|True stories by Murl Harpham|
MY FIRST CODE THREE CALL
My first week on the department I always rode with a senior officer. Today it would be a Field Training Officer. Anyhow, I hadn’t been given much of an opportunity to drive a police car and I certainly hadn’t driven anything with that much power. At the time we were driving 1955 Ford Interceptors.
One night about 1900 hours my partner had me drop him off at a Café so he could eat and told me to stay close to the area and stay out of trouble. Within minutes a call came in of a man choking to death at another Café just a few blocks away.
I flipped on the sirens and light (we only had one light in those days) and took off. I was excited because it was a life saving situation and it was my first chance to go Code-3. I was young, dumb and full of myself and felt invincible.
Traffic pulled over and stopped for me as I approached the intersection that I had to make a left hand turn. Because of the traffic I had to make a wide turn and I lost control of the car and found myself going sideways on the wet street. I fought the wheel and over corrected and the car did a 180 and started sliding the other way. I ended up sliding right up to the back door. I hopped out of the car and ran into the Café.
I found that the victim had coughed up the chicken leg or whatever it was and was fine. This Café was on the seedy side and where our local hoods hung out. I was sure that they would be laughing at me for such bad driving. When I got to my car the gang of hoods were looking at me in awe, saying things like, “Wow! That was some driving, did you see the way he broad sided right up to the door.”
We learned things the hard way in those day. We never had defensive driving or a training officer. I never overdrove like that again. And I was lucky. If I had killed someone that night my career would not have lasted 47 years and counting.