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I Feel at Home!

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  1. buckwheatpaul
    Yesterday I received an invitation to join the LEO's Group and to say that I was flattered and honored to be asked. With that said I would like to introduce myself to my new group. I am Paul Fletcher (AKA: buckwheatpaul) and I joined the Cast Boolit Family in June 2013. I was with the Dallas Police Department for 29 years; a parole officer for 2 years; and a Sheriff for 4 years.

    I began my L.E. career in 1974 and have thoroughly enjoyed being a L.E. officer. I met Mrs. buckwheatpaul in a fist fight with a bad guy.....44 years later we are still going strong .... at least she has not killed me or traded me in for a "better deal!" We have an active cattle ranch and we truly enjoy the horses and least if they give us a problem we can eat them or sell them!

    As a L.E. with DPD I worked patrol and traffic. As a sergeant I worked patrol, traffic, and physical evidence where I was on the "Officer Involved Shooting" team. I finished out my career as a lieutenant in robbery and finally detention. We retired to our ranch and had no intention to ever be back in L.E. and an opportunity came up and I became a parole officer for the great State of Texas and I worked there for two years until I was talked into running for sheriff......I was successful and as a Sheriff in a small county I got to do anything from cattle at large to murder investigation and for the next 4 years I was extremely busy and loved the job.....but I was voted out and now we are at the ranch with the dogs, cats, horses, cattle, and wild hogs. Life is great yet I sometimes miss the job.....

    That is my thumb-sketch introduction of who I am and the wonderful lady that was was not only a decorated police officer but the lady that made me who I am......Paul
  2. Der Gebirgsjager
    Der Gebirgsjager
    Great to hear your story, Paul. Thanks for joining the LEO group, where I know you'll be a great asset as you are on the regular CB Forum. Gee....I had to do a double take when you said you met your wife in a fist fight! For some married couples I guess that's a way of life.
  3. 9.3X62AL
    Time to Start The Music. The Grenade Story

    Anyone in law enforcement in the early 1980s saw the HUGE uptick in cocaine usage throughout our country. For a time there was talk about decriminalization of the stuff, equating it with alcohol as a recreational substance. Cocaine ran like water around my area--Los Angeles and Palm Springs being real hotbeds for the substance. From 1978 into 1987 I worked in two station areas along I-10 (Indio and Banning) that linked these two cities. You would think that I would have seen a whole lot of in-transit cocaine on vehicle stops made on or near this CA--->FL artery, but not really. I did seize about 2 oz. in a "courtesy bowl" from a Super Bowl party in 1981--we got called to quell a disturbance at a condo inside a Palm Desert walled enclave/country club, but other than "user weight" pinches intermittently there just wasn't much getting snagged.

    Time goes by, and I transfer to Banning Station in March 1982 and start working the road there. Unlike Indio/Palm Springs, this area was pretty rural and call pressure was minimal--as was staffing levels. A fat shift was 3 deputies and a sergeant, spread over 450 square miles and 26 miles of I-10. There were two small cities (Beaumont and Banning) smack in the middle of our station area, both with their own PDs of a size similar to our own. We made it work, listening to each other's radio traffic cross-monitor in the event of nonsense & uproar--which was infrequent. All of us had the free patrol time to actually look for crooks and develop good cases, if you were motivated to do so.

    To be continued.....SWMBO summons me to labor.
  4. 9.3X62AL
    The Grenade Story (cont'd)--

    The early 1980s saw the first shots fired in the economic battle that would eventually destroy inland southern California. The closure of Kaiser Steel in Fontana in 1982-83 put 4500 people out of work. These were good-paying union jobs that 3 generations of working people had depended upon to raise families, buy houses, and build retirements upon. Gone, and they still haven't returned. Lots of think tanks and academic types like to bloviate about such occurrences and the spin-off effects of these economic downturns. I do know that methamphetamine HCl exploded on scene in inland southern California about the same time Kaiser's mill and iron mine closed down, so it is hard to not link those two simultaneous events as a cause-and-effect. People gotta pay bills and/or seek relief from crushing economic losses. It ain't rocket science.

