Monday, January 25, 2010

Rocks in the hubcaps

Most folks know that I love good police stories, especially quirky, funny ones. I stopped over at for my monthly visit and found a column, not unlike the column I started at the Flint Journal in 1990.

This column is written by a retired Ann Arbor detective sergeant and this column was about police pranks. It was pretty good and included a prank about putting rocks in hubcaps of a fellow police officers car. (The graphic with the story showed a fancy wheel - see photo with this post- but not a hubcap. It may be more a factor of young people not knowing what a "hub cap" is). The columnist was referring to an episode at the Milan Police Department that had gotten into the news.

As I have mentioned here before, I worked for two California police departments for seven years before going back to MSU to study journalism.

And as the writer said pranks are as much a part of police departments as ticket books.

Here's a few that I remember from my days in uniform.
We had our own firecracker episode at our police department. We had one officer, Paul F, who was very skittish about noises. One night he was sitting at the dispatch desk relieving the dispatcher during her dinner about 3 a.m.
An officer had a stash of firecrackers that he had confiscated in the trunk of his police car. Parking down the street from the police department he snuck up and lit a string of the firecrackers under the dispatcher's window.
Not wanting a good practical joke to go unwatched, several of us had parked nearby and watched as Paul F dove under the desk at the first sound of the firecrackers. He then put out a call over the radio and we all pulled up and fessed up to the joke.
In today's world, that probably could have gotten us all fired. Back then it was just part of the job.

All the police cars were keyed the same, in other words all the car keys worked in all the patrol cars. We had been ordered not to idle the cars (to keep them warm) while we were at lunch or on a call. All of us had duplicate keys and could let the car run while locking it from the outside.

If we found one of our co-workers cars locked and running outside a restaurant and knew that it was out of view of the officer inside, we would often drop off our riding along partners to unlock the car and drive it back to the station. It was always fun to sit in the station to hear the frantic call from the officer trying to explain to the dispatcher that his car had been "stolen."

The high school had a 1/4-mile running track and in the middle of the night we would drive there and do our own version of NASCAR around it with our lights off. That was until a neighbor noticed the cars speeding around the track and called the police department.

From a distance they couldn't tell the racing vehicles were police cars. When the dispatcher put out the call about the racing cars at the high school, one of the officers responded that they were in the area and would check it out. Then they quietly left.

One of our officers used to brag about the gas mileage in his foreign car. Every day he would come to work telling us he was getting 30 or 35 miles to the gallon. So for a month we started adding a gallon or two of gas to his tank every shift.

Each day he would excitedly come to work and brag that he was suddenly getting 40-45-50 miles to the gallon. We, of course, would scoff at him and tell him he was crazy, but the ruse went on.

Finally, after a month of adding gasoline, we started siphoning it out of his car a gallon or two at a time while he was out on patrol. He started coming to work loudly complaining that there was "something wrong" with his car. His mileage had dropped from 50 to 20 and he was not happy.

At the point we found out he took it back to the dealer to complain about his now "horrible" gas mileage, we brought him in on the joke before he did something stupid to the dealer.

More later.


Chris Flynn said...

Don't forget about N (wont mention name) walking into a lightpole after repremanding a Hells Angel. and the other cousin who fell into the Baptism fount. those weren't jokes, but funny. also, about you leaving your remaining biz cards everywhere.
Fun memories!

Jim of L-Town said...

Thanks for reminding me of those, I had forgotten. I'll put those in a story form later.

Good to have a backstop on some of this stuff. I'm getting together with Kenny while I'm in California and no doubt he'll remind me of many more, if I can keep him sober long enough to talk to.

Chris Flynn said...

The other cousin also lost his patrol car keys in the bay while tying up the patrol boat... also, another time, tossed the keys to another officer across a floor that was being washed and the keys hit and broke the ceiling light. And who was it that drove the patrol car into the garage before the light bar cleared the bottom of the gate? hahahaha Say hi to Kenny.

Susan said...

Several people told me that I should keep a journal while on the police department, but based on some of those "things" we used to do...I'm not sure about the statute of limitations! Makes me shutter to think about it! I could be Josephine Wambaugh?

Anonymous said...

Wow! My own mother and former stepmother telling stories on the same web site blog. That is too aweome.

Pam said...

You all have too much fun. Wish I'd known law enforcement was so much fun.

Although the library pulls a close second. Jim, you'd love it. You should look into doing security at a library.

Love the Nascar story, never heard that one before.

Anonymous said...

We hired a car for the middle three days to get about and see more of the island. A Nissan Micra with no hubcaps....Hubcaps