopter, an MD 500E. We got to see pictures of both, and of other current and previous planes and helicopters. He said he spends about 80% of his time in the plane and the other 20% in the helicopter.
    His helicopter is used mostly for searching for criminals or missing persons. And it doesn’t have any air-conditioning. “It’s like a greenhouse in there,” he said. “So usually when I fly I take the doors off”
    There is a larger helicopter that has air conditioning. It can hold 7 people counting the pilot and co-pilot. It has a searchlight and a special “flare” (camera) in the front that is used when searching for someone. If they are searching for a criminal at night, they can operate the searchlight and the flare together or separate. When they find the person, they will often keep the flare on him and make the searchlight go all over so the bad guy doesn’t know he’s been found. Then, when the SWAT team is ready, the pilot just has to push a button and the light synchronizes with the flare, putting its beam right on the criminal.
    The other thing the larger helicopter has is a line to lower someone for rescue work. While they don’t do the full bring them back to the helicopter thing, they do what is called “long line - short haul” rescues. This means they will lower someone to the victim. The rescuer will secure the victim and then the helicopter will lift them off the ground and carry them a short distance to safety.
    “At first we didn’t have a helicopter with this ability,” Sgt. Dan told us. “And there was an incident down in the boot-hill with someone in the water. The water division was there, and somehow two of the rescuers ended up in the water with the victim. We didn’t have a helicopter. We had to call the Coast Guard, but their nearest helicopter with that ability was down in New Orleans. They responded, however, and were on their way when a group a civilians came up with a plan, put it into action and had all three people on land before the helicopter arrived. That caused our governor to decide that we needed to have one available in the state.
    Missouri does not have much terrain where many of such rescues are needed, but it is good to have one anyway.
    There is another use for the flare on the large helicopter. It has a special map overlay that can tell the pilot and co-pilot exactly where someone they are tracking is located. “I didn’t believe it could be any better than a GPS, “ admitted Sgt. Dan, “until we did something in Springfield. There are problems, especially in larger cities, with people racing their motor bikes. They can go faster than the police cars and often weave in and out of traffic. Many times they aren’t caught, but we were doing an enforcement one time. I was in my smaller helicopter, and the other pilot was up above in the larger one. We were alerted to a motorbike and soon picked him up. The guy above me was calling off the names of the streets as the biker passed them. Then the biker turned onto some small streets, and I thought the street names wouldn’t come as quickly. They did. When the biker turned in to a cul-de-sac I figured that would mess up the map for sure, but nope. And then the guy drove off the road between some houses to some trail-path-overgrown road. That would stop them. Nope. The pilot overhead called down the name of that road too. By then I was convinced it was really good.”
    Yes, it is good, but it’s expensive! It cost a million dollars for the flare and putting it on the helicopter.
    Next Sgt. Dan moved on to the plane and how he used it to check for speeders. No, he doesn’t have radar. He uses a stopwatch.
    Imagine a long straight stretch of highway below you. There are large white blocks on either lane. Farther down the highway are two more white blocks, and then still further are two more. The space between the pairs of blocks (which are really just white squares painted on the highway) is exactly 660 feet. Each white square is 2ft x 2ft.
    The pilot will fly his plane 1500-2000 feet up in a large circle. In each hand he holds a stopwatch. When he sees a vehicle that appears to be going above the speed limit, he will watch it. As soon as it reaches the outer edge of the first white block, the pilot starts his stopwatch. He’ll stop it as soon as the vehicle is over the second white square. The third set of squares gives the pilot a second chance to time someone if he doesn’t get his stop-watch clicked at the right time, or something like that. “I can do four vehicles if I need to,” Sgt. Dan told us. “I’ll have a stop-watch in either hand and when the first two reach the first blocks, I’ll time them, but then I can get the next two vehicles on the second to third set of blocks.”
    Once he has verified that a vehicle is going too fast, he’ll radio to one of the troopers who are waiting a few miles up ahead. He’ll tell them the color, the kind of vehicle (like a red pickup truck), how fast he had them clocked, which lane they were in, and anything else. He’ll also follow the vehicle and let the trooper know when he’s behind the right one. If there’s only one red pickup, it’s pretty easy to keep track of and the pilot can glance away for a second or two, but if it’s a white compact car and there are three other white compact cars, he doesn’t take his eyes off it for a second.
    The place where the “speed traps” are set up, are picked by the pilot. “There can’t be any bluffs along that stretch of road, or a lot of trees because when the sun is at certain places it will create really big shadows and any dark cars disappear.” Not only does the pilot choose the stretch of highway, but he also measures the distances and actually helps put the “blocks” down. “Those things used to be painted on,” Sgt. Dan said, “but now we have these really durable things that stick right on the road. You peel the back off and put it down. If you think those sticky mouse traps are bad, you ain’t seen nothing! These things are so sticky that by the time I’m finished, my finger prints are completely off my fingers. It takes two people to put them down and if the back should touch the road where you don’t want it–tough. It’s not coming up. And forget trying to pull it apart if it should stick together. Just toss it in the back of the truck and get another one.” Someone asked how long the white blocks lasted on the roads. “Oh, around five years.”
    Sgt. Dan talked some about the drivers who don’t believe that a pilot in a plane caught them speeding and sometimes the trooper who stopped them will request that Sgt. Dan fly over so the driver can see his plane. “Of course there are always some drivers who say they’ll see us in court, but the truth is, very few seldom do. And of those that do, only a few actually try to put up a fight after they find out I didn’t catch them with radar, but with a stopwatch.”
    The stopwatches have to be checked every three months by the atomic clock in Denver. It can’t be off more than a 10th of a second. “I’ve never had a stopwatch be off that much. Sometimes the buttons stop working, or something like that. And, if I’m ever in doubt about my timing of a vehicle, I always give the vehicle the benefit.”
    Someone asked what the fastest someone was going that they stopped. 120 mph. Then he told us a story.
    Sgt. Dan was one of the troopers on the ground stopping cars while another pilot flew the plane. He had just finished driving a check over the blocks and was heading to his spot when a car goes zooming by. When a trooper is sitting and waiting for speeders at the check, he won’t have his radar on. Quickly Sgt. Dan radios the pilot while trying to turn on his radar because he knew the pilot wouldn’t be ready for him. He got his radar on, and the pilot saw the vehicle. The driver was going 163 miles per hour! Sgt. Dan knew he’d probably not be able to catch him, but he was following. The driver was weaving in and out of traffic, going on the shoulder when he couldn’t pass, and being very dangerous. “I think he knew I was following and was just trying to get away at that point.” Anyway, the driver tried to go around a semi, lost control, and the car flew off the road. It landed 710 feet away from the road, bounced a few times, flipped and rolled. The driver, who was not wearing his seatbelt, was flung from the car and died. His passenger, who was his brother, was wearing his seatbelt, and aside from a broken shoulder and arm, and large cut to the head he was all right. “I think they were messing around,” Sgt. Dan said. “There were other vehicles with family members behind them, and they all stopped. I guess they were heading to Grandma’s house for Thanksgiving and these two were going to do the whole ‘get there early and what took you so long’ deal.”

