TALES FROM THE DONUT SHOP 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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.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.
Badge #3; another badge, gun and uniform:
It was the year 2006. Jay was no spring chicken, having been born in the Dark Ages of 1938. Still, he had applied for a volunteer position in the Phoenix Arizona area known as Sun City. The organization was the Sun City Posse which was a part of many Posses that were authorized by the present Sheriff of Maricopa County, Joe Arpaio.
He had been asked to join the Sun City Posse while helping his wife get fingerprinted for a Child Care license. A tour of the Posse Headquarters was impressive. This was not a Law Enforcement Posse, but the work they did reminded him of the best duties he experienced, while a compensated Deputy Sheriff in two Departments.
As a new posse member, he completed a significant training course with instructors from the Sheriff’s Office and certified posse instructors at Sun City Posse headquarters. He then was qualified to patrol the streets of Sun City in a marked patrol car that was outfitted closely to the actual sheriff all black cruisers. This was the intent of the present Sheriff: to allow no great visual distinction between posse squad cars and the real thing. As a result crooks tended to stay away from Sun City unincorporated area and many other communities that had posse patrol.
It felt strange to be wearing a deputy sheriff uniform again, complete with sheriff badge, department patches and riding around in what really looked like a police vehicle with red and blue LED emergency lights. Yet, Jay fullly well was aware that he was completely unarmed, with no duty pistol, handcuffs, pepper spray or Taser.
Due to strict Sheriff’s Office policy, the posse members were to be kept out of harm’s way, and were ordered by radio to stay clear of any occurrence of criminal incidents. However he found he was now doing the “best” of police work, as he assisted drivers with broken down vehicles, responded to assist the Sun City Fire Department in medical emergencies, actual fires and traffic accidents. Further, by now he had a strong faith that he would be protected from any random evil out there.
Still, the old habits and recollections of former days as a deputy sheriff plagued his mind. He decided to go for the Advanced Posse position, where he would be authorized to carry and deploy if necessary, handcuffs and Pepper Spray. He understood that these were considered defensive tools only as he was not a Law Enforcement officer.
This advanced training was definitely not a lark, as he found out quickly. He had to relearn all the old handcuffing techniques plus some new ones that came out after he retired from police work. There were a lot of take-down moves, and he was crashed to the mat several times. Although he worked out frequently, the defensive tactics left him sore every day after the night time training.
The Pepper Spray training was probably the worst he had to endure. The plan was, that this was to happen at night time at the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Academy. On the rear lawn by a mock jail there was some grass. Jay could smell the pepper in the grass, and knew that what was to come would not be a good thing.
As were the other candidates, he was sprayed -directly into his eyes by a compensated Tach Officer just ten feet away. A liberal amount of the orange liquid covered his forehead, eyes, and face. The pain was immediate and terrible. Had he not received training on how to cope with this, he would be completely disabled and unable to function. The pain in his eyes was acute.
Now the hard work began…..
He had to somehow open his eyes and find a mock suspect standing 15 feet away in the dark. The “suspect” either carried a rubber knife, baseball bat or a fake blue training gun. For this skit, the weapons were supposed to be seen as completely real. Jay had to tell the suspect to drop the weapon by name, place the suspect in a control position on the ground, and then call for assistance on a fake radio. The actual address and exact location of the incident had to be given in an understandable voice.
Jay realized, that with the proper training plus a “never give up” willpower which he always had, even pepper spray could be tolerated and that he could still control a dangerous situation with commands. This, in spite of very significant pain. This exercise was necessary , as another officer could accidently spray him while attempting to disable a violent suspect. Any officer working with Law Enforcement had to continue to actively assist in an incident regardless of an accidental application of the pepper spray liquid.
The next day, while working a posse patrol shift, he declined to drive and had his partner control the patrol car. Good thing, because the warm day caused his eyes to water once again. However, now he could carry that equipment. Nothing was free and he had to purchase this equipment with his own money.
As an Advanced Posseman, he now could also carry specific models of the Taser. He did not have such a device, and the costs were significant for such a less-lethal defensive weapon. He would have to buy his own to carry one. He borrowed an older authorized M26 unit from another posse member who used to work for the New Jersey Police.
The good part of this less-lethal training was that he did not have to be “Tased” and the two day instruction consisted of extensive practical considerations of such a device. The dangers and also the positive attributes of the Taser were covered in detail, and the test thereafter was very thorough and comprehensive. Jay took the training but felt the $1,300.00 for a Taser, holster and battery adapter that held a second cartridge was out of the question at this time.
He got his Taser after all. A Maricopa deputy who had retired on a disability traded straight across the complete set he needed for a Smith & Wesson .40 automatic pistol that he bought years ago for $400. In Arizona there are no laws against the transfer of a firearm to a competent person who has not committed a felony.
