The Flashlight and The Baton -A Short Story About Lying.

Photo by Wendelin Jacober on Pexels.com

The Flashlight

It’s the early 1980’s, I’m still building up my personal rescue equipment.  I could use the outdated fire department issued gear or purchase my own.  If I purchased my own I could keep it with me at all times, department property had to be left at the station.  With my POV(personal owed vehicle) equipped with a two-way radio, lights and siren, I could respond from anywhere if I had my own bunker gear.  If not I’d have to go to the station first costing valuable time.  In my small city I was one of two EMT’s in the city then.  The assistant chief(AC) and myself a lieutenant.  That’s all there was, two of us.

Due to those factors, the AC and myself responded in our POV’s directly to emergency medical or fire calls for help.  This later led us and the police to put radio scanners in our vehicles so we could communicate with each other in times of need.  We called it crosstalk.  The police were on low band, fire-rescue on high band.  So there was no way we could simply put a set of crystals in their radios and talk direct over the fire frequency.  If we communicated we would transmit over the frequency onboard and listen to each other on the scanner.  It worked very good when an officer needed backup and the nearest backup officer may be a sheriff or state trooper 15 or 20 minutes away.

That’s how we did things back then because it worked.  What doesn’t work is dishonesty.  In the emergency services field honesty and trust is a must.  When someone lies it can cause lots of issues to arise and have dramatic effects on a reputation.

I’m at the scene of a large fire, my POV is parked close by as usual.  We put out the fire, do our mop-up, roll up our tools, engines one and two are ready to go back to the station to load fresh clean hose back into the hose bed.  I’ve finished what I’m doing so I put my bunkers back into my POV.  Including the new Maglite flashlight I had purchased a few days before the fire.  Cool I thought it worked well at this fire and was a good choice for a flashlight.  I had purchased the rubber cover for the light.  It covered the entire body of the light with a small opening to operate the on/off switch.  I was more like a condom for a flashlight than anything.  But worth it.

In the past I had needed to hold a similar light and use both hands so I held it with my neck and shoulder.  It was winter and dam was that thing cold.  When I saw the flashlight cover option for the light I thought it would address that issue and give me a better grip.  I was right it worked well for that purpose.  My dad had suggested that if I was going to spend the money on a nice light that I should identify it as mine in some way to prevent theft, or at least separate it from other Maglite’s that others were using.

Wow was that a good idea, I did have it marked.  I took it to the engravers and had my social security number(SSN) put on the light.  Then put the flashlight condom over the body.  Two days later I responded to a call and my flashlight was missing.  That’s impossible I thought because I double checked to make sure it was in my POV when I put my bunkers in there.  Now it was missing.

Not long after that I had occasion to work with Officer H. on a call and to my surprise he had a flashlight that looked exactly like mine.  Condom cover and all.  Because I had to leave the scene before he did I didn’t say anything but had an odd feeling about it.  I asked for a meeting with the chief officers of the fire department.  We met and I explained the situation to them.  I informed them I was going to ask Officer H. about his light the next time I saw him at the station.  They had no issues with it.

Not sure how soon it was when I was able to spot Officer H. at the police department(PD).  They often went to the station to use the breathalyzer, rest room breaks, paperwork, typical stuff.  As soon as I saw his patrol car parked at the PD I went over there to ask him about the light.  As it happens the AC was working with me that night on ambulance duty.  I told him I was leaving the station and headed to the PD for a few minutes.  He said okay, then suddenly must have realized what I was up to and followed me over to the PD.

We were buzzed in and there was Officer H. filling out some paperwork on a DUI and a guy sitting there in handcuffs.  We exchanged pleasantries then I started to ask him about the flashlight.  I said that is was cool light could I check it out?  He handed to me.  Nice light I told him.  While I was looking at the light I asked him where he purchased the light so I could get one.  At the same time I had rolled back the condom cover and right there it was, my SSN.

I didn’t say anything for a moment just listened to how he purchased the light and where.  I then asked about the cover, was it extra or did it come like that.  He said it came like that with the cover on it.  I then showed him how I had rolled back the cover to reveal my SSN.  I asked him what the number was on the light, he said it was a serial number.  Wrong I told him.  No that’s not the serial number its this number and showed him another number on the light.  Much smaller and difficult to see.  The other number I told him was my SSN then produced my social security card to prove it.

At this point I still had the flashlight in my hand.  I rolled the cover back into place picked up my social security card, thanked him for finding my flashlight and walked out the door of the police department back to the fire station.  Thought that would be the end of that.  Was I wrong

Several weeks to a month later I get a call from the fire chief to come meet him at his office as soon as possible it was urgent.  I got there and began to hear a story that only Officer H. could come up with.  I was informed that due to the charges alleged by Officer H. I was suspended until the next city council meeting to settle the accusation.  The officer accused me of refusing to respond to a call for help.

The next day I’d made contact with an attorney that not only knew Officer H. but despised him he’d take my case pro bono so he could fuck with this guy big time.  That was the first and only attorney I had called.  I couldn’t believe it.  I’d informed my attorney of all of Officer H’s doing and we were going to burn him good right there at the city council meeting.  It was something like a trial but it was a small town council meeting it was fantastic.  I wish everyone could have been there to see and hear it.

We got the officer up to make the accusation then my attorney asked him some questions.  That was all we needed.  He had been asked about the details of his accusation and personal ones as well.  As he did not provide any evidence other than his lies. It was our turn.

My attorney produced photographs of him at a hotel with someone other than his wife.  Questions he had just lied about.  Now we had proof he was lying about that.  It was my turn to speak to the council.  I denied the accusation and then went one by one to each council member right to the mayor and rhetorically asked if they had ever heard a particular thing about themselves around the city and where these things that had been said came from?  Really strange rumors kind of stuff.

