Thursday, January 9, 2014

Be Vewy, Vewy Qwiet...

...weerh huntin' wabbits. Actually, my imitation of Elmer Fudd sounds better than it looks in writing, and I've had a lot of fun with it over the years...had a couple kids at a summer camp once think that I was Elmer Fudd; but being quiet has been a necessary part of my tool box over my years of law enforcement.
The skill of sneakiness developed out of necessity when I served with the New York State Park Police, Taconic Region, from 1977 to 1980. There was a lot of ground to cover, often on foot, and being quiet was one of two ways to be effective. The other way was to be as visible and as loud as possible, which set the stage quiet well for being sneaky.
It wasn't hard to sneak up on a car at night when the occupants were engaged in amorous pursuits, but some things required skill beyond that. Part of my beat for the Park Police was Clermont Historic Site, a beautiful site along the Hudson River. The grounds closed at sunset, and I generally made a point to make a swing through sometime well after dark. The nice thing was I could make the last several hundred feet of my drive without headlights, pull into the employee parking lot and walk the rest of the grounds from there. I often found people in the park, just enjoying the view of the river after dark and told them to move on. I found more than a few lovers and ran them out also.
So it was one warm summer night that I parked and began my walk across the grounds, ducking in and out of the long shadows cast by the lights from around the building as they were occluded by the hundred-plus year old trees that dotted the landscape. There was one car in the parking lot and that was empty, so I started walking the large expanse of lawn. Way down on the south lawn I saw the silhouettes of two people sitting on a picnic table, passing something back and forth. Though I couldn't smell it, I believed by their actions that it was a joint. After a stalk of a couple hundred feet, I very quietly walked up behind them and as the young man took the joint from the young lady's hand, I removed it from his--and placed him under arrest. It was as though I'd dropped from the sky. Of course, he was more than willing to take all the responsibility and give me the rest of his dope if the young lady didn't get charged. Deal!
There was, however, a much better event. Late one summer night I had pulled into the Taconic State Park, near Copake Falls, and found a large cluster of cars, vans and motorcycles parked in the area reserved for a group camp site. The group site was not occupied by any large group, so I went exploring on foot. Loud music, especially well after dark, is generally a sign of a problem, so I headed for the source of the noise. Quietly working my way through the woods to the campsite, I was able to see several tents scattered around a few nearby sites and three or four pretty rough looking people sitting around a picnic table with one of them just starting to snort a line of cocaine. I stepped from my cover--announcing my presence clearly, and apparently loudly enough to be heard well across the campground--and caught the guy in mid-snort! He succeeded in dumping the coke, and tossed his mirror and straw into a wooden box. In one of those maneuvers that can never be explained I got him cuffed, off the picnic bench and moving down the trail toward the rest of the campground with the box of yet unknown drugs under my arm before anyone else there could react. By the time the rest of the crowd was up and moving, my prisoner and I were well away and back to my car, parked in a part of the campground where I had friends who had heard me yell and were waiting to see what had happened.
In the end, we found that my prisoner's box of goodies contained cocaine, hashish, amphetamine and marihuana. Not a bad haul for one sneaky Park Patrol Officer!

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