Tuesday, January 21, 2014

California Dreamin': Police Cars and Woodpeckers

Q: What does a ride-along session with your San Diego police officer daughter and an Acorn woodpecker have in common? 

A: There sure are a lot of nuts (5150s) out there in California, which are best suited to be pounded into holes in tree trunks.

While that is a bit of a stretch; it’s not too far from the truth, my loyal readers of this here bird blog.  As you know, I often mix my metaphors in telling my stories; and today’s entry will be no different.  Kit Carson Park is located in Escondido, California.  While the 285 acre park itself is very nicely designed, filled with recreational choices for visitors, predominantly clean and well manicured; it's where the fascinating Acorn woodpecker hangs out, and that's the reason I visited.  Acorn Woodpeckers live year-round in oak and pine-oak woodlands of western Oregon, California, and the Southwest through Mexico and Central America. They also live in other habitats with oaks present or nearby, including streamside forests, Douglas-fir forests, redwood forests, tropical hardwood forests, suburban areas, and urban parks. Though found as low as sea level, they are more common in mountains, ranging up to the elevation limit of oak trees.  

Acorns typically are stored in holes drilled into a single tree, called a granary tree. One granary tree may have up to 50,000 holes in it, each of which is filled with an acorn in autumn.  On my last visit to the park two years ago to watch the woodpeckers, they were loading up a nearby palm tree as their granary tree.  A pair of trees were standing near one of the buildings and the Acorn woodpeckers were flying back and forth from the oaks to the palm trees, pounding the acorns into holes in the trunk nonstop.  The building's wooden facia also got a fair amount of acorns pounded into it.  Acorn Woodpeckers fiercely defend these acorn granaries against other groups and any other species that might rob the stores. They also defend 15-acre territories around the granary. They occasionally wander outside the territory in pursuit of acorns and water. Birds that help at nests but don’t get to breed often go out looking for breeding vacancies in other groups, up to about 10 miles away.  This trip; the palms were completely gone and the facia had been redone.

Acorn Woodpeckers are such unusual birds with such complicated social behavior that they have given rise to one of the longest-running behavioral studies of birds. They live in family groups of up to a dozen or more individuals, and they cooperate in raising young and in gathering, storing, and guarding food. Even their approach to cooperative breeding is unusually complex. Some groups have multiple breeding males and females, and all of a group’s breeding females lay their eggs in a single nest. Each female destroys any eggs that are present before she begins laying, resulting in the demise of more than one-third of the total eggs laid in joint nests. Once all the females have started laying their own eggs, their destructive behavior stops and they remove the debris to a nearby tree. There each egg is gradually eaten by several individuals—often including the female who laid it.   It is truly a real treat to be able to see them performing their daily routine in such a truly beautiful place.

Before I begin to recount my second tale, I will state at the outset that I will henceforth refer to my daughter as “Officer Lioness” or (OL) to protect her anonymity; as well as the real names of the (so-called) fellow humans we interacted with during her 10-hour shift for obvious reasons of privacy.  Plus; cops use a TON of secret, cool acronyms, so it works for me.

My tour of “onlooker” duty began in the early afternoon during the start of “second watch.”  This particular work shift of approximately fourteen of “America’s Finest*” (Central Division) officers went until midnight (PST), when I would already have been happily in my (CST) cozy bed at home for four hours.  Officer Lioness used her police ID card to open the “sub” gate and parked her snazzy Camaro in a secure concrete parking structure.  As we walked to the entrance of her building, she peeked into the windows of a line-up of late-model Ford Crown Victoria squads to select one that (1) wasn’t already claimed, and (2) she found worthy of spending her shift with.  She eventually set her insulated cooler containing cold water bottles on the trunk of old number 6831 and turned to guide me into the building.

As OL excused herself to the women’s lockers to strap on her battle gear, I was pointed into the officers break room to wait.  I’ll tell you right now that most of everything I will describe was the very first time I had encountered anything remotely like it, so start with that premise each time I introduce you to some place, environment, thing, situation, etc.  This nondescript, smallish,10 foot by 12 foot room was to be my home for approximately the next hour, so I sat down at the little lunch table. I said hello to a cop who was digging through his lunchbox and he introduced himself.  We chatted for a while about my reason for being there, and the Polar Vortex I had just escaped from in Wisconsin.  Californians have rarely experienced anything colder than 30 degrees, let alone excruciating below zero wind chills, and drifting snow banks.  They shiver just hearing about it with each conversation ending with something like, “...yeah, I’d never be able to handle that.”  Well, we do…we don’t like it much, but we do cause’ we have to.  The bulletin board had advertisements for the police union, weapon sales and was also sadly peppered with one page memorials to fallen officers from the past couple of years. 

