"Read by Thousands Around the World"
19 June 2013: On Bouncers and Cops...its all in the script.
I have always been a little intrigued and mystified by the worship of bouncers in the martial arts industry. Some of these guys have been re-invented to become these, wizened, sought-after psychologists and fighting masters, and adored like hardened war vets of some kind. But no, most have no wars, no military or police work. Just down at the pub. What elevation, what esteem. They've made training films, started organizations, and receive accolades, nods, and pats on the back, but actually there should also be a few winks in there too, I think. Winks because many of these world renown bouncer/doormen, unbeknownst to the followers and fans work a lot in very calm clubs and restaurants. If one American "tough guy" actually tallied up his rough bouncer stories, one would have to deduce he worked in the bar in the Star Wars movie. Make that a biker bar in Star Wars.
This topic of late opened a discussion on bouncers being better sources on fighting, psychology or conflict management than police officers. Huh? As for me, starting out with a security company and often working country western clubs in the 1970s, then policing military bars all over the world, then working with bouncers as a patrolman and a detective for decades in Texas...knowing a bit about both the "bar bouncing world" and the policing world, I would have to say that's a big fat, giant "no."
Lets look at this and just start off by adding an adjective - "common," So we can weed out the unusual, extreme good and bad stories and examples. Common bouncers/doormen and common police.
Not many people are old enough to remember decades back when Geoff Thompson - regarded by all as the Master Bouncer- used but two or three tricks with a rowdy bar guy. Yell back at him super loud to confuse him and hook punch him for a TKO! My, have we come a long way since back then. He has too, because that'll get you in jail these days. Sued probably as well. You, the bar, and your momma.
If a bouncer makes a system, is it really manna from heaven? Systems have a tendency to get a tunnel vision. Some systems mostly seem to fight "drunk boys in bars." Other systems zero in on rapists for another example. Others seem to fight Nazi Commandos. These problems do not intersect well on many levels. Like karate fighting jujitsu. Especially in the pre-fight build-up. When I teach the so-called "verbal sklils", I refer to dialogue as in movie scripts because the lines are always so common and so often re-used within certain problem situations. There really is a handy script for the bar movie, a script for the bouncer movie, a script for the rapist, a domestic disturbance, the mugger, the road rager, etc. "LINE?"
Even StarBucks has this "script-training" for unhappy coffee customers. YES! Hours of training diffusing the common customer complaints. Bouncer responsibilities are very small and their script is quite thin. The police script, their needed lines are quite diverse. Bouncers are dealing with a certain crowd. Cops deal with all the crowds from all the bars and on all the terrains in and out of the bars. They don't usually get to eject most of them. They arrest them, requiring a considerable amount of savvy and skills and follow-up. But, that is still a cop movie!
In the big picture, Instructors from all their differing worlds need to know their movie scripts might not play well in other theaters. As well as chose their heroes wisely.
What movie is this? Are you in his movie or yours?
16 June 2013: Filipino Mano Mano, Neck Break, Flow drill/exercise
Just for fun. Click here
13 June 2013: SFC Testing - We Are Now The College Approach
Simply put? Now, you do not have to take our modules in order. You can complete course levels out of order.
I am already scheduling seminars for 2014, my 18th year on the road and it does look like 2014 will be my busiest year yet. In some circumstances, I may only return to a city around the world in a year and a half now, not every year. Worse, complicating the mission, I really am consistently inundated with requests for rank progression and instructorships. Squeezing all this in, IN PROMOTIONAL ORDER for each person, is just about impossible to schedule.
Every single thing I teach is a course we have. We have 7 courses. Hand, Stick, Knife. Gun. CQC Group (which is the combination of the hand, stick, knife and gun courses) PAC/Filipino and Police Judo. But the core and most popular courses are the hand, stick, knife and gun programs. Four main courses.
Though there are ten levels in each course, the tenth is a big test, so there are 9 levels of study in each course. That's nine times four. 36 levels. 36 modules. Granted the modules are short and simple, but they take time to do, to teach and get to. Getting to them all, for everyone gets harder and harder each year. In a perfect world, like the perfect college schedule, you would start with "Subject 101" and proceed in perfect order, on through the "Subject 400s." Ever done that? Who do you know that has? It is next to impossible.
When folks go to college, they do the best they can. They take the subjects and classes that are open to them at the time, wrestling with both their schedules and the college-scheduled offerings. This means a college student may actually start in class "Subject 105," rather than "Subject 101" because the 101 class is full. (I actually took all my senior level business courses first!. Yes! As a night student no one seemed to care. So I took "401, 402- on up." Took the others later as I could get them.) And fact is we are not even a real "college-college." We are just some certification courses, some training courses. We are not even a martial "art." So, you can achieve out of order.