What are you looking forward to this month?
Have you ever wondered what those white squares were on the highway?
Are you doing NaNoWriMo?

Friday, October 26, 2018

Highway Patrol – Week 4 – Part 3

Good morning FFFs,
It's dark, cloudy, and chilly here. I didn't really want to get up this morning, but here I am.
Last night I went to a concert with my Grandpa, and my brother, sis-in-law, and two oldest nephews. (Nephew #2 wanted to go to the concert for his birthday. He's 9!!!!!) We had front row seats. As I sat listening to the first song, it felt that it was playing my life right now. I could feel the turmoil of unfinished projects, the stress of what to work on first, the frantic pace of the months as they relentlessly march forward toward the end of the year, but in the mist of it all, shining like a light, was the reminder of peace. A delightful, beautiful strain that spoke of God's goodness and his unfailing help. It was a reminder that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, that there is peace in the midst of the storms when you are in Christ. I think it was just what I needed. The rest of the concert was lovely too.

This week has disappeared very quickly. I did get a little bit written on Wednesday night. Otherwise I worked on this and that. I have music to practice, a story that needs finished, the 40's book of letters by my grandparents needs corrected so I can get it finished. I have a book to review, things to put away, another story that needs worked on, blog posts to write, preparing for a blog tour of His Law Is Love,  and the list goes on. I certainly won't be sitting around wishing I had something to do. ;)

I hope you enjoy this 2nd half of the report about the K9s.

Highway Patrol
Week 4 – Part 3

    Another traffic stop he did was on an RV. It was early fall of last year, and he saw this RV coming down the highway. Now, he knew it was not the time of year most people travel since schools are back in session and most older people don’t want to travel in the colder months. The driver also seemed a bit nervous at the sight of Cpl. Tim because he started driving on the rumble strip. Those were all red flags to Cpl. Tim. After he pulled the RV over and got the driver out, he started talking with him. The RV was rented. The driver said he and some of his buddies were just driving to St. Louis to see the arch. (They were from California.) Cpl. Tim asked where they’d be staying. “Oh, probably Holiday Inn.” Hmm, They have an RV but they are staying in a hotel. Cpl. Tim had already called for backup because he knew from the driver that there were 4-5 other guys in the RV and 2 pit bulls. He successfully detained the driver until another trooper arrived to help. As they were getting the guys out of the RV, two of them ran off into some woods. One came back, the other, a homeless drunk they for some reason had brought along, kept going. He later returned to the highway and hitched a ride back to California where he was picked up by the law there and returned to Missouri. (I don’t know what happened to the pit bulls.) Inside the RV was marijuana. A bunch of marijuana! I don’t know how many trash bags full Cpl. Tim said he had piled on the side of the highway. Once in the evidence room it was packed in 15 or more good sized boxes. It was a huge bust.
    • Observe the occupants – One thing Cpl. Tim said he likes to do is stop cars on rainy, cold, blowing days. He’ll ask the person to step out of the car and then he’ll tell them, “Why don’t you just have a seat in my car, so we can get this done and get you back on the road a little faster.” Usually the idea of getting back on the road faster is enough incentive to comply, as are cold, or rainy days. “It really does make things go faster,” Cpl. Tim said, “because I can ask all the questions I need to right then. I can also observe them and see what their behavior is like. Are they really nervous and fidgety? Do they sweat a lot? Because of Hugo I keep my car cool, so if someone is saying something about how hot he is, then I know something’s going on.”
    Also notice what the person is wearing. Does it match the weather? Does it fit where they say they are going?
    • Listen to what they are telling you – Do they ask a question when you ask them one instead of just answering it? Do they repeat the question? Do they change the subject and start talking about something else? Those are all signs that something is probably going on.