    In a way, cocaine's onset nationwide inadvertently heralded the uptick in meth usage and trafficking. CHP noticed it first, with their DUI arrests. Objective symptoms said "CNS stimulant", so "cocaine" was presumed. More often than not, in my area the lab results came back positive for "Methylmethamphetamine HCl", with nanogram-per-deciliter readings several times that of the maximum clinical doses (45-50 ng/dl) prescribed during the days that meth was used for treating mental illness. To be sure, "crank" has been around, and for a lot of years. Nazi Germany gave it to their troops--especially the Waffen-SS--to enable longer performance in battle. My Dad made use of it during his time in Korea--33 months. Amphetamines and biphetamines got a lot of use in Viet Nam. So it should come as no surprise that people gravitated to its use and distribution to alleviate emotional and financial strain. Nature abhors a vacuum.

    A couple of us began focusing on intel development on traffickers and manufacturers of methamphetamine. A couple names/monikers kept surfacing as we debriefed arrestees and informants. One was of particular interest--we'll call him "Mr. B" for purposes of this story. This guy was a living legend--he could make dope out of dirt. He had cameras facing out from all directions on his compound in Mentone. He carried guns and had access to explosives. He was from back east, and was a Provo-IRA associate. Yadda yadda yadda. We finally got firm ID on the guy--and he had ZERO CRIMINAL HISTORY. Not even a traffic cite. He WAS a chemical engineer--maybe he COULD make dope out of dirt. But there were no real hooks to initiate a case with. Work smarter, not harder--and we went on to other things. But we didn't forget about Mr. X.

    In Jan. 1986 myself and another deputy ("W____") were assigned to work street dope and vice crimes full-time. About the same time, a neighboring agency (San Bernardino SD/Yucaipa) assigned two of their deputies to similar duties. They and we met at least twice a week to compare notes and trade info, and they too were aware of Mr. X. All 4 of us plied out trade for a few months, and made a lot of cases while continuing to gather intel on the meth network--piece by piece. Fall 1986 comes, and my partner and I were doing paperwork in the office right after lunch when one of the SBSD deputies called me.

    "Guess who is sitting in my office right this minute?" G___ asked.

    Me--"I dunno, Stevie Nicks? Aretha Franklin?"

    G___--"No. Mr. X".

    Me--"GET OUT. What did he get ripped for?"

    G___--"He didn't. He came into the lobby and spoke to the watch sergeant. He asked for me, M___, you, and W____ by name and wants spill a story. GET UP HERE, NOW".

    Oh, HELL YES. I grabbed W____ and hauled butt to Yucaipa Sub-Station most ricky-tick. Mr. X sat down with us in the squad room at 2 P.M., and he did most of the talking. We broke at 4 P.M. and went out so swing shift patrol could brief, then came back at 5 P.M. and continued until 10:30 P.M. What Mr. X laid out was a historical conspiracy case dating back to 1959 and up to the present time. Names, dates, times, places. Flow charts--distribution routes and schedules--lab sites. Results were 15 search warrants in S.B County, 6 in Riverside, and NONE OF THEM WERE "HUMMERS".

    Mr. X had no known criminal history on paper, but he had been a busy individual for a whole lot of years. He had worked a legit job in the chem industry for 30+ years after college, and for most of that time had also been cranking out batches of meth for a well-known wheel gang that got its start locally right after WWII. He had the goods on two generations of meth makers.

    More to follow.
  5. Der Gebirgsjager
    Der Gebirgsjager
    We'll hope that the SWMBO duties aren't too onerous. While we're waiting for 9.3's return, I'll tell you about an interagency cooperation story. I was working day shift (highly unusual) in the San Lorenzo Valley of Santa Cruz (CA) County. There is a 2 lane "highway" that winds its way through the redwoods along the San Lorenzo River, and passes through the small mountain communities of Felton, Ben Lomond, and Boulder Creek. That would be Highway 9.

    Well, it was a hot summer day, and I stopped at the Boulder Creek Foster Freeze for something cold. I got a milkshake at the walk-up window, and as I walked back to my patrol car I was summoned by some seedy looking individuals in a 4 door sedan. All except the guy in the right front passenger seat, who looked pretty conventional, and who was the fellow who wanted to talk to me. I approached the window and he badged me with a Federal-looking badge and some credentials that said "DEA". The fact that a DEA unit would be in Boulder Creek didn't surprise me at all, as the entire valley had been a dope mecca for many years. We almost routinely made car stops that resulted in busts for everything from pot to magic mushrooms, and most anything else you could think of.

