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The Rex Barton Story Chapter 16

The Rex Barton Story Chapter 16

The Rex Barton Story Chapter 16

Duty Calls

Between the special ops patrol venues like the beach patrol, I had been put into the jail division one more time. Numbnuts saw to that. I hated working in the jail. One's own identity becomes edgy just by virtue of association. I did my job but, was missed on the beat.

A couple of months went by, and I was called up to the motor pull by another Sargent and friend, John W. John asked me if I would like to put together a patrol unit for the police academy to teach the new rookies how to drive at high speeds on soap skid pans. The invitation would get me back outside, and I agreed without having to think twice. I loved driving exceptionally fast, so I was thrilled to help set up a couple of cars for both speed and balanced track adherence.

The patrol units were not as responsive as my Porsche, but we were able to kick this unit up a bit with better stability bars, a larger fuel injection unit and tricks known only by the motor pool. We left lights and sirens on for reality purposes.

We added four-point, quick release harnesses and detachable steering wheels along with mandatory safety rails and roll bars.

Most of the young rookies, male and female had never driven or been in a police car, let alone drive one at high speeds out of control. That was the point. Start them out on the soapy skid pans learning counter maneuvers to the slide of the unit. Keeping the cars inside the cones, under control in an uncontrolled situation was the test.

Overdrive, and you would lose the patrol unit and end up off the road and in a ditch upside down. Under correct and gentle persuasion was the ticket. Follow the car in the direction it is traveling with soft steering because when traction hits, whatever way your wheel is turned, that is the way you will go and if you overcorrect, you're in for trouble.

Next was the fun part. High-speed pursuit training. It is getting the patrol units up to eighty and one hundred miles per hour on one of the airport's unused runways. Teaching these young deputies how to controlled skids, do 180 and 360 spins at high speeds could put the biggest, badass rookie in the upchuck position when stopped.

The importance of staying fit, concentrating, and practice will keep you alive. It's not just about shooting straight, knowing the laws, or street names but handling yourself out here on the streets in driving situations. Don't take anything for granted.

Convincing these recruits how necessary this training was, would at some point in all their careers, keep them alive, and the public safe from out of control police cars.

Every time John W. and I put this particular clinic on, we would remark to each other how young these kids looked. Are any of them over twenty-one yet? Are you sure this isn't an ROTC or Junior Police academy squad? Maybe even Eagle Scouts or the equivalent to Girl Scouts? It wasn't amusing, because these so-called kids were holding all of our lives in the balance on any given day of Your emergency. I was worried then, and I am worried now. I have been told to get over it.

Continuing;

DETECTIVE DEAD

One of the City's Police Detectives was responding to a bank robbery in the downtown area of Santa Barbara, one early evening in November. There were shots fired, and before the SWAT Team arrived, one detective was down. Shot twice, once through the heart and once in the stomach. I knew Dave, form years of running into him on the basketball court or playing the annual football games between the Police and Fire Departments always against the Sheriff's Department.

Dave was a pretty good size man, well-liked by all of his peers, the community, and his family. His wife and three kids were now going to be crippled and alone because bulletproof vests had not yet approved for police work. Plus, they were too big and bulky to wear. It was beautiful in the military but not in patrol work.

I could not help but wonder, ‘What If'? What if Dave had used a flak vest? He most surely would still be alive.

The autopsy report was a hard one to write up because I had known Dave personally. It all could have been avoided and was a clear reminder of how dangerous police work is. More than 400, police officers, are murdered every year. The other troubling thing was that his family would not have all their needs meant — another shortfall in Law Enforcement at the time.

The Santa Barbara Police Department arrested the bank robbers with the assistance of the FBI. I guess that was a good thing even though the judicial system, was already overloaded with many petty crime cases that would cause prisoners already in custody to wait longer for the system to catch up. Overcrowding detention facilities has always been a problem.   

 

How High Can I Jump

Sometime in October, Tyrone (a new rookie) and I received a call of a robbery in progress on the outskirts of town. We were not more than five minutes away when the call came in over the radio. It was now 1330 hrs. in the afternoon on a beautiful day in October. Training a new rookie cop is always a challenge do to the specifics of our job.

A senior deputy now has to keep his eye on the rookie to make sure he is doing things right and not getting himself hurt or in a jam. Plus, you have to keep one eye on what you are supposed to be doing yourself. As we were driving to the scene, I started my usual routine of briefing the rookie on what he might expect and what I need him to do and watch for specifically. Then I gave him a warning.

I told Tyrone to cinch up because I was going to speed through a few intersections and road work in progress. I knew the street traffic would be substantial after lunch hours. Anytime road crews were at work, dirt, gravel, and silt were bound to drift into the driving lanes. As predicted, I hit the intersection where the road crews were trenching. We had just driven by the construction zones earlier and observed all the loose dirt in the driving lanes.  It was an accident waiting to happen, so I related the information to the road foreman to clean it up for safety's sake.  

