Friday, July 23, 2010

Heroin Bandit

I was working the day watch on a sunny fall day, school was in session and the speed limit in school zones was 20 miles per hour. Often children were walking near the street or playing on the school grounds near the street during school hours. I had just cruised passed one of the grade schools in my district to remind motorists they needed to slow down. I rounded the corner onto one of the main through streets when 911 dispatch told me a robbery – kidnapping was in progress at the 7-11 store on the corner I just rounded. There was no opportunity for me to make a concealed approach, I was there!

Unknown to me, this event began over an hour earlier when a female heroin addict, Gail (not her real name), needed a fix. This is a slang term for needing another dose of heroin. Gail had a new infant baby that was drug affected because of her heroin abuse. Gail had taken a city bus to where she thought her dealer lived but because she was going through drug withdrawal she was disoriented and got off the bus in the wrong neighborhood. She wandered around for a while with her baby, knocking on doors, and asking if anyone knew where her dealer lived. Finally she was ready to give up this method of finding her drug dealer, became desperate, and asked a woman in her 80’s, who was sitting on her porch in her rocking chair, if she could come into her house and call a cab.

The old lady, Ruby (not her real name), used good judgment and told the drug addict that she could sit on her poach while she called for a cab. When the cab arrived the driver got out and came to the door to pick up his passenger. Suddenly the drug addict, Gail, jabbed him in his back, told him she had a gun, and that he was to drive her to get some drugs or she would shoot him. Ruby was told to carry the baby to the cab. She was so frightened that she complied, while Gail marched the cab driver to the cab.

Gail then orders Ruby to sit in the front seat with the baby, the cab driver to drive, and she got in the back seat behind him. The cab driver later told me Gail made him drive around for more than an hour looking for her drug dealer’s house. They couldn’t find it but as they were driving by the 7-11 Gail noticed the store and wanted some cigarettes. She ordered the cab driver to go inside and buy her some cigarettes. The cab driver wasn’t stupid so he took this opportunity to get away from her and once inside the store screamed for the store operator to lock the doors while he used the telephone to call 911.

Just as the call was being dispatched I arrived on the scene and quickly tired to pin the taxi to the curb. As I pulled up behind the cab Gail saw me and climbed over the seat and drove off in the taxi into the residential area where school was in session. I immediately began radioing in my pursuit and praying that it wasn’t time for recess. As we approached the school I didn’t see any children playing so I did not terminate my pursuit. By now we were reaching speeds of 50-60 miles per hour in a 25 mph residential area and I was running all my emergency lights and siren to warn anyone in our path that a dangerous situation was approaching them.

As we blew by the school we were running stops signs at full speed and approaching another major street with heavy traffic. The suspect was now driving very recklessly and making wide turns into oncoming traffic lanes causing other motorists to take evasive action to avoid being hit. As we approached a major intersection with four lanes and a left and right turn lane they were all full and several cars deep. I thought this would be a good place to box her in and end the pursuit. To my dismay she cut across the oncoming lanes of traffic at full speed causing these motorists to brake hard and swerve to miss her. She then drove through a gas station while attendants were filling gas tanks. This made everyone scramble to avoid being hit. I followed her onto another northbound road then onto a two lane street with commercial buildings. I knew it was time to end this pursuit before Ruby, the baby, or innocent citizens were injured or killed.

I decided to pit her car: spinning her around and causing the engine to stall. Performing this maneuver was successful. The taxi went off the road and into a deep, sloping, grass ravine. As I was getting out of my patrol car I could see Ruby in the front seat, looking terrified as she clutched the baby. At gunpoint I ordered Gail to get out of the car but instead she restarted the engine and took off.

We continued the chase down a very busy two lane street with dirt shoulders. By now other police officers were involved in the pursuit and blocking the road ahead of her. Gail approached the blocked road, gunned the cab, and drove off the road onto the dusty shoulder and around the blockade. As I followed her I was literally driving blind because of the all the dirt and dust in the air. After this pursuit was over I decided I would never pursue someone in heavy dust again because it was so dangerous to others and me.

Back on the road we were headed westbound and I could see the taxi radiator was steaming and the vehicle was beginning to fail. As a last ditch effort to get away Gail drove down a side street but it didn’t have an outlet. When she discovered this error she drove into a vacant driveway through the back yard and through the fence adjoining the neighbor’s property. She then tried to steer the taxi back onto the street but hit a large tree that didn’t move. I immediately pinned the taxi to the tree with my push bumpers.

Dispatch had reported that Gail was armed with a gun so when I saw her lean over and grab Ruby and the baby I thought she was trying to use them as hostages. I did not want this incident to escalate into a standoff hostage situation so I ran quickly to the taxi, grabbed the suspect’s left leg, and jerked her out of the car with enough force she could not hold onto to Ruby or the baby. She flew across the lawn rolling several times but I didn’t see a gun. As I was handcuffing her she was screaming that she wanted her baby.

I searched her but did not find a weapon. I called for a female officer to come and completely search her for hidden weapons. Other officers now held Gail at gunpoint while I returned to the taxi and found Ruby still clutching the child. Her eyes were as wide as saucers and I thought she would be in shock or at least terrified but when I asked her how she was doing she told me it sure wasn’t like sitting in her rocking chair on her front porch. Then she smiled and I was amazed how composed and matter of fact she was. She even offered to continue holding the baby until a supervisor arrived with a car seat to transport the child to a foster care home.

Still thinking I had to find the gun I questioned the near hysterical suspect that was screaming for her baby. A female officer had arrived and searched the suspect without finding any weapons. The suspect then told me that there never was a pistol and that she had just used a hair brush to hold up the cab driver. I asked her to describe the hairbrush and tell me where it was and sure enough I found the hairbrush in the backseat of the taxi that matched the description.

A loving Heavenly Father has given us a health plan called the Word of Wisdom that does not include the use of dangerous drugs, like heroin. The mother in this episode was willing to put her child’s life at risk and the lives of many others to satisfy her craving for heroin. Heavenly Father wants us to control our physical appetites so we retain control of our actions. Clearly this was a classic example of giving up control of her body for a drug high. Addictive drugs enslave us to their cravings and they can become so addictive and exert so powerful of an influence over us that we no longer have control of our body or mind.

To learn more about the Heavenly Father health plan see Word of Wisdom or or