    The Agent explained that they had been tailing a van all morning, believing that the occupants, a man and a woman, were in the area to consummate a very large drug buy, but they felt that the occupants of the van had "made" them as law enforcement and that it would be fruitless to continue following them. He wondered if I could help by making a traffic stop on the van if I should see it, and see what I could see, including making an arrest for any drugs observed at which point I could request them to come to the location of the stop and handle the matter to conclusion. Well, why not-- it was a very hot and boring day. So I wrote down the description of the van including the license number, figuring a chance meeting to be unlikely.

    Could you believe that I hadn't left the Foster Freeze for more than 15 minutes and was about a mile away when I met the van coming the other way! Sure enough same license plate number, and most unbelievable was the fact that the plate didn't have a current registration sticker. I made a U-turn and stopped the van, and made a very cautious approach, checking out the back of the van as I walked up to the driver's window. There was a middle aged driver and a rather nice looking lady in the passenger seat who was drinking a beer! I decided to use my best Barney Fife act and said, "Well, shucks, Sir, I stopped you to tell you that your license plate was expired. But now I see that your lady friend is drinking a beer, and that's a real no-no. I can't believe she's drinking alone, so where's yours?"
    The driver reached between the console and his seat and held it up, so I told them that I was going to have to issue them citations for having open containers of an alcoholic beverage in the vehicle, and needed to see their I.D.s. Both had valid CA driver licenses, so I filled out the citations and had them sign them. They were very friendly and no problem at all.

    Well, l I went back to the Foster Freeze parking lot, and the DEA car was still there. I approached the car, contacted the same individual I had talked with earlier, and he was absolutely overjoyed. He copied down all the information from the citations. Then he asked me, "Did you see any guns?" "Well, no I didn't," I replied. "Was I supposed to?" "They are most certainly armed, he said, "And if they were carrying the drugs they'd no doubt have shot you." "Gee, thanks for that information. I wish you would have told me that a little earlier." I felt like potential cannon fodder, and decided thereafter to limit my favors for Feds.

  6. 9.3X62AL
    The Grenade Story--Finis

    The service of those warrants and the related arrests and prosecutions resulted in promotions, and in station-level target teams being developed county-wide. I wondered what at the time prompted Mr. X to "come in out of the cold", and I asked him about that.

    Mr. X--"Those scandalous SOBs taxed me! I refused to go back to cooking, so they tore my machine shop apart and stole a lot of my tools, and said they would give them back after I made some batches for them! Screw THAT!" He hadn't been in the trade for close to ten years, he made his money and retired completely.

    Mr. X did not keep it a secret that he was a source of the info that resulted in the labs and stashes getting busted. Quite the opposite, actually. Close to Thanksgiving 1986, Mr. X was standing outside a C-store at County Line Road @ I-10 when a beat-up Cadillac owned by a father & son team of meth users/dealers confronted him in the parking lot and prompted him to seat himself in the Cadi's back seat at pistol-point. Mr. X coolly took a seat, Sr. drove while Jr. hung over the right front seat pointing a 1911 at Mr. X, regaling him with tales of all the things about to happen to Mr. X--unnatural sex acts, beatings, dismemberment, on and on it went as the car headed east toward the desert. Mr. X grew tired of Jr.'s diatribe, said "You two lames aren't going to do IT! Stop the car, right now!" Mr. X pulled a hand grenade out from under his jacket, held down the spoon, and pulled the pin. "I got nothing to lose if I let the spoon go!"

    Jr. flipped right out. "PUT THE PIN BACK IN THAT THING!" Mr. X lowered the rear power window and threw the pin out. "I SAID STOP THE CAR!" They did. Abruptly. Mr. X got out, the two fools burned rubber getting away, and Mr. X released the spoon--it was just a "husk" from the gun show that he carried around for such occasions. Mr. X crossed the freeway to the rest area at Brookside Avenue overcrossing, and called the station from the pay phone to have me/us meet him there. Partner and I weren't far away, so we scooped him up and got told what happened. Yes, we laughed like hell. Even Mr. X thought it was funny, calling us "Sick bar stads" while har-har-ing with us. Yeah, those two idjits got fanged for the kidnap/armed & used rap, too. They wound up doing a lot more time than most of the dope case principals, and took a deal to avoid LWOP. Both were 3-strikes candidates. Real winners.

