Taking It To The Streets
The Weekly rides along with the Monterey police on a wild Friday night.
Thursday, March 9, 2000
It''s 10:15pm on a Friday night when Officer Bob Guinvarch and I pull out from the Monterey police station. The night starts off tame enough as we circle downtown. We make several passes down Alvarado Street, slowly cruising by the bars and peering into the crowds of drinkers who gather outside of the Long Bar, Britannia Arms and McGarrett''s to smoke and socialize.
"I don''t think people know what we''re up against," says Officer Bob, surveying the hundreds of bar patrons gathered on the sidewalks. "We like to show a presence."
All is quiet, but the night is young. By the end of the night, as many as six police officers will converge on Monterey''s tiny downtown, primarily to control the late-night bar crowd.
Suddenly, a call comes over the radio. There''s a medical emergency at the Mucky Duck. In the parking lot behind the pub, a man is passed out on the ground. Duck employees say he had seizures at the bar. Nobody''s sure if he''s epileptic, or if the seizures were drug- or alcohol-induced. The EMTs arrive and he''s taken to the hospital.
We start out on foot, walking the length of Alvarado Street. We step into the Long Bar to check out the scene. It''s loud and it''s crowded, but all seems well. From there we mingle with the crowd standing outside Britannia Arms.
A call comes in from another officer handling a 647(f)--the state code making public drunkenness a misdemeanor. We run to Calle Principal and witness the evening''s first 647(f) "detention."
A tall, lanky, middle-aged man donning a Western hat stands swaying on the sidewalk as an officer clamps handcuffs around his wrists. The man appears to be quite drunk. He can''t talk, he can barely walk. One of the officers on the scene says the man had his keys in his hand and was wandering the streets looking for his car. Luckily, he couldn''t find it.
There are four officers now on the scene. They''re having trouble getting him to walk across the street to the squad car. We lock eyes. His vacant stare holds mine until the cops finally coax him over to the police car. He''s on his way to a night in the drunk tank.
It''s now 1:15am. Drunken Encounter Number 2 commences as Officer Bob and I walk down Alvarado. A collective cheer arises from the crowd in front of the Britannia Arms. Directly in front of us, a young man has bent over, baring his bottom, inducing the crowd''s mirth.
The mooning man and his two young companions quickly dart down Bonifacio Place toward Tyler Street. Officer Bob and I pursue the trio. It takes three loud demands before they stop. Officer Bob, at this point infuriated, approaches the mooning suspect and asks for identification. The guy pulls out a military ID card. He''s a lieutenant in the Navy.
"Haven''t you ever heard of conduct unbecoming of an officer?" queries Bob. He had. The suspect stands at attention while the cop bawls him out. "I''m sorry, I''m stupid, I''m so stupid," the lieutenant repeatedly self-deprecates. Having only four blocks to walk home, and appearing to be in control of himself, the lieutenant is set free to walk home.
Five minutes later, on Calle Principal, another man is apprehended for public intoxication. The arresting officer says he was staggering down the sidewalk, nearly falling off the curb. The suspect seemed to be confused about where he was going, although he says he was just being indecisive about whether or not to go to his girlfriend''s house. Nevertheless, he''s on his way to the drunk tank.
If he turns out to be a repeat offender, says the arresting officer, he''ll be cited. Otherwise, he''ll be free to go without further ado when he sobers up.