    “Can an officer legally require you to exit your vehicle?” Cpl. Tim asked the class. All but two of us said yes. He looked at the other two and said, “You’re wrong.” In 1977 the Supreme Court ruled that for officer safety a driver can be required to exit their vehicle. So, if you are ever pulled over and the officer, for some reason, requests you to step out of the vehicle, comply.
    Someone asked what happens if Cpl. Tim stops someone and can’t speak their language. That was something I hadn’t thought about before. Cpl. Tim said he does speak some Spanish, enough to communicate what he needs to most of the time. But if the person doesn’t speak Spanish or English, Cpl. Tim can always use a translator. There is a certain number he can call that has certified translators. He’ll set them on speaker phone and through them communicate with the driver. He can also use Hugo if he can’t communicate enough to get permission to search the vehicle.
    “We have to trust our dogs,” Cpl. Tim said. “There have been times when a car gets pulled over and your dog doesn’t alert on the car at all, but thirty miles down the road the same car is stopped again, and this time the other dog alerts on it and drugs are found. While you might think the dog that didn’t alert wasn’t doing his job, it could be a number of things, Perhaps the driver hadn’t turned on the AC or the heat until after your dog had searched. Perhaps the wind and air pressure were different thirty miles away. There have also been times when a dog has alerted on a car, but nothing was found. The drugs had been in there but weren’t now, but the smell still lingers.”
    Dogs don’t alert on money. Some people think that if a person is carrying a large amount of money in their car, the dog is going to alert on it. No, the dogs might alert if the money has been in close contact with the drugs and smells like marijuana, but they aren’t trained to sniff out money.
    When transporting marijuana or any other type of drug some have tried to hide the smell of it by putting it in a coffee can, or putting dryer sheets with it. While that might help keep an officer from smelling it, it doesn’t help with a dog. For example, you walk into your house and sniff. “Oh, we’re having soup for supper,” you say. A dog walks in and sniffs. “Oh, we’re having chicken broth, potatoes, carrots, onions, butter, pepper, seasoned salt, and there are three other spices that I don’t know the names of.”
    Dogs smell each individual scent.
    Cpl. Tim showed many pictures of drug busts he and Hugo have done, and then we were all taken outside to see Hugo.
    It was a chilly autumn night, and several of us hadn’t brought jackets. Sgt. Lueckenhoff took a cloth that smelled like marijuana and tucked it in the back of his truck tailgate. We got to watch as Hugo searched the truck. He found it right away and didn’t want to bother searching the rest of the truck, but Cpl. Tim insisted on it.
    There was a little more talk after Hugo was returned to his beloved patrol car. A few questions were asked, and then we were all dismissed. It was a little after nine when we left this time, but some of the other weeks we were let out early, so it all evens out.
    Next week is our final class; I hope you’ll be back for it.

Did you learn anything new here?
How has your week been?
Would you like to be a part of the blog tour?

Friday, October 19, 2018

Highway Patrol – Week 4 – Part 2

Good morning Favorite Friday Fans,
How is your morning? It's a rainy morning here. Not any big storm, just a steady rain. I don't know if it's supposed to rain all day or not. We've had many sunny days, so I can't complain about a rainy one.

I've been doing more "finishing" things this week. I got my November and December short stories up and ready for pre-order. They won't be published until the 1st of November and the 1st of December. And yes, I added them both to Goodreads. (Just look for Heritage of Praise and Unto Him.)
I also made the final corrections for His Law Is Love though it won't be published quiet yet. ;) If you want to get a signed copy directly from me, let me know. If I have to mail it to you, it won't be more than $10. counting shipping. (I may be able to do it a little cheaper depending on what the tax is. I can let you know.)

Anyway, now I'm listening to the audios of Dylan's Story and Stephen. I'm hoping to have them both out before Christmas. Speaking of Christmas, I hope to add another Christmas Collection book to the list this year. This one is titled Christmas Quilts. It's probably nothing like you would think for this title. ;) And I'm about ready to start the work of compiling my monthly stories so they will be available as a collection in paperback, and as a collection in kindle.

I hope you are enjoying these reports from the MO State Highway Patrol Community Alliance. This next part I broke into 2 parts because it was over 2k words. I think you'll enjoy learning about Hugo.

