In this episode I sit down with retired police officer David Ball. David was an officer for Hawthorne PD, a very busy So-Cal city. He started in patrol and worked his way into detectives for the last 9 years of his career. Dave has some great stories and some great advice for new officers.
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this is things police see first anaccounts with your oast Steve goldthe guys welcome to the show thisretirementhe has some great stories he broughtsome he was able to bring a littlelevity to working in the hood he hassome great point of views and some greatopinions on stuff we do get into alittle bit of when he was investigatingsex crimes as a juvenile detective so itgets a little dark but I’m still veryinteresting and that’s part of policework things go that way sometimes and healso has some great commentary on whatbeing a police officer does to mentallyhow it makes you look at other peopleand kind of how them how the media isaffecting that and kind of driving awedge between the police and thecommunity and at the end he rounds itout with some nice advice for youngrecruits looking to get on the job itwas a really great interview it wasreally fun I was really lucky to get himso without further ado episode numberDave welcome to the podcast thank you somuch for coming on could you just take asecond and introduce yourself to thepeople and let them know where you werepolice officer in for how long I was apolice officer in Hawthorne California28 and a half years and Hawthorne islocated just south of Inglewood becauseI believe you had an Inglewood officeron here so it’s a kind of a ghetto townbut then it’s also got some nice areasanyway so yeah basically that’s you knowlike so 20 and a half years okay yeahHawthorne is I’m new to the area but Ido know that it’s a pretty pretty busybusy city police work wise for sure yeahso Dave could you tell us the first timeyour first hot call you respond to thefirst call you went to where you reallyhad an adrenaline dump and you’re likewhoa this is this stuff’s for real I wasa brand-new police officer and I wasriding with a senior officer in fact hewas so senior not only was he in the LAriots but he was in the Watts Riots backin the 60s so he was a pretty senior guywell and this was like in 1981 I thinksomething like that anyway and it wasn’ta sort of a call it was a self initiatedincident where we we had a we had one ofthe Hispanic gangs in our city wascalledlittle wats and I didn’t really knowanything about it like I said I was abrand-new police officer and also in theoffice run with he turns down this alleyand I have no idea where I’m at it turnsout this Allan he goes watch this and heturns on his bright lights and he haulsbut down this alley and just like hepicks her on TV with you know crapflying in the air and go through puddlesand water splash and all that nice wepull up we come to a stop and there’stwo guys standing there and they turnaround and they take off running and myofficer that I’m with says he’s got agun go get him I never saw a gun youknow I mean I you know anyway so I jumpout of the car and I go chase his guysaround the corner well they’re gonenow I’m standing there in this backyardand I’m all by myself so at this pointare you thinking like this salty olddude is screwing with me or you wellwell when he send out a gun he he seemedlike he was serious okay so and I had noreason to believe otherwise being so newso anyway so I’m standing there justkind of like what do I do I don’t knowwhere I’m at I can’t put anything out onthe radio nothing like that but I canhear sirens in the background so Ithought well maybe that’s people comefor us next thing you know I turn aroundand here comes the officer that I’m withhe’s got his bulletproof vest on theoutside he’s got a shoulder holster onand he’s got a 357 in each hand and I’mthinking what the heck have I got myselfinto anyway so officers get there and westart searching well there was a littleshed and it was a little watch Clubhouseyeah we go into well there’s a guy inthere he’s got a rifle in there and I’mthinking man he he could have shot me atany time and I wouldn’t have known itnothing I was you know so we got him outk-9 got there started searching wellthey found the other guy underneath thehouse and he had a handgun and the k-9literally drugged the guy out fromunderneath the house and anyway so thatwas my first really kind of adrenalinepumping situation because I was in asituation I was way over my head Ididn’t know what was going on I didn’tknow what I was doingandway so oh yeah it definitely itdefinitely taught me to be aware ofwhere you are at all time so it was akind of a learning experience also yeahthat’s I mean that’s that’s prettyfreaky I’m and you’re brand-new you’reyou’re worried about that worried aboutfitting in you’re worried about doingthe right thing and besides that you’reworried about your life you know you’resafe so that’s a lot so that woulddefinitely be a moment that where you’dsay wow this is this is what I signed upfor I guess yeah Dave can you tell meabout a humorous call or event that youdealt with actually two two stories cometo mind it was back to being a brand-newpolice officer and it was my first dayin a police car and I remember sittingdown in the police car and thinking tomyself I’ve got all this training andknowledge