    That little trick impressed me at the time. I went downtown at promotion and got assigned to a surveillance team that followed suspected residential burglars around until they pulled a crime, then arrested them in progress. That often involved sitting parked in funky neighborhoods, where funky people would come out and mess with you or call the cops on us. I had a GREAT plain-wrapper car, an 85 Mustang with 5.0 and 5-speed. I had snagged a couple grenade husks at gun shows, and had at least one of them under each front seat.......'cause ya never know when they might come in handy. They stayed there for quite a while, and they kinda slipped my mind. Vacation time rolled around, and I took two weeks off in late September 1988 for some Sierras trout fishing. I had a great time, gone about 12 days and caught truckloads of trout.

    I came home to a number of phone messages on my phone recorder. Most were from various ranking department members and were from about a week prior. None were friendly, and I called one of my team members to see where the wind lay. Not good--the logistics aide had taken the Mustang to the shop while I was on vacation, and when the Mustang (which is front-heavy) got hoisted for the oil change and brake check, one of the grenades rolled out onto the driver's floormat. When the Mustang was lowered, the grenade became visible--the garage guys got excited--and the county garage got evacuated. Our Hazardous Device Team (part of our Bureau then) went on scene and the bomb tech recognized the car. "Oh, that's Al Paine's car. A grenade, you say? Probably a husk, I'll suit up and check." He does that, and emerged after a minute or so, saying "Yeah, they're both harmless husks. No problem!"

    Next call was to my sergeant. "Al, this is WAY OUTTA MY HANDS. No law was broken. Hell, no General Order was violated. This is already at the 2nd Floor, you are in it deep."

    Me--"Sounds like it. Can you clear me to call the Chief Deputy? He and others left messages on my home phone."

    Sgt.--"Hail Mary pass, eh? I respect that. Lemme make some calls. Stay put, you're on admin leave."

    I wait for what was about 10 minutes in real time, 18 hours in perceived wait. Sarge calls, and tells me to call the Chief's private number at 1030 hours tomorrow. "Will do, thanks." "Good luck, Al."

    I make the call at the appointed time, and get connected with the Chief Deputy. This guy helped me A LOT after my first shooting, and after a prior dust-up with an idiot station commander. "Al, before we get into this in detail, entirely off the record for now--what the hell were you thinking?"

    "Chief, they are officer safety devices." Silence for about 5 seconds on the other end, then "They are WHAT, again?" "Officer safety devices--its kind of a long story, if you want to hear it."

    "Not over the phone, Al. This sounds like something better heard face-to-face. Can you be here on the 2nd Floor at 2 P.M.?"

    "Of course, Chief."

    Well, hell--if I'm going to get fired, I'll look good doing so. Showered, trimmed beard, hair pulled back into pony tail, 3 piece gray suit. I get escorted into a meeting room with 3 Chief Deputies, tape recorder going as I enter. The chief I spoke to on the phone led the interview and did the preface introducing all those present on the record, and that employee counsel was not present.

    Chief--"You said over the phone that the grenades located in the 85 Ford Mustang issued to you served as "Officer safety devices" to quote your earlier statement. Could you elaborate upon that claim for us?

    Elaborate, I did. I spent about 20 minutes summarizing the case involving Mr. X and his subsequent abduction, and how he frustrated the abductors by use of the safed grenade, and that the items were carried under the seat with the idea that I could put them to similar use in the unconventional venues we worked at.

    One of the other Chiefs said "I'll be damned. That's a hell of a story." All were smiling. "What the hell do we do with you? You didn't break a law, you didn't break General Orders. We have County Counsel giving us hell, County Garage threatening to not work on our vehicles and ******** about lost salary hours."

    "Sir, I would like to keep my job. Anything outside that desire is above my pay grade to determine."

    "Al, can you give us a couple minutes?" I walked out of the room and sat down at a couch down the hallway. About ten minutes later, the first Chief stepped out and called me to the door.

    "What do you say to 3 days off without pay, a reprimand for "Conduct Unbecoming", and no assignment change?"

    "Show me where to sign."
  7. Der Gebirgsjager
    Der Gebirgsjager
    Just good innovative police work, Al. You should have gotten a commendation!

  8. buckwheatpaul
    Lets talk about our favorite jobs you had.....

