Bells and Whistles

August 29, 2009

3:00p  My shift starts.  Looks to be slow and easy as usual.

5:07p  The building security alarm goes off.  I go to the alarm panel and relay the code to dispatch.  From there, they will look through the book for the building, find out what the issue is and instruct me on how to silence the alarm or take other action if necessary.

5:11p  Dispatch comes back with this response, “The alarm company is downloading a software update for the system, the alarm should be silenced in a few minutes remotely.”  OK.  That’s a little inconvenient for the rest of the building but it’s not the end of the world.  I guess the alarm company assumed that since their business day ends at 5p, so does everyone else’s.

5:20p  “A few minutes” has passed.  No progress on the alarm.  The alarm isn’t a siren, rather just a constant buzzing.  Not loud enough to hurt your ears, but definitely loud enough to disrupt normal conversation levels.  Sounds like there is a swarm of bees on a microphone.  Fun!

5:49p  It stopped!  Relief!  Wait, nope, never mind.  It started again…There was a 3 second intermission, but now it’s back.  I think I was actually getting used to it until I was reminded of what silence sounds like.

7:00p  Still going.  Dinner break for me.  I at least get a little relief from closing the door in the kitchen while I eat the delicious dinner my wife prepared (Pizza Spins!!!).

7:30p  Break’s over.  Still buzzing.

7:47p  Mental note: Add earplugs and Tylenol to my duty belt gear.

8:30p  Fortunately, I am supposed to do one patrol of the building’s exterior every hour.  Normally I only lap the building once around each hour, tonight I think I’ll go around two times each hour.

11:00p  Time to leave.  Alarm. Still. On.


My Monday

August 25, 2009

This is an itinerary of my Monday this week:

2:25p    Arrive at the PD.  I notice it is pretty quiet and deserted, but since I start my shift in between the officer’s shifts it is not uncommon for me to not see much when I arrive for work.

2:28p    Log on to computer to check my email and the status of the upcoming 9/1 paycheck.  I see that I am short my 70+ hours of overtime on the coming check.  That’s disappointing but not the end of the world.  Email sent to payroll to sort it out.

2:40p    Begin gearing up for my shift.  Duty belt, keys, flashlight, cuffs, etc.  I turn on my radio and put in my earpiece (yah, I use an earpiece, probably has something to do with me wanting to feel super cool like the secret service…)

2:41p    As soon as I put in my earpiece I hear all kinds of traffic on the radio.  “Be sure to secure all the doors to the building.  Nobody in.”  “We’re setting up our command post on the west side of the building.”  “Can anyone confirm the 4th floor was cleared out?”

2:42p    Holy Smoke!  What is going on?!  My mind is racing……active shooter……bomb threat…..real bomb…..hostages…..?

2:43p     I don’t want to jump on the radio during the middle of all this to get an explanation from the sergeant, there are more pressing needs for the radio.  I run over to dispatch to get brought up to speed.

2:45p    At dispatch I learn there was a “big fire” at the building that I patrol from 3-11p.  Great.  The only time anything has happened in the past 2 months there, and I wasn’t on duty.

2:48p    The Fire Department has already cleared out their trucks, but they want to keep the building closed til 4p to let the fumes die down.  The building has a lot of labs in it with all kinds of chemicals that don’t react so well to fire…

2:55p    I arrive on scene with signs that we will post on the doors to let people know the building is closed til 4p.  We also station an officer or guard at each entrance to be sure that no one comes in anyways.  I take the main entrance (it’s my building after all).

Sidebar:  If you walk up to a building with police cars all around it, a crowd of people outside, and signs on the doors that read:  “BUILDING CLOSED TIL 4PM.  NO ENTRY.”  That should all add up in your brain right?  Apparently some people just don’t get it.  There were 4 types of people:

  1. The person that walks up to the door, doesn’s notice anything out of the ordinary, and walks in.  They are shocked when met by a uniform that tells them to wait outside.
  2. The person that walks up to the door, reads the sign, and then looks in, sees me, and asks, “Does this apply to me?”  “Yes sir, everyone is being kept out of the building.”  “But, I have a meeting.”  “No you don’t, the building is closed.”  “It’s important though….”  “Sir, the building is on fire, you have to wait outside.”  At that point I just shut the door and walk off.
  3. My favorite – The person that walks up, reads the sign that says the building is closed til 4p, looks at their watch, sees that it is 3:40p, and opens the door and walks in anyways.  Seriously?!
  4. The person that walks up, sees the patrol cars, crowd of people, and signs, and realizes that they aren’t special and they have to wait outside like everyone else.  No attempt to enter.  Thank you.

