Tuesday, August 24, 2010

B.O.L.O. (Be On the Look Out)!

As I am sure that everybody knows, B.O.L.O. is police terminology when you are looking for a missing or dangerous person. It also a good way to train a rookie police officer at Newnan Police Department.

Way back in the 1970's, when I worked there, the veteran officers had many ways to train the new guys without having to tell them repeatedly. They also had an endless supply of practical jokes. For me, it was impossible to tell one from another, as each accomplished the same thing.

I guess it has always been that police officers almost always have to have a second job to make ends meet. I could do a whole blog on the low pay in law enforcement, but that would just be preaching and not appropriate here. Just know that I had several jobs on the side that ate into my sleep time.

Knowing this,a senior officer could hardly wait until we rotated the midnight-8am shift. The senior officer in this case was Lt. David Smith, a bigger practical joker was not to be found on the N.P.D.

We were well into the middle of the week on third shift when Lt. Smith sprung his trap on me. He waited until about 3am, when it was getting hard to hold my eyes open, and my alertness was at zero.

I should have known something was afoot when the shift started and he offered to drive. Trust me, this did not happen with Smith. He thoroughly enjoyed being chauffeured around like the dignitary that he thought he was. And I guess to some degree he and the other commanding officers deserved the treatment, thou David enjoyed it way too much it seemed. 

Anyway, David waited until Tuesday night, a time when less than nothing was going on. If you follow my blogs, you know that in Newnan, Georgia, in the 1970's, they "rolled up the sidewalks" at dark. You could shoot a gun on Court Square and not draw attention. I know this for a fact, but I will tell that story later.

My prankster Lt. had pre-arranged with the dispatcher, upon signal, to put out a B.O.L.O. that would raise the hair on the back of the neck of even a seasoned officer. He had secretly told the others in our crew to stay off the radio, as they knew what he was up to and what fate awaited me.

At the appointed time, David set the plan into action. As the dispatcher came on the air, David flipped on the overhead light and ordered, "Write this down Officer Cook", which I dutifully did. "Sounds like a bad Mother ......", my tormentor responded with a dry wit and straight face.

After a few minutes of silence, I fell back into the stupor that I had been in before the radio blared with announcement. My fate was drawing near.

The road makes a sharp bend to the left in front of the hospital on Hospital Road. It also drops sharply about 10 feet at the shoulder. As I had been sitting there oblivious to the world, the Lt. had been maneuvering the police car into position. In front of the hospital, he suddenly pulled onto the shoulder of the road, slammed the car into park causing it to rock violently (and waking me in the process), he jumped out of the car, ran forward illuminated by the headlights, gun drawn and shouting, "There goes the son-of-a-bitch we're looking for!"

Adrenalin, fear and a slight desire to wet my pants all kicked in at the same time. Without hesitation, I opened the passenger side door, determined to follow my Lt. to death or glory. What I got was the surprise of  a lifetime. Instead of hitting the ground running, there was not ground at all. I dropped what seemed like in a nightmare, forever. In reality it was only a few feet. 

Confused, dazed, disoriented, and a little scratched up, I was clueless as what to do until I heard David and the rest of our crew laughing for all they were worth. As I crawled up the bank into the beam of the headlight and started a new round of laughter, I could see across the road, in the hospital parking lot, all the city police cars. They had raced to the site and sat there in darkness and silence waiting for my performance. They were not disappointed.

This hazing had been going on for as long a most older officers could remember so who was I not to take my turn. I limped over the the crowd and took good natured slaps on the back. I had to, these were the same guys that would come to save my life if the situation called for it. As the laughter continued, I pointed at each one, as if counting them, and said, "O.K., O.K., Just so you know, what goes around comes around." As the years past, I returned the favor in one way or another to each and every one of them.

To this day when I hear the phrase, B.O.L.O., I still think of that night and grin. 

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