OL eventually fetched me from the vending machine laden waiting room to pick up an “official” onlooker sticker for my shirt front.  We walked up to the main prairie dog cubicle level of the complex to rifle through a filing cabinet for the proper waiver form to sign stating that I would hold the SDPD completely harmless in the event of my untimely demise.  I had foolishly envisioned being issued a fancy dark blue bullet-proof vest with say, “WRITER” or something similarly etched in white bold face lettering; but no…a mere paper sticker with my name written in ball point pen was to be my passport to danger.  I deftly peeled the backing off and proudly affixed it to my upper right chest, smiling to be legitimately included as a witness to their world, at least for a few hours.

We walked down the corridor to a special room and entered.  It was a large conference room with tables arranged in a square.  Several officers were already in there with their backs against the far wall facing the head of the table.  We approached a somber, highly decorated male officer who frowned at my approach.   Sadly I missed participation in their “Line-Up” activities due to the head officer’s interpretation of the rules surrounding my paper sticker’s right of attendance.  I retreated to the break room and gave some coin to the vending machine for some trail mix and beef jerky as I half-watched a lame quiz show for incredible sports-authority geeks on ESPN.  Another cop in street clothes and baseball cap came in to grab a ripe pear from a box of Harry and David Christmas present leftovers which sat on the table.  He and I exchanged pleasantries about the cold-hot weather, and a shooting that had taken place earlier in the day involving SDPD SWAT.  This guy said he was former Marine (retired) and had still served another 20 years on the force.  He kinda’ reminded me of a hardened and jaded James Caan-looking guy when he did the film Misery, complete with the excessive “F” bombs that he launched every other sentence. I decided he would be someone who would make me uneasy if I had to work alongside him for too long.

OL returned to me after a while and on our way out the door to the parking structure, A fellow higher ranking officer handed her a new "demo" camera recording device from a rack of similar units. Manufactured by the Taser Company; the Axon Body Camera was being test-driven by selected officers of the SDPD before an investment was made into them as an entire department.  OL clipped it in between the folds of her uniform shirt with its sturdy “s” shaped molded plastic holding feature.  She gave her Sgt. Some verbal impromptu feedback on how it had been performing to date, and did not appear all that excited to have it back on her person.  She dutifully did as she was instructed and soon we were on our way out to her hand-picked car.  OL also had to carry out this enormous black gym-bag full of heavy gear.  She said it was her riot gear.  My name sticker shivered.

After stowing the gear and cooler into the car’s trunk we went to our respective sides of the vehicle.  Here’s where I get to begin singing the praises of OL as a police officer.  As I sat down in the passenger front seat and looked over to her testing and adjusting the iPod that was real-time, Bluetoothed-synced to the Axon; I was completely impressed.  She started to flip switches, and turn on knobs without even thinking much about it.  She logged into the swing-arm computer keyboard and began checking systems as she awaited successful connection to their WAN and to the trunk-mounted PC unit that fed wireless data to another ruggedized Panasonic monitor that was affixed to the center front section of the dashboard.  Here, this little girl who sings in her Baptist church, plays with her baby niece on her sister’s living room rug, dresses in girly-girl clothes along with perfect make-up and hair was expertly commanding a state of the art, mobile, and armed information center of justice, like it was as simple as sending a text message to her girlfriend.  An accurate description of incredible pride escapes me, and that was all before I actually got to see her handle the people and the situations we encountered during that evening.

We drove from her “sub” station located in the Logan Heights neighborhood into the downtown area proper for a brief tour while she awaited a dispatch.  Her unit was labeled 521Y (yellow) so she drove, typed and clicked on the computer mouse-pad while she also listened intently to the wired, flesh-colored earpiece she had placed in her right ear for that designation to be uttered.  Did I mention that she also had turned on a country music station for the car’s interior listening pleasure as well?  Personally I would have been overwhelmed with merely sitting and driving.  Kids these days.

