All police officers run into individuals throughout their career whose stories are unimaginable, their alibis inconceivable, and their excuses are beyond ridiculous. Once you’ve heard it you’re certain you’ll never hear it again. I’m mean, how could more than one person come up with the same asinine story?

The first time I pulled a bag of dope out of a drug dealer’s pocket and he responded with, “Oh man…these are my cousin’s pants,” I just about fell out laughing. You mean to say you have been wearing these pants all day and you didn’t realize you had forty-seven bags of heroin in one pocket and more cash than I make in a month in the other pocket? Give me a break. Now every time this happens and they start with this excuse I just cut them off. “Let me guess, this is your cousin’s (enter article of clothing here)?” They just roll their eyes and stop talking. They know I’m not going to fall for it.

Traffic stops have to provide more excuses than anything else out there. Some are ludicrous, some bizarre and some are just downright outrageous. My personal favorite was not so much an excuse as it was just flat our denial.

I was fresh out of the academy and working 3rd watch with my field training officer. We were driving northbound on Clark St. and right in front of us pulls out a white Chevy Caprice that has two flat passenger side tires. We follow for a short period to run the plate and make sure the car isn’t reported stolen. The car weaves from lane marker to lane marker showing no signs of stopping. As he makes a westbound turn onto Pratt we hit the lights and siren. The Caprice slowly pulls up onto the curb right under the Metra viaduct at Ravenswood. We flood the car with light from our overhead takedown lights and drivers side spotlight. Suddenly, we see the driver turn off the car, take off his seatbelt, slide over to the passenger seat and fasten himself in securely. We both approach the vehicle with flashlights in hand scanning the front and back seats. The clear Dixie cup of brown liquid in the cup holder grabs our attention. As I requested the driver’s license the lies began to spew from his mouth.

“Why do you need my license?”

“Because you were driving.”

“No I wasn’t.”

“Yes you were.”

“No, I’m just waiting for my friend.”

“We saw you driving, pull over and slide into the passenger seat.”

“You didn’t see me driving, officer.”

“You’re the only one in the car.”

“I know, I already told you, I’m just waiting for my friend.”

I don’t know if I was so frustrated with the lies that were coming from his mouth or with the fact that he had me so engaged in this ridiculous conversation. As we had the driver exit the vehicle the smell of booze, the bloodshot eyes and inability to stand without holding onto the car confirmed what we had suspected. I placed handcuffs on this guy which seemed to shock him. He couldn’t understand why he was being arrested. As we drove him closer towards the station he became angrier and angrier. He even explained to me how in Haiti, his native land where he used to be a police officer, this would never have happened. Silly me just wanted to hear him say it.

“Listen; just tell me you were driving.”

“I wasn’t driving, officer.”

After processing him for driving under the influence I began to lead him into lockup. As our journey together came to an end he assured me that he would be placing a Haitian curse on me. I explained to him how much I appreciated our time spent together and bid him farewell. Ten days later while sitting at a red light off duty, I was rear-ended by a drunk driver who had passed out behind the wheel. I suddenly found myself sitting in the back seat of my car. Did the Haitian curse ring true?

Months after that incident I was working as a one man car on Sheridan Road watching traffic go by. It wasn’t long before I saw the black Jeep Wrangler misjudge the yellow light and sail right through the solid red. I curbed his vehicle near the Loyola El stop and flooded his car with light. I couldn’t believe my eyes. The driver, the one and only occupant in the car, climbed over the center console and planted himself firmly in the passenger seat. “Here we go again,” I thought to myself. I approached the passenger side of the vehicle and shined my flashlight into the car. The driver just sat there and continued looking straight ahead. I tapped on the window and the driver acted startled. He rolled down the window and it began all over again.

“Can I have your license and insurance please?”

“Why do you need my license?”

“Because you were driving.”

“No I wasn’t.”

“Yes you were.”

After much back and forth I think he figured out I wasn’t giving up. He finally admitted that he was driving. He said he got scared because he didn’t have his license on him and didn’t know what else to do. He couldn’t stop apologizing and just kept telling me what an idiot he was. I let him know that honesty goes along way with me; I verified that he had a valid license and sent him on his way.