Highway Patrol
Week 4 – Part 2

    When our break was over, Sgt. Lueckenhoff introduced us to our next instructor, Corporal Tim Barrett, a K-9 officer. Corporal Tim has been a law enforcement officer for 15 years. For the last 9 he has worked as a HP trooper. Before that he was a Carthage police officer. Hugo, a five-year-old male German shepherd is Corporal Tim’s partner. We quickly found out that Sgt. Lueckenhoff doesn’t like Hugo very well.
    There are 10 Highway Patrol K-9s state wide. All of them are male German shepherds. The reason they don’t use females is because the males have more stamina for some of the things they need to do. None of the dogs are neutered. The reason they only have German shepherds is because that’s all the Missouri HP has ever had, and they like them.
    All dogs are tried in five things.
    1. Obedience (sit, down, heal, etc.) – “Hugo and I are still working on that,” Corporal Tim admitted with a smile. Even though Hugo has been with Cpl. Tim for several years, he started out with another state trooper who then retired after 2-3 years. (I can’t remember who had Hugo longer.)
    2. Tracking –  Suspects–if the driver has run off into the woods or something like that. Elderly–if someone has wandered away from a nursing home. Children–especially children with special needs. The dogs have to be trained not to jump on the person when they find them. They don’t want Great-Grandma being knocked over by a full grown German shepherd. Cpl. Tim said when Hugo gets very close to the person he is tracking, he’ll sit down and bark. If it’s a fugitive, the guy will most likely start screaming, “Don’t bite me!” (That’s why commands like “bite” or “attack” are taught and given to the dogs in German.”)
    3. Handler Protection – Hugo is very protective of Cpl. Tim, and if anyone tried to take a swing at him, even in fun, Hugo would not be happy! “He’s also very protective of his car,” Cpl. Tim told us. “The very first time I left Hugo at home and went somewhere in the patrol car, Hugo had a fit. When I got out of court, my wife called me to see if I was coming home soon. I told her I was and asked if there was a problem. She said my dog was going crazy. I could hear him barking in the background. When I got back home, I discovered he’d overturned his dog house, flung himself against the sides of the kennel, and barked the entire time the car was gone.” There was a grin on Cpl. Tim’s face. “He still has a fit when I leave in the car and don’t take him with me.”
    4. Apprehension – This was mentioned earlier, but the dogs are trained to sit and not jump on someone they find unless they are giving the command to bite.
    5. Area Search – This includes evidence recovery as well as lost property. If a suspect is running away and tosses a gun, a bag of marijuana, or something else, they can use one of the dogs to search for it. Dogs don’t search for a specific odor when doing this tracking. They simply have to find something that smells different than the grass, rocks, sticks, and such. Something that has a human oder.
    Narcotics Detection – Hugo is certified in sniffing marijuana, cocaine, heroin, meth, and other forms of meth like ecstasy. If Cpl. Tim thinks there might be drugs in a car he’s stopped, he can use Hugo to do a search outside of the car. He will take Hugo around the entire car telling him to search (I’m not certain just what word is used). If Hugo smells any of the drugs, he’ll sit with his nose as close to it as he can get. Once Hugo has alerted on a vehicle, Cpl. Tim has the right to search it even if the driver won’t give permission. The dogs are never used to search people.
    “I don’t like to use Hugo for area searches,” Cpl. Tim admitted, “because Hugo doesn’t like to give things back.”
    Everyone chuckled.
    Dogs are habit driven. They are trained by doing things over and over and over. When searching a vehicle, Cpl. Tim insists that Hugo circle the entire vehicle and check everything. “If not, he’ll just go to the most common place or stop when he’s found something and not keep going.”
    Cpl. Tim said he spends a lot of time watching traffic. You know those state highway patrol vehicles sitting in the median when you’re driving down the highway? Guess what, they aren’t usually looking for speeders. They are looking for things that aren’t “normal.” What is “normal”? It takes time for an officer, police, or state trooper, to know what is normal in their area. Cpl. Tim said it took him about 18 months to get the feel of the area he patrols.
    He gave us some tips:
    • Know your geography – If you stop a car, and the driver says they were just coming back from California, ask how long they were there. “Oh, just a day.” Hmm, who drives from Missouri all the way out to California just for a day? Or, “I’m just coming back from my brother’s in Illinois. I haven’t seen him in six years.” “How long were you there?” “Oh, just a day.” Something doesn’t add up there.
    • Begin to know common reasons for things – Does their reason for travel match what things you see are telling you? One man said he was driving from Arizona to some other eastern state. It was winter, and while still warm in Missouri, Cpl. Tim, who keeps track of the weather in all parts of the country, knew a big snowstorm was supposed to hit the area this man was headed to. “Don’t you have a coat with you?”
    “No,” the man replied. “I’m not going to be there long enough to need one.”
    “It’s supposed to be cold there.”
    “I’ll be fine.” The man had on shorts and a t-shirt. Something just wasn’t adding up right, so Cpl. Tim searched the car. Inside the man’s suitcase were two more pairs of shorts, two t-shirts, and a pair of flip-flops. And marijuana.
    Is there a lack of luggage for someone who is supposedly traveling a long ways? Or too much? If there are any young children in the car, are there any toys or a diaper bag in sight?
    Does the overall look of the vehicle match the reason for travel? If someone says they are heading to a funeral but are driving a U-Haul, that could be a sign something is off.
    One time Cpl. Tim saw a really nice car pass on the highway. It was the kind you would probably get from a rental company. However, on the back of the car was a bumper sticker. Rental cars don’t have bumper stickers. The driver had a scruffy beard and looked like a homeless guy. When Cpl. Tim ran the plates, they came back stolen. After stopping it, he also discovered drugs in the car.

Have you ever seen a dog throw a fit?
Did you think the HP sitting in the median were looking for speeders?
 Do you want a copy of His Law Is Love?

Friday, October 12, 2018

Highway Patrol – Week 4 – Part 1

Hello dear Readers,
How has your week been? Mine has been good. It's been rather fun to not have so much going on. I actually got somethings done that have been waiting for months! Our weather has been a bit strange, but that's nothing unusual here in Missouri. It was warm and humid at the beginning of the week and we had the AC on. Yesterday it only reached a high of 64ยบ and today it's supposed to be in the low 50s. We're supposed to get a frost in the next few days! Maybe then the leaves will start turning. Right now they are still green. I'm ready for fall colors, long sleeves, sweaters, hot drinks, soups, . . . You get the picture.

The other evening I actually worked on writing one of my novels! Since I have all my monthly short stories written, and I was caught up on the HP reports, I got to return to Hymns in the Hills. It was rather fun. But now I have one final short HP report from last night. Last night was our "graduation" dinner. It was quite nice and–well, I'll tell you about it later.

I had to break this report up into 3 parts. It was long! This first part is the first class. And boy, was it something more people need to know about. Feel free to send others to read it. Or tell them about it. The next instructor for that evening will have two parts since it was really long. I hope you enjoy this and learn something! It's kind of scary.