A call (plea) from the dispatcher came across the radio waves for a willing “female officer needed for a search.”  OL was ready for action, so she responded with an accommodating radio call (coded of course) indicating that she would be willing and able to provide aide.  OL reached in the middle counsel area of the squad and grasped a pair of black Nitrile gloves from a plastic bag full of them, and began pulling them over her hands as she drove. After a short drive through a residential neighborhood we arrived (10-97) at 35th and Franklin; stopping the car in the middle of the street.  I had expected lights and siren (or at least lights) but I was told that they were neither needed, nor requested and that the police can basically stop their vehicle wherever they wish in relation to a call.
Two other SDPD cars were on scene with two officers emptying the contents of a large four door sedan onto the street after searching each item.  The other two officers were in front of a squad awaiting OL’s arrival.  A large, black, long-haired female; belly hanging out under her too-short shirt, was hand-cuffed and lean-sitting against the front push-bar of the squad.  OL said I could exit the vehicle and come near where she was going.  I got out and followed her.  One of the officers searching the car placed a large half-emptied bottle of Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum on the roof of the car being searched; waved to me as I crept closer to where OL was standing.  I hung about 30 feet back from the full body search OL was conducting on the woman partially out of uncertainty and part modesty-preservation for the hand-cuffed suspect.  The woman was visibly swaying and wobbly as she slurred her innocence to the neighborhood.  OL spoke softly, kindly and without malice towards the woman as she went about her work.  She finished her thorough search including having the woman step out of her shoes (which she told me later was a “voluntary” one with suspect’s permission that could just as easily have been suddenly rejected) and found nothing additionally incriminatingly illegal or germane to the reason the other cops had stopped her; so we were excused with a “Code 4” (no further help needed) and left that particular scene to the four other officers.

We slowly cruised past streets near downtown where large open gravel lots encircled with galvanized fencing had lured in transient human beings with the promise of setting up camp.  These "homeless" individuals must have counted themselves among the luckiest of their kind being able to live in a climate where the temperature seldom if ever drops below 30 on the coldest day.  Heck, I could sleep naked in that cold. Anyway, lucky feeling or not, they were basically a major blight on the downtown area with their shopping carts full of battered and dirty everything.  One interesting fact to consider about these people was explained to me.  IF it should come to pass that it is necessary to arrest one of these fine citizens of meager means, low intelligence or extreme chemical dependency (or a combination of each)  it is also necessary to painstakingly impound all their "belongings" into custody of the property lock-up; including their stolen shopping carts...more on that later as you read further along.  For that reason alone; it is no surprise that unless one is clearly breaking more than a minor law or ordinance; they are mostly left unmolested by law enforcement. Sure, they pose as an obvious tourism eyesore, annoyingly beg for money, defecate on the street corners, create noise, clog up walkways, leave food waste for the rats, and lots of other fun and gross stuff; however unless absolutely necessary to relocate them, move them along, or stop them from hassling tourists; they are left to wallow.  I understood the cop's dilemma completely...what do you do with all of them when the weather made it completely fine to live that way.

The second call to action actually popped up on her monitor in red lettering as the dispatcher gave it to OL directly.  It was from the MTS (Trolley cops) who had detained a female suspect for disorderly conduct involving possible drug possession.  OL sighed as she pushed the F6 key on her computer, indicating that she was enroute.  This call would invariably have the SDPD involved with a situation that the metro either didn't wish handle, or didn't have the expertise or resources to handle.  We drove to the trolley station and parked the car at the curb; exiting stage right and across the tracks to the gaggle of security cops along the terminal building.  A tall, skinny, 50-something black woman wearing jeans, a tee-shirt and light jacket sat against the brickwork with her hands cuffed behind her back.  She was slowly rocking as OL received a preliminary report from the detaining lead security officer.  Apparently the woman had caused a disturbance with her actions leading to detention and search by the security detail.  The lead man handed OL a clear plastic bag containing a broken glass object and a small (pea-sized) yellowish-white crystal which he believed to be methamphetamine.  OL conducted a respectful secondary search on the woman (whom I'll call "Tina") and produced no further evidence.  Tina of course denied that the drugs were hers and that she was simply holding the bag for her boyfriend.  OL calmly explained to Tina about the difference between the charge lodged against her of "possession" of a narcotic and "ownership."  Apparently Tina was already a virtual shopping list of former arrests and possessed acute familiarity with the California criminal justice system.