Again, the desire to be able to actually assist the Maricopa Deputy Sheriffs was constantly on his mind. He felt that he had to apply for more training.
The next rung on the very steep ladder was the Qualified Armed Posse or QAP. With this training under his belt, and if he proved himself, he could carry an authorized automatic pistol on his uniform while on duty. He could also assist Deputies any time that they could use an extra hand, and a gun.
Maricopa Sheriff’s Office does not treat one of their posse members carrying a loaded gun with the uniform lightly. To even start the process, Jay had to take a huge written multiple choice written test that lasted ten hours. Some candidates had to finish the test on a second day. The questions were professional and also very personal. After that he had to take a TV response test to life and death incidents. Finally he met a County Psychologist who grilled him on his test responses. He had honestly answered that he had threatened people with death. When asked what happened, he stated that he had eight instances where persons had deadly weapons such as knives, guns, rifles and shotguns. At gunpoint, he had instructed the holder of these deadly weapons to drop them or he would kill them. Every one dropped the weapon and he never had to shoot anybody in nearly 25 years as a Law Enforcement Officer. The Psychologist was satisfied with the answers and approved Jay for further training.
He then had to take a drug test. This was a special very detailed blood test that would show drugs in the system for months prior. No problem with that test, as beer now and then, was OK.
For Armed Posse, the background check is, in a word, extensive.
At least he did not have to go through the pepper spray thing again, as he was already qualified. He could have bypassed the gun retention and advanced physical defensive tactics due to his previous Law Enforcement status and his POST certificates. He decided that if he could not take the abuse and absorb the training, he should not carry a gun with the uniform. The training was equal to any Arizona Lawman qualification, per AZ-POST standards. (Peace Officer Standards Training)
Well, he was almost knocked out unconscious once, but somehow lived and learned. The final days at the Sheriff’s Range were looking like heaven in comparison to the training on the gym mats.
Not so, the pistol qualification involved tactics, cover and movement and many tactics that all police officers know. He realized that the range portion of his training would be more difficult than the gun retention and advanced take-down phase at the Maricopa Academy However his new and personally owned .40 Glock Model 22 served him well and he managed to put holes in the targets in the right places. He qualified, and finally enjoyed a moment of fulfillment when his wife and family attended his Academy Graduation back at the Sheriff’s Academy.
Once accepted for this position to assist deputy sheriff personnel for free, the challenge of further qualifications could not be ignored. He had achieved the privilege of working in a district sheriff’s patrol car as a second man, helping the deputies in patrol when called upon to do so, and rendering assistance in police dispatches including criminal incidents. He even took more training classes and practiced on the Sheriff’s rifle range to become qualified to carry a shotgun or an AR-15 Rifle.
It was on this particular day, he was working in Sun City as a duty officer for the local Sun City posse patrols. He had volunteered for working the Sun City Posse, and that was in his mind to be his primary function. He only worked with the Deputies on occasion. His felt that his real job as a volunteer was to supervise his fellow local posse members in matters that did not require law enforcement status. His assigned marked patrol car belonged to the retirement community which had their own radio frequency. Since he was the shift duty officer he also carried a portable and licensed Maricopa sheriff band two way radio.
While driving on the streets in Sun City, he had just reflected of the past few years serving as a volunteer. Being in the wrong place at the right time had not changed. If there was an accident, he was in sight of the crash and his response/arrival was less than a minute.
A few days ago, he had performed a welfare check on a person who had not contacted the family for several days. Many of the signs of someone who may be too ill to pick up their newspapers just were not visibly present as mail went directly into the Kitchen through a mail slot in the door. Still, Jay had a very strong feeling that someone was inside after determining that none of the local hospitals had taken in this elderly woman. The neighbors were not much help and could not validate if they had seen her for months.
Jay requested a deputy to respond due to his gut feeling even if there was not anything else to substantiate it. Two deputies in two cars responded, and were followed by a Sergeant who was the day shift supervisor. Jay explained his concerns and what he had done to eliminate possibilities. Due to her being in her ‘90s, the resident did not own a car. All hospitals had been checked by his radio personnel and she was not a patient in any of them.
One deputy expressed that he was absolutely certain that there was no person down in the residence as the information provided just was not convincing to him. However the other deputy found a window that would open and crawled inside. He found the woman in her bedroom and she was a person down on the floor. She had been there for three days. The call by a deputy for a fire response was transmitted; Paramedics and an ambulance responded within minutes. She was subsequently taken to the hospital where it was determined that she was severely dehydrated but would recover from her ordeal.
