Diversion Discounted

It had been a fairly quiet night and I was…

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It had been a fairly quiet night and I was at the police department, talking with the other officer on duty, preparing to go home after a 12-hour shift.

A call came over the radio of a breaking and entering in progress at a residence in a nearby town. The dispatcher advised the officer that he believed the reporting person had given him some false information concerning the B&E. The officer started toward the call.

A few minutes later another call came in of an armed robbery at a convenience store in the town. It looked like the original call could have been a diversion.

The veteran officer working with me that night, hearing all this, suggested we start heading that way in case we could be of assistance. We drove in his vehicle and during the approximately 10-minute drive to that town, the dispatcher informed the officer of the location of the original call.

By that time the officer had already checked on the B&E and determined it was a false call. The dispatcher told him that the reporting person had called from a pay phone from the local supermarket. The officer wisely went to the pay phone and spoke to some subjects there. They gave a description of a vehicle that the caller had gotten into. He then broadcast that description over the radio.

By this time we had made it to a road that leads out of the town. The road splits, with one way going toward a known drug area. Moments after the description was given, a vehicle matching it passed us from the opposite direction and went toward the drug area. We turned around and initiated a traffic stop.

At this time, we still did not know if this vehicle was involved, only that it was seen at the supermarket near the pay phone. But, given the circumstances, we both knew there was a good chance this vehicle was somehow involved.

We approached the vehicle cautiously with our weapons at the ready. My partner went to the driver’s side and I took up a cover position near the rear of the passenger side. In hindsight, I wish I had approached more closely on the passenger side, but being a young officer with only about a year on the job, I thought the passenger would probably jump and run, and I believed the position I took would be best if that occurred.

Neither of the two suspects in the vehicle made any attempt to run or resist. Both tried to deny they knew anything. Other officers arrived and they were removed from the vehicle. When the passenger was searched, the money he had taken in the robbery of the convenience store fell out of his pant leg. No weapon was found and we later learned that one had not been displayed. The suspect had only indicated he had one in his pocket. Both suspects were taken into custody and were charged.

Had it not been for the alert dispatcher recognizing the false information and the quick thinking of the officer to get the description of the vehicle at the phone, this crime may not have been solved. Those two suspects might have made it down that road to score their dope and slipped away into the night. Hopefully any more fake calls those two future convicts might make would have to be on a prison pay phone.
— MH, NC

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