    While in patrol I had the most dangerous beat in Dallas. It was non-stop action, except in the dead of winter. I think it helped me to learn how to be a good police officer. My partner could read each other's minds and we worked as a well oil machine.

    My next favorite job was as a late night accident investigator. Working late nights gave me the run of the City of Dallas and I got to work some very bad accidents....I also got sent to the State Fair of Texas when a stage coach ran away and ran over some fair of our chiefs demanded that we investigate it as a accident since it involved a stage coach with 4 horse power......I told him that it did not meet the requirements of an motor vehicle accident since it was horse powered and not powered by a combustion gasoline engine.....I told him that we could cover the incident a different way and helped him save his face and yet protect the citizens and the City of Dallas......Working late night allowed me to deal with so many many things and got to interact with a lot of officers and citizens.

    As a sergeant, I got to go to Physical Evidence and was installed on the Officer Involved Shooting Team. It was a great job and a horrible job when an officer was injured or killed. Learned how to print people, use AFIS, went to all manners of deaths, worked numerous crime scenes and made a lot of life long friends.

    As a Lieutenant I worked in Robbery and was once again on the Officer Involved Shooting Team and Death in Custody cases. Loved that job but eventually all Lieutenants are moved and finished in Detention Services. It was a great job as we did not handle the prisoners.....we only made sure that the 'i's" and "t's" were dotted and crossed. By that time, I was glad that I was not having to deal with citizens and I never got cold or wet......

    We retired to our ranch and have run up to 80 cows......Very rewarding and if they made me mad we could sell them or eat them......better than dealing with citizens........After a while I got a chance to work as a Parole Officer for the State of Texas.....there I was simply overworked and under paid....but my peers were great and we took care of each one of the few armed officers in my office I often got to go with other parole officers if resistance was anticipated....

    As Sheriff, I truly loved that job....all my L.E. experience helped me solve many problems and help a lot of people. Like I said earlier being in a small office I got to work anything from cows and large to I was the only Sheriff that had a dual role as Chief of Police for the City of Mt. Vernon.....wearing two hats was a challenge but I had a great bunch of men and women who worked for very little....but brought a lot of heart to our community.

    That about covers my favorite jobs.....look forward to seeing your favorite jobs.....Paul
  9. 9.3X62AL
    All-around favorite job at work.......rangemaster. I did that part-time for 23 of my 28 years, for all of the bureaus I worked within for that time period.

    I enjoyed patrol. esp. my time at Banning Station and its slow call pressure. As described elsewhere, that kinda morphed into street narcotics toward the end, from which I was promoted in 1987.

    The drug lab bit took up much of my time from 1990 through 1993. I took part in over 500 such cases during that time, and was case agent on not quite half of them. In late 1992 and into early 1993 I was added into a multi-state meth distribution matter based in Oklahoma County (OKC) involving an outlaw motorcycle club. It was a wiretap-based DEA-led effort, and I was the case agent for the CA end of the matter. It had been almost 30 years since a wiretap-based search warrant had been attempted in CA, and I drafted the affidavit to create that warrant. I took it to the Presiding Judge of our Superior Courts, and damned if he didn't approve and sign in without any modification. We swooped on our end at the same time the OK end got swooped on, and it flew like an eagle. Later that year, I spent almost two weeks in OKC in Federal Court on and off the witness stand. All defendants were found guilty. I liked working dope cases, and was pretty good at that venue, but if patrol was a front row seat to the fall of civilization, then working narcotics is a back-stage pass with ticket to the after-party.

    I worked Crimes Against Persons from 1994-2005, with 1996 TDY back to Narc Majors to work more drug labs. Robbery/Homicide was satisfying work, especially the part about lodging 3 serial killers on CA's Death Row--Cisco Hartsch, Janeen Snyder, and Michael Thornton.
  10. 45workhorse
    All time favorite duty, being allowed the privilege to join the US Marshal fugitive task force. Executing high risk warrants, with a group of professionals. I enjoy going on 'duty'!

    Being from a small Sheriff's Department, I would have never have been exposed to so many things. My boss is one of the most technically and tactically, proficient individuals I have ever had the pleasure of working with.

    About two more years and I will be 60, and I think I will leave it to the younger guys. Right now, I still enjoy taking bad guys down!
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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check