The rest of the morning became very quiet and there were no incidents of any kind in Sun City for several hours. Jay thought of the last Christmas season when he volunteered to work Mall Patrol nearby. His mistake was that he had misread the reporting time of the assignment and as he checked out keys to a marked Posse patrol car. Having some time on his hands, he thought about hanging around the Posse headquarters and maybe having another cup of coffee. He quickly had a feeling of a quiet emotion, and he therefore decided against that idea as another cup of brew just did not interest him. Instead, Jay walked to the parked fleet of patrol cars and found his assigned vehicle for the afternoon. After checking off the vehicle condition sheet, he felt that he needed to hit the road and drive around for another 45 minutes. He felt that instead of going north where the mall was, he would go south on the main road, then turn around. He could not avoid the ever present thought; here we go again, what is going to happen now?
Jay continued south and even crossed the railroad tracks. In sight to his left was a supermarket parking lot. He felt strongly drawn to drive through the parking lot. At the far southwest of the parking area he observed a black man in his sixties that had both hands on the trunk of his car. At first nothing appeared out of the ordinary, but the man did not change his position. He quickly got out of the patrol car and approached the man. “Is everything all right sir?” he asked. He heard the reply that the man was just fine and did not need any help at all. Jay looked at the man’s face, seeing and feeling signs of distress. He was pointedly told again that everything was good, as the man insisted that he had no medical problems. The man started to get into his vehicle to drive home in Phoenix, which he said was about nine miles away.
After years of being in the wrong place at the exact right time, Jay went along with his inner feelings and requested Fire to respond over the now loud and voiced objection of this man. Within two minutes, a Paramedic team was standing by and speaking with the possible patient. While insisting once again and very strongly to the Paramedics that he was just fine, the man suddenly collapsed and was safely caught by one of the Fire Fighters.
An ambulance had responded with the Fire Department, and subsequently transported the now unconscious man Code 3 to the hospital after essential field treatment by the Paramedics. The fire crew later told Jay that if this man had driven off, he would have passed out behind the wheel while driving, turning his vehicle into a missile of destruction or even death. In addition, the severe congestive heart condition this victim was experiencing would have been fatal within the next half hour. Being in the wrong place at the right time in all probably, saved this man and perhaps several others who could have been struck by an out-of-control vehicle. Yes, per these medical experts, this man would have surely died that day.
Jay dropped this past memory, as he needed to do some more patrol. He now felt that he should patrol the north end of the community. He found himself on a main north and south street and noticed further that the official sheriff radio on his belt had been silent for a while. He tweaked the volume control and was immediately greeted with an emergency/priority-one call for any district deputy sheriff unit to handle.
This was a person very ill, who had suffered a possible heart attack in the presence of her daughter. The daughter was talking with the 911 operator, was giving CPR and needed lifesaving help immediately. A priority one call is usually responded to, by the District deputies Code 3.
Jay noticed that he just happened to be only one block away from the location of the crisis. He was there in mere seconds, and even though not as physically agile as he used to be, quickly sprinted through the open front door of the residence.
On the floor of the living room was the elderly victim, and the obviously distressed daughter was performing CPR compressions. He could see that she was obviously now very tired and was glad to let man in uniform take over. Within three minutes the Fire Department paramedics were there to render aid. The responding deputies then waited outside to give the fire department room to work.
The medic was alone and he asked Jay if he would continue the CPR while life-saving drugs were expertly applied to get the patient heart beating again. A monitor unit was applied to show a graphical display of the heart function. He could see that his compressions were causing the proper spikes necessary to insure good blood flow.
It was over twelve minutes later that the medic determined that the patient had a heartbeat and was breathing on her own. Shortly thereafter, Jay watched the ambulance speed off to the local hospital with red lights and siren, reserved for a patient that is alive but requires medical aid as soon as possible. He never enquired on the results of this rescue. In keeping with his peace of mind about adult victims, he would rather not know.
To skip back to the day Jay worked the large shopping mall nearby at Christmas time, he finally arrived and contacted a deputy sheriff who was in charge of the two man, two car detail. The purpose of the patrol was to just be visible to all the Christmas shoppers. The deputy sheriff had to be present to authorize the posse to do anything that could be called Law Enforcement authority and the posse members had to follow Sheriff’s policy to the letter.
During the course of the night, Jay was summoned by the deputy who had made a traffic stop of a car that was still driving on the public road next to the mall. It turned out that the traffic stop only needed a warning to the driver, and there was no threat. A conversation started between the deputy and the posse man. Jay was reaching for subjects to converse about, and then started mentioning some experiences while working as a deputy for Los Angeles County. The Sergeant deputy related that one moonless night he was approaching a suspected drug house in the boon docks along with several other deputies. They had obtained the necessary warrants and knew that the suspects could be armed and dangerous. He could only see the lights from the windows of the house as there were no yard lights.