Complete any three levels? You can become an instructor. Instructors can teach ANY SFC level material, but only promote people in the levels they tested for. Any six levels? Any nine levels? And so on. Another simple way to put this, if on any given Sunday I teach Knife 6 and you complete it successfully? You can get official credit for Knife 6, even though you haven't finished knife 5. We'll all catch up with everything you in the end.
"...if on any given Sunday I teach Knife 6 and you complete it successfully?
You can get official credit for Knife 6, even though you haven't finished knife 5.
We'll all catch up with everything you in the end."
This will facilitate more people to achieve what they deserve this way, given our constricted opportunities.
Some courses have pre-requisites. Seen this before? "Must Take Class 301 Before Class 308." Fortunately, in my practical/tactical course modules, these subjects are not brain surgery or rocket science, nor are they fancy, difficult katas, high jinks or high kicks. They are simply basic, simple things spaced out over time, because not all things can fit in level 1 or "101." Plus we expect people will already be working with their local instructors, have the training videos, and also have experience (most folks I see, have experience) in a variety of systems and schools.
So now, simply put? You do not have to take or test for our modules in strict order. Nice if you would? Best if you would. But like college, you can complete course levels out of order.
And, of course, you can simple train in all of this for knowledge only, never taking any tests at all. The choice is always yours.
10 June 2013: Who? Who are you and who attacks you?
I start off every seminar with a short series of survival questions. Who, what, where, when how and why? And top of the list is "who do you really think you will be fighting?" The answer? Criminals and enemy soldiers. We fight criminals and enemy soldiers. Sometimes we escape. Sometimes we run them off. Sometimes we take them prisoner. Sometimes we kill them.
On the battlefield it use to be easy to recognize who the enemy is. He was wearing a different uniform than yours. But armies have also fought disorganized guerrilla fighters since the days of Alexander the Great - men and women dressed in our own common clothes, or their indigenous clothing. For the military, the enemy soldier is a mix of all these prototypes, and soldiers are drawn from all personality types, psychologies and backgrounds of their society.
That is a military problem. Here as in my courses, I will introduce and dissect the common and uncommon, organized or disorganized criminal and these automatically now include "military" enemies too. We fight criminals? What if it is a fight with our drunk uncle? Technically, if your favorite brother-in-law raises a fist to you, he officially becomes a criminal and relatives and friends fall into this broad category. ALL fights involve use of force, legal issues and are highly situational.
In many ways this big picture of "who" education is the very underpinnings of all following "what, where, how and why" segments. The "who" is about recognition.
"The who you know, and the who you don't know, and who you don't know, you don't know."
Keep in mind there is simply no way in this essay to cover the various personality types like pan-violent, frustration-aggressive, by-polar, under-controlled persons and over-controlled persons and on and on. Such is the intense study found in psychology and sociology doctoral programs spanning decades. This essay is about the initial recognition of danger and initial response, survival skills, just a working knowledge of who you might encounter is an achievable lesson. In this same vein, while it might be interesting to understand the life-long motives and addictions of criminals, what good is it when a stranger approaches you to commit a crime?
Fortunately, statistically, citizens and police deal mostly with the common, disorganized or at most, somewhat disorganized, criminal and not the soldier. The uncommon, organized criminal uses imagination and planning to execute their crimes and escapes and his plans include the most heinous serial crimes. Start your study by problem-solving the common, high percentage criminals and then then spend time planning on the uncommon ones. Worst case scenarios.
That is an ambush. What about a non-ambush? Often you start out trusting various people in the very short term, as when a smiling, amicable stranger approaches you. Or, in the long term as with friendship. This includes friends, team-mates, co-workers, blood and non-blood relatives, etc. You learn about them through time.
“Keep your friends close, your enemies closer”
Who said that first? Shakespeare? Machiavelli? Rasputin? Don Corleone? Rooknaw the Caveman? Your enemy is close and hardly a stranger to you! You may not want to, but you do keep your criminals close whether you like it or not. People are more often assaulted, raped and killed by people they know. This is confusing when you analyze crime statistics. For example, the New York City Police Department proudly proclaimed in 2007 that they had the lowest crime rate of stranger-on-stranger murders. But, this proclamation is a dubious one when you pull back the wizard’s curtain on crime statistics. Most violent crime is not stranger-on-stranger anyway. Your enemy is close and hardly a stranger to you!
