Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Please Pass The Ammunition

Behind the thin blue line a polite society exists. This even applies to the conversations detectives have with gang members, particularly geared toward rank.

“Good morning sir.” One could expect to hear around HQ. Head Quarters is quite polite indeed, providing your just visiting. Anyone above Sargent is a politician. Some politicians care and work hard. The rest make sure someone else does that. Everyone in the department has a rank. I am a photographer III. I can tell subordinates what to do. For instance a request by me to a photographer one should be followed as an order, the same applies for another photographer III that I have seniority over. Even one day counts. I never give orders, I always listen to requests.

All together we help each other out. I have been on shootings where a brand new detective is used. They have, quite often, no idea of how to use me, I coach them through it, explain what I'm doing. I will label holes, show them camera angles, ask if more or less would help. Receptive respecting people get the most out of me. I clam up around the others.

More than once I have been in a situation where the scene goes 'tactical'. When I arrive, all the danger is supposed to be over. Sometimes it does not stay that way. I remember fumbling with my issued bullet proof vest for the first time, wanting to at least look like everyone else. It was obvious that it would take all night so a Lieutenant from SWAT came over with a Sargent and they helped me learn how to get the contraption on by myself, for future reference... I then observed the team regearing for more action. I thought about how polite they were. “Could you please pass me that ammunition, the less than lethal?” I overheard that, it was a striking contrast to the insipid portrayal of officers as gruff testosterone monkeys with guns.

Gang members also have rank. Someone really important is a lieutenant. They are known by their monikers; heavy boy, kiddo, you can look them up. I was told by a detective that gang members are quite honest. They will talk if allowed, especially if someone did something on their own. Gang members are supposed to follow orders. They can be turned out or worse if they cause the gang problems like bring down the heat. LAPD knows how to deliver heat, polity, see above.

I have a favorite pair of pants. I like 'em. I don't love 'em but I like 'em. They are made of a thin rip-stop nylon that keeps me cooler on hot days than a pair of blue jeans might. Made for hiking they remain comfortable during the miles of walking around I have to do. They have fewer belt loops in them and being the soft, flimsy style so made for easy movement they do not stay up unless aided by a belt, tape, suspenders, or glue. I have to carry around a rather heavy radio. The back pocket makes for ideal storage of it. This is a very bad idea when using a urinal. The wonderful porcelain replacement for a tree so popular in organized society. They require standing up, which helps get business done fast. I forgot about the radio and the flimsy pants went for the floor as I opened up my belt. I caught the whole deal by quickly raising my left knee up toward my chest. A detective walked in and took up residence in the next stall. He was polite enough not to say anything about me standing there one footed like a peeing stork. I could not stand the silence and asked if this ever happened to him. He said that yes and tactical pants were like that, pockets full of ammo made it worse.

I am not the least in the department in rank. I am grateful that those I have spent time with, including our current Chief, have made it a good place to work. I practice using the vest now and then. I remember to remove the radio from my back pocket before taking care of business.

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