Street Crime Short Stories #9
After two years in O.C.I. (Organized Crime & Intelligence), I found myself on day shift patrol. With only four years seniority, I was low man on the pole. Most of the senior guys were on day shift. They had done their time on evenings and graveyard shifts seeing and doing what most cops do. They found their way to a shift less demanding on them and their personal lives. The same formula applied to days off as well. Senior guys want off on weekends. Junior guys fill in during their absence. As a relief officer, I floated from beat to beat all over the city. One cool, sunny morning in early fall I rode the Southern Hills area of Shreveport. As for crime, there was not any. It was not like the fast pace of graveyard shift in Cedar Grove. People actually liked me. I drove along the smooth, asphalt streets lined with large, well built brick homes. I saw men cutting grass, boys and girls riding bikes and playing ball and women out for their morning errands. Unlike Cedar Grove and Queensborough, they smiled and waved!
When I walked in a convenience store or fast food joint for coffee or a restroom break, people actually smiled and greeted me. Men and women held the door for me as their children watched, teaching them manners and respect for the uniform. It was like being on vacation compared to what I was accustomed on graveyard before going to O.C.I. I noticed no matter the age or sex, everyone called me sir even though I was still in my 20’s. At that stage in my life with four years in the Marines mostly overseas and four years as a cop on the streets, I was still a little immature. Well hell, if I am going to confess, why half-step? I am 65 now and can still act immature. It did not take this fool long to realize why older cops select day shift in these neighborhoods.
I finished my shift that Saturday afternoon and turned in my unit to the patrol desk. It was a rare experience for me to not work late filling out arrest reports. In fact I had not even seen a minor traffic violation let alone made an arrest.
Sunday morning found me blessed once again as I rode Southern Hills. I listened to officers in the ghetto beats dispatched to early morning family fights, theft reports and shots fired as I sipped a fresh cup of coffee at McDonald’s on Mansfield Road. I observed a well dressed, young couple with two small children eating breakfast before church. The little boys steadily watched me. As I headed to the door, I paused at their table to say good morning to the little family. The boys were excited as I introduced myself. I asked if they were going to Sunday School. They were so shy. I only received a smile and nod in the affirmative. Their Dad shook my hand and gave his name. He then introduced his wife and little boys. I made eye contact. With a smile, I said it was nice to meet them, enjoy church and be safe on the roads. The boys waved as I walked through the door headed to my big police car sipping my coffee.
I felt relaxed and proud at that moment. God blessed us each with a brain more complex and powerful than any computer man will ever invent. We record information and events to our hard drives. Sometimes it is the smell of freshly baked bread, a puppy’s breath, freshly cut hay or grass, honeysuckle or the air before a summer rain. We record bad things we see and then spend the rest of our lives trying to delete it from our data bases. I can close my eyes and still see that young family at McDonald’s. I often wonder where they are. How did those little boys do growing up? Are they good men? Do they treat others with love and respect as they were clearly taught by their loving Mom and Dad? Do they take their children to church?
A funny thing about being a street cop, one minute you are at ease and thanking God for all your blessings. A moment later the world comes crashing in. Your recorder does not have an off switch. It is always on. I learned to fly small, single engine airplanes from a salty, old crop duster years ago. I never forgot his words of instruction. “Pat, you’re flying over Cross Lake on a bluebird day. Everything is beautiful. You are caught up in the moment. Suddenly, your engine fails and all you hear is the wind. Panic strikes and catches you off guard. What do you do?” I said, look for a place to land. He said, “No.Try to restart your engine.” There I was flying along fat, dumb and happy without a care in the world.
Police officers do the same. We drive along fat, dumb and happy like I was doing. I drove along Mansfield Road sipping hot coffee. This was my mindset as I looked ahead. My mind then recorded a sight I have spent nearly 40 years trying to delete.
As I approached the intersection of Southside Drive, I saw a little girl lying in my lane of travel. I flipped on my emergency lights and radioed headquarters I needed the fire department at my location and expedite them. As I jumped out of my unit and ran to her, I noticed two crashed cars about a city block beyond the intersection. Smoke was pouring from the hood of one. The other was remnants of a late model Ford Pinto Station Wagon. It had been rear-ended by the smoking car. I was focused on the little girl checking her pulse. She had none. She was not breathing. Her beautiful, sky blue eyes were open. Tiny tears formed as I bent down and pressed my mouth to hers. I breathed in. Her lungs were much smaller than mine so I gave her half my capacity. I wiped her light brown hair from her face as I counted and began chest compressions. I paused and remembered to make certain the airway is clear. I inserted my finger into her small mouth and examined her. It was clear of obstruction so I repeated mouth to mouth and chest compressions. Time went in slow motion. Adrenaline does that to people. I was feeling it pump through my veins. It seemed an eternity before I heard the sounds of fire units rushing to help this little angel. I frantically worked willing her to breathe.
I looked in her eyes once again and saw her life leave her tiny body. Tears flowed as my heart shattered into a million pieces. I could not let her go. The E.M.T.’s pulled me away as I wept like a baby. I shook and fell to my knees. An unknown citizen apparently stopped to help as I was giving the little girl C.P.R. I felt the presence of a person but was unable to look up to see who was now patting my back. To this day I do not recall if it was a man, woman or their race. All I know, I silently called out to our Lord to help that little girl.
She was gone. I have no doubt God sent one of his children to comfort me. I stood and wiped my face as she was loaded into the back of an ambulance. Other officers arrived and took over the scene. They apparently saw my condition and let me be. I later learned a drunk driver passed out at the wheel doing 60 mph. He struck the Station Wagon stopped for the traffic light. Robin was the little girl’s name, She was napping in the back area of the car at the moment of impact. I hope she was asleep when the car hit and tossed her through the back window into the street. Her parents were rushed to the hospital and treated for serious injuries. I am thankful my Sergeant stayed with the parents during their treatment. He told them Robin was gone. My faith in Jesus helps me cope knowing Robin is now with Him.