Too close! If you are a women in most so-called, civilized societies, the Centers for Violence against women say that 1 in 20 women will have stalker problems. 79% of women know their stalkers; 50% were in an intimate relationship with their stalker and 80% of these relationships were abusive. Your spouse is most likely the one to hurt or kill you. A child is mostly likely molested by someone the child knows. A man will most likely fight with his drunk brother-in-law, friend or acquaintance at a bar or barmitzfa. Burglars often know their victim. Dope dealers know their dope dealers. Gangs kill the names, faces, bandannas and tattoos of other gangs.
Family crime? Murder, aggravated assault assault, rape and other sexual offenses. In the United States, about 300 children a year are charged with killing one or both parents, Paul Mones said in his research book, When a Child Kills. Cases where a child kills the entire family, known as "familicide," are less frequent than ones perpetrated by the father. Louis B. Schlesinger, a professor of a forensic psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, said familicide is more commonly committed by a depressed or jealous father.
Slayings of relatives by teenagers "are usually spontaneous sorts of things," Schlesinger said. "While with the brooding, depressive male adult family murderer, it's not spontaneous, it's much more thought through, with obsessive rumination prior to it. With a teenager, it's almost always impulsive, spontaneous, and there happened to be a loaded gun around." Mones said such family slayings of all types are typically motivated by one of two factors: "extreme family dysfunction in terms of physical and emotional abuse, or severe mental health issues that pervade the family, whether it's the perpetrator or the parents or themselves.
Still, the majority of family assaults are considered to be of minor in nature. In their book, Crisis Intervention, the authors, McKean and Hendricks write that, “To understand intimate partner violence, it is important to make a distinction between common couple [minor] violence and chronic [serious] battering.” The National Violence Against Women Survey (Tjaden & Thoennes) documents that “most physical assaults committed against women and men in relationships are relatively minor and consist of pushing, grabbing, shoving, slapping and hitting.” - the difference between serious (battering) and minor (family conflict)
As far as identifying the common criminal it can be very tough, indeed. Imagine a company with little over 500 employees that has the following statistics:
* 29 have been accused of spousal abuse
* 7 have been arrested for fraud
* 19 have been accused of writing bad checks
* 117 have directly or indirectly bankrupted at least 2 businesses
* 3 have done time for assault
* 71 cannot get a credit card due to bad credit
* 14 have been arrested on drug-related charges
* 8 have been arrested for shoplifting
* 21 are currently defendants in lawsuits
* 84 have been arrested for drunk driving in the last year
That company would be a recent year and the 535 members of the United States Congress. Watch the next State of the Union presidential address next January where many of them are present and try to pick out who’se who.
Who are the most violent criminals?
I am a graduate of a criminal profiling police school offered by the State of Texas, taught by both state and federal experts. In this class they identified the most violent criminal to beware of - a white male, between the ages of 17 to 25 or 28. Imagine that! There are a few other markers but the markers about things such as their problemed childhood and are not things you can quickly know or identify in a short term encounter. You may however learn of these markers though longer-term encounters. The common histories include:
- Abuse, torture and sex with small animals
- A physical abnormality you may or may not can easily see
- Trouble with their parents
This generic profile is still true today, but by no means should this be the only profile of a potential violent criminal you should watch for. Criminals and terrorists come in all shapes, sexes, sizes, colors and religions and their identification is much more situational and about what they are doing and wearing and where they are. A totality of circumstances is the legal term and exactly who they are, is just a part of the identification process. In this age of islamic, fanatic and extremism, only a fool would not raise an eyebrow at the 9-11 look-alike's when doing things suspiciously in certain situations. I would expect no less of similar eyebrow raises against white or black people in certain situations. You must be properly educated beforehand and articulate why your brows raised. Stand by for more on that.
Who seems to commits workplace violence?
It seems every month some employee or ex-employee shoots up a job-site somewhere in the world. A profile of this character has also been developed. Unlike the young male profile previously mentioned, these jobsite shooters are usually male and over 35, and often have many years of employment at the very place they shoot up. Usually their work history is spotted with odd troubles. Forensic psychologists suggest that, “employers and co-workers should watch for changes in these problem-people’s behavior, attendance, productivity, personal hygiene, and social isolation. Killing sprees usually are the culmination of many years of unresolved personal problems and mismanaged stresses. Problems with alcohol and drugs, financial worries, and marriage and family pressures often aggravated their problems while coping with this fast-paced society.” Some of these business shootings involve perceived or real sexual relationships, or break-ups and divorces.