Highway Patrol
Week 4 – Part 1

September 27, 2018
    Arriving at the classroom, we found some of our classmates already there, but most of the rest showed up soon afterwards. One gentleman had a meeting, so he would be late, and another girl thought that class started at 6:30 for some reason.
    Sgt. Lueckenhoff apologized that the crash team wasn’t able to make it and then introduced us to Lieutenant Brad Bearden.
    Lieutenant Bearden has worked in the Internet Crimes unit for many years. He told us that Joplin has the most successful internet crimes teams in the state. They were also the first to really get a unit together to focus on this aspect of crime. Now the Highway Patrol has some Digital Forensic investigators stationed in Jefferson City. Most of what they deal with is child pornography and related crimes.
    If someone is charged as a child predator, they get charged in the federal court, and they can’t get out on bond.
    It is safe to say that 99% of child predators are male. In Lt. Bearden’s 8 years of working in this division, there were only two females who were charged and only one since he left the unit.
    Most people don’t become a child predator overnight. It’s a cycle. It starts with child pornography, then gets more involved as pictures no longer satisfy.
    When Lieutenant Bearden goes to schools, he starts educating the students about what constitutes child pornography because most don’t know. Child pornography is not just pictures of kids without clothes. It includes any person under the age of 18 in the act of any sexual activity. It may be meant as a goofy picture in the school hallway, but it’s serious. “If you have any pictures like that on your phone, your iPad, tablet, or computer, you can be charged with possession of child pornography.” At that point the students usually start pulling out their phones and deleting pictures. Sometimes the teacher or principal asks Lt. Bearden then if he isn’t going to take their phones. “No, this is education. This is not enforcement right now.”
    Right now, in the state of Missouri, a 17-year-old can be charged as an adult.
    If two 15-year-olds take pictures they shouldn’t and send them to each other, each of them could be charged with creating, possessing, and promoting child pornography.
    Lt. Bearden said that one thing he stresses to students and teachers is that if someone sends you a wrong picture, don’t just delete it. Tell someone. The authorities need to know about it as soon as possible so they can stop as many pictures as they can. And whatever you do, never share it on Facebook! Lt. Bearden always asks the students, “Do you know every single friend on every one of your friends’ accounts?” The answer is obviously no. One of those people might be a predator.
    Good rule about online friends: If you don’t know the person, delete them. Or don’t be friends with them to begin with.
    Did you know that 28 thousand people are looking at pornography every second? It makes me cringe to think of it. But, did you know that all child pornography goes to the National Center for Missing Children? It does. All your search engines–google, aol, bing–all have filters to check for child pornography. It also checks emails. Any photo with a certain percentage of skin showing gets checked. If it is what it shouldn’t be, the authorities can follow the trail of where it came from, who had it last, and eventually find the source of the picture. Then comes the knock on the door. The government doesn’t look kindly on people exploiting our children!
    We are in charge of the internet! And if we are in charge of it, we need to keep it clean!
    Lt. Bearden gave us a list of apps to beware of. Most of these are ones that child predators use to chat with children. Some because they don’t have filters, some because, while they will have a record of who talked when and where, they don’t have a record of what was said.
Yik Yak– This is a big one predators use to chat. They’ll “meet” the kids elsewhere and then suggest they chat on this app.
Tinder– It has a red flame on it, and some lady told Lt. Bearden, when he found it on her daughter’s phone, that it was a Red Cross app for giving blood. Hardly!– Don’t go there.
Omegle– One of these last four is a Latvian app. Stay away from it.
Snapchat– I know, you probably never thought this was going to come up, did you? After all, you should be able to share a picture and then it will go away in a certain number of seconds. But does it? Not always. And what if someone takes a screen shot of it?
Yubo (used to be Yellow)–
Hot or Not– This doesn’t even sound like a good app!
Burn Book– What on earth? Yeah, not what it sounds like.
Tango– Just for your information, this is NOT a dance app!
There are also Jailbreak apps that can override a parent’s security on a child’s phone. And we haven’t even mentioned the hidden apps that usually appear as a calculator. Note: There should only be ONE calculator on a device! If you find another one, you know there’s at least one hidden app. Go to the Android or Apple app store and search for “hidden apps.” If any say “update” or “open” you know it is on that device. Why do kids even need their own phone or electronic device? If you say for school, then please note that all the filters used on school iPads and such, don’t work when the student takes the device home. Yeah, that means anything is available.
    Yes, it was a lot to take in and rather sobering.

    We took a break after that and got snacks and visited for a bit.

Have you ever used one of those apps?
Did you learn anything new here?
Are you experiencing fall weather yet?

Friday, October 5, 2018

Highway Patrol – Week 3

This is going to be short. Well, the first part is. I have a party to get back to. :) Have you all joined the Five Fall Favorites party over at Read Another Page? (And all the other lovely blogs.) It's been a busy week with lots and lots of books recommended. Today is the final day to enter the giveaway so don't forget! And tell all your friends and family too.
I haven't done a whole lot this week besides party stuff. I did get my Nov. story sent out to beta-readers. I've read some, taught writing classes, and designed a mock cover for my collection of monthly stories. Tonight we get to babysit my nieces and nephews. They haven't all been over for a normal evening of babysitting for a long time! Last night was the final Highway Patrol class. You'll get a report on that later. Since we covered so much stuff in these classes, several reports are going to have to be broken up. But not this week's. It is a bit long, but not long enough to break into two parts.