but what do I dohow do I apply it all that and you seein the old police movies were the we’rethe salty old guy gets in the car withyou and says okay son forget everythingyou learned about in Police Academy thatI’m gonna teach you what it’s like to bea police officerthat’s basically what it what it was sowell we get a call of a burglary inprogress we get there along with otherofficers and we see the suspect and wechase him down and we get him tackledand he’s in the IV and my officer thesenior officers if he goes hey ball yougot any hooks and I’m like hooks heelsyeah you dumbass he goes handcuffs I’mlike oh yeah okay so I hooked the guy upand he gets put in a police car and he’staken away and so we happen to find thesuspects car and he’s and my theofficers like hey ball order a hook andI’m like handcuffs like killer dumbass atow truck and I’m like okay so that’syeah that was kind of my firstexperience on when I learned what thedifference between hooks and a hook wasyou know and and and at Ultra so anywayand then the other the other incidentwas kind of uh it was pretty funny I hadI was now a training officer right atrainee and we were driving on thestreet and there was a mom and her twoprobably teenage daughters standing onthe sidewalk looking up in a tree sobeing the investigative police officerand curious all that and want to youknow show my my trainee what it’s liketo be a police officer I stopped well weget out walk up to the ladies and I’mstanding next to him and I’m looking upin the tree also and finally I’m likewhat are we looking at and she says ourbirds in the tree I’m like you’re okaywhat happened and she’s like oh we’llsee the cage up there we had the cage onthe balki balcony we had the the cagedoor open we thought his wings areclipped and he flew out and he flew intothe treeand I’m like well so I I thought wellmaybe that you know the fire departmentyou know I heard comes out on caps andtrees but will they come out on a birdin a tree well they won’t come out onbirds and trees their response wasespecially and with same with cows ishave you ever seen the skeleton of a cator in this case a bird in a tree theysaid eventually it’ll come down anywayso I’m trying to think well how are wegonna get this bird down so I thoughtwell being the public servant that I amI thought well wait a minute these thesefolks live in an apartment building andthey’ve got a pool so I thought well letme get the pool skimmer and I’ll standon a ladder and I’ll put this thingunderneath the the birds feet to see ifI can get it to step on there and I’lllower it down and they can you know theycan I will have saved the bird that’sthe community policing right thereyou’re gonna yeah anyway so I try thatwhere’s the bird do it flies over intoan even bigger tree so now I’m like nowwhat so I can barely see the bird inthis other tree but you can hear itsquawking so we’re trying to figure outhow to get it out and some lady comesout of her house says you know if yousee if it sees its cage it may fly downinto the cage am i okay I’ll give that atry so we bring the cage over take thetop off put the cage down at the at thebottom of the tree and the birds lookingdown like no I don’t think soso I had another bright idea I take thepool skimmer and I take it apart andtake the net off and I wrap it aroundthe the birdcage and I get up on theladder and I raise this thing up andright up to the you know just below thefeet of the bird and sure enough thatdamn birdwalk right down to the Kade poured itdown put the lid on and you know I saywe save the bird wow that’s amazing whywould you write there some you knowhumorous things a couple of humorousincidents in instances that I hadhandled in the past that’s great manit’s great you could find some levity inthe hood you know yeah yeah that’sawesomeDave could you tell everyone about thisstrangest or most bizarre thing youdealt with on that one tooit’s funny I had it was the same traineeand we got into the weirdest stuff wehad gotten a call of aboyfriend/girlfriend dispute and we getthere and in this case the boyfriendsmoving out and the girlfriends walkingaround she’s upset no please don’t leaveI love you and all that well it happensto be a Sunday and my partner I aren’treally paying attention like we shouldhave been because we’re kind of likestanding there watching the footballgame all that well we lose sight of theof the female and the guys in thebedroom and apparently she had gone intothe closet and she tells him this is howmuch I love you well she had gotten aknife and she stabbed herself in thestomach well and he’s like oh my god shejust stabbed herself you know andluckily when he said that he was out ofthe closet and she was in the closet soit wasn’t like she could say oh hestabbed me so anyway so we’re like ohshoot you know so anyway luckily it wasI mean the knife it wasn’t a big knifebut it was you know probably 2 and 1/2inches long the blade yes and she waskind of a kind of a large girl so Idon’t think she got past the her fattytissue but of course now we got a callparamedics paramedics come outtransporter and anyway so we had to do ayou know hold on her a 72-hour hold andanyway so I guess she was just trying toprove her loveyikes and then the other one was andthis was a different trainee but we geta call of a woman handcuffed to a bedand she and she can’t get out yet youknow