SPOTLIGHTING, PART 1
Working Spotlighters is always exciting…between long hours of extreme boredom, that is. It’s normally a matter of sitting for hours …………. waiting for a light to go flashing by, coming from someone’s spotlight. Many nights it never happens. Those are the nights you try to forget. It’s hard to keep your mind from playing tricks on you – making you see things that are not there. They say that law enforcement is 99% boredom, interspersed with 1% sheer terror. If that’s true, then this type of law enforcement is more so.
Of course, it’s always better if you have some help: either another officer spotting for you from some high point, or a plane watching from the air. But, most night’s you are alone. You and the dog.
And, once in a while, you actually see one! A light goes flashing through the meadow, or trees. You sit up straight, Eyes wide! Wow. You know that behind that light is a truck with men with guns, loaded and ready for green or blue eyes to be seen in the light. Then the gun comes out the window, and bang! From that point, you have maybe two minutes to close in, make the stop and secure the scene, and make an arrest. Without getting shot in the process.
Once a light is located, all your senses come alive, and any thought of drifting off to la-la-land is gone. You reach to your hip to your pistol which you knew was there, and your hand then slides over to the trusty 870 pump 12 gauge in the rack! What a comforting feeling that is. My weapon of choice – 12 gauge slug! Nothing better then hearing the sound of a shell being racked into the chamber of an 870 to make a hesitant or rebellious soul stand to attention, say ‘sir’, and drop his weapon. Nothing more commanding or ominous.
Sometimes it’s hard to find the source of the light – since you first see where the beam lands. But soon it appears. You start the truck, call dispatch to let them know what’s going on, just in case. Hit the cutouts… Every game warden worth his salt has cutouts on the tail lights, for ‘silent running’: driving without lights, in order to not be seen. The cutouts kill the tail lights, so you can drive without lights, and the brake lights do not give you away. It’s fun to fall in behind a vehicle that’s driving along, spotlighting, and follow it from 25 feet, for miles sometimes, and know that you are not being seen. Sometimes, you’re so close that if they hit their brake lights, it reflects off your front bumper, and they might see that. I’ve known officers who cover their bumper and all the chrome on the front of their trucks with flat black paint…that’s why.
Fun stories abound at training classes, while talking with other guys and gals over a beer. “Did you hear about the time when two Officers were working a valley, both blacked out, and they ran into each other, head on?” True. Try expalining that one to the boss. Or the time Officer Johnson was stopped by a trooper….who just happened to be cruising along an elevated highway, late at night, and looked down to see his patrol car being paralleled by a cloud of dust…no vehicle – just a cloud of dust moving along next to him. I think dispatch still plays that tape at their training classes.
The excitmenet begins when you hit the lights and siren…or make the stop in some other way, like on foot. I’ll talk about that in the next post.
So, with that background, I will relate a couple of stories about spotlighting incidents in which I, or a close officer, was involved. Stay tuned for more….
Give God the reins and you’ll always be on the correct lead
Vegetarian” is the Indian word for “Bad Hunter”