Enjoy it!

Highway Patrol
Week 3

September 20, 2018
Dad and I managed to arrive a little earlier than last week and found Sgt. Leuckenhoff, his wife, and three other classmates outside. The sergeant was talking to one of the SWAT men about something. Soon we headed inside to our classroom.
    Once everyone was there, we were divided into two groups. Dad and I went with the first group to the shooting range in the basement after we picked up our two boxes of bullets. There were eight of us in this group, but one of the ladies didn’t want to shoot.
    At the door which led downstairs we had to stop and wait a bit until someone came and unlocked the door. It was a familiar place to me as I had been down there for both the Citizens Police Academy and the Sheriff’s Citizens Academy. We took seats, and Sgt. Lueckenhoff briefly introduced our three instructors. Not only are they Highway Patrol officers, but they are the firearms instructors for the HP. We were given a crash course on handling the guns, and then we were given cases to load with 17 bullets (that’s all that will fit). We all had earplugs and clear glasses to wear. Then four of us went up to shoot first. I was one of the first group.
    It was really nice this time as there were more instructors, so you got one-on-one coaching if you needed it. I did. Our first target was a paper with 12 large black dots. Once I was able to relax some, I hit the middle dot. After I finished my first 17 rounds, the instructor reloaded the case for me. (I had managed to get 15 bullets in the first time, but Dad had to get the last two in. My fingers just aren’t strong enough, I guess.) I shot my first 50 bullets and didn’t do too badly. I was still too tense and anticipating the recoil of the trigger when I pulled it. And, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t hit anything higher than the middle dots.
    It was interesting to sit at the tables and watch others shoot. There were a couple guys who were really good. I think they might shoot on their own.
    Later I went up again to shoot the second half of my rounds. This time I was with a different instructor and got a new target. This target was an image of a man with a gun. My first shot wasn’t too good. I shot him in the stomach. Then I was shooting all around his gun. The instructor asked if I was aiming for the gun. No. I was just anticipating that slight recoil. He got me to relax a little more and said to hit him center of mass.
    I did. Dead center. After a few more shots in the middle, he said to shoot right between the eyes. That was easier said than done. I got his neck. I got the guy’s ear and the side of his head, but mostly I hit around his mouth and chin. I think I did manage to hit the nose or the eye once. Again my instructor was kind enough to reload for me.
    “I saw you struggling to load those first ones,” he told me.
    By the time my final round was shot, I almost had a blister on my hand, and my arms were rather tired. But it was fun. I’d do it again if I had the chance.

    Sgt. Lueckenhoff came down and, after the final shots were taken, he sent us all outside to see the “bear cat” before it got dark.
    No, a “bear cat” is not some half breed creature from some fantasy book. It’s the SWAT team’s armored vehicle. The small one. There’s another one that is large enough for the men to stand up in which is called a “bear,” but this one they have to sit in. We got to climb up inside it and look around. There are no seatbelts, but when they have 8-14 guys fully dressed with all their gear, they’re packed in that thing. We were also told that Sgt. Lueckenhoff was the best “bear cat” driver the SWAT team has ever had.
    Before we went inside, we got to see and hear a “flash-bang.” It’s exactly what it sounds like. You pull the pin, toss it in the house or room, and it makes a big flash and a loud bang. Sort of like a very loud firecracker. They won’t use them, though, if there are children or elderly people in the house. And they always have to check first before they toss it in just to make sure no one is directly in the way.
    “It works really well on mean dogs,” one of the men said. “After it went off in one house, a large, mean dog ran out of the house as soon as we opened the door, and we never saw him again.”
    We all headed back inside and settled in our classroom while the second half of the class went to the shooting range. (They were supposed to already be down there, but no one had caught that part of their instructions.)
    Four members of the Highway Patrol SWAT team talked to us. There are twenty men–entry team and snipers–on each HP SWAT team, though I can’t remember how many teams the Missouri HP has. Also on the team are a few negotiators and three paramedics. The team trains two days a months and one full week in the fall. They go shoot one day a month.
    Corporal Mike Adams, who is one of the negotiators as well as a road officer, talked a little about what negotiators do. Basically they try to talk the person into giving up. The negotiators will often fill a whiteboard, and more sometimes, with information they learn while talking to the wanted person. They will analyze everything. If there are certain words that set him off, they won’t use them as they are trying to calm him down so he’ll give up. Sometimes everything goes quickly, and other times it takes days.
    Corporal David Brown is a sniper and used to be in the Marines. He talked a bit about what snipers do. Often they will go in hours or a day or so before the entry team. They give a lot of information to the entry team about who they see go in or come out. If the entry team had been informed that there were no children at the house, but a sniper sees some children enter, he’ll let the other know so they can change their plans.
    One of the SWAT vests was passed around. That thing is heavy. I can’t imagine having to wear it for hours. We were told that the plates in the vest have to be replaced every five years. They also have a first-aid pouch on the right side of the vest. If a team member gets hurt, they will use that person’s first-aid kit to treat them so that their own kit stays intact for themselves.
    Since the SWAT team isn’t part of a certain county, they help out in places where they don’t have a SWAT team. But they never go out without being asked. Sometimes they might go out a dozen times in one year, the next year it might only be eight.
    There was some talk about different things, but then we were allowed to look at the stuff if we wanted. Some did, others just talked for a bit. We left a little before nine.
Come back next week as we learn about Crash Scenes, Internet crimes, and the K-9 Unit.

Have you ever shot a gun before?
Have you come to the party?
Are you enjoying these reports?

