Police Support 01

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This piece is dedicated to the men and women of the Corona PD, and any other
LE agency night crew who prowls the darkness of twilight without fear. . . .

Police Support 01

       I don't recall what woke me up that night. We had been in the new apartment for over a year and had grown accustomed to the usual bumps and burps that are a part of apartment life, the noises that come with living in such close quarters with so many other people. But I got up anyway, to get a drink, and to see if all was well.

       I walked down the hallway in the dark, my direction lit by the small night lights that my wife had scattered throughout the floor layout just in case our young daughter had to find her way in the night. On a whim, I stepped out on the balcony to see what was happening on the deserted street in the front of the complex.

       The church parking lot across the street was lit by a few big lights and the perimeter of the building was lit by an array of smaller ones. It was cold, and not a soul was in sight. The distant noise of the traffic on the freeway was barely audible. Local auto and pedestrian traffic was all but non-existent as is usual for any small town in the dead of night. I remember glancing at the clock and seeing it was 1:30 AM.

     Then I heard it.

      The all to familiar sound of breaking glass. A sound that cuts through the night air--so out of place for this time of night, like a women's laughter in a men's locker room. My attention was drawn to the row of apartment houses that ran parallel to the church parking lot, to my right. A high block wall was between the church parking lot, the row of apartment buildings, and the narrow alleyway that ran in-between the both of them.

       A young, but adult, male stepped out into the night, from under the parking structure of the first building, the closest one to the street. All the apartment buildings were built over their respective parking areas. Room enough for five cars in a row, to each building. The lights were always on or off in any one at any one time. This one was on.

      He stood motionless at the edge of the building and observed the street for about five minutes, looking up and down to see if anyone had heard the glass breaking and if they were investigating. I was. I was crouched down behind the potted plants on the balcony, having ascertained by now that he wasn't a resident, or some drunk who had dropped his bottle of "Night Train."

      Feeling confident he was unobserved, he backed into the parking area. I slipped inside and grabbed the phone. My heart was going again, but I was a little more level-headed at this time, knowing no one was in immediate danger. All we had was an auto burglary in progress.

      "Nine One One operator, what are you reporting?"

       "I guess it would be an auto burglary."

      "When did this happen?"

      "It's happening right now!" I responded.

      "It's in progress?" she queried. The frantic tapping on the keyboard was a familiar sound to my ears as she started the initial reporting procedure to the city law enforcement agency, and their dispatcher, on her end.

      "Did you see what he was wearing? What did he look like?" I went through the standard ID of the suspect, the negative reporting of a weapon sighted, and started clarifying the exact place were it was happening. By this time I was back on the balcony, watching the scene more closely with my binoculars, a Father's Day present from my Wife for just such a situation. The actor was obscured behind a small tree, but I could see his shadow moving around, as if he was stashing something in a corner of the garage, and then going back to the particular car he was breaking into. He would every once in a while step out by the corner of the building to see again if anyone was watching him. The operator had asked for any special identifying characteristics of the individual.

      "Yes, ma'am. He has on white knee socks," I answered. Shorts and white knee socks. All his other clothes were dark and hid him somewhat in the darkness, but those white knee socks could be seen quite a distance away.

      "Officers are responding to the scene now," she said. The only sound was the quiet, incessant buzz of the small town night noise in the background. Everything else in the immediate area was dead still. From the time I had called, to the point I saw the first cruiser, was about three minutes. I was too preoccupied with the operator, and the bad guy, to keenly observe any other activity around me.

      The cruiser glided across the parking lot dark, and slowed to a quiet stop behind the high brick wall where it met the sidewalk and the street. The bad guy didn't even notice him pull up, confident and secure behind his own side of the wall. He had no idea what was coming. I then observed the other officers creeping down the opposite end of the alley, holding close to the edge. The officer in the cruiser across from me got out and gently closed the door so the interior light went out. Another pair of officers who had pulled up at the rear of our building, and walked into the area, quietly moved up the sidewalk from my left, and they all started advancing into the area of the crime in progress. The whole group was quickly closing in on the parking structure.

       Trying to get the operator to convey the proper directions as far as the specific topography of the immediate area of the crime scene was very tricky. She wasn't there, but I realized the officers on the street would better understand the particulars. I heard her tell the radio operator,

       "It's the second building from the west of Grand. . . ."

       "No! No, it's the first building on Grand, the last building on the west end of the alley," I corrected her. She conveyed the correction to the radio operator. I felt an enormous sense of responsibility, knowing that my specific directions were being transmitted to the officers on the street. They had to be clear. The officer who had pulled up in the car in the parking lot then slowly walked up to the edge of the wall, and pulling his firearm, peeked around the corner of the wall, and up the alley. His target was now about twenty feet away from him. The tension in the air could have been cut with a knife. The other officers were moving in behind him.

