Behind the Badge

Probably Cause

There were a lot of bars in our patrol area but only a few gave us trouble almost all the time. One such bar would have one or two fights a week.

One night we received a call of a fight at one of our troublesome bars. I was the shift supervisor this night, several other Deputies arrived before I got there. Upon my arrival I spoke to one of the other Deputies, who told me that everything was calmed down except one drunk that he could not get to shut up and leave or go back inside the bar.

He pointed the man out to me. I walked up and as I did I heard him running off at the mouth about so many cop cars being in the parking lot. I walked right up in front of him and said, "Look, if you don't shut up and go back inside I'm going to make him arrest you." I pointed at the other Deputy. "I'm tired, hungry and I had to leave a cup of coffee to come down here and now you've given me a headache."

The guy looked at me and said, "Why are you going to make him arrest me?" I just pointed at the stripes on my sleeve. "Oh yeah, what's he going to arrest me for?" He asked in a cocky tone of voice.

"Probably cause," I replied.

"Probably cause, what's that? Don't you mean probable cause?" The drunk asked, he was smiling because he thought I had made a mistake and he had caught it.

"No, I mean probably cause; probably cause you've torqued me off!" I just smiled the whole time the other Deputy was putting the guy in the back of his patrol car.

Some people never seem to realize that when a Police Officer asks them to do something, like quiet down and go back inside, they are not going to win. Lots of them seem to think that they can play games with the Officer. I didn't mind playing the game with people if they wanted to, but we played by my rules and I never lost.

I've seen many people, who thought they were right, go to jail just because they thought that they didn't have to listen to the Officer at the scene. The Officer's first responsibility at a scene is for the safety of all parties involved, that usually means he needs to get people calmed down. If he tries to calm someone down but they refuse and they are causing trouble, maybe even to the point of starting another fight, then the Officer has no choice but to put a stop to it. That may mean putting that person in jail. When all the facts are out in the open maybe the person that was arrested really was the victim but the Officer has to go by what he sees and hears. If people would just listen to Police Officers and do what they are told a lot fewer would go to jail.

by R.L. Dettwiler


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