Thursday, July 19, 2012

Cops & Comics

Eric Stender is a hoot.  From 6 PM last Saturday until about 5AM Sunday, this 40-something native of the Jersey Shore  kept me in stitches with his nonstop wit and humor.  So much for a hardened cop.

I found that there is not a serious note in Eric's body, at least not a serious note until he is doing his thing.  Then, this handsome police sergeant gets a stone-like look that could melt wax.  Although the Marine Corp vet of the Iraq war spoofs and mocks his stature (or lack of—maybe 5’7” or 5’8”), when one meets him one always assumes Eric is about three or four inches taller than he actually is—that’s the sort of image this well-built, square-jawed man projects.  He is definitely someone not to skrew with. 

The shift and your blogger’s “ride-along” was in like a lion--rather in like a gator--and out like a lion--rather out like a gator.  Not five minutes after we swung out onto the asphalt Florida jungle in the unmarked cruiser, Sgt. Stender spotted a small (one foot or so) baby alligator running across the road like an iguana trying out for the lizard olympics.  Wheeling around, he carefully herded the little snapper to the shoulder (yep, down here that’s part of a cop’s job description).  Later, at the close of the shift, around 4 AM, an 7'-9’ gator was seen crossing the road in front of us, and again we herded him across, tho much more slowly.  The thing actually walked up high on all fours and eventually slipped into a water hazard at a golf course—now that is what might be called a REAL hazard.  Wonder how many golfers down here have lost perfectly good hands trying to fish out 3$ golf balls from murky ponds?

Although they don’t happen every week as in the Gunsmoke reruns, Eric--the son of one cop, the brother of another--has been in one Dodge City type of shoot-out.  Early one dark morning not long back, some gang-banger was sauntering down some High Noon-type of street and just opened up on Eric for kicks.  Eric drew and the fight was on.  Literally, bullets were flying everywhere but they were flying a might too close to the banger's ears, apparently, since he soon cut and ran like the devil was after him, which it was.  Eric easily chased down the idiot and arrested him.

Must say, I actually felt sorry for one or two of the people jugged during our shift.  One young chap, maybe 25, tried his dead-level best to man-up and suck some sobriety into his head as he took the lengthy drunk test.  Alas, after a half hour of this stuff, the arresting cop just basically said, “Oh what the hell,” and cuffed the guy.  I’ll hand it to the officer, however, unlike the TV episodes, this gentleman did give the prisoner a final cigarette knowing it would be a stretch before he smoked another.  $1,000 fine, 6 months suspended, a few nights or more in the county clink, crime might pay but, judging by the number of DUI's that night, drinkin’ sure don’t. 

A few surprises:

      a)      Not one high speed chase though we did race all over the place to play back-up for Eric’s patrolmen in the area (we fish-tailed like crazy once and actually hit a hundred on the main drag, US 41).

      b)  Shocked at the number of mental retards running loose out there.  Traveling along one rundown street Eric spotted a large, familiar form standing in a yard.  Making a U-turn, the sergeant said “Watch this.”  As we slowly cruised back by, an unbalanced woman spotted Eric driving by and she literally ran screaming toward us crying,  “Eric!” as if she had just seen her rock star idol.  “Eric!”  We, of course, kept on moving but from all appearances, she was a veteran loony-toon.  “One of your former girl friends?” I laughed as I busted a gut.

     c)  Amazed at how many “friends” a cop has in his shift.  From the charging human refrigerator above to those who haunt Quick Shops at three in the morning, to the waitresses in ALL establishments, all seem smitten by men in blue.  One actually chased Eric out into a parking lot when we quickly turned back out the door because it was too noisy inside to suppa down.

           d)      Surprised at how Sgt. Stender could be joking and laughing with me and yet how diligent to his duty he remained.  Several times, unnoticed by me, Eric was taking plate numbers as we rolled along cracking funnies, eyeing suspicious vehicles, then punching it when we were swooping down on some dead duck.  And they are “dead” once this officer has them in his sights.

    e)  I must say: Unlike my joy when they take bad guys and gals down on Cops episodes, in real time, up close and personal, I was always happy when Eric let some poor rudder off with just a warning or gave some one else the benefit of the doubt and let them go.  On the other hand, one such character who smart-mouthed the cops earlier in the evening, and who they had nevertheless let go, was again stopped later for DUI and the revenge was sweet, indeed.

By dawn, when I limped back to this island like a tired hound dog--driving our hot sports car at or below the speed limit, I assure you--my dizzy head was swimming with images of swirling blue lights, screeching tires, sniffing drug dogs, and Saturday night sots being hauled away in jailhouse jewelry.  Although Sgt. Stender invited this blogger back any time I ask, it may be a bit before I jump at the opportunity.

On a related note, up at Sarasota yesterday, a local log flogger was hard at work on the beach doing what a log flogger does best, i.e., entertaining a group of young girls, age 5-16.  Fortunately, a law dog down on vacation from Indiana saw the vile miscreant whacking away and confronted him.  Although 41-year-old Josh McClure jumped on his bike and fled, cops had the homeless monkey-spanker in custody in a jiff.    Good God!  What in the hell is going on?  Seems these creatures commit such nastiness quicker than I can report them.   If any one thinks these are victimless crimes, think again.

Caricature of the Day