she can’t get unhandcuff from thebed well we get there and we find outwhat theTorrio’s the backstory is is that therewas a husband and wife living in thehouse and they had a male roommate andthe wife was going to school over at ElCamino College and she met a female inthe class and decided to set up thisfemale the handcuff II and the roommateto go out on a datewell they had gone out on a date andcame home and I guess they had copiousamounts of alcohol mmm and were prettyintoxicated and they decide to go in hisbedroom and you know have sex well hewants to get kinky and he handcuffs oneof her hands to the bed and anyway sothey do their thing and all that when hecan’t find the key to get her onhandcuffed oh so anyway he freaks outand he he splits he leaves and so nowshe’s yelling for help well the couplethat lived there go in there see what’sgoing on and they don’t have a key soanyway so they call the policewell going back to story My partner andI get the call and I told him I saidlisten you better haul ass for this callbecause other every other officer outthere is gonna try to beat you to thatcall and sure enough we were the firstones there and yeah she was handcuffedto the bed and and it was a differenttype of handcuffs it had a like a fathandcuff key so ours didn’t our handcuffkey didn’t work so I called for somebodyto bring bolt cutters well I got threesets of bolt cutters that showed up I’msure so anyway so you know we get her Igot her she’s all covered up on the bedand I you know I crawl up on the bed andhaving to straddle her because her handis handcuffed is that one corner and itsaid the corner up against the wall ofthe bed right anyway so I get thehandcuffsI cut the the the links and you knowleave the room so she can get dressedall that then we end up cutting thehandcuffs off so anyway so it was a kindof kind of a weird call pretty humorousand bizarre oh yeah definitely I mean Ican imagine that when that call came into your car that you guys are justlaughing all the way to it well you knowwhat was funny is you know you know youyou think okaygonna be some maybe large unattractivewoman and we get there and it was theexact opposite she was you know verynice figure nice-looking and you know soanyway I’m sure you’d earned it at thatpoint in your career that’s rightthat’s right Dave could you tell usabout the most intense or or thecraziest call that you responded towhile you’re a police officer okaywell first off this is gonna get kind ofdark but you know police work does havea dark side to it you know I mean yeahwe can talk about the funny things andthe and the humorous and the bizarre andthat but you know there is the dark sideto law enforcement and I was workingdetectives at the time and it wasn’t acall that I got but it was a it was acase that was assigned to me okay and Ihad a case where a father had given histwelve-year-old daughtergeneral herpes oh my goodness and whatthe backstory was is that the young ladyshe was home from school she wasn’tfeeling good and she was asleep and shewakes up and her dad’s on top of herhaving intercourse with her oh andanyway so like I said it’s the dark sideof law enforcement anyway so he getsdone doing what he’s doing well sometime later I don’t remember if it wasthe same night or you know a couple dayslater I don’t remember this little thislittle girl she gets up in the middle ofnight because she’s got to go to thebathroomwell she tries to go to the bathroom andit burns so bad she said that shecouldn’t she made her knees buckle itburns so bad oh my goodnessso so mom and dad took her took her tothe hospital and when the doctorexamined her it was this young lady’sinitial outbreak of her general herpesokay and then in fact in fact the doctorsaid it was the worst case of generalherpes she had ever seen and she’d beena doctor for like 25 years anywayso the hospital asked well what happenedto you and she said that her father haddone this to her um we’ll talk about aspecial place in hell for this guy yeahyeah anyway so the police are calledpatrol grows out you know they take thereport they hook up dad and they youknow they take him into custody and theytake him into jail well thatthat morning I give the case and I’mreading this I’m like you know what Idon’t care how long it takes I’m gonnaget a confession out of this guy cuz I’mthinking I’m gonna be able to save herfrom having to go to court or whateveranyway so I gonna interview the guyprobably talking for 10-15 minutes anycops out yeah I did it you know I’vedone it several times in the past he’sgot he he said he has genital herpeshimself and anyway so I’m like great Igot my we got my admission and and infact I even had him write an apologyletter to his daughter you know justthat little extra bit of it right anywayso now the court proceedings started sowe go to the preliminary hearing and thelittle girl gets up on the stand totestify and she says she tells the courtthat she lied she made it all upand she loves her daddy and she wantsher daddy to come home because thatwouldn’t be normal right they wouldn’tnormally want the victim up there wellno no they know that mean that’s prettynormal but they’re just gonna want thereto get the basic information from thevictim to make sure that there’s enoughevidence for the person to stand trialit at court in court you know standtrial okay she gets up achieve