Memories Of A Small-Town Cop

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Overview

Author G. Douglas Ward was sworn in as a police officer in the small North Carolina town of Tarboro at the age of twenty-one. He was about to embark on a ten-year career that he would never forget.

In this collection of memoirs, he shares his recollections about adventures that will leave you on the edge of your seat, make you laugh, and make you think. Join him as he recalls

• what it was like growing up as ...

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Memories of a Small-Town Cop

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Overview

Author G. Douglas Ward was sworn in as a police officer in the small North Carolina town of Tarboro at the age of twenty-one. He was about to embark on a ten-year career that he would never forget.

In this collection of memoirs, he shares his recollections about adventures that will leave you on the edge of your seat, make you laugh, and make you think. Join him as he recalls

• what it was like growing up as the son of a deputy sheriff;
• what it meant to go through basic and on-the-job training;
• what could happen when dealing with drunken individuals;
• what it feels like to lose a best friend.

Being a police officer in a small town that never grows means something, especially when your grandfather is a preacher and your father is one of the most well-known people in town. In Memories of a Small-Town Cop, you'll discover what it means to protect and serve a close-knit community.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781462073504
  • Publisher: iUniverse, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 1/10/2012
  • Pages: 120
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.44 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Memories of a Small-Town Cop


By G. Douglas Ward

iUniverse, Inc.

Copyright © 2012 G. Douglas Ward
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4620-7348-1


Chapter One

Planting the Seeds

My father was a deputy sheriff in the 60's in our fairly large county. The sheriff's department had only five deputies, a chief deputy and a sheriff to cover the large area twenty four hours a day. During his first couple of years as a deputy there were no law enforcement vehicles. The deputies had to use their own personal cars. The emergency lights were red and had to be placed on the dash board and plugged into the cigarette lighter. His siren was the old air type and not the electronic "yelpers" used today. The family car sure got a daily workout. His first real departmental patrol car was issued to him in 1969. Receiving a new high performance Ford with a 429 cubic inch police interceptor engine was like an early Christmas for the deputies.

I believe my dad's law enforcement experiences planted the seeds for me one day becoming a law enforcement officer. Allow me to share with you some of his experiences so you can understand from where my interest came.

One evening during my early high school years my dad's car radio P.A. system sounded off reporting an accident three miles from our home. The rescue squad had already passed our home at a high rate of speed responding to the accident. Dad looked at me and said, "Want to go to a wreck?" This was the first time he had ever asked me to go with him on a call. My heart went into overdrive as I blurted out "YES!" We both jumped in his patrol car and away we went. Two minutes later we were pulling up to the accident scene. The accident was caused when a car, traveling out of town at a high rate of speed, reached a sharp left curve in the road and failed to negotiate the turn. The vehicle kept straight across a residential yard and into a very large pine tree. The pine tree was so big it didn't budge when struck. The impact threw the occupants out of their vehicle. I noticed one of the men under the tree on his back looking up so I walked up to him and asked him if he was OK. Dad walked up to me and whispered, "He won't be answering son ... he's dead!" I stood there a few moments staring at the man not believing what I was seeing. He was really dead! I walked away with a strange feeling sorrow for him and his family. This would not be my last experience with the death of human beings but it was my first time seeing a traffic fatality. I was surprised how calm I was having seen this for the first time.

Could have been my dad

Late one night, I was sitting at home watching TV when dad came through the back door very upset. His crying was uncontrollable and this was something I had never seen from my dad. That night after mom had put him to bed, she came back into the kitchen to tell me what had happened.

Dad had received a call to respond to a drunk and disorderly person on the opposite side of the county. His co-worker called him on the radio and said he was a little closer and would take the call if dad would back him up. My dad told him he was on the way. When the deputy arrived at the little country store he stepped out of his patrol vehicle and asked what the problem was. The people standing around pointed at a man who stood on the opposite side of the deputy's patrol vehicle. As the deputy turned to talk to the man the suspect raised a double barrel shotgun over the hood of the deputy's car and fired both barrels into the deputy's face and upper head. My dad and another deputy arrived minutes later and called for rescue. The shooter had staggered down the railroad tracks and into a residence trying to hide from the law. He was found and taken into custody. The deputy had already been rushed to the hospital where he passed away a few hours later. That call was supposed to have been my dad's call. The deputy killed that night was a handsome young man with a wife and small child. The murderer, due to politics and a slick lawyer, only stayed in prison a short time and was released from prison. The murderer's habits today are the same as they were back then, drinking until intoxicated and passing out wherever he happens to fall. The difference is he is alive and a fine officer, husband and father is not. I often wonder what would have happened if my dad had been first to arrive. Isn't it funny how our laws go to great lengths to protect criminals but never the victims?

