Like the desk officers, she too seemed to have absorbed and integrated herself into the police subculture. She went out after work to drink with her fellow employees, joked with other officers, knew their intimate life histories, understood them as men who bore the crime-fighting responsibility on their shoulders. Further research should be conducted on dispatchers as components of the police force. As I learned, they too possess discretionary decision-making power. Their particularized knowledge determines which units, if any, respond to a specific call, which calls are "bullshit," "crap" calls that become routine and do not demand action, and which officers get "excited" when calling for an assist or chasing down a suspect.
Interviewing my companion officer, John Davis, provided a rich background from which to analyze his actions and discretionary decision-making patterns (the foreground). For officer Davis, 1987 marked his seventh year on the Glendale police force. In this span of time, he had worked as an observer in the G. P. D. helicopter, at the K-9 desk, in the records department, in a unit equivalent to LAPD's Crash unit, as an FTO, and as a pat
By 9:15 we're called into active duty, so we pull away from the curb where we had stopped to converse. This time some transients are sleeping on the roof of the Addison Hotel, where they don't belong. The hotel is notorious for transients and winos who crash in its cheap rooms. Through this knowledge, Davis and the officer he's backing up walk into the building, flashlights in hand, with a pretty accurate idea of what they'll encounter. They take the names of the transients, tell them to be on their way, and wrap up the call. In keeping with his order maintenance role, John informs me that had those transients been habitual offenders, he would have pressed the landlord to sign a complaint form. This way he could have charged the men with public drunkenness and taken them to crash in the drunk tank -- thereby avoiding more problems.
At 8:25, we're summoned to Riverview and Plante on a traffic-assist call. We're to reroute traffic. Arriving on the scene, we join a fire unit, paramedics, and another squad car. It seems a car, coming around a corner too fast, skidded on loose gravel and completely overturned. The female passenger, who escaped unscathed, sits in the front of the ambulance. The driver lies on a wooden stretcher with a neck brace and an I.V. Ben, a fellow officer, takes a police report and retrieves a bottle of whiskey from the overturned car. During this time, John has been setting up cones and flares, directing traffic to avoid further complications.
We headed for Penny's to have dinner at 10:30. This was, without a doubt, the police counterpart to Arnold's (from TV's Happy Days). Three off-duty officers were having dinner when we entered, and a few more stopped by later to grab a bite to eat. Although John knew the waitress on a first-name basis, he got a check for dinner and paid the cashier like any other customer. I don't expect gratuities were an issue here, but then again, I had no chance to inspect the bill as we all had separate checks.
Leaving the scene, we drive through a "cholo" neighborhood, and the conversation turns to "gang bangers." John dislikes them on account of the fact they kill each other over territory or what so-and-so said to someone else's girlfriend. Although the gang members and Davis have a communication system by which they don't bullshit each other, he calls them "a bunch of pussies." It seems a teenage cholo he'd known for a few years, a good kid, got stabbed at a local park; another kid was killed by a guy who split (the G.P.D. doesn't know where he is and doesn't care); and another 6'4", 240-pound "ignorant" gang banger hurts people because "he gets a kick out of it."
A short time later we pulled up a driveway to some apartments where we'd been called by a tenant. Darlene, a petite 19-year-old, met the cops and proceeded to rattle off complaints about her roommate. She claimed Cheryl was "loony tunes, just out from a mental hospital, had threatened to hit her, and now wouldn't move out." The apartment belonged to Darlene's boyfriend, and Cheryl was a temporary tenant paying on a monthly basis. Darlene decided she'd had enough of Cheryl and called the cops. John asked her what she wanted them to do (complainant preference), and she said stand by so she could reiterate the living arrangement to Cheryl. Actually, she wanted the cops somehow to force Cheryl to leave. Their response was to try to calm the two parties (mediate). They spoke to each woman individually and advised them, "Listen, kick back a second. Since you can't stand the sight of each other, arrange your schedules accordingly; don't give each other a hard time. We don't want to come back; we won't be so nice next time. "I suppose the threat of an unpleasant return visit was the only tool they could employ to deter hostility. The police had no jurisdiction in this civil matter; their hands were tied. They knew neither party was thinking too rationally. All they could do was offer suggestions, give advice.