3:45p    By this time, I have a crowd of about 75 people waiting outside this door.  They continue to look at their watches and phones counting down til 4p.  I am also told over the radio that 4p may not be correct, it may take longer.  Great.  I have been telling these people 4p.  They are waiting outside, in 95 degree heat for 4p to get here.  This could get ugly.

3:55p  Still no word on when to open the doors.  Now I am going through my strategy for holding back an angry mob of 75 sweaty, impatient, frustrated people wanting to come back in the building.  This is gonna be fun…

3:57p    Hallelujah.  We get the call from the fire department that it’s all clear inside the building.  I walk to the door, take down one sign and it is like Wal-Mart during December.  All 75 people stream through that one door in what seemed like 7 seconds.

4:05p    All the signs on the building have been taken down.  Business as usual.

6;45p    Dinner.

7:15p     Back on patrol.

11:15p    Done. Go home.

You’ll notice that after the first hour or so of my shift, it slowed down just a bit…

Oh yah, the fire was started by a roofer’s propane torch.  Apparently he didn’t know that open flame and electrical wires don’t mix.  Hopefully Tuesday has some action to it as well.


Clean, Cover, Contain

August 12, 2009

Here is a perfect example of the difference between being a veteran in a department and being a rookie.  The Corporal on my shift last night was given the task of putting fliers up at the restrooms at some of the buildings that we patrol at night.  As you can imagine, he wasn’t too fond of that idea so he decided to delegate.

And delegate he did, straight to me and my partner, Ponch.

So, we spent the next hour or so taping fliers about flu prevention on the entrance doors to all of the building restrooms and the mirrors above the sinks inside the restrooms.  It really is humbling to knock on the ladies’ room door, announce your presence, and proceed to tape a flu flier on the mirror.

The moral of the story?

1> Clean – Wash your hands

2> Cover – Cover your mouth when you cough

3> Contain – Contain germs by steering clear of others who are sick

Here’s the flier.


Propane and Pigeons

August 5, 2009

As a recap/reminder:  I am currently patrolling one building for my entire shift as a deterrent to further criminal acts at this location.

On my shift today, a man approached me to let me know he was smelling a gas odor at one of the north entrances.  At first, I am a little excited because this means I may actually have a little bit of excitement to my day as opposed to simply wandering the building making sure all the interior doors are secured.  So, a gas odor is a big deal for me.  Sad, I know.

I thank the reporting person and head down to the entrance to check it out.  Sure enough, there is a definite odor at the entrance.  There is a construction crew working on the roof and using propane to heat up their huge vat of tar.  So, I quickly deduce that the gas smell is the propane leaking through the intake vents in the building.  Not much we can do about that, so the facilities maintenance crew that dispatch sent over decide to prop open the exterior doors to the building so that the odor goes outside and not further into the building.  There are two entrances at the north side of the building, about 35 yards apart so the air can circulate pretty well with the doors open.

This idea is working out beautifully at first.  The propane smell is quickly decreasing in the building, mission accomplished.

I decide it is best for me to remain by the north entrances to prevent any unsavory characters from wandering in to the building and making it their new home.  For example, hobos, gangs, etc.  You can’t have that mess going on.

I wasn’t ready for the intruder (make that intruders) that arrived ready to take over my building.  I look out one door and see a little pigeon staking out the entrance.  I’m not sure why he thinks the inside of the building would be better than the outside, but he starts hopping along the path and straight through the door.  Not so fast!  I instantly spring into action and shoo him back out the door. Mission accomplished, again.

Next thing I know though, another pigeon is wandering inside the doors at the entrance at the other end of the hallway.  So I run down the hall and shoo him outside.  Now to truly paint this picture for you, this hallway is a 3 story tall atrium with benches and seating areas that are always occupied by people working, reading, and today watching security guards run back and forth chasing pigeons. I am armed with nothing but a flashlight and handcuffs, nothing that will really do much against the street-wise pigeon gang.

Pigeon Gang

Pigeon Gang

As soon as I finished at one entrance, I would see one trying to sneak back in the other entrance behind me.  This went on for a solid 10-15 minutes.  I felt like I ran back and forth 30 times.  I guess this is why I had to take a physical test before I got hired?  As annoying as that sounds, it was some action and eventually I conquered the pigeon gang and they gave up their attack.  Mission accomplished.