Ham sandwich anyone

Another incident happened when my dad and the chief deputy responded to an apartment out in a nice quiet wooded area of the county. The renter had come home earlier with groceries to find someone had broken in and believed the person was still in the house. The chief deputy went to the front door while my dad and the landlord entered the back door and into the kitchen. Dad was carrying his standard .38 caliber hand gun and had given the landlord a department issued sawed off double barreled shotgun loaded with buckshot. What happened next is scary to think about even today. The intruder was still inside and had taken a Civil War saber from above the fireplace mantle. He had it in his hands when dad entered through the back kitchen door. The landlord has split off from dad walking into the living room. The burglar, hearing the entry, walked into the kitchen, spotted my dad and headed straight for him with saber in hand. Dad yelled for him to drop the sword but the attacker kept advancing. He drew back the sword and, like Babe Ruth trying to hit a home run, swung for dad's head. Dad fired twice with his .38 Special striking the man in the shoulder and the lower abdomen. The second shot brought the man down. The sword passed three inches above dad's head and buried itself about three inches into the solid wood door. The shots being fired scared the landlord so much he pulled both triggers on the shotgun removing one of the armrests on the living room couch. As it turned out the attacker had escaped from a mental hospital and, after being on the run, was looking for something to eat. Dad must have looked like a ham sandwich to him.

Always keep a sheet of plastic in the trunk

I asked my dad, now 89, to tell me a funny story from his days as a deputy. The request had barely left my lips when he started laughing. He said he and the chief deputy received a call one night about a body having been seen lying beside a road near railroad tracks near the town of Mildred six miles out of Tarboro. When they arrived they found a man dead ... dead drunk! The man was well known by law enforcement personnel for his consumption of alcohol. To make things worse he had defecated on himself. Because the sheriff's department, at that time, had to use their own personal vehicle as a patrol car the chief deputy knew he couldn't leave the man there and he was not going to put the smelling individual in his back seat. So he opened the drunk of his car, opened a plastic sheet onto which he and my dad placed the drunken man. The chief deputy closed the trunk and transported him to the county jail radioing ahead so prison trustees could meet them outside to remove the man from the trunk. Upon arriving the trustees removed the individual from the trunk of the car and took him down to the prison showers.

When you are forced to use your own vehicle it pays to be prepared.

Caught by an old rotary phone

You more mature lawmen will enjoy this story because it involves an old trick used to catch people who before this night kept getting away with breaking in, taking money and causing a lot of damage. The American Legion building held numerous vending machines and over a four month period was broken into numerous times with no particular pattern being set. Keep in mind this happened before touchtone phones when everyone had to use rotary dial phones.

I was up late on a Saturday night watching Shock Theatre on TV and dad had already come home for the night and was in bed. At about 1:00 A.M. the phone rang and I answered it. I said hello twice but no one answered. Then I heard dad's feet hit the floor. He took the phone from my hands and listened for a few seconds. He then hung the phone up and slipped into his uniform like the house was on fire. He ran out the door of the house, jumped into his patrol car and was gone like the wind. The next morning I found out what had happened.

Anyone familiar with the old rotary phones knows where the finger stop was located on the dial. What dad had done was set a phone string trap at the American Legion. He tied a piece of string to the top of the American Legion office door, ran the string up and over the room to a phone located on office desk. The other end of the string was attached to a short piece of pencil. Dad had dialed our home number and when he dialed the last digit he lodged the pencil in at the finger stop in the phone dial. When these young hoods broke into the building this time, they pulled open the door and the string pulled the pencil out of the phone dial which completed the phone call circuit which called our house. This trick worked without a hitch and dad got there in time to catch the thieves who were still inside the building. The old investigative ways were remarkable compared to today's standards.