      And then I saw the lead officer barely crouch. . . .

       I swear, if he had been a Tomcat, his tail would have been twitching like crazy. The Hunter, with his quarry in sight. The strain in the air went through the roof.

       And then they pounced! All of them closed in at a quick walk, weapons drawn, until they were in plain site of the car,


      The bad guy was down on his face in a second, the shouted commands and the sight of a half dozen officers around him enough to shock even the most focused person into complete submission. I felt an enormous amount of pressure lift off my shoulders as the whole operation came to an immediate and flawless close. The 911 operator thanked me and hung up, and I went back out on the balcony to see the wrap up of things.

      The phone rang. I went to pick it up, as my Wife and daughter were still asleep, oblivious to what just happened. Like everyone else in the neighborhood.

      "Hi, this is the Corona Police Department Dispatcher. The officers on the scene are asking if you can come down on the street and ID the individual in custody?" I was a little surprised, but quickly answered,

      "Yes! Sure! Tell them I will be right down. I have to get dressed." I went to the bedroom and started getting dressed. My Wife woke up and asked where in the world I thought I was going. I gave her the details of the incident real fast, and then went out into the cold night. I always hated approaching a group of officers who have just been in a pursuit/arrest situation, because I know they are still wired pretty tight, but as I approached the end of the alley across the street, I noticed the rest had left, and only two officers remained.

      I said "Hello!" when I was still about twenty feet off, so they wouldn't be startled and irritated. One officer was a tall, big guy with a buzz haircut and a no nonsense look on his face. He was in uniform, with short sleeves, and I remember thinking that he had to be cold. He responded first,

       "Are you the caller?"


       "Is this the guy you saw?" I looked down at the bad guy in custody, a sorry looking sap who had his head down, and was sitting with his back to the wall, his hands cuffed behind his back.

       "Yeah, that's him."

       "You're sure?!" I was a little startled by his tone of voice. But I knew he was just covering all the angles and making sure the arrest was solid.

     "Yeah I'm sure. You could see those white knee socks a good three hundred feet off. That's him."

       "Where were you at?" I directed his attention to our balcony to his rear, and told him I saw the whole operation. His tone of voice changed as he showed me the car the bad guy had broken into. The glass of the rear wing window of the dark colored Mustang lay all over the ground. Through the open door I saw the knobs of the radio laying on the front seat, as the officer told me they nailed him before he could get it out. The guy had placed a few personal items of the owner of the car in the other corner of the garage. The officer said he was just another hype looking for something to sell fast, to support his drug habit.

       We talked for a few more minutes, and as I turned to go, the other officer, dressed in civilian clothes, wearing a blue wind breaker that said "POLICE" on the back, and wearing a nylon waist gun rig with a nickel-plated .45 auto, grinned and gave me a hearty "Thanks for getting involved!" I still remember seeing his badge mounted on his belt. And then I went home.

       This was one of three arrests that I called in involving this alley. I remember one where the auto burglary was a few more buildings down from this previous incident. I will never forget the pair of officers, one a tall, dark, lean guy, and the other a short, blond, female officer, as they proceeded up that alley in perfect military fashion. Advance, crouch, cover the partner's advance. Advance, crouch, cover the partner's advance, leap frogging all the way up the alley. Cool, professional, flawless. When they got to the crime scene, he swung out wide from the edge, and she went in for the take-down. I remember watching her as she held the suspect by the arm and quite confidently emptied his pockets out on the ground.

       One arrestee was a previously convicted felon, another had a warrant out on him for a parole violation. Just a small representation of the criminal community in any town. Just a highly trained group of Police officers doing what they do best. Keeping the night safe for the law abiding. Protecting the vulnerable from the dregs of society.

       I introduced myself to the owners of the Mustang the next afternoon, because I noticed them out by the car. He had already replaced the window, an easy and cheap find at the auto wrecking yard. They thanked me for helping them, and I gave them the blow-by-blow from the night before, and credited the Cops. It was so cool. It's great knowing there is a group of people like that out there, prowling the night, ready, willing, and able to respond at a moments notice to any situation, day or night, with extreme prejudice. Just a phone call away.

       The tree in front of our place has grown up these past few years and pretty much obscured my view of the alley. I'm sure there has been other break-ins since, but I haven't heard about them. Maybe I haven't been checking the streets enough at night. I know the Police have been back there periodically, as I get up early in the morning, and sometimes see the cruisers parked in the alley, with the officers concentrating on securing a suspect, or taking a report.

       Who knows? Maybe tonight I will be shaken awake. . . by something, and I will step out into the cold of my elevated lookout to survey the neighborhood surroundings, to check for anything out of place. . . .

      "Nine One One operator, what are you reporting?"

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Police Support 01
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"The Alley" © 1999  Michael A. Baker All Rights Reserved.