Once upon a time, about 5 years or so ago actually, Kristin used to work for the SLC police as a crime scene tech and forensic photographer. I thought this was super cool. In fact, I thought this was so cool, it got her laid. (shh, don’t tell her I told you that!) I mean, between that and her scrabble proficiency I was goner, you know?
Anyway. The scheduling there sucked. SUCKED ASS. They used to only have one crime scene tech on duty on Sundays. Hello? A weekend full of drinking generally culminates in a Sunday full of dumb crimes. She dreaded Sundays. I dreaded Sundays for her. She always came home late, bedraggled, exhausted, filthy.
One Sunday she got permission to take me on a ride-along. It helps (in these circumstances) to have a degree in Anthropology. We were able to lie and say that I was considering going into forensic anthropology and wanted to see what a career in that could look like. The powers that be bought it, and soon I was sitting in Kristin’s car, frantically writing down addresses as they came across the radio.
It was an exciting night. I had wanted to see a body, but I didn’t want anyone to kill themselves, or overdose, or get murdered just because of my gruesome delight. So I wished that someone would die naturally, in their sleep. Kristin told me we wouldn’t get called to a scene like that… but some rookie cop made a mistake and called us, so I got to see someone’s grandma dead in her bed. Don’t worry, I was all properly saddened and stuff. No one from the family knew that their lives were part of my tourism.
I also saw the results of a vicious knife fight (um, in a word, ick) and there was an armed robbery leading to a car-jacking and a high-speed chase first by car and then by foot. By the time we got to the scene, he’s been pepper-sprayed and there was green snot running down his face and his hands were cuffed behind his back so he couldn’t wipe. He tried to spit at Kristin, so a cop jerked a spit-hood over his head. If you haven’t been spit-at by someone dripping long strings of green and yellow snot and high as a kite on some sort of illegal substance, then you haven’t lived.
I can’t tell you HOW many times we arrived at a crime scene only to have the victims follow Kristin around with commentary about CSI and how she was doing her job wrong, because that’s not how they do it on the show? And she forgot to dust the upholstered couch for prints! And why wasn’t she gathering fiber evidence from the scene? This random window-breaker needed to be stopped, and how was he going to be stopped if she didn’t gather as much evidence as possible?!
But the funniest encounter is one that STILL cracks us up. We’d been called to a burglary on a street by the University. It was a street where the houses were set back quite a ways from the road, and up a wooded hill. Perfect for burglaries as no one could see anyone’s front door. The cop was showing Kristin around the scene, telling her what he wanted pictures of, and where he wanted her to dust for prints. When suddenly this woman starts screaming, “Help! Help! Help!” She runs from the neighboring yard and sees the officer. “You’re a cop right? Well, WHY AREN’T YOU HELPING ME? GET YOUR GUN OUT AND FOLLOW ME!” So the officer (gun securely holstered) leaves Kristin to her job and goes to find out what the woman needs. Within a few minutes he comes over the radio saying that there’s been another burglary next door and could Kristin come over there when she was done.
After about 20 minutes, we were done with the first crime scene, and walked over to the second. The first cop had called in back up. It was that bad. Not the scene, the woman. Ho. Lee. CRAP! This woman was something else! The officer, and the woman, and the backup officer met us outside the front door. Officer 1 started to explain the crime scene to Kristin. Seems that this was the woman’s parents’ house and she was just checking on it while they were out of town. So, when she walked up to the door, she noticed that it was ajar.
“No. It was a door.” She said. We all looked at her, then looked away. The officer went on. “So, when she arrived the door was ajar.”
“No, it was NEVER a JAR. It was ALWAYS a door, and it was slightly open!”
She seriously thought the cop was telling Kristin that the door had been a jar. Not ajar, a jar. I am not making this up. It gets worse (or funnier, depending on how you look at it.) So the officer reframed... "Ok, the door, which was NEVER a JAR, was slightly open when the woman arrived at the scene"
Ooooookay, we enter the house. The first room is a living room with built-in bookcases. Many of the books were pulled out and thrown on the floor. The officer continued narrating, “as you can see, there’s been some rifling in here –“
“OH MY GOD! SOMEONE WAS SHOOTING GUNS IN MY PARENTS’ HOUSE!!! WHY DON’T YOU HAVE YOUR GUNS OUT? AREN’T YOU SUPPOSED TO BE PROTECTING ME?” We all jumed clear out of our skins and turned to look at the woman.
“Ma’am. Ma’am. Calm down. I am not drawing my weapon. What do you mean someone was shooting guns in the house?”
“You just said so!”
“Ma’am, I did not say that someone had discharged a firearm in here.”
“Yes, you did! You just said there was rifling in here”
Ba dum bum. I kid you not. She actually said these things.
At this point the woman decided that she should call her parents and let them know that their house had been burglarized. The only problem was that her parents were at their cabin – with no phone, no way to get hold of them. She called the sheriff’s office in the county that her parents were in, and started harassing (in a shrieking, crying, high-pitched, many-decibled, wail) the dispatcher to dispatch someone out to go look for her parents and get them to call her. No, no one was dead. No, the house was still whole. No, it didn't appear that much was missing. She was getting put on hold a lot.
Kristin went to work. The woman trailed us around the house, alternately shrieking into her cell phone and whining that no one was helping her or taking her seriously. The back-up cop was being hard-put to explain exactly WHY they weren’t waving their guns around, “well, ma’am, the burglar has obviously already left, and we’re in no danger now…”
Kristin moved into the kitchen where Officer 1 pointed out to her where it looked like the burglar had gained entry to the house. The kitchen door had a pane of plexi-glass that had been pushed out. The sheet of plexi-glass was lying on the floor. The woman was sitting on a kitchen stool. Still screaming into her phone at the poor dispatcher god-knows-where. She got put on hold again and decided to use her free time to tell Kristin how to do her job, and to speculate on the fantastic powers of the burglar.
“Now what I don’t understand, what I think is strange, is why didn’t the glass break when it hit the floor?”
“Ma’am, that’s a piece of plexi-glass. Plexi-glass doesn’t break like that.”
The woman sighed and rolled her eyes, obviously at the stupidity of Officer 1. “Officer, it’s glass. Glass is very fragile. So obviously something strange is going on here, otherwise, why isn’t the glass broken?”
“Well ma’am, I don’t know. I’m not an engineer or a physicist; I’m just a dumb cop. I can’t tell you why exactly the unbreakable plexi-glass didn’t break when it hit the kitchen rug.”
The woman took no notice of him as she had someone else to scream and cry at on her phone. After a while she got put on hold again. And that’s when she said the funniest thing of the whole night. She looked at Kristin (dusting the mysteriously un-broken plexi-glass for prints) and said… wait for it… she said…
“You know I’m going to school right now so I can get a job doing what you’re doing.”
And she was serious.
We waited (somehow, miraculously) until we got back out to the car to collapse with uncontrollable laughter.