The next probability factor in workplace violence is an ex-boyfriend or husband shows up and shoot's the relationship partner's, business place up. Some of these business shootings also involve perceived or real sexual relationships, or break-ups and divorces. Keep an ear open to employees and co-workers in break-ups and really heated divorces. The danger zone includes the business parking lot.
Drugs, Alcohol and the Toll?
A nationwide USA Today Poll conducted in July, 2006 stated that 1 in 5 people, or some 40 million adults have been addicted to drugs or alcohol at some point in their lives. Many other users who are not addicted are responsible for all kinds of negative incidents. This effects everyone and the recklessness, loss of control and desperation increases crime and accidents in all categories. This means that 1 in 5 people can cause of lot trouble, but so can the occasional users. When considering who to avoid? This would be a major category.
So...Who? In Summary
1) Who is the attacker/criminal/enemy?
a) The common, impulsive, disorganized-to-semi-organized criminal
or enemy soldier
b) The uncommon - organized and methodical criminal and enemy soldier
c) The person is:
- * the familiar person
- * the unfamiliar person
- * the stranger or enemy soldier
- * trained or not trained for violence
2) Who am I? Really! Take a realistic inventory:
- * am I trained to recognize violent encounters before and while they happen?
- * am I trained in vocal, de-escalation skills?
- * am I in physical shape to fight for several non-stop minutes or more?
- * am I in physical shape to run far enough away?
- * am I trained to fight properly?
- * do I have or need weapons? Can I fight against weapons?
These statistics and studies vary year to year. Always check for the latest if are preparing for a report or a presentation.
5 June 2013: The Sad, Bad Ballad of Jimmy Skews and His Gun
I almost shot Jimmy Skews once. It happened in the first month of my detective assignment working MDDS - The Marijuana and Dangerous Drugs Section for the US Army.
I’d been in General Investigations. I liked it there. I could see that the guys across the hall in MDDS were always working their asses off and well into weird hours too. Zero dark thirty. (I enjoyed the old days back when only a select few used that "zero-dark-thirty" term, now after the Bin Laden movie, it’s public knowledge.) But one fateful day the orders came from down the long hall and several us had to report for duty to that busy drug office. It’s the Army and you go where they tell ya. It's not "your" Army. It's not "this" man's Army. It's not even their Army. It is the Army and you just go where they tell ya.
I’d been to the Military Police academy, and an Army investigation school. Both dabbled in drug work, but You know I was pretty young and stupid. Training for this new narcotics position, they just bounced me around with several of the narcotics guys to learn the ropes as quickly as possible. It was mostly on-the-job training because, well, there were drugs aplenty in to the US Army and no time to waste. Bodies had to be thrown at the problem. We had a heroin problem and cocaine was around then but still very expensive and not as hip. Needless to say, there was tons of marijuana everywhere. Tons of it. It was treated by the Army like it was poison, so much so that the “M” of M.D.D.S. stood for marijuana. In the 70s people in some states were getting life sentences for marijuana possession. It was a reefer madness for sure.
We were supposed to generate drug informants, arrests and respond to drug calls and also help MP patrol men and women in the field. We were, sort of the first-filter, first-investigator, responders to the drug world so that the CID (like our “FBI”) might stay in their cozy beds at night. This working relationship between MPI and CID varied from base-to-base, but that's how it worked way back when with us. I presented numerous “big” drug leads and cases to CID expecting them to gleefully take over, but was usually met with an ambivalent, “yeah, yeah, ok, keep me posted.” I can’t blame them. Their paperwork burden was gi-normus. For example for every sheet of investigatory paper they produced, then needed nine more copies and that was the carbon copy and typewriter days, each copy sent to nine different headquarters all the way up a chain to the Pentagon. Involve them? It turned into a duffle bag of paperwork. So, we got to do a lot.
As a rule, we plainclothes investigators were not to reveal our Army rank while investigating crimes, so that we could deal with generals and enlisted folks alike, leaving them to guess our rank. Being a natural, immature rebel, this suited me just fine. This also suited one of the other MDDS investigators, a Jimmy Skews, known also as a little “different.” A mover. A shaker. He got stuff done. I have known several of these personality types through the years, thought to be a little different. They often tiptoed across a lose, wavering tightrope, but were often effective. Very much a natural con man, fast talker and method actor - Jimmy had all the essential skills of the drug investigator and well for that matter, even a car salesman.
When I looked at Jimmy, I could envision the long black hair he wished he had, and maybe the earring in his lobe as soon as he ETS-ed (that’s End-Tour-of-Service for you great unwashed out there). Yes, that was Jimmy Skews. He was E-5, buck sergeant underneath his uncomfortable sport coat and tie. He was about eight years older than me, and had about that many more years in the military police business.
