By Jules A. Staats 


Copyright 2014, Jules A. Staats; Library of Congress, USA.  All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. This work may be previewed only.


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Not as it seems and not as it appears.

There is a very important lesson here that the deputy sheriff never forgot.  It is that first impressions may deceive you.  First opinions of people in a critical situation could actually cause their subsequent death.  One of the most difficult actions of a police officer is to determine what caused the incident he was called to.  There is the short method which leads to a quick but maybe biased determination of the facts.  Usually that works well, but if there is doubt, a follow-up or second thought can determine if a person lives or dies.



He was working the day shift as a deputy sheriff in a Temple City Station traffic car.  His job was to work traffic violations and operate the installed radar unit.  Due to this, most calls for service of a criminal nature were assigned to the local “criminal” patrol car while he played in the traffic.


Not having to write the usual six to 8 burglary crime reports was a plus when working traffic.  The many speeders passing through the area kept him busy, and he usually managed to use up at least two books of serial numbered citations—twenty-five tickets to a book.


It was mid-day and Jay had already used up one book of the forms.  He mused that he might finish three books today if the present tide of traffic violations continued.  He listened to the police radio as the criminal car received another call from a practiced female voice:  “Car 58, car five-eight, a 647f (drunken person in public view) at the market, (location given.)”


After hearing the call, he thought about that, here was a person stoned around noon time.  His thoughts envisioned a person drunk during the day at a grocery store.  He figured that the other unit would acknowledge the call and respond, but the radio dispatcher was on the air again:  “Fifty-eight code one” The Radio Room downtown was requesting an acknowledgement from the unit.  Some silence due to the radio frequencies being Duplex, that is, the car and the dispatch frequencies were separate.


“Ten-four, you are still 10-6 on the last detail” then, “58-T1, 58 Tom one, handle the call, 58 is still 10-6 on his last detail, and you have a 647F, a drunk female, at the market, (location given again)”


He then acknowledged the call returned the radio microphone to the dash clip, and noticed he was only a few hundred feet from the location.  He parked by the front entrance of the market, grabbed his notebook and entered the store.  Sitting by the front cash registers was a young woman with fair complexion, about 27 years old.  She was wearing a flower print dress and did not appear to be aware of her surroundings, as she just stared ahead with no reaction to the people looking back at her.


The uniformed deputy dropped down to one knee, to speak face to face with this woman.  He asked if she was OK, and if anything was medically wrong.  She replied, that she was fine, but just a little light headed.  Jay could smell that her breath had a chemical odor, which could substantiate her being drunk in public.  The woman then tried to stand up, and immediately fainted.  Fortunately the deputy had quickly stood up and caught her before she fell to the floor.  He gently placed her on the floor.  Paramedics did not exist yet, there was no such thing as a police portable radio, and neither did the 911 phone system exist.  Jay asked the Store Manager, who was standing by, to call the Station, and advise that an ambulance was needed to transport the young woman to the local hospital.  The Manager made the call, and an ambulance arrived ten minutes later.  The unconscious woman was subsequently transported to the nearby hospital about a mile away.


He then asked the Store Manager several questions about this incident, made the necessary notations and then drove to the hospital to determine what action would be taken by the Justice System.  At the hospital he contacted the Staff Doctor of the Emergency Room.  He was told that the unconscious woman was medically examined and that it was determined she was under the influence of Barbiturates.  The hospital staff then made a request for a County ambulance to transport her to LCMC, the Los Angeles General Hospital. The deputy was told by the examining doctor that the hospital system would handle this incident as a medical case, and that he was released from further action.


Jay asked to see the patient again, and was led to a bed in the emergency room.  As he stood by the bad, he then looked her over carefully.  The Attending Physician stood nearby.  The woman appeared to look like an average housewife, he gently peeled her lips apart and observed that she had clean teeth.  Further investigation showed that her housedress was clean and her short fingernails were well cared for.  The deputy formed a strong opinion that she definitely did not appear to be a drug user.


Puzzled, the deputy located her wallet and went through her documents, really not sure what to look for.  The patient had a valid California Driver License, along with some wallet sized photographs of what could be her children.  Jay had a nagging feeling to keep looking, and found two pictures stuck together with a small card in the center.  He peeled the photos and found a printed card which stated:  “I AM A DIABETIC.”  In a flash he realized that the whiff of her breath was the smell of acetone, Jay’s Dad, an M.D. had mentioned this a long time ago.


Feeling somewhat frustrated, now knowing that this victim had been misdiagnosed, a feeling of anger was building inside him, but the deputy kept his cool as he showed the Doctor the card and stating sarcastically  “Does this make a difference, DOCTOR?”  The reaction of the experienced but embarrassed doctor was almost immediate, as the physician called for 50cc of glucose.  The liquid was injected into this victim who was actually suffering from diabetic insulin shock.  Had she been transported downtown to Los Angeles General Hospital, she would have probably died enroute.


In minutes the woman revived and Jay’s job was done.  Due to his respect for the medical profession as his stepfather was also a medical doctor, the human mistake was not reported.  The deputy sheriff had assisted in saving another life, due to taking the extra time and effort to properly investigate the situation.  He also marveled that he was only a few feet from the call, and that his partner in the other car was unable to handle this incident.


It was another case of being in the wrong place at the right time.  This was yet another coincidence that would be fully understood by him in the coming years.



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