justrecants her whole story well I knowshe’s lying because she’s got the herpesdad’s a cop out to it you know he didthe apologize so I so we knew that hedid it it’s just you know it was aHispanic family dad was the onlybreadwinner in the family and now theyou know the family is you knowstruggling yeah I kind of understand themotivation behind it but so anyway so Inow have to get up on the stand and itbasically impeach her and testify towhat she told me that had happened sothe judge determined that there’ssufficient evidence for this guy to goto trial so a few months later we getready to go to trial and the victim andher mother have now disappearedcan’t find them and so the judge givesus a certain amount of time I think wasa couple of weeks for me to locate thevictim at her mother well I spentcountless hours trying to find the thevictim and her mother you know going tothe schoolgoing to her family calling hospitalsthe the morgue I mean I exhausted everyeffort I could to to find this younglady and you know it was all documentedwe go to we go to court I tell the judgeeverything I’ve done the judgedetermined gathers due diligence you cantestify on the victims we have whichdoesn’t happen very often that you knowan investigator can you know especiallyin the in the case of a trial yeahanyway so I testify and the guy getsconvicted so come come time forsentencing we go we go to court andwho’s there but mom and the and thedaughter and they’re now blaming me andthe district attorney for ruining theirlife you know he’s going to jail andthat anyway so you know as tough as itwas you know the the upside was is thatdad got 26 years in prison in fact youknow in California got to do on a crimelike that you have to 85% of the time sohe’s he’s still in custody so which youknow which kind of goes back to likesaid the dark side there is the up sideto working those type of investigationsyou know you get to put those type ofpeople in jail so you know that’s whereI got my satisfaction out of thatoh my god it must have felt so good yeahyeah and then you know I don’t knowmaybe six months later I was given anaward for this particular case and ourcases were handled through specialprosecutors that worked out of the rapetreatment center which is over in SantaMonica and as part of Santa Monica UCLAhospital and they started doing an awardprogram and me and two other officers Ibelieve they were from LAPD were thefirst recipient recipients of the makinga difference award so it was a wholeaward ceremony there was you knowcelebrities there that support the therape treatment center and that so thatwas kind of nice no not that I everwould need you know Awards but it wasnice to be one of the first recipientsof that that’s nice that is really coolbecause it did that’s it’s probably rareto usually you’ll just get the lady incourt singingdo this to us and then it’ll be over atleast in this case you got the a littlebit of redemption there at the end nowwere us were you sign to sex crimeswhere you just detective handling whatcame in no I wasit was juvenile investigations and wehandled all minors that were arrestedminor the miners that were victims andthen all sexual assaultokay yeah that’s that’s a very um youknow it takes a special person to be acop and even more more of a specializedspecial person that do in diversitycrimes like that because it’s for me itwas like I had very very littleexperience with that back east there wasa couple cases and that’s why I askedabout the child getting on the standbecause I think the cases I was involvedin or saw they they try to do everythingthey could not to get the kid on thestand you know they tried to avoid thatbut um yeah like I think it’s cuz uhit’s like empathy like I I empathize toomuch and you can’t do that in policework you have to you can be sympatheticbut you can’t start living through theiryou know their eyes because that canreally screw you up so you must havereally had a really good ability to kindof draw a line there and just get itdone you know I and it’s it’s kind offunny because that was the third time Iwas assigned to juvenile investigationsbecause we could only be in a positionfor four five years and we had to goback to Patrol for a year and then wecan put in anyway but after after thisthis was my actually my last type thattype of investigation I had it’s likethat because I did it for like nineyears total maybe a little longer inthis case I I finally said you know whatI’ve had enough I’m gonna finish up mylast couple of yearsin auto with that cuz I figured you knowstolen cars can’t complain yeah I don’tblame you at all it it took its toll Imean it was it was hard you knowespecially when I had kids and they weregrowing up and sure and so it was youknow it was a hard desk to work but Ithink I did it some justice yeahabsolutely sounds like it for surehow could you speak to that how doesdealing with the bombardment of negativesituations and people blaming you andall the stuff police officers have todeal with comein just on a daily basis how did thathow did that affect you just as youoperated in your personal life well youknow I became very cynicalbasically I other than my family andfriends I hated people I didn’t want tobe around people I didn’t like peopleand I would often times saw my wifegod I hate people yeah I got I got avery G I’ve got a very jaded view ofpeople