Friday, September 28, 2018

Highway Patrol – Week 2 – Part 2

Hello FFFs,
Have you ever started a week feeling like you had a mountain of things to accomplish and didn't know if you'd be able to get even a quarter of them done? That's how my week started. I had a project that really needed to be finished, but I also had a dozen or so other projects all wanting or needing to be worked on. After spending most of the day working on adding pictures to the collection of letters my grandparents wrote each other (in the 1940s) in high school and then some in college (my big project) and only getting half of the six years done, I was rather discouraged. I had hoped to get the proof copy of this book ordered last week. Now I probably wouldn't get it uploaded until Wednesday since all Tuesday morning is spent teaching. And did I mention the other projects were nudging me and begging to get worked on too?
I spent the morning teaching like I had planned. Then in the afternoon I got to work on the project. To my excitement I got the rest of the pictures added! Then, I finished the formatting and uploaded it! I got the cover done and submitted the project. I was thrilled! But the day wasn't over. I received my proof copy of my new Christmas story!
And I finished writing my November short story, finished reading a book for a reading challenge, and got a Read Another Page newsletter sent out! Talk about exciting.
While not quite as exciting as Tuesday, it was still great! I edited, formatted, and uploaded the October story for publication. (It's available for pre-order.) My sister and I finished listening to an audio book, I worked on blog posts for the Five Fall Favorites, re-read and edited my November story, and ordered my proof copy of the book I finished Tuesday.
I love it when so many projects get completed all at once. Now I have a few more to finish. The big one is of course making sure everything is ready for the Five Fall Favorites party. :) But I need to write the next Highway Patrol report from last night's class, and find get some other things done.

How was your week? If you need something to laugh about, just read the 2nd half of this report. I share some stories that still crack us up. :)

HP Report Week 2
Part 2

    We had a break after that and got snacks and drinks, and moved around and chatted some.
    Our next instructor was a good friend of Sergeant Leuckenhoff’s, Sergeant Steve Jones. He gave us a crash course on Impaired Driving Enforcement. They said they used to have some off duty troopers come in and actually get drunk, so we could see what happens, but I was glad Sgt. Lueckenhoff decided not to do that.
    Did you know that drunk driving is the #1 cause of death in the United States? Every 2 minutes someone is injured because of it, and every 51 minutes someone is killed.
    There are four lines of defense against drunk or impaired driving.
    1st line: Education and Prevention. This one is kind of obvious. If you can educate people about the dangers, you will lessen the likelihood of them being one of those drivers.
    2nd line: Close friends or family. If you see a family member or close friend who is not fit to drive, do everything you can to keep them from getting behind that wheel. Offer to take them home (unless you are somewhat impaired too), offer to call a cab or someone else.
    3rd line: Citizens. If someone stops for gas, and you can tell he shouldn’t be driving, call 911 and let them know. If you work at a gas station and just sold someone a 6-pack because you thought he was a passenger, but then you see him get in the driver’s seat and there’s a child in the back, call the police.
    4th line: Law Enforcement.
    If you ever see a vehicle being driven erratically (braking suddenly, swerving, slowing down and then speeding up), call 911, or *55 if you are on the highway. Let the dispatcher know what you see, what the car looks like, and which direction it is heading. You may feel like it might not be an emergency but you can tell them you don’t know if the person is just sleepy or if something else is going on. They can send someone to check it out. It could save a life.
    And no, just because someone swerves across the line once doesn’t mean they are drunk. There are all sorts of reasons that could happen (missing a turtle in the road, checking your phone, turning on the AC, looking at something out the side window, sneezing . . .). A State Trooper is not going to pull over everyone he sees that does something erratic once or twice. He has to have a reasonable suspicion that they are under some sort of influence.
    Two of our classmates put on the “drunk glasses” and attempted to walk a straight line. One of them kept taking them off when she was just standing still because she felt like she was going to fall over. Sgt. Lueckenhoff, who was assisting Sgt. Jones at this point, had to hold on to her arm to keep her steady.