Tyrone was tightening up. I could feel his body tense and saw his tongue licking his lips. His left hand hung onto the shotgun in the rack between us. His other hand was groping for something unseen, and he reminded me of a Rodeo Cowboy riding a bucking bull. Ease up, partner. That may not be routine, but rest assure I will get you there in one piece. When we arrived, I will give you specifics. Until then, think of yourself at Disneyland on the ‘E' ride. Sit back and joy it.

We slide sideways through two intersections that came within inches of going off into an open ditch with several men working on tossing the dirt out. I just put it all back for them at no cost. Plus, now they can claim overtime by taking the dirt back out.

Besides scaring everyone, I call that a win-win. I heard a few cuss words that made me laugh. Tyrone was moving his lips and not saying much more than ‘Oh Shit' at every maneuver I was making. This patrol car was responding correctly. Hey Tyrone, tomorrow I will teach you some of the advanced emergency driving skills, alright. ‘Oh Shit,' he said again. “That’s ok.”

Most all the traffic ahead of us pulled to the right, which left me an open field of vision to see the whole perspective and difficulties ahead of me. We were code 3 (lights and siren) up the long hill to the residence in question. I had two reasons for driving code three.

The dispatcher’s call was for a daylight burglary, an older homeowner known to live there. Hearing our lights and sirens would have alerted the perps to run and not wait around any victims. I was not that concerned about catching criminals as much as saving lives. I knew the area was rural enough, that they could not get very far without being seen, on foot or a car — only one way in and one way out.

About halfway up the road, I told Tyrone to turn the siren off, leave the lights on and radio dispatch that we were nearly there. ETA less than 20 seconds. (Estimated time of arrival)

The house was up a steep driveway, and I elected to park at the bottom of the drive, with the ass end of the patrol car still in the street. Any traffic would have to stop and wait. I did not expect to see any more traffic up here this time of day, though. I was beginning to warn Tyrone of a couple of probabilities when I saw movement, at the head of the driveway.

Tyrone, watch out! Two guys are running down the drive straight at us. I don't see any weapons in their hands. You take the guy on your right. I got the punk on the left. Ok, go. At the last minute, wouldn't you know, the two perps changed directions. My guy backed up a little and went behind the other kid.

Tyrone leaped from the car and started to move to his right. I yelled at him for some reason to follow his original guy going left. The kid in the lead (that I told Tyrone to take) was running so fast down the drive he couldn't stop and landed in Tyrone's lap. He did not have to move very far from the patrol unit.

My guy did manage to make the turn and hurdled over the hood of the patrol car when I took pursuit, coming from the rear of my unit. I was not more than five feet behind him when he slid and fell face down on the shoulder of the road. I could not stop in time, so I was preparing to hurdle over the kid, with all my police gear strapped on.

I am sure, that being a high jumper in high school helped my cause and saved my life. Just as I made quick decision to hurdle over the perp, as I did so, I  saw a long-bladed knife come up into the air as he rolled over onto his back, still sliding half on the street pavement and half in the shoulder dirt. What I had learned in Track and Field high jumping was called the Western Roll.

That was what I did raising myself up and over the prep nearly four feet. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite enough to stay clear of the knife being thrust up toward my stomach. My usual jumps were in the six-foot range.  Today I was lucky to get four feet because of all my equipment.  Being the best high jumper in high school was to my advantage today.

Not to brag, but my best record jump in the High Jump was my height back then at 6'6". I had a little more incentive this time than winning a medal. The knife that the kid was shoving toward me had just cut through my uniform shirt, removing one of my shirt buttons. My stomach was slightly sliced open, which upset me further because this was a new shirt, now bloody and uniform shirts don't come cheap.

I bounced back onto my feet after landing before the kid did and I was pissed. I blocked his next swing jab with the knife headed for my chest and caught his arm in midair, grabbing it and pulling him through to the inside. Not letting go of his wrist, I shoved him and the knife, straight down into a small dirt embankment. From there, it got nasty.

He only had one chance to squirm as I took my right fist and hit him straight on his cheekbone. I heard it crack and new he could not do much more. I was surprised as the kid kept trying to fight. He was acting like he had nothing to lose, and was on drugs. Within a millisecond I hit him again, landing a blow to the side of his head by his ear, which split it open a little.

All I could hear was his muffled screams of stop and my voice spitting out, "Dam you boy. What the hell do you think you're doing"? My heartbeat was still running fast, so I kind of over twisted his wrest to make sure he dropped the knife and wasn't going to try and come across my face with it. The kid held onto the blade, but I was able to grab both his arms, flip him over face down in the dirt and handcuff him. 

When I got him securely under control, I rolled him back over, face up. His face was a mix of earth, and blood which made for a good compact facial.  I didn’t have much sympathy for this punk who was trying not to choke on what he had swallowed, from being face down in all of it.

I had the ring leader of the pair and the oldest and tallest at seventeen under control. The other perp was sixteen and very shameful looking with his head down and crying. That was an indication that immediately told me he was only following along with his friend and didn't want to be here.

Looking at Tyrone briefly, I could see he had his kid in cuffs already too. The two perp packages were ready to throw into the back of the patrol unit. My perp was still moaning and groaning and attempting to talk with his mