You know one. We all know one. We have all worked with one.
Let me get this straight now.
I am not now, nor have I ever been one and I have no intention of becoming one. And yet our departments put great value on them. Oh yeah, they are runners.
We have all seen police officers in the movies and on TV shows that can chase after a bad guy for block-after-block while wearing full uniform and duty belt in uniform shoes.
I learned a long time ago that I will get left in the dust quickly.
In the academy all our PE instructors were runners. They were evil, sadistic people who took great pleasure in the suffering of recruits gasping for air. We would leave the academy and run to the lakefront and back. I made sure I had bus fare in my sock so I could make the return trip.
I have a great deal of respect for runners. We need a few on the department to keep things interesting. I remember one officer who had run several marathons before he was hired. In a foot chase he would simply keep the offender in sight and grab him once the offender ran out of gas.
Here in Chicago, we have buildings close together and along-side of the houses were paths that went from the rear of the house to the front. If you knew the area, you could duck down a gangway – or two – and make good your escape.
Often, those gangways went down a few stairs, passed under a section of the house and then went back up. They were dark at night. Our marathon runner was following a bad guy at a comfortable pace one night when the bad guy ducked down a dark gangway.
The officer turned into the gangway but slowed, so as not to be surprised by an offender doubling back on him. He said he heard a loud crack and then what sounded like a sack of flower hitting the ground. He stopped and pulled out his flashlight. Lying unconscious at the bottom of the gangway stairs was the no-longer running offender.
As our marathon officer was handcuffing the bad guy, he noticed a bloody patch on the bad guy’s forehead. The window of the building opened, and the resident stuck her head out. She looked down and saw what had happened.
Pointing to a forehead sized patch of skin and blood on the bricks below her window, she told our officer that it happens all the time: There is no light in her gangway and they keep running, unaware there are stairs.
YOU CAN’T OUTRUN MY RADIO
I was a firm believer in the axiom, “You can’t outrun a Motorola.” I would simply keep the offender in sight while calling-out an exceptionally good physical description of the offender along with his direction of flight.
Responding police vehicles would corner the runner and take him into custody for me. I could then stroll over and thank my brothers for grabbing him.
Later as an FTO, I enjoyed having fresh new recruits who still ran regularly. Most recruits were in the best shape of their lives and when an offender decided to bolt on us, I unleashed my recruit and told him to catch the bad guy. I could then follow with the squad car and be there when my recruit needed a transport. I would then reward my recruit with coffee and a donut. The system worked very well.
You see I’m not the runner type. I was better at putting my shoulder into a door or gate. I didn’t have the build to be a runner. I was all brawn, brains and especially good looks – or so I told myself. If you knew the area well, it was usually a matter of being where the offender was running to rather than chasing him.
We had crews of guys stripping stolen cars in alleys. They would park half-way down the alley, so they had a half-block warning to run away once we turned in the alley.
Knowing this, my partner and I instead went to the street and waited at the end of the gangways. As soon as the first squad hit the alley you heard the offenders take foot. We simply grabbed them as the exited the gangway. We never ran an inch. Sure, we didn’t get all of them, but had we hit the alley we would probably not gotten anyone.
If you are a young copper who likes to run, then good for you. It’s great for your health. When you finish that next marathon and your body is fighting to feed oxygen to your starved muscles, I will be at the finish line cheer you on with my coffee – and maybe a donut for you – if you are good.
Stay safe my brothers and sisters in blue. Run low and zig zag. Bob Weisskopf (Lt. CPD ret.)
“Above all, it’s about going home at the end of the shift … “
We couldn’t agree more.
Bob enjoys hearing from his readers – EMAIL
You can find more articles from Robert Weisskopf as well as links to all his books at his website www.BobWeisskopf.com.
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