As Im thinking about Spotlighting incidents that have happened to me, or other officers around me, a few stand out in my mind. Most are humorous and a bit frightening. When working at night, most times alone, it behooves one to remember that you are dealing with people who have loaded weapons, who often have had a few beers or worse, and who are seldom alone. The element of surprise is always to be reserved for the officer, but safety is paramount. Espeically since you know your closest backup is maybe hours away, if they can find you at all.
I recall that the adjoining officer, Carey Crawdad (not his real name….did you guess?) was working a problem area: a pasture on the edge of a river bottom, which was a favorite for whitetail deer poachers. The kids from town would have a few beers, and go out to see if they could shoot something.
This night, Carey was working alone, watching the area. This was a secluded place, it was very early morning, and nothing had moved all night. He was ready to call it quits, when a truck appeared, moving along without lights, and sure enough, the occupants pulled up on a rise, shut off the engine, and started shining the fields. Carey knew that if he drove toward them, he would be seen. He was parked in a safe place, not far from the suspect vehicle, but what to do? He got out of his vehicle, and walked over to the truck, and stood behind it, to one side, hoping that the shooter would not swing the light in his direction.
The occupants were drinking their six-pack of Coors, with guns and spotlight in hand, in the dark, watching the river bottom for deer, or any other hapless creature that might venture out into killing range. Carey was contemplating what to do next, when suddenly the spotlight caught a set of eyes. A large Whitetail buck emerged from the willows, and was lit up by the lights. All eyes in the dark pickup were fixed on the deer. The window of the passenger side came down, and a rifle came out the open window. Carey thought to himself. “I’m just not going to let them shoot that deer.” So he reached out and grabbed the rifle from outside the vehicle, and yanked it out of the shooters hand! The screams of terror sounded through the valley.
The story is still circulated in the bars and sporting goods stores in that town. Carey arrested the drunk shooters, and the deer bounded off unharmed.
“Actually officer, if you factor in the earth’s rotation, we were all speeding.”