After watching LivePD (see my first blog on that experience), I better understand the reactions of the police officers in a situation a couple years ago.
I was stopped in traffic in the western suburbs of Chicago, waiting to make a left turn at a light, with my blinker on.
My car was rear-ended.
Definite crumpling involved, but drive-able.
There was too much traffic to get out of the car. There was nowhere to go because of traffic going both directions. I pulled out my phone and called 9-1-1, reporting what happened, and asking if it was okay for us to pull into a parking lot when traffic cleared.
Before the dispatcher could respond, the car that had hit mine backed up and took off.
I reported this to 9-1-1 as the car went past me, reading the plate number to the dispatcher as it went by. I knew I’d missed one digit and said so.
A Color Sidebar
There’s a funny sidebar on this. A young woman taking her prom dress to be hemmed at a shop had witnessed it all from a parking lot and to her great credit first came to see if I was okay and then to be a witness for the police.
The first responder asked us what color the car was, I said it was taupe. The girl said it was more of dusty fawn. We agreed it had a metallic sheen to it.
The young officer looked at us both for a second, then looked down at his form, and said aloud as he wrote, “Tan.”
The Witnesses Say…
This accident happened where two towns meet — Glen Ellyn and Lombard. The first responder was from Glen Ellyn, which would have covered the accident if it had been on the other side of the street. When the officer from Lombard, who had jurisdiction, arrived, he got the same color info from us. (I don’t know if he wrote down “tan.” <wg>)
I described the car more — four-door sedan Toyota, same or similar interior color as exterior, no bumper stickers, but a palm-sized square decal in the left rear windshield, a frame around the license plate. A dealership, rather than a school or other organization, I thought.
I described the driver – gender, hair color, hair style, likely ethnicity, age range of very late teens to mid-twenties, best-guess of no more than medium height and medium to slight build.
And I had the tag number except that one digit.
I had the distinct impression that the officer was taking what I said with a grain of salt.
And the Answer Is…
About eight hours later there was a knock on the door of the house where I was staying. (The landline was disconnected and it was a black hole for cell reception.) It was the police officer.
He’d come to tell me that the driver had turned himself in … apparently with a strong push from his mother, the owner of the car. The hit-and-run driver said he left because he was late and “didn’t know what to do.” (Hint: driving away is not a good choice.)
The officer also told me the tag number matched except for that missing digit, the driver fit perfectly, including his being 22, and the car description was correct including dealership plate frame. “You even got the color right,” he concluded.
I looked it up later. I think it was called Sandy Beach Metallic.
He didn’t say it, but I choose to believe the police officer came to the house partly to acknowledge my accuracy.
After watching LivePD, I better understand the officer’s initial skepticism. The witnesses are rarely accurate, succinct, observant, reliable, or calm enough to relay information.
What that Lombard officer didn’t know was that dual careers as a journalist and novelist provide pretty darned good training for being a witness. 😉 LivePD needs me.
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I can just imagine how Deputy Wayne Shelton of the Cottonwood County (Wyo.) Sheriff’s Department would react to having Elizabeth Margaret “E.M.” Danniher of KWMT-TV on a ride-along. That might be an idea for another Caught Dead in Wyoming mystery series story, but for now, Elizabeth and the gang are trying to untangle mysteries from the past that spill into the present when a convicted murderer returns after 25 years in prison in Back Story, the newest in the series.
And to keep up with the series, you can now pre-order Cold Open at iBooks, Kobo, and GooglePlay. (Sorry to tell Kindle fans, but Amazon rules mean it can’t be pre-ordered there until the middle of 2018.)