    We really didn’t get a break before our next instructor, Sergeant Travis Hitchcock. He works in the Criminal Investigation Department. There are different types of investigations needed for different kinds of crimes. There are the usual things that people think of such as break-ins, thefts, or other things of a criminal nature. Then there are drugs, and there are also rural or agricultural crimes. I never think of rustling cattle as something that happens much these days, but it does. Or stealing such things as a combine!
    Sgt. Travis told us many stories of his years working on the Highway Patrol force. Here are a few that he told.
Story #1
    Sgt. Travis was a young trooper, and it was one of his first times out alone. It had been an easy day and his shift was almost over. Only about ten more minutes, so he decided to turn around and head back. He had to wait for a car to drive past before doing a U-turn and heading back in the same direction the other car was going.
    Suddenly the car that had just driven past him pulled over to the side of the road and the driver’s door opened.
    At this point, Trooper Travis wasn’t sure what was going on, so he pulled over too, at a safe distance, and cautiously got out.
    The driver in front of him climbed out of his car, threw up his hands and exclaimed, “I knew you’d catch me! I just knew it! I knew you’d get me!”
    Wondering what the man had done, Trooper Travis called back, “You shouldn’t have done it.”
    “I know!” the other man admitted. “I shouldn’t have. I knew you’d catch me.”
    Now Travis was really wondering who the man was and what he had done. He had to keep the man talking until he could figure it out. Somehow during the lengthy conversation Travis discovered that the man had a few warrants out and was driving on a suspended license. After placing the man under arrest and handcuffing him, Travis put him in the patrol car and they drove off.
    The man was still agitated and asked, “How did you know it was me in that car?”
    Glancing over at him, Travis replied, “I didn’t. I was just going home.”
    “Oh, man!”
    “Yeah, if you hadn’t stopped, I would never have known. And now you’ve made me late getting off my shift.”
    The man apologized.
Story #2
    One day when Sgt. Travis was working, he got word that a case of fireworks had been stolen. Now a “case” is a tent-load of fireworks. They were stolen by two employees who knew if they took some from this case and some from that, it would be discovered. So they just took an entire case instead of shipping it. It was pretty easy to find the fireworks because the thief had listed them on Craig’s List.
    Posing as a buyer, Sgt. Travis contacted the man, and they agreed to meet in a Wal-Mart parking lot to exchange money for the fireworks.
    When the day arrived, Sgt. Travis waited in the parking lot knowing that all around were other members of his team watching. Then he sees the man coming. The thief was driving a suburban loaded down so much that bottle rockets are sticking out the windows. Sgt. Travis said it looked like some cartoon. “Oh, great!” Travis thought, seeing the man approaching, “he’s going to know something’s up since there is no way all those things are going to fit in my small truck.”
    But he hadn’t reckoned on the fact that the thief who was dumb enough to list stolen items on Craig’s List, might not be smart enough to think of other things either.
    The thief arrived and eagerly started to help load the fireworks into the truck. The other officers moved up, but Sgt. Travis said it took the thief a while to realize that he was being arrested. Not a very smart thief. Oh, and the fireworks were all being stored in his grandma’s barn, so the officers went out there and recovered the entire lot.

Story #3
    Sgt. Travis told us that he likes to pull people over and just give them a warning. “You’d be surprised at how many criminals you can catch just from pulling them over for a tail light that’s out, or for driving too fast, or whatever.”
    This time he pulled over a car for a tail light that was out. Before he had time to get out of his car, the driver gets out of his car and starts walking toward him. Not a good sign. “Stop!” he tells the man.
    The man is acting really nervous and keeps asking, “What’s wrong, officer? What’s going on?”
    Sgt. Travis noticed a strange bulge in the pocket of the man’s pants. When the driver stuck his hand in the pocket, Sgt. Travis quickly grabbed his arm. He didn’t know what was in the pocket. It could be a gun. Quickly he felt it with his other hand and discovered it wasn’t hard. “What’s in your pocket?” he asked.
    The driver’s eyes widened and he looked down in shock. “I don’t know! Someone borrowed my pants!”
    (The room erupts into laughter at this point.)
    Sgt. Travis acted surprised. “You don’t know? Don’t you think we should find out?”
    “Maybe you should pull it out slowly.”
    “Yeah, okay.” Gingerly, as though expecting a frog to jump out or something equally startling, the man began to feel around in his pocket. He felt and felt.
    “Can’t you find it? It’s right there.”
    Slowly the driver pulled his hand out and opened his eyes in astonishment as he holds a bag of “weed” in his hand. “How did that get there?”
    (Probably from the guy who borrowed his pants.) Needless to say, the driver was arrested for possession of drugs. If he had stayed sitting in his car and acted normal, Sgt. Travis might not have even noticed.

Story #4 (I told you he had a lot of stories.)
    Sgt. Travis was doing a traffic stop on a car and had the driver out talking to him. He could tell there was something in his pocket, so he told the man to take it out. The man took a really long time but finally pulled his hand out with the object tucked under his thumb trying to palm it. Quickly he dropped it on the ground between their feet and then jumped back in shock.
    “What’s that?” he exclaimed.
    Sgt. Travis is a great actor. For a moment he stared down at the object, then slowly he looked up into the sky before looking with wide eyes at the man. “I think God just framed you,” he said slowly.
    The man stared, not quite sure what to do next.

    All these stories made Sgt. Steve Jones, who was still there, want to tell one of his “war stories”.
    “I was a young rookie,” he began. “I was driving down the highway late one evening and ended up pulling over a car that was driving too fast. Before I had a chance to get out and approach the car, this lady jumps from her car and runs back to me. Now my first thought was, ‘Oh no, she wants to kill me,’ since that’s what’s been drilled into our heads at the academy. But thankfully she didn’t.
    “She starts talking about how she was late for work that day and had to clock in late, and that meant she lost two points and if she lost three than she’d lose her job. And these other problems had come up at work, and her son was having problems, and her water heater had broken. Then she starts going on about these UFO lights she had seen coming down low over the highway and about aliens. She just kept talking and talking and getting more excited.
    “I really didn’t want to deal with her, so I said, ‘Lady, the county line is about five miles that way,’ and I pointed. ‘I think you need to get in your car and get there.’
    She agreed, jumped back in her car and left.”

    Sgt. Travis asked, “When was this? About 20-25 years ago?”
    “Yeah,” Sgt. Jones agreed.
    “Then,” Sgt. Travis said, “for the last 20-25 years this lady has been telling all her friends about how she got out of a speeding ticket by talking about aliens.”
    (I wouldn’t suggest you try it because the trooper who pulls you over might be a seasoned trooper instead of a rookie.)
    There was a little talk after that about next week’s class. We get to shoot their guns, and Sgt. Lueckenhoff told us he has 100 rounds for each of us! We also get the SWAT guys next week, so I hope you’ll come back for the next report. See you next week!

Do you lend your pants to anyone?
Have you ever accomplished more than you thought possible?
Are you coming to the FFF party next week?