I had a story for each member of the council and then explained Officer H. was the one who had told me each one of those  stories/rumors.  Officer H. was not happy.  Then I told them about the flashlight incident.  The council quickly settled the issue, cut a check for my back pay and a little settlement money to keep me from suing the city.  Officer H. left the police department within weeks of that meeting.  I have a unique way of stumbling across liars then exposing them by accident.  Sometimes it caused me a little trouble but it always works out for me in the end.

The Baton

I’m in a sub sandwich shop munching out when I see Officer A’s patrol car pull up into the parking lot.  He pulled up fast like there was something going on.  I hadn’t heard any calls dispatch over the scanner nor had he called in arrival at a scene.  Where he parked his car had been blocked by part of a building so I couldn’t see what was going on but thought as soon as I finish my lunch I’d go out to see what was up.

Lucky me I stepped right in it.  When I walked over to where Officer A. was he was placing what was clearly an army solider in civilian clothes under arrest.  I announced my presence asked if he need assistance, the officer acknowledged me then asked me to watch his back.  The parking lot was clear except for us three.  There were no bystanders, everything seemed okay.  The solider was cooperating and following instructions as the officer placed handcuffs on the guy.

As the officer was putting the solider in the car the soldier’s foot slipped on the bottom of the door frame and he fell out of the car.  Officer A immediately pulled out his baton and started to beat the crap out of the guy.  I reminded the officer that I was there to provide assistance, he was handcuffed and that the guy had fell out of the car I saw his foot slip.  After beating the guy for approximately a minute he asked me to help place him into the patrol car.

That was that I thought. Officer A had a reputation for doing things like that.  Beating people who did not require it.  I’m not against striking someone if the situation calls for it because I would do it myself if necessary.   In this case all he would have had to do is get the guy off the ground and have him get into the car.  I was there armed with a pistol and Officer A knew it.  AC(Assistant Chief, Fire) and I had been on plenty of backup assistance calls from the PD because we were always armed.  It’s why they called us.  This guy was cooperative and did not fight the officer at any time during the incident.

Some time passes, months I think, I’ve forgotten the incident.  One day I get a call to meet AC he had to talk with me.  He comes and picks me up from home and drives me off.  He tells me about a conversation he had with Officer A.  How the officer had asked him what I had said about the sandwich shop incident.  AC told him I didn’t know anything because AC didn’t know I was there that day.  I hadn’t mentioned it to anyone since it seemed to be normal for Officer A.  What was there to say?  He did it again.

I told AC about the incident.  He told me how Officer A wanted to speak with me about it so we’d be on the same page because there was some trouble coming and wanted to coordinate our story.  Make sure we would tell the same story in court because they were going to call me as a witness.  AC nor I had any idea what was going on.

I did not like what I was hearing and I could tell AC was concerned for me in some way.  I knew I couldn’t go asking questions around town, if I did the PD would find out fast.  It was a small town.  At first I didn’t know what to do.  Then I remembered a friend I had made in military police on base, he was a Sargent.  He would come hang out at the station when he could and respond to runs with us.

I got into contact with him and asked him to meet me on base at my fathers place over there so no one in my little town would know we were meeting.  None of them had access to the base like we did.   They would have had to get visitors passes and really had no business over there anyway.

We met and I told him about the incident with Officer A.  There was a look on his face that can’t be described.  He called the M.P. station and asked if a certain person was there.  The captain he asked for was not there.  The Sargent instructed them to contact the officer and have him meet at the M.P. station it was urgent that the captain speak with me.  Sargent told me he wanted me to go to the M.P. station with him and speak with someone.  I agreed.

When we got there it was about a half hour before the captain arrived.  I recognized him immediately .  It was the solider Officer A had beaten.  He was a captain in the military police.  We spoke and I told him what I saw.  He said they were going after Officer A. for misconduct and for other times he’d abused soldiers.  Dam I was thinking I sure stick my foot in it every time I should stay at home.

We stayed around the M.P. station until I gave the C.I.D. a statement.  I was told to watch my back around Officer A he had some real issues and could be dangerous.  I reminded them I carry and had been shooting on the range with Officer A he’d be lucky if he hit me in a firefight.  Everybody laughed.  Then Sargent said you’re armed right now aren’t you.  Hell yes I said you think I check my gun at the door when I come over here?

I was reminded how illegal it was and told to keep it to myself.  Sometime after the on base meeting I ran into Officer A.  He was desperately trying to find me by then multiple people had told me he had been asking my whereabouts.  Officer A came to the fire station to speak with me.  I was invited over to the PD for a chat.  I informed Officer A that wouldn’t be a good idea.  I had been on base and given a statement to the C.I.D. over there and would not testify for him.

I told him what he did was wrong.  He left the station.  I’m not sure of the timeline but he was fired.  I think the city had too.  There had been too many cases of him beating up soldiers.  I don’t know if it’s still like this but the military would make tattoo shops, pawn shops or night clubs off-limits due to the way they would treat military personnel.  I could imagine the military making certain trailer parks or apartment buildings off limits which would have effected that town in a dramatic way.  About 90% the people living there were military.  The city would collapse without all that rent money.  When our ambulance wasn’t on duty, the military would respond off base to pick up personnel and transport them back to the base hospital.  The city was more like a housing area annex of the base.

I had a sense the military gave the city few options but to get rid of Officer A.  Like I said, I have a unique ability to stumble across the liars and expose them without trying.  It’s really strange.  It happens everywhere I go.  -13

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