OL then swapped out Tina's transit cuffs for her own while Tina complained, swayed, and mumbled innocence, as I watched.  The Axon Body camera was rolling the whole time to catch the drama as it unfolded.  The transit cops gathered Tina's belongings into her battered grayish suitcase and OL assisted Tina with her shoes.  The group all paused for an outgoing trolley before walking across the tracks to OL's waiting Crown Vic, depositing Tina on the hard plastic back seat, and Tina's stuff into the trunk with rubber gloved hand.  OL then pulled out a small notebook and took the necessary time to read Tina her rights; asking if she had a statement (she had none) before closing her into the vehicle. We pulled away from the curb and drive to HQ.  A secure gate allowed us entry into what OL called, "the sally port." It is basically a covered, street-level garage area just outside the door to the main "watch commander's" desk. This tight maneuvering quarters for approximately ten vehicles, ringed by large steel beams served as a place to park, out of the eye of the public for the next phase of intake.  Tina sat in the back of the OL's car next to two other squads, each with their own people sitting in their respective back seats.  OL removed Tina's belongings and the drug evidence from the trunk and carried it through the doorway to the "property" room where she went through the exacting process of cataloging each of Tina's possessions; treating the drugs separately by placing them into their own "evidence" bags and envelope.  Each record was entered into the database on a form, and corresponding bar-coded label was affixed.  OL worked like a machine with no wasted efforts as she performed these important (chain of evidence) safeguarding activities.  She led me back out to the garage where a small table and chairs sat in front of her squad, asking me to wait there.  She first performed a quick, perfunctory check on Tina's well-being and then went into the watch commander's office for a bit while I sat surveying the interior of the sally port.  I could see security cameras silently watching me from several angles as I sat at the grayish table.  A squad car wiggle-waggled itself out of a spot and out the overhead door, its tires making squeaking sounds on the polished concrete.  I was impressed to see so many vehicles in that small space, yet there was no detectable smell of carbon emissions.  A trio of officers huddled around another open automobile back door discussing something, as I glimpsed the man sitting there.  He was calm, but looked somehow hopeful as he leaned into the conversation; listening.  I spotted a battered, black, plastic (clamshell-looking) chair, securely bolted to the floor.  It had what looked like seat-belts crisscrossing the entirely of the seat.  I later learned that this was a place where (if needed) a forced blood draw could be conducted on an unwilling suspect.

OL came back out to fetch me and we both entered the watch commander's station.  Several computers, monitors and television sets were in view and turned on.  A blond-haired, non-nonsense looking, mature woman officer sat behind one desk and a similarly serious man at the other.  OL handed her paper reports to the woman who appeared to carefully read what was on the them, finally offering a small suggestion of clarity that needed a handy strip of White-out to correct.  OL thanked the officers and told me to follow her out to the garage area.  "We'll need to take her to Las Colinas now," said OL as she put the car in gear and backed out of the HQ salley port, out the lot and into traffic.  Las Colinas (LCDF) is the women's detention center in Santee, CA.  OL knew that this little 25 mile jaunt would tie up her evening for quite a while, and was a bit perturbed to have to basically be the taxi service for a frequent criminal flyer on behalf of the transit cops.  I assured her that whatever she needed to do would be very interesting to me regardless of the degree of personal endangerment.  We got on the freeway and headed northeast.

Tina bobbed and rocked, mumble-sang bits of random songs, and basically talked to herself between eliciting short moaning sounds that would cause OL to ask, "Tina, are you doing OK?"  Tina would reply, "yessss...," and quiet down for a few more miles.  The drive went quick enough and we were pulling into the lonely concrete driveway to the Las Colinas facility in about 30 minutes. OL walked to the back of the car and opened the trunk; emptying herself of all police-issued  weaponry into the trunk, before she could bring her inside the facility as per the rules of the detention center.  OL then extricated Tina from the back of the car and helped her pull her clothing into place while I turned my head to look away.   We first went to the doorway that was intended for intake where Tina was ushered to a small heavy-duty wooden bench securely bolted to the cement floor and told to wait.  Tina started to "act-up" the minute she sat down, mumbling things that made me think she had a cozy familiarity with the process and the building.  A bespectacled evening desk attendant with a cochlear implant visible on her closely shorn black head of hair, must have been pre-alerted to our delivery and prepared some paperwork behind a substantially built glass enclosure. Tina was warned several times to sit quietly as OL and I stood awaiting the next instruction.  OL told me that she had been here over 20 times previously so I was confident she knew if this was standard procedure, versus being ignored by the attendant.  Finally a short Asian-looking woman in a white nurse's outfit walked into the glass cubicle with a clipboard.  After finally getting Tina's attention, she asked a short battery of questions intended to see if Tina was still on planet Earth, or had she floated away into some other universe. There was a tense time when Tina's answers were so loud, overly animated and disturbing that OL moaned aloud to her to behave and not act so crazy.  See OL was slightly worried that this trip to incarceration could turn into a trip to the mental hospital with Tina in tow.  Tina gathered herself as together as a habitually drug addled brain could muster and apparently "passed" the brief, seat of the pants, verbal intake procedure enough for the next phase to continue: the globally familiar, mug shot session.  Tina was clearly a ham. Before we were excused to go next door, Tina decided to moan about the possibility of being given a carton of milk by the jailers and how that the last time, she was violently ill from both ends and how nasty it was for the staff.  OL told Tina not to worry and led her out the one door and towards the next.