Now I would like to say that this next incident was the final time this happened to me, however, I cannot be sure that it won’t happen again. This was the third time it happened. My partner and I were driving northbound on Ridge Blvd and we pulled up behind a small silver Honda that was stopped at a red light. As the light turned green the Honda didn’t move. I tapped the air horn and still nothing. By this time the light had changed back to red. I exited my squad car and walked up to the driver side window. He was knocked out cold, eyes closed, head tilted back and mouth wide open. I went back to my squad and waited for the light to turn green. One thing I’ve learned is that you never wake a sleeping driver until he has a green light. You never know what they’re going to do when they wake to the air horn of a police car. Some immediately hit the gas and some get out of the car without putting it in park.

So the light turns green and I really lay on the air horn and the driver wakes up. He drives slowly from the intersection and makes a left hand turn onto a side street. We light him up and watch him slowly pull to the curb. Again, the sole occupant in the car puts it in park, slides over to the passenger seat and waits for us to approach. Same conversation. Again, bloodshot eyes and smell of booze. After failing the field sobriety tests my partner and I cuff the suspect and place him in the back of our squad car. Now I’m going to drive the bad guy in to the station and my partner is going to drive his car in but we have one problem. We can’t find the keys anywhere. We search the suspect, the car and the surrounding area. Nothing.

“Forget it,” I tell my partner.

We take the bad guy into one of the district holding cells and conduct a more thorough search. I have the bad guy spread his legs as far as he can, I grasp him firmly by the back of his belt and I give him a good shake. Sure enough the keys fall from his rear end down his pant leg to the floor. It gave me a bit of satisfaction to find the keys and realize I wasn’t going crazy.

That satisfaction diminished in traffic court a month later when the judge stated that I had no probable cause to pull over this poor driver. He had convinced the judge that he wasn’t passed out, his car had just died at the light and he was trying to start it up again. Now I know that judges aren’t supposed to consider anything after the traffic stop when trying to determine the validity of the initial stop, but come on! A drunk driver who climbed into the passenger seat and hid car keys in his butt walked out of court that day because the judge believed him over me. I’ve learned to sleep well at night knowing that I did what I was supposed to do.

So these are just a few examples of instances that I foolishly believed to be unique. Now it’s your turn to share in the comment section that recurring episode that you mistakenly believed to be one of a kind.


25 Comments on “EXCUSES, EXCUSES by Jay”

  1. Tom Rosati says:

    Hi Jay! I am certain that this has happened to more police officers then I can count, but we did get a laugh out of it. I worked as a police officer in Lyons, IL for 21 years before retiring from 1970 to 1991. We were on the 1600-0000 shift, and I can’t even remember who I was working with, but we got called to one of the many “watering holes” that infested Lyons back in the 1970s. The drunk was on foot and had just exited the establishment. We approached to guy and asked for ID. The guy looked me square in the eye and said, “Show me your badge! How do I know that you’re a cop?” Being in full police uniform complete with star firmly affixed to my uniform shirt, I just couldn’t resist. Quoting that famous line from the Humphrey Bogart movie, “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre”, I stated, “Badges? I ain’t got no badge! I don’t need no steenking badge!” After a good laugh and a check for any warrants, we took him into the station to sleep it off.

  2. Was this a 024 thing? I don’t ever remember this in Cabrini or later in Area 5. The fact that an idiot judge would even entertain this excuse shows the complete uselessness of the Cook County judiciary. Glad to see that things have not changed in 40 years.

  3. Man does this bring back memories,
    “give me break, I’m broke”. (immediate ticket),
    “I gotta go to the washroom”,
    etc, etc,………….

  4. Barry Felcher, NBC5 News, retired says:

    I have never been a police officer. However, during my 38 years as a newsman (1965-2002) I read many stories by officers about traffic stops. My two favorites, which happened in Michigan: A man was stopped for speeding. “Why are you going so fast, asked the state trooper?” “My wife wants to have sex 15 minutes from now and I have to get home so it can happen.”
    Another gem: A guy was pulled over for speeding. “I was trying to make up for lost time,” he told the trooper. “What lost time replied the trooper?” The man explained he had stopped to ask for driving directions from a group of young people. “They all stuttered and it took awhile for them to say the directions…thus I lost a considerable amount of time,” said the driver.
    The two above stories came from a contest the Michigan State Police held in the 1970s among their troopers to see which one had been told the biggest lie by a speeding motorist.

    • kathy sugars says:

      Barry wont remember me, but i worked the desk during jim mccartney’s time at the daily news.

    • Jay Padar says:

      I’ve always appreciated the unique excuses. The funnier they were, the more likely you were to get a warning.

    • Kathryn Kajari, retired CPD says:

      Barry, Good to hear a familiar voice from the past. I worked with you during my stint as News Affairs Director (1980-84). I retired from CPD in 2005 and from UIC Police Dept last January. My current profession is my favorite: babysitting my granddaughter. As the police, I’ve rarely encountered anyone who told the truth.
      Hi to you, too, Kathy Sugars!

  5. John M. DeCillo says:

    Hello, my name is John DeCillo. I am the brother in law of a prior poster Tom Rosati. He was kind enough to lend me his auto graphed copy of your book. I thoroughly enjoyed it cover to cover. Thank God there are men and women like you that answer the calling to protect and serve your fellow citizens. Thank you to dad and son for your years of service to the people of the city of Chicago.
    John D.

  6. Ed Hammer says:

    For those rare occasions I was in uniform and worked traffic while serving with the Secretary of State Police, the most common excuse I heard from unlicensed drivers was,” I left it in my other pants.” Of course the consequence of no wallet, no I.d., or no d/l was getting cuffed, stuffed and fingerprinted.

  7. Amiable Dorsai says:

    Dashcams (if you’re an honest cop) are your friends.

    • jimpadar says:

      That was always my thought, but I know of some very honest officers who do not agree.

      • Tom Rosati says:

        Jim, can you give me a list of pros and cons in regards to Dashcams? The jury is out on this one for me. Big Brother makes me very nervous.

      • jimpadar says:

        I do not think that I’m qualified to give any authoritative analysis, having been off the street now for many years. My off-the-cuff opinion is that your chances of being videotaped by a member of the public is better than not, so it would be a good think to have an “official” recording, with audio, timestamped.

  8. MaryAnn says:

    My brother-in-law John, owned a HVAC company and installed a system in a guy’s home. He didn’t pay all of his bill so when John called one day he asked is this Mr. X, the guy responded “this isn’t me, this is my cousin Bob”. Kind of enlightening that there are so many lying idiots out there and they aren’t all driving cars.

  9. Tact guy says:

    When I was on the watch I would
    get the one where I stop a suspicious car and is a polish or spanish subject. I go through my thing( bs Verbal judo) only to find out the person is saying in a hard accent I don’t speak English. So I usually reply “you speak jail” and that usually miraculously get then speaking English. Gotta love the beast.

  10. Bob says:

    I suppose that if there’s a downside to the dashcam for the honest cop – the majority, by the way – it would be the potentially restraining factor it might have on the officer. i.e. perhaps a bit less force that what was REQUIRED in a particular situation due to the presence of the electronic “witness” with the end result being an injured officer.

    I had 25 years on the job in the far suburbs and had my share of beefs. It most always boiled down to a “he said, she said” thing and I’d have appreciated that electronic witness.

    Great book, Jim and Jay. Have you awarded the movie rights yet?

  11. Eric L says:

    Mr. Padar, I really enjoy your blog and stories. I’ve got a similar one along these lines. It didn’t happen to me – I was backup. My district partner was driving along late one night in a rural area. On the two lane road he had a narrow miss with an old pickup which came into his lane. He turned around to stop the guy, in time to see it pull into the parking lot of the local bar.

    As he came up behind and brought his spotlight up he saw a flurry of movement up front – driver hopped over to the passenger side and appeared to be shoving something the opposite direction. He approached on the passenger side and asked for ID. The obviously drunk driver asked “What for, he was driving?!” while motioning to the yellow lab he’d just traded places with. In the end of course it didn’t work out for him, and the dog spent a night in the animal control lockup as well.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s