other than you know either lawenforcement family friends so you knowbut I’ve been retired almost nine yearsnow and you know I’ve kind of gottenover all that I you know there’s a few afew more people I like now than I didbeforelet’s let me say there yeah I mean ittakes this whole I mean especiallyworking that for that type of anassignment absolutely you know it’s notlike you’re you’re working likerobberies and you put you know you knowa robber in jail or you know somethinglike that so it it definitely took astole totally I mean I remember you justreminded me I remember my dad was apolice officer for I’m like 32 years andI came and were driving through townwith him sometimes when he’s doingerrands on the weekend or something I’mjust being like dirt bag scumbag stayaway from that guy no you just said likedirt bag vision on just filtering outthrough the people but um yeah yeahthat’s really tough especially I’m sureyou’ll agree with the way the mediareports on the police and the snapjudgments that that makes your job evennot much harder oh yeah you know I meanit you know with with the media and andand and the community’s rush to judgmentbased on you know you know part of avideo or a video that doesn’t show thewhole you know situation what happenedbefore and after you know somesomebody’s version of what happenedwhether it’s it’s you know verified ornot and the media is just kind ofrushing to judgment and it’s like youknow why don’t you wait until all theinformation comes out and then you knowreport on it or you know then then thengive your opinion you know I mean if youknow if a copper you know if he screwsup he screws up but for the most partyou know and as history has shownespecially he last several years youknow officers are being crucified forsomething and then itfine then they find out later that youknow oh well the officer wasn’t wrongand what he did and the whole videoshows it but you don’t hear the mediacoming back and saying oh well here’swhat really happened and you know wewere wrong in our in our opinion on whathappened and so it you know andunfortunately if you know with the wayit is nowadays and you know the thecommunity doesn’t trust the policebecause of the wayyou know videos are interpreted orpeople’s uh you know opinions orcomments are interpreted yeah yeah andthey’re in there really really good atit cuz I know better and sometimes thisever happen to you sometimes you see avideo and you go oh that cups in troubleand then you think wait I didn’t see thewhole video and then you slide the wholething you’re like oh yeah of courseit was totally fine but they’re they’rereally really manipulative they’rereally good at it I mean the way theyput the headings out there they don’tlike you’re saying they don’t even eventhe little information they have theymanipulate like it’s not it’s not umit’s not a suspect who just tried tobreak into a house a couple cars andthen fled from the police it’s standingin his grandmother’s yard holding a cellphone so they ignore all these otherthings happening the chopper chicken allthat all that and they give you that onething and then you know people are busythey see that they’re not gonna lookinto it that is figure out police arejust just killing people willy-nillyover here yeah it’s like you know likeyou know the guy standing in the frontyard with us with a cell phone it’s notlike the cops were driving outside youknow what I’m gonna shoot that guy yeahyou know I mean that that’s and that’swhy they make it sound yeah it is it’scompletely ridiculous well with all thatbeing said they’ve what would you givefor some advice for uh for a newcandidate and a new recruit to thepolice department you know it’s funny umyou know I I like you you know in mybackground investigator now and when Iwas on the police team cuz I’m on thefire team now when I was on the policeteam I would give advice to to mycandidates you know and and that wouldbe first off remember your training aslong as you’re doing what you’re trainedto do you’re gonna be okay just makesure you know and if you do do somethingwell I would tell them police work isn’tallpretty sometimes it’s got to get uglyand as long as you’re justified in doingwhat you’re doing you know don’t worryabout it you know but at the same timeif you do something wrong you know yougot to pay the piperand to always be aware that especiallynowadays that chances are you’re beingrecorded somewhere either securitycameras because I mean they’reeverywhere now or somebody’s got theircell phone and you know you’re beingrecorded so like I said as long asyou’re justifying and doing what you’redoing just do it I mean don’t don’thesitate you know when you start whenyou start hesitating because you’reworried about well what’s this gonnalook like on TV or what’s this gonnalook like on the news or whatever that’swhen that’s when you get hurt or you getkilled yeah that’s great advice thingwhat do they always say you don’t haveto um you don’t have to look over yourshoulder if you’re making sure you’redoing the right thing right right rightyou know it kind of comes down tointegrity I mean you know do you know doyou do the right thing when nobody’slooking right absolutelyDave I want to thank you so much forcoming on the podcast was really funtalking to you yeah yeah I guess I’llI’ll see you at work okay all right Isee take care thank you