The night I almost shot him, Jimmy received a phone tip from an informant that he was working with that a soldier he’d targeted was selling drugs to a group on the second floor of a certain infantry barracks. Jimmy slammed down the phone and shouted to me, “let's go!” We hopped in his unmarked Chevy and darted across the base.
We parked down the street and with eyes on the upstairs windows, approached said edifice - I like to use some old police lingo once in awhile. The wooden barracks was typical, a large, two-story building, shaped in a way like a giant country barn, surrounded by other similar barracks. At 7 pm, it appeared abandoned as most all the inhabitants had better things to do than sit around in this barren, place. Unless of course you were picking up your drugs from your friendly, neighborhood, soldier/doper up on the second floor.
“You go in there,“ Jimmy ordered, pointing to the front door. We pulled out our snub-nose .38s revolvers. "I'll go in another way."
“Okay,” I said, and dashed inside the hall. Nobody to be seen. Then I mounted the two long flights of stairs. I had already learned from past mistakes to take very DEEP breathes on these or any stairways, else you will need scuba tank of air if you suddenly took action when you reach the top. No matter your conditioning! Survival stair climbing for any Action Guy class - BREATHE deep and slow as you climb stairs fast.
As I topped the stairs, I saw through the short hall to inside the large room, where some small groups of soldiers milled about the center of the bay between two rows of beds. Kneeling and standing. It was getting dark and they couldn’t see me. They were either shooting craps or spreading out drugs, I couldn’t tell from the stairwell. I moved across the stairway hall and suddenly a man with a gun came though a hall window! The pistol was pointed at me, and I turned to him and pointed my gun. Squeezing the....!
Jeez, It was Jimmy Skews! I unsqueezed. He aimed his pistol away from me. He had climbed a fire escape and scaled the outside of the barracks. I could see in his face that he almost shot me, too! But, we ignored the awkward moment and charged into the big room. So after the stairway rule, class? Action-Guy rule number 2 is don't shoot your partner when he comes in from another entrance. This is easier in a planned raid, but life is so...sudden.
Yup. Drugs on the floor.
“Hands up! Police!" I yelled to the group.
And Skews and I arrested 6 guys. On the floor was hash, marijuana, needles, pipes, etc. We called the MPs for transport and did about 6 hours of paperwork, evidence processing and interviews. We questioned each soldier for intel info. I can't remember what they told us back then, today. Hell it was over 35 years ago. But, we always tried to develop leads and cut deals with everyone we arrested to find the next level dealers. The motto was, “work up the chain. Get the dealer. Then get his dealer,” and so on. This work ethic lead to a number of rather large drug busts we orchestrated. You often start by turning the street guy. But a little impromptu raid like this was our bread and butter and we did several a week. Uncle Sam owns all the property so the rules of privacy are a bit different than the civilian world. Less tiptoeing on that tightrope they call "reasonable expectation of privacy."
"I almost shot you, stupid!" Jimmy said later on as we wrapped things up..
"I almost shot you back, Batman." ...swinging in from the fire escape! And you thought running with scissors was dangerous? Try running with guns.
Skews and I worked quite a bit together as the months rolled by, so it was a jaw-dropper for me when I walked into the MPI building one afternoon and learned Jimmy tried to kill himself while off post the night before. He’d been rushed to a critical care unit downtown. He tired to do himself in via of all things, a drug overdose – a handy method for a narcotics officer, huh? The rumor mill in the building ran amok with juicy and sinister plots. Did he skim enough drugs over a period to make this attempt? Was he being paid off? Dirty? Did he buy the drugs illegally? Did he just overdose by accident? Was he set up with Jimmy Skews?
Sure, at first people were worried, then came all those loose ends to burn up. We wondered where his badge was, but it was found pinned into his wallet at the hospital. His gun? Skews pistol was missing. The gun he pointed at me months ago, gone. Our sub nose .38 revolvers were issued at our headquarters armory and since we worked so often on and off base, we just kept the weapons 24/7, unlike our uniform patrol officers who checked their .45s in an out of the armory on a daily, shift basis. The time clock for info on Skews and his missing gun was ticking. That tick would soon became a heavy watch on my wrist.