Case of the missing body

A neighboring county called for assistance with an investigation they believed to be a murder. A river that runs just outside this small town was experiencing low water level due to the lack of rain in the area but the fishing in that river was still excellent. The low water level revealed rocks and debris in the river which was not really an issue. But this time it revealed something which almost scared one would be fisherman to death. What he saw in the rocks near the river bank was a pair of human legs. When he made the discovery the fisherman immediately notified the local police. The legs found however were not attached to a body. They had been severed just below the knees. Authorities firmly believed there had been a murder and dismemberment so they began a search up and down the river in an effort to find the rest of the body. The search proved unsuccessful. Upon checking the nearby town for missing person reports or any unusual activity the mystery deepened. No one in this little town was reported missing.

As it turned out a nearby funeral home had to supply a casket for a recently deceased man. The family couldn't afford to buy a new casket for their family member nor did the funeral home have a casket to fit him so the two entities agreed to make the deceased fit into the smaller casket they had in stock and one the family could afford. The funeral home removed the deceased person's legs and threw them in the river believing the legs would float away never to be seen again. Once the truth came out no charges were made in this case. True story ... I swear!

After many years as a deputy, dad was appointed Chief Magistrate for the county. A job he would keep for almost 30 years. Being a deputy before becoming a Magistrate helped him greatly in his new position.

Putting on the badge

At the age of 21, I was sworn in as a police officer by my father, the chief magistrate of the county. This took place in April of 1972 and I still remember the words he said as he finished the swearing in process. He ended with "Congratulations you are now a first class S.O.B. and going with every woman in town." I stared at him and he smiled at me saying, "Get used to it. You're going to be accused of it whether you like it or not. It comes with wearing a badge." Later on, I would understand what he meant.

Basic Training

Basic training for a police officer back in 1972 only lasted about 4 weeks. There was no physical training involved or trips to a firing range, only a basic teaching of federal and state laws. Different scenarios were given and we had to discuss them and decide what we could and could not do as law enforcement officers. Here is one of the true story scenarios given to us.

You make the decision

A man is driving a tanker filled with fuel oil when his rig is forced off the road and overturns. Due to non existent seat-belt laws the driver is thrown from his rig and his legs are pinned under the tanker which is leaking fuel oil. A trooper arrives on the scene with rescue and fire personnel still twenty minutes away. The victim, still conscious but in pain, sees fuel oil is leaking and his truck has now caught fire with fuel oil creeping toward him bringing fire with it. The truck driver cannot get his legs free and knows rescue will not get there in time. He realizes what kind of death he is about to experience and wants no part of burning alive. He asked then begged the trooper to shoot him pleading, "I don't want to die this way and burn to death!" The trooper tells him he can't do that. The man then begs for the trooper to give him his revolver so he can take his own life before the fire reaches him. Now comes the question we were asked. What would you do? I can't tell you the answer ... you have to decide. Just imagine being the trooper having to make that decision and having to hear the pleas of a man who is about to die. What would you have done had you been the trooper?

On the Job Training

Then came the time I had to be paired up with a training officer whose job was to prepare me for the time when I would work by myself. The person who trained me was nice guy and good trainer but he also had a temper. Luckily his temper showed itself very little during training.

I don't want to see somebody naked

One of his quirks was to check couples who were parking to see if he could catch them naked. He would patrol the lover's lanes with his lights out until he saw a parked car with windows that were fogged up. He would then pull up to within twenty feet or so, walk up quickly with his flashlight and shine it in the window. More often than not he would catch them in a compromising position. Of course he would keep the light mostly on the female and advise them they would need to move on due to criminal activity in the area. They would quickly get their clothes on and leave the area. He would then come back to the car and give a detailed description of what he had seen while laughing. One night he saw a vehicle with fogged up car windows. He said, "Listen, when I pull up beside the car you jump out and shine your light inside." Without hesitation I told him I would not. He looked at me and asked (angrily) why not. I told him that if I did and the man in the vehicle got out and kicked my ass I couldn't blame him. Well, my training officer called me chicken sh*t and drove on. It didn't bother me because I knew I had made the right decision. He didn't ask me again either.