OL suggested that I stay outside in the lot for this next phase as Tina was becoming a bit more animated, and the foyer she was going to enter just inside the next doorway (between public door and sliding jail gate) was very small.  The first door opened and Tina shouted to the deputy just inside the doorway something akin to, "...ohh this is where I belong, where I can get me some help!..."  As I waited in the dimly lit darkness of the parking lot a group of men and women dressed in Sheriff's Department khaki walked up along a sidewalk, preparing to enter the same doorway as OL.  They saw my official onlooker sticker of justice and told me hello, and that it was probably a good idea to wait outside.  As two female officials did another full search of Tina, and another tall and muscular male looked on; I looked past into the facility; deeper into the most secure area I could see.  I saw approximately six other women sitting, standing and moving, in a small glassed-in holding area much like the TV cop shows portray.  They were dressed in simple extremely loose-fitting, cotton clothes with some acronym on the back that I couldn't make out plainly.  About half looked kinda' rough but surprisingly not all of them did.  Some were wearing make-up as if they had been picked up from a night on the town and told to, "wait here."  Two saw me looking in and (I swear) smiled and winked as if to say, "hey sailor...what are you up to tonight?"  I got embarrassed and quit looking; walking back into the shadows of the parking lot.  It creeped me out. The next thing I knew, Tina had been processed and OL's handcuffs were finally returned to her.  As Tina was led away to a special more secure area for whatever might befall her; she appeared to be smiling ear to ear as she stumble-walked, milk carton in hand, out of my view.  The little dickens...

On the drive back to San Diego, I urged OL stop the squad at a business I spotted on the way to Las Colinas; Mary's Donuts in Santee to get a sugary piece of bakery, and to pose for a photo.  It was just too classic and stereotypical to miss the opportunity...she indulged my sophomoric whim.  Down the highway we went; me dropping nutty crumbs onto City property, and feeling extremely special.

We ultimately drove to the upper level of a "special" deserted concrete parking garage structure where police often congregate out of the public eye to do report writing, etc. to begin to do just that; write reports.  We carefully backed into a space on the far end of the structure on the top level facing the ramps.  The crisp and clear California sky surprisingly offered a great view of the solar system, despite the surrounding light pollution of the City of San Diego.  OL began to prepare yet another report on the Tina case when she heard something on her radio that involved a possible "jumper" who was heading to the top of the Coronado bridge.  This immediately galvanized her into action as the radio traffic increased surrounding this new threat.  The suspected jumper was a woman.  Another vehicle was involved which apparently held the woman's two small children in the back seat.  Many squads were chiming in to say that they would respond to the area.  OL did the same in "volunteer" fashion, and we rocketed across the lot, around a tight corner and onto the street below.  OL decided to drive over to see if there was some way to assist with locating the missing car full of kids.  As we were coming down off the island side of the bridge, the radio crackled with additional information.  The woman (jumper) had been located as was being detained.  We wove our way back and forth through the darkened streets of Coronado, looking for the blue Cadillac CTS containing the missing children.

Another voice (an officer with a Russian-like accent ) on the radio reported to dispatch that the Cadillac had been found with the children inside.   OL somehow picked up a location out of the static and proceeded to drive in that direction.  She wondered aloud if she ought to simply disengage from the call as it appeared to have been handled.  I remarked that since it didn't sound as if any other female officers were involved, that perhaps the children might need to experience her presence specifically.  She humbly agreed and we eventually found the car with the two frightened but eerily calm little girls in a quiet, expensive-looking neighborhood.  Several other cars were parked haphazardly in the middle of the street; their blue and red lights bouncing off the surrounding windows.  We exited the squad and OL's Axon Body camera popped off her uniform shirt and clattered to the pavement.  She swore quietly, picked it up and walked over to a large male officer who was near the Cadillac.  The air was cool for California and the car's exhaust sent up a small cloud.  The car was obviously running, and the driver's side rear window was down, exposing a small girl of about eight years old, with dark hair and dark eyes peering out as OL leaned in to say hello.  She talked cheerily but softly to the young girl; asking about her condition and the condition of the small child in the car seat next to her.  I didn't hear the entire conversation, but it was clear that the little girl seemed instantly comforted by OL's proximity.  Up the street and in front facing the Cadillac was another squad surrounded by officers; one leaning into the open back door.  I gathered that the woman (these children's mother) was being kept there, away from them by the cops.  Soon another car arrived, and the Division's psychiatric officer walked over to the car with the woman to do whatever she usually does with these individuals.

OL reported to the Russian cop that the older girl needed to go to the bathroom.  The Russian came over to the open car window and asked, "numbel vun, ol numbel, tu?"  The little girl understood and responded that she needed to pee.  The Russian cop looked around the car briefly then asked, "Ken yoo squat by da flont of dat kar?" pointing to a nearby police car.  OL looked horrified and quickly told him that no, she will not squat in the street; but to instead ask a neighbor if she could use their bathroom.  The Russian shrugged his shoulders and walked up to the nearest nice-looking home to ring the bell.  I stood looking at the surreal scene; expertly manicures grass, neatly swept walks, elaborate Christmas decorations still festooning the fronts of the some of the dwellings, and wondered what the residents of this serene southern California neighborhood were thinking about the drama unfolding front of their expensive homes.  Russian-guy came back with a go-ahead, and OL assisted the little girl out of the car.  As OL and the girl walked towards the good Samaritan's home; the little girl put her arm around OL's waist.  I was touched.

While the potty break was happening, another car stopped and two new people joined the scene.  A woman who turned out to be the jumper's sister (and aunt to the girls) and a young man (father to car seat girl) approached the Cadillac.  They were both Hispanic and spoke in Spanish to car seat girl through her open car window.  The man (who was the initial "RP" - Reporting Party) opened the door and began to reach into the car to unbuckle the child when the Russian told him to stop.  He (the Russian) wanted a photo of the child left in the car seat by jumper-mom to support a possible charge of child abandonment, or some such violation to be tacked onto her growing list of broken laws.  OL returned with her wee-charge who then spotted the newly arriving aunt, and ran to her open arms, sobbing.  OL and I waited around the scene for a few more minutes until she received a verbal "Code 4" from the Russian who told her that Coronado police were going to be handling the rest of the incident.  We drove back to the mainland and to requested a C7 (break) with a brief visit to Jack-in-the-Box for a (drive-thru) sandwich.  I was hungrier than I thought I'd be...musta' been the adrenaline...yeah, right.  We drove to the Central Substation, exited the car and the Axon fell to the concrete.  OL picked it up again and we brought our bag of food into the building and ate at the (now familiar) police station lunchroom table for our 1/2 allotted lunch break where we encountered the Psych officer filling out paperwork.

The final "call" of the shift was another "volunteer" response.  A suspicious man was encountered at HQ (not far from our location) who needed to be dealt with and OL felt it was important to be a willing participant due to the location.  The man was seen on the external cameras which surrounded the station, and when approached by someone; exhibited extreme paranoia.  OL and I circled the HQ parking lot a few times when she spotted the man sitting under a set of stairs to an overhead concrete walkway.  I was impressed that she could pick the guy out in the semi-darkened shadows of the structure.  She waved me out of the car and I joined her next to the guy.  The middle-aged, medium build man was seated at a picnic table most likely designed for police staff to take a quick outdoor lunch break with this back against the wall, looking outward towards the lot.  A port wine stain covered almost an entire half of his face and balding head.  He wore large eyeglasses and was dressed in a casual business shirt and jeans with tennis shoes on his feet.  OL stood to his right facing him with her arms crossed, listening intently.  The first statement I heard him say went something like, "...and I don't think it's wise to meet here out in the open, as they are listening to everything I say..."  He went on to speak of WIFIs that were following him when he drove around, was at work, went home, etc.  he handed a stack of papers to OL and explained to her that, "...here was the proof..."  OL took the papers and began to skim each one carefully while the man continued to weave his tale of being watched, intimidated, followed, etc.  Another two officers walked quietly up.  I recognized them from behind the watch commander's desk we had earlier visited.  Then another officer drove up, got out of his car and approached.  OL knew him and seemed relieved to see him.  That officer addressed the man, and with a hoarse voice, asked the man what he could do to help.

