True stories by Murl Harpham


































     When it comes to practical jokes, cops can be very brutal to each other.  That is, until recent years when it became popular to file “hostile workplace” lawsuits. 

     One such “brutal” joke took place in the late 50’s.  Usually, a rookie is involved and so it was in this situation.  It was arrange by the watch commander that officer Ken  would be the only cop in service about 2 a.m. as everyone else would be busy.  Actually, the rest of the watch were all hidden behind redwood trees in the city park.

     Officer Ken would be given a call that a neighbor near the park had seen a car stop by the park and had heard a woman scream  and run from the car into the park with the man chasing her.  The caller then saw the man exit the park and get into his car alone and drive off.

     Officer Ken’s fellow officers had gotten a female mannequin and plunged a knife into the chest and poured catsup around the wound and placed the mannequin inside the park.

     The other officers were all hidden nearby as Ken arrived on scene and entered the park.  Now remember, in those days there were no portable radios or cell phones.  Well, the department did have one portable radio but it took two people to carry it.

     Flashlight in hand, Ken entered the park.  His light fell on the body and immediately was turned off.  It came back on again for a little longer time and went off again.  It was like, maybe it would go away while the light was off.

     Suddenly, three shots rang out in the pitch black night.  Each one of us hidden figured he must have spotted one of us and was shooting at shadows.  So we cried out to him to quit shooting.

     When we were all gathered around the mannequin by flashlight we asked him what he was shooting at.  “I was alone and knew I couldn’t leave the crime scene and I needed help and the only thing I could think of was my boy scout training.  When you’re in trouble in the woods, fire three signal shots into the air,”  he stated.