Officer Twitchy:
Valley Police Department, May 1990
Some people just seem to have a knack for pissing other people off…

Around the end of 1989, the Valley Police Department consisted of three full time officers, two fully certified part time officers, and two reserve officers. It was authorized by the Mayor that we should appoint an additional full time officer. The job was offered to either of the present part-time officers, who both had other full-time employment which paid better than their part time job, so they declined. The two reserve officers did not hold the necessary certifications to to take the full time position, so the choice was made to advertise the open position.

As was often the case, whenever a background investigation was needed on an individual, the job was delegated to me. As was the nature of all my reports, I made no conclusions, but laid out the facts so that the decision makers could make the best decision based on the facts. As was common at just about any law enforcement agency in the state at that time, we received more than quite a few applications. The Chief pared these down to about ten, and asked me to proceed with my investigation on the members of this short list.

I completed my investigations about two weeks later, and presented my findings to the Chief in no particular order. He did ask my opinion by way of rating the individual applications from top to bottom based on the applications and the results of the background investigations. My top three suggestions were very strong candidates, so I was very surprised when the Chief told me he liked Number 10.

Number 10 had been a Police Officer at Council Bluffs, Iowa, a much larger city than Valley to be sure. My concern with Number 10, was not what I found in the background investigation, but what I could not find. There were too many holes in it. Most predominantly, was I could find nothing as to why this individual was no longer employed with Council Bluffs. Everyone was very tight lipped! I told this to the Chief, who liked the guy because someone who knew someone, who worked with someone, recommended the guy for the job. In any case, it was not my decision. I made my contribution to the process, now it was up to someone else to decide.

I went on vacation for two weeks, and on my return, I would be working the Day Shift while the Chief went on vacation. I was never a “morning person” so you can imagine how I felt dragging myself into the office at 6:30 on a bright Monday Morning. There was a quiet guy, wearing one of our uniforms sitting along the wall of the office reading something. I grunted some sort of early morning greeting as I shuffled over to my desk, which was deeply piled with paperwork as was always the case when I returned from an extended absence.

There, on top of the pile of paperwork, was a memo from the Chief. It read, “By now, you should have met Officer Billright. He is our new Police Officer. You are his FTO. (Field Training Officer.) Make sure you have him fill out his Form W-4 and the other paperwork attached to the memo. Issue to him, and catalog his hand-held radio, and holster for the radio, etc. Check out a set of keys to him. Assign him a desk, and provide any office supplies he might need. Have a nice day!

I look around the room, and see that the new guy had made a fresh pot of coffee. That was a good thing! He made points with his FTO because I needed coffee badly! So I stand up, poor a cup of joe, and extend my hand to Officer Billright. I introduced myself.

The first thing I notice about Billright, is he has the physic of a weight lifter. Good for him! He’s going to likely need some muscle working in this town. The next thing I notice, is that he’s constantly rolling his head around on his neck, like he has a painfully stiff neck… (The kids around town starting referring to Billright as Officer Twitchy, because of this strange mannerism.) The other thing I notice, is that when he would be standing at ease, he always had his hand tucked into the front of his pants…

Ok. We all have our strange habits. After all, I must have some characteristics that someone else might find strange or odd…

I invite Billright to pull up a chair near my desk, and have a seat. While I’m explaining the paperwork, he pulls a tooth brush out from his pocket… Ok, I think to myself, you can’t put a man down for good dental hygiene… He then takes the tooth brush, and starts brushing his mustache!

I stopped in mid sentence, and asked, “Can I ask you a personal question?”

“Sure…”

What the f**k are you doing?!

“I’m combing my moustache…”

Use your comb!

“You can do that?”

I knew this was going to be a long day, and a longer training period than several weeks.

We get everything checked out to him, and I remind him to remove his gun belt, and check the snaps on his radio holster, otherwise it will likely fall off. He assures me he has it taken care of it without taking off his gun belt. Radios in those days were very expensive. Today, a similar radio would cost about $150 to $200. Back then each hand held radio was a $1,400 investment!

I figure the best way to learn his way around town, is to simply go out and drive around in it. I toss him the car keys, and announce, “You get to drive!”

We go out the back door to the parking lot and as always, the neighbors little terrier comes across the street to greet us. He was not a bad dog. He was always friendly, never jumped up on us, and was part of the neighborhood. We get in my patrol car, with Billright behind the wheel. You would have thought it was his first day in drivers’ education… While twitching his neck all around, he checked the rear view mirror and adjusted it, the left mirror, and the right mirror, then he did it all over again. This was all before he even started the ignition. I gave him an over view of the radios, then called in, “Five-Four Omaha Sheriff!

Five-Four,” came the reply...

Five-Four: Officers One-One-Four and One-One-Eight 10-41, two-man unit, answering to Five-Four. 10-8!What this basically told dispatch was that Officers 114 and 118 were beginning our tour of duty as a two-man patrol car, and that we were In Service.

I look to Billright, and say, “Let’s go!”

He puts the patrol car into reverse, starts to backup, as we perceive the left-front tire lifting a few inches, followed by a crunch of the car running over something… I think, “Oh shit! He’s ran over the neighbors dog!” I bail out of my side of the patrol car, and run around to the other side.

Billright says, “Did I kill it?

I replied, “No… No, I fear it’s much worse than that…” I pick up the pieces of his now destroyed, hand held radio and pass it through the car window to Billright. “It looks like you’re going to get to write your first memo about internal equipment damage. I think it’s insured…”

So that was my first day with Twitchy!

Over time, Twitchy could do some things very well. For instance, he could grab and slap the cuffs on an offender before the subject even know what had happened. Apparently, he had practiced that skill very well.

He also had a few bad habits… For one thing, his “bedside manner" was very bad. He could piss off a member of the public by merely saying Hello. In confrontations, he would often provoke the subject into a fight, while he could have used a bit more finesse to get the subject to come along more peacefully. One time during a Bar Check, I thought he was going to get both our asses kicked when he nearly forced a confrontation with a local in a drinking establishment. I stepped in between him and the gorilla, and suggested that Twitchy go check the patrol cars. After he left, the gorilla says to me, “You can come in here and check on us all you need, Randy. You’re just doing your job, but that guy’s an asshole!”

He also had a bad habit of sleeping on the job… The 3M Factory had a daily shift change at 4:00 AM. On more than one occasion, I was told by 3M employees of a police car parked in their parking lot, and how the employees would literally drive in circles around the cop car, while to cop inside stayed fast asleep. I came on duty at 11:00 PM one evening to find him asleep in his patrol car behind City Hall. I quietly walked up, unlocked the door to his patrol car, jerked it open, and jabbed him in the ribs shouting “Bang! You’re dead!” He yawned, twitched his head around, and said he knew I was there; he was just resting his eyes…

Working in Valley would be interesting over the next year with Officer Twitchy working on the Department...

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