By: T F Stern
T F Stern’s Rantings
An old friend of mine, Dan Starr, is retiring from the Houston Police Department next month and I was invited to the party. I can’t go because of a schedule conflict and so I’ll do my best to recall a couple of events we went through when he was a probationary officer.
One time, we’d arrested a real winner of a young woman. She tried kicking out the windows of our patrol car; can’t remember if she succeeded off hand. I think she did, but that’s not why I recall the incident. Dan was standing off to the side while the young woman was being ugly and the next thing you know she’d spit all over him. He looked at me as if I was supposed to give the nod to inflict serious bodily harm, but I explained to him the rule. Not the one which prevents officers from knocking suspects silly; the other rule… Don’t stand where you can get spit on so easily.
The other incident was more memorable and involved the “Killer Dr. Pepper Machine.” I’ve mentioned it in previous articles, mostly as a footnote without going into much detail. There is even mention of the Killer Dr. Pepper Machine in a novel I wrote, Pecaw’s Gift, chapter 34.
Originally, there was a homicide investigation dispatched to another unit. If memory serves, it was Officer Shaw and his partner. I had probationary officer, Dan Starr, with me and as part of his training he needed first hand experience working a homicide. So I picked up the mike and volunteered our unit to be primary.
Upon arrival, standard police talk, we observed one “suspect” trying to lift the huge refrigerated soda machine off of “suspect #2,” who was bent into thirds and “appeared” to be DOA. I don’t think there’s a delicate way of saying it, he was flat as a pancake and no way was he going to be listed as anything other than DOA. The fire department emergency crew and another couple of HPD officers helped us pick the Dr. Pepper machine off the young man, all the while, serious grown professionals were dropping one liners, “Be a Pepper,” “Maybe he wanted an Orange Crush” and other insensitive remarks.
We had to take the “suspect/witness” down to Juvenile Division where he was to make his official statement. Something along the lines, “We were just minding our business, walking down the sidewalk and this soda machine fell over on him.” Never mind that our “suspect/witness” had been sitting on top of the Dr. Pepper machine rocking it back and forth trying to dislodge the money box inside while his partner in crime was bent down with his arm up inside the machine trying to get the money box loose as well. That’s when the “law,” meaning the law of gravity, took hold of one of the suspects and pronounced him guilty on the spot.
While standing in the Juvenile Division, the young man put his arm to the square as he swore to the truthfulness of his written statement. I grabbed Dan Starr by the arm and had him step back a few paces to avoid any lightning bolts that might come through the ceiling tiles striking the little liar dead.
Officer Starr, here’s to a wonderful retirement and may you have the righteous desires of your heart. I wish I could attend the informal gathering to honor your service; but, duty calls.
This article has been cross-posted to The Moral Liberal, a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government & The American Constitution.”