Earlier that morning the MP company armorer “Sgt. Prick” at our headquarters building heard about the overdose and wanted to know where Jimmy’s snub nose pistol was, or as Prick would call the gun “his gun.” At last he had another issue to pitch a fit about. Small-minded, powerless men like this jump at any chance to exercise power and this little runt was no different. The Army is quite full of them. At first breath of the Skews problem, Sgt. Prick ignored the chain of command, ignored the process. The armorer sped across post straight to the Provost Marshal and complained, with the usual “my-gun-this" and "my-gun that,” speech. The Provost Marshal now had another load to bear over this Prick’s complaint. The attempted suicide he knew about, but no real emphasis on Prick’s gun until Prick did his dance! I mean, Skew’s missing gun.
But that afternoon when I walked in...
“Jimmy is still in a coma. That’s all we know for now.” our Sgt. Ross told us.
“Ross!” barked the MPI Captain from up the hall. “You, me and Staff Sgt. Bunyon are requested in the Provo’s office at 4 pm.” “Requested” meant “ordered” and ordered meant harshly. And we knew that sudden session ay HQ was all about Skews. Ross waved a hand at the C.O. and turned to three of us near him.
“Backtrack his night,” he ordered. Ross snatched up his jacket to leave. We nodded.
This meant starting at the hospital down in the city and working backwards in time. The ambulance. The location. Who made the ambulance call. And as much as possible about all events before that. Three of us drove downtown in one car and went to work at the city hospital. We peeked in on Jimmy, who was out cold and all rubber-hosed up, surrounded by beeping boxes. Thanks to the records at the city emergency room, we found the location of the O.D., a residence. And we had a name for the caller.
We drove to the house, which was more like a big dorm for off-base housing. A cheap place for soldiers to live who couldn’t stand the constant hassle of living under the eyes and ears of the bored people in the “orderly room” - often more small-minded, powerless people looking to exert power and control on anything and anywhere they could. Cheap, rented rooms with common places, with areas like living rooms and kitchens, offered the troops some escape and freedom. We knocked on doors and shook down the occupants. Questioned alone, these folks sometimes talk, so we divided them up.
In about an hour we collected a sad tale. Skews was with some nefarious guys there, bought drugs and disappeared into a back room with a bed. These guys discovered him hours later, gagging, coughing and near dead. Was Jimmy hanging out regularly with dopers? Was Jimmy a doper? Was he set up? He bought a lot that night and used it all up we were told? Can’t trust that line. Toxicology on his blood would take about a month to tell us exactly what he consumed. We also asked about his pistol? No one claimed any knowledge.
We drove back to our office and my partner called Ross at his home. We watched from our desks, hungry for any news from their end. He nodded a lot and listened. He hung up with the scuttle.
“Heat’s on about the gun.”
“The gun?” I asked. There were still a lot of other questions to be answered.
“Yeah. Skews overdosed. That case is done. Skews is toast. The Provo wants the gun back in the armory. Sgt. Bunyon promised the Provo that he himself would personally find it.”
“We’re done?” I asked.
Sgt. Bunyon. I never thought Bunyon had much brain power. He was there filling a staff sergeant slot, with no real investigation experience and background I could gather. Bunyon also spent a lot of time being petty, playing mind games and throwing his weight around. I could tell you stories but they would take away from the Skews tale of woe.
Okay! You want a quick sample of this small mindedness? When I was an MP patrolman before this investigator gig, a basic patrol mission was to both walk and drive around. It still should be, though most uniformed police spend their time glued in the car. Call me old school, but till the very end I walked around a lot, no matter the shift hours. One afternoon back in the 70s I was walking around a small park near some shopping centers when I heard what could have been a disturbance between a man and a woman. I really couldn’t tell if they were arguing or what? Another one of my own personal rules is that the police should stay the hell out of people’s lives unless absolutely necessary. So, I stood nearby a tall, thick tree until I could determine what was going on between the couple. To look around the tree, I slipped my big white hat off (we MPs were often burdened on day shift by this big, silly white spotlight on our heads). In a few seconds, I determined that this couple were just playing around. I put my hat back on and walked off. All in a matter of a few seconds.
About one week later, I was dispatched to Sgt. Bunyon’s office in the MPI building. No reason given. I walked in and he sat down. I didn’t.
“Any reason you were on a surveillance in a park? You do realize that only MPI and CID are authorized to run surveillance?” he asked.
“A...surveillance?” I had zero idea what he was taking about.
“Yes. Last Tuesday, at Steller and Jogson. In the park, you removed your hat and conducted an unauthorized surveillance there in that park.”
I had to think real hard about that. What? Wait! Of course, he was talking about the some 26 seconds I peaked around a tree with my precious hat off.
“You mean...you mean...” I repeated that story. Doing so, I looked astonished he would ask, unapologetic, unaffected and un-intimidated. He was quiet. I learned early on to say little when confronted by the Mister Peter Principles of the world, so I made it real short and simple. When finished, I just stood there. Damned if I would aologize for normal common sense.
