Ever get a case of the Mondays? This last Monday afternoon, I was patrolling the highways and freeways of beautiful southern California. It was near the end of my shift, and I was looking forward to going home when I encountered a young lady whose car – a brand new VW Jetta rental – was stalled in the #1 lane of a 2-lane freeway transition road . . .
I got out of my car and spoke to the young lady. She was visibly upset. As you can imagine, she had caused a back up in traffic and had received more than her daily allowance of honking and non-DMV hand gestures.
I asked her what was wrong with her car, and she said “I don’t know. It just stopped working.” I mentally translated her statement to, “My car ran out of gas because I drove it for 30 miles after the fuel light came on.” I gave her a brief series of instructions, and pushed her car to the right shoulder by hand. As a matter of course, I looked inside the interior of the car. No punched ignition, stock car keys in place, no broken windows, and no visible weapons in sight.
Although the shoulder was a much better location, the young lady obviously still felt uncomfortable. I told her that I would stay with her until the freeway service patrol tow truck arrived so that she would be safe.
Back inside my patrol car, I couldn’t resist the urge to check out a few TTAG comments. I was debating the wisdom of challenging Dyspeptic and one his 1911’s vs. my Glock 23 in an endurance/reliability test. Of course I was also pondering whether I consider myself a cop or a peace officer, and whether my credibility would be shot (pardon the pun) on TTAG because I am a police officer. As I was considering such monumentally important matters, the young lady returned and requested an ambulance for a medical problem. I called the ambulance and monitored her progress, despite the fact that I didn’t believe that there was anything actually wrong with her.
The ambulance arrived shortly thereafter and took the young lady to a nearby hospital. I cancelled the freeway service patrol, and requested a contract tow. Then I ran the plate on the car…which came back smokin’ hot.
The car had apparently been stolen the day before by the driver I’d just packed off in an ambulance. Fortunately, I had good ID on her. I dispatched a nearby unit to the hospital, who arrived just minutes after the ambulance. After a brief chase through the ER, he handcuffed the alleged car thief to a gurney until I could get there. The vehicle theft was legit, and it turned out that the woman was also a burglar. She was probably someone who warranted my full attention out there on the side of the highway, but I’d slipped into “helpful mode” instead of “enforcement mode.”
Needless to say, I didn’t make it home on time that night, but I did make it home. I will say this regarding the incident: be careful where (and when) you read TTAG.