Temper, Temper

There was another time we I stopped a drunk driver around two in the morning. The man was obviously under the influence of alcohol and was placed under arrest. After he cuffed the suspect he searched the driver's left pants pocket while I searched his right side. Well wouldn't you know it that while the officer had his hands in the man's left front pocket the intoxicated driver looked straight at him and slurred the words, "I know what you're trying to do ... you're trying to feel of my peter!" This struck me as funny and I started laughing. Then I noticed my training officer who obviously didn't find the suspect's words funny. He became angry, grabbed the man's belt and snatched the intoxicated man forward causing him to fall forward onto the rocky pavement. Did I mention that this man was very tall and heavy? When he started to fall he was so big there was no way in hell we could stop the fall. When his head hit the pavement it sounded like a ripe watermelon. The angry officer was no longer angry ... he was scared. I looked at my trainer and asked him why he had done such a thing. We had to transport him to the hospital which is routine when blood was involved. Luckily, he only needed cleaning up and a couple of Band Aids. I lost a lot of respect for my training officer that night. Fortunately the man was so intoxicated that night he didn't remember anything. I reported the incident to the Sergeant after the training officer reported that the suspect lost his balance and fell. This officer later left our department and went to another department some thirty miles away. Wrong is wrong. Fortunately these types of incidents are rare. The vast majority of officers are very ethical making every effort to do the right thing on a regular basis.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Memories of a Small-Town Cop by G. Douglas Ward Copyright © 2012 by G. Douglas Ward. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Contents

Dedication....................ix
About the Author....................xi
Planting the Seeds....................1
Could have been my dad....................3
Ham sandwich anyone....................4
Always keep a sheet of plastic in the trunk....................6
Caught by an old rotary phone....................7
Case of the missing body....................8
Putting on the badge....................10
Basic Training....................12
You make the decision....................13
On the Job Training....................14
I don't want to see somebody naked....................15
Temper, Temper....................16
Only having on your socks is just wrong....................17
It's the uniform....................18
What the heck is a Mojo?....................19
Another Mojo Moment....................20
Can you be a cop and a friend too?....................21
Doing the right thing is always good....................22
It's a bird, it's a plane, it's....................23
Don't do as I do ... do as I say....................25
It's not what you say it's how you say it....................26
Sometimes you just have to say something or bust....................27
A few minutes can make a big difference....................28
Small town speed trap....................29
I think I'll kill my wife today....................30
There's No Place like Home!....................31
Grabbed from the Grave....................32
River Dance!....................33
The Western gunfight....................34
Having children makes a difference....................35
Some people just don't learn....................38
140 MPH, what was I thinking?....................39
Ever had one of those days?....................40
Never mess with old timers....................42
Driving under the influence of love....................44
Same thing, different night!....................45
For heaven's sake, get a room....................46
"I would like to respectfully refuse to testify"....................47
Twelve ticked off lawmen....................49
Quick response time....................50
Repeat event on a different night....................51
Drunk drivers do crazy things....................52
A scary night on the East side....................54
Don't tell me Gut Feelings don't work....................56
The continued attraction of vending machines....................59
Never drink when committing a crime....................60
Dress for Success before you break in....................61
Don't be thankful for a quiet night until it's over....................63
Call it what it is, a homicide....................65
Sometimes there is no justice....................66
Dead bodies ruin your day....................68
No ma'am, you're not dying on my shift....................70
Playing tricks on fellow officers helped brighten spirits....................71
The best trick ever on a fellow officer....................72
Being a breathalyzer operator....................73
One breathalyzer test that scared me....................74
A college education may be overrated!....................75
Ever been hit by the President of the United States?....................77
Always keep one eye on the Sergeant....................79
How do old Sergeants stay safe so long?....................80
Threatening an officer's family is NOT a good idea!....................81
Putting life in perspective....................83
A Great Doctor....................84
Not much sympathy for hardheaded people....................85
Lady, you weren't speeding ... you were flying low....................86
Every town has a Charlie Boy....................87
Then there was Buddy....................89
Don't tick off my partner!....................90
Monnie got me this time....................91
Big Monkey....................92
The Big squeeze....................94
Losing a best friend....................95
Time to try something else....................96
Good things come to those who wait....................97
A Highway Patrol Story....................98
A Stand-in Mother Duck....................99
Change is good....................101
Memories of a Small Town Cop....................103
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2013

    Might be a good book

    Havent read it yet but read the summary sounds like a good book

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  • Posted February 2, 2012

    AN EXCELLENT READ

    When I received this book I read it in one sitting. I could not put it down. The book is comprised of a lot of short stories. Some are informative, some are sad, and a whole lot are funny . I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I think you will too.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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