The man (I'll call him "Waldo"), started in with his tale of clandestine stalkers who used various Internet Search Engine Optimizations and WIFIs named "FBI somethings" and assertions that a mysterious "they" were poised to strike him down for what he knew about the data-mining they were doing.  I noticed his plastic name badge from Costco lying on the papers he had stretched out in front of him.  It identified him as a "manager."  I was suddenly concerned for the other Costco workers under his supervision.  The newest officer stood and listened, facing Waldo.  He would nod his head, and croak out a question of Waldo to attempt to understand the man's incredible paranoia-induced assertions.  Waldo would preface each example he was giving with an annoying and somewhat condescending, "...now I know that either of you couldn't possible understand the details of the technology I am describing, but..." An Hispanic worker pulling a large clattering garbage carton on wheels wandered into the general area oblivious to Waldo's intensely fantastic monologue, and used his pass-code to open an external garage door that housed the main building dumpsters.  OL and the new officer continued listening and listening to the mad tale being carefully woven specifically for their official benefit.  The two officers from inside HQ made a silent four fingered gesture to OL and the new officer, who then nodded his head slightly in agreement that they could now leave (as no further assistance was needed - Code 4).   Waldo mentioned the NSA, the FBI, and the Justice Department in his deluded and paranoid ravings. He seemed to identify a singular individual whom he was targeting with his counterclaims, but it seemed he could not assemble enough coherent thoughts to encapsulate his fears or his demands. He talked for about another 15 minutes before finally pausing long enough for the new officer to first acknowledge that he had just stood there listening intently to Waldo's concerns and to ask just what (specifically) did Waldo wish a mere municipality police force to do; that one of the large governmental agencies he mentioned could not do.  Waldo was basically speechless as he appeared to ponder this simple question for the very first time.  The officer asked Waldo to then please gather up his personal  information and effects, and to move along as this was not an area that is typically left to the public.  Waldo sadly and slowly did as he asked; heading back to where he had parked his Volkswagen.  Both officers then looked at each other and agreed that this was a definite "K" situation (no report). OL thanked the officer for his assistance, and we returned to the parking garage; this time for the shift's 10-17 session with their sergeant.

The 10-17 is when all that shift's units report to a specified spot (in this case, the deserted parking structure)
and await their sergeant's arrival.  While we waited, OL finished up her report and called the transit cop whom she dealt with earlier, involving the "Tina" arrest, for a copy of his report.  He promised her to have it ready for pick-up around 10:00 PM PST.  Her sergeant finally arrived and an officer got out of each car that was backed up to the wall, opened their trunk, disengaged their individual car's ruggedized laptop, and carried it to the hood of their car.  This was done so that each officer could have his or her reports scrutinized by the sergeant before they were released into the official department database.  It was a kind of double-check system by a more senior supervisor designed to minimize mistakes which might come back to haunt either an individual officer or their department in court.  It seemed effective and welcomed by the cops.  After ours was complete, we zipped out of the structure and drove over to the MTS for the copy of the trolley cop's report. It would be added to OL's own back at the station.

EOS (End of Shift) is the magical time when all of the shift officers gather in their "Resource Room" and await the final dismissal from a senior officer (in this case, the sergeant).  They can sit there and do last minute paperwork, or whatever they need to do to wind up their shift.  They seemed to let their hair down a bit more amongst their own kind in this environment with some good-natured ribbing, foul language and laughter to ease the tensions of the past 10 hours.  A couple of the group were more somber and reserved as I watched.  Each one however was ready to call it a night.  The sergeant finally came in at 11:45 PM to dismiss the officers. OL excused herself to the women's lockers to change back into her civilian clothes, while I walked to the Camaro to warm it up for the drive back to Escondido. I had learned a lot about what it is like to be a police officer in a large metropolitan warm-weather city, but more than that; I learned that my daughter was truly an amazing young woman who was damn good at her job.

So that's the end of my entertaining allegory featuring California nuts and woodpeckers...hope you've enjoyed it!

*America's Finest = the official motto of the San Diego Police Department