He stated that without warning, he tripped over a heavy object, which he thought was a boulder. He flew forward and then fell flat on his stomach. At that instant, shots rang out and he heard the supersonic snap of the three high power rifle bullets fired just over his body. Had he been standing, he would have been hit by gunfire that would have penetrated his body armor and he could have been killed.
Expecting further fire at his position, he continued to lay flat and felt for the object that tripped him, saving his life. There was nothing there to trip him. He had been caused to fall flat on his face to save his life. Yes, he had an very good opinion Who or What caused him to trip and fall at the exactly right instant in time.
It was now January of 2013. Jay first pinned on a badge in December of 1959. He felt that it was finally time to hang up the gun and badge and take it easy for a while. After over six years on Sheriff Joe’s Posse he would be eligible for retirement status. Although there was absolutely no pension, the Posse would have his badge placed on a plaque as a thank-you for his years of service.
His reward for the years of service included countless hours directing traffic at major traffic accidents, assisting at police crime scenes, and many personal encounters.
Perhaps one of the most rewarding incidents was when he was assigned to posse patrol and was yet to be promoted to a Duty Officer. The assigned D.O. was tied up on a welfare check of a possible person down inside their residence. A second welfare check was dispatched to Jay concerning a 92 year old blind woman that had not been heard from for two days. The concerned family was back in Iowa.
Jay responded to the Sun City home and rang the doorbell. There was no answer. Since there was no fence around the property, he walked around to the rear yard. There was the elderly and possibly the blind woman hanging up towels on a clothesline tree. He did not want to startle the woman, so he slowly approached stating he was with the Sun City Posse and called her by name.
After determining that she was in good health, the posse man mentioned that her people in Iowa could not reach her, as the telephone always rang busy. He later checked the residence and It was subsequently determined that the phone was off the hook.
While still in the back yard, the woman made a statement; “My son really cares for me?”
Jay responded; “Yes he cares for you, loves you and I care about you also, and that is why I came here to see you.”
With that statement the blind woman hugged Jay, and maintained her grasp of the uniformed posse man for several minutes. He just stood there and let her hug him as long as she wanted. He will never forget that affection from this blind elderly woman.
Then there was the day Jay was to be killed once again.
As a result of intensive re-training by Maricopa Sheriff’s Office he was qualified to assist the patrol deputies. As he now carried all the equipment regular deputies carried, including handcuffs, pepper spray, Taser, and a Glock model 22, he was authorized by the patrol supervisors to ride solo in a marked sheriff’s patrol car.
A 962 was dispatched about two miles away. The traffic accident with possible injuries was given to the local beat patrol deputy sheriff. Jay waited and there was no deputy in the area to assist. He pressed the button on the MCSO microphone and advised that he would roll. The dispatcher added him to the response, and Jay pressed the OK button on the patrol car computer screen.
The posse man was not authorized to roll code 3 and was expected to respond in the normal traffic flow. He approached a major intersection which had a dedicated left turn lane. The left turn arrow turned red while he was still 100 feet behind the intersection. He would have to wait for the signal to change.
The sheriff’s patrol deputy was now on scene and needed Jay as soon as possible for traffic control. Jay impatiently waited for the green arrow. It seemed to take forever. Finally, the arrow turned green and the state highway to his left was clear of traffic. He could be there quickly if he pushed the speed limit a bit.
He started to mash the gas pedal but then he unmistakably felt a hand on his right shoulder. His blood started to run ice cold, as he knew that he was the only occupant of the patrol car, and there was a Plexiglas prisoner cage screen behind the driver seat.
For an instant, he quickly glanced at the patrol computer screen, then the rear view mirror. The driver behind him was opening his eyes wider, as he wondered why the patrol car was not going to move with the green arrow.
Jay started to move forward, a good five seconds or so, after the appearance of the green left turn arrow. Then from his left he saw a tractor trailer big rig run the red light. In an instant he realized that the fully loaded conventional style tractor and fifth wheel trailer would have struck his patrol car in the left driver door. The truck was doing 45 miles per hour. Jay knew he could not survive such an impact. He was saved from violent death once again.
The truck driver pulled over, and Jay positioned his marked vehicle, with overhead emergency lights flashing to protect the police vehicle on the state highway, and behind the tractor trailer rig that pulled over and stopped. He would now be unable to respond to the assigned accident and advised such over the radio pending a response to his location by Arizona Department of Public Services, or DPS. The DPS is also called the Highway Patrol, and a unit responded, subsequently citing the truck driver for the red light violation and having no driver license.
As he glances at this plaque on the wall from time to time he is reminded: The realization that he almost always and even in his elder years, was in the wrong place at the exact right time. When necessary he also received a “hands on” from his Creator. The realization of this life-long guidance and protection will be with him as long as he remains on this earth.
This may well be why the author was not killed, and allowed to write this book.