He broke the silence with, "well, okay, but you cannot conduct surveillances without authorization.”
I said nothing. I would not squirm. No fun for him at all.
“You can go.”
And go, I did. What happened? Some non-MP friend of his saw me in the park and he reported the gossip to Bunyon. Bunyon, wasted about a week tracking down what MP that might have been, until he singled me out. You see it was about “the gossip and the gotcha.” This kind of low-running, petty crap was the Bunyon Forte. And to justify it, he had to exaggerate an excuse - the surveillance scam-line. This was “friend-said”/“friend-saw” crap, and he enjoyed the little power game. These little vignettes happened to me time and time through all my years with this-or-that Sgt, LT. or Captain Peter Principle. Bunyon was this small.
So, my confidence of, and support for Sgt. Bunyon was quite small. I just did my job and ignored him. I spent the next few days working my regular drug cases, with the Skews matter nothing but a distraction. Skew's pistol was still on the ‘missing-in-action” list. I'd heard Bunyon and the MPI Captain searched Skew's apartment. No pistola. They took our report and went back to the rent house and talked to everyone yet again. They searched that house for the gun. Our Captain had transferred into this MPI job from some infantry unit, so he had zilch for policing skills. He just pinballed around with Bunyon like a curious citizen on a school field trip. I’m here to tell you this was no dynamic duo.
On the way home one night, I stopped in the hospital and walked into Jimmy’s room. He was still wired up, but awake and propped up in his bed.
“How are you?”
“I am okay. I am okay.”
We talked a bit. Some junk. I sat down and flat out asked him the 64 thousand dollar question.
“You try to kill yourself?”
“Naaah. Yeah. Nah. Ya know...yeah. The whole Army thing gets me down sometimes.” That was a yes. A no? A motive. And that was as far as that got, but he answered my question. I think he did try to kill himself.
“What are you gonna do now?” I asked him.
“I am gonna try to get out. Get out and go home. You hear anything?”
“I think that can happen for you. I’ve heard that. I guess it will get a bit ugly but gone is gone, once you’re gone.”
Yeah, Jummy, get out and go home and grow that long hair and insert that earring - I thought. That’s fine with me. I don’t care. We talked some more.
“Hey you know, they are going crazy about your pistol,” I told him.
“Bunyon been here?”
“What did you tell him about the gun?”
“I told him...yeah...I don’t know what happened to the gun. Yeah.”
“Well, I got to go.” I started out the door.
“Are you gonna ask me about the gun?” he asked.
“Nope. Take care, Jimmy,” and I left. Probably never to see him again.
Then one afternoon a few days later, I was going through a stack of messages at the office. Some private in a transport unit called. He asked for me specifically and would speak to no one else. I took the message and spun out the numbers on the rotary phone at my desk to call him back. A man answered with the obligatory unit and name.
“This is Agent Hochheim. You called for me earlier?”
“This is Hock. Short for Hochheim.”
“Okay. I need to see you,” said the voice.
“I have something for you.”
In a world of confidential informants, such meetings were not unusual. Informants come forward like this for a whole host of reasons, most often for some level of revenge as motive. Women. Drug rip offs. Business revenge. Any motive. Always look for the real motive. It helps you figure out what in hell is going on in a crazy world. And if they want to talk in person, you've got to go. These modern days, there might be some paranoid, protocol for such meetings, but back then - and my guess is today too in many places - sometimes you just go alone. There aren’t enough police around to turn every meeting into a team event. I got the address and room number of the unit on base and the where and when in the building.
I was there in an hour or so, standing in an all-wooden military office, fans blowing, open windows, looking right at the caller standing behind a counter. This soldier was tall and thin with a hairdo that was the just-short version of a longer "hippy hairdo." How's that? Hard to describe. Ya’ gotta' see it, I guess. Think of the comedian Carrot Top's hair trimmed down to an inch. He had a slim, red moustache like a 40s movie idol. This guy was a freak that was stuffed into fatigues and squeezed into the Army. You could just tell.
“Okay, here…” he reached under a stack of paper files on the counter and slowly pulled out a revolver by the barrel.
I raised an eyebrow. It had to be Jimmy Skew's missing gun.
“Right before the ER people took Jimmy out of that house? Jimmy handed my buddy his gun. He told my buddy to give Hock his gun,” he said.
“Me?” I took the gun. I didn't believe that story. I opened the cylinder. Six bullets sat in place. To Sgt. Prick, each bullet was just as important as the gun. Same gun Jimmy aimed at my face a few months earlier and said he almost pulled the trigger.
“Who is your buddy?” I had to ask.
“I'd rather not say. Let's say it was me, if you have to say who? Say it was me. Jimmy said you were cool.”
“Cool.” I mumbled. I shut the cylinder and dropped the gun into my jacket pocket.
“He knew you dudes would be after his gun. He said you were cool and to get the gun to you.”
“What happened?” I asked, acting as if I didn’t know.
“There was a party, man. Jimmy bought a shit load of downers from some dude and he disappeared into a back room.” There was that term again, “disappeared into the back room.”
“He party there often?”
The private only smiled. Answer enough.
“Did your buddy say Jimmy was depressed or something?”
Silence. That pretty much signaled the end of this conversation. The Skews case was officially over, anyway. Especially now with this gun in my pocket.
“It may come to pass, “ I said, “that the powers-that-be, may wander back here to talk to you about this gun.”
“Whatever, dude. I don't know nothing. Like...I don’t even know for sure what I just told you.”
“Thanks for the gun, man,” And I left.
I drove back to our Military Police Investigation building, half thinking I could go straight to MP armory and turn the gun right in where it belonged, but I didn’t want to deal with Sgt Prick and his questions. And then his complaint that I wasn’t forthright enough to suit him. But, I recalled the mounting daily pressure Bunyon was under to find the gun. I walked into MPI, down the hall and knocking on Bunyon's partially open, office door.
“Yeah, come on in.”
“Sarge…” I said, as I pulled the gun from my pocket. “A guy gave me Jimmy's gun.”
“A…guy…..” Bunyon stared at me and his face turned bright red. His features flattened out and he looked like an unhappy man. He took the gun and pulled out a piece of paper from his desk. He compared the serial numbers. He started asking me the details in a voice of force, distracted politeness, while inspecting the weapon. I told him an informant passed me the gun. He didn't ask to talk to my informant.
“I'll take care of the gun,” he said. “See ya' later.” He pulled on his sport coat and we both left the room. He walked out the back door, got in his car and drove off. No "good job." No "good work." No problem. No atta-boy. Frankly, if you got an atta-boy, there was some kind of agenda cooking in the background.
I walked into the drug office, I told the others what had happened and one of them told me Bunyon had worked non-stop trying to find that gun. He’d become obsessed.
“Hooooo-boy!” Ross said. “and YOU found the gun?”
“Well, someone gave me the gun. Its not like I dug it up with a shovel.”
“But Bunyon should have found the gun. Not you. Bunyon’s kind of...funny about stuff like that.”
The others just stared at me. This helped explain Bunyon’s red-faced, almost hostile reaction when I showed him the piece. But, I thought, surely he can't be that shallow? Stand by!
I sat at my desk and Ross started in on a comedy routine, complete with a narrator’s voice, a voice for Bunyon and a voice for the Provo....
“I could easily imagine how that Bunyons/Provo meeting will go, “ Ross narrated.
‘I returned the gun to the armory, sir.’ Bunyon would say.
‘Great work, Sgt. Bunyon. How ever did you do it?’
‘My superior detective skills, sir.’
Not - ‘Well, Sir...some jack-ass of mine had already created an intel network superior to mine and some guy just called him up and handed him the gun, and after I looked day and night for it, for six days.’
The guys laughed at loud. They knew Bunyon well.
“Hooooo-boy!” Ross repeated, shaking his head as he sat at his desk and started shuffling through some paperwork.
Jimmy got me that gun because of our conversation at the hospital that one night. He didn't hand off the pistol to someone the night he overdosed, asking them to "find Hochheim." No way. I have the feeling that when I visited him and I didn't ask where the pistol was, Jimmy decided to pass the word to his friend to hand it off to me. Maybe he thought I cared enough about him just to go see him, and not use any subterfuge, acting like I cared, but was really there to ask about the gun. I don't know. Just a feeling.
I never saw Jimmy Skews again. None of us did. He recovered and received a medical discharge. Slipped away. Jimmy was just a depressed cop who tried to do himself in, then left us all. His reasons were his reasons. But he'd left me with an internal problem in my office, and it was with my section chief! This did come back to haunt me a few times.
Such is the Army. Such is police work too. Combine military and police work? Yikes. Downright depressing.
Just ask Jimmy Skews.
1 June 2013: Post Traumatic...Its a big problem for us all...
This subject came up in another conversation. I stumbled upon this webpage that is good for all to read once in awhile. It is quite informative. People often think P.T.S.D. it is just for soldiers. On, no...