The Supe Who Cried Wolf, Cop Car Caper Craps Out
Thursday, November 15, 2001
COP CAR CAPER CRAPS OUT Only a few weeks ago, Squid dutifully reported that Monterey would soon have a new police chief. The top cop, CARLO CUDIO, would be arriving from a suburb of Chicago, by way of a long career with the LAPD and rookie years in the late ''60s with the Chicago Police Department.
Not long after, last week in fact, it came to Squid''s attention that Monterey was in the market for a new police cruiser, known in some municipalities as a unit, a prowler, a black-and-white. It then came to light that this new cop car would be the new chief''s car. Was there some cozy deal for the incoming big-guy? Was he promised a fancy set of wheels if he''d pin on a Monterey badge? No such luck. According to city manager FRED MEURER, the new car, an unmarked and unfancy Ford Crown Victoria, was a replacement for one that had been "wrecked." It would be kept in reserve, he said.
A wrecked cop car? How did that happen? Cops are professional drivers. Eyes on the road, hands at ten-to-two and all that.
While Meurer checked into it, Squid dug into its vast and incredibly efficient information retrieval system and pulled up the appropriate manila folder marked "Accidents--Cars--Cop Cars."
It turns out that some recent police car smash-ups have been blamed on the installation of dashboard-mounted laptop computers. It''s hard to type while driving and stay on the road, but some cops try anyway.
Besides running tags, the computers have other uses.
Since criminals in action have been known to monitor police radio traffic using commonly available "Bearcat"-type scanners, some officers now talk amongst one another or get orders from headquarters over e-mail. It''s not always official business. While on a "ride-along" with an officer in another department in another town in another state, Squid watched in disbelief as the escorting copper flirted with a dispatcher while driving in traffic. Squid was dismayed to learn later that the same officer had been in three accidents. He''s since been promoted to sergeant.
Then the phone rang. It was Meurer. No dice here. He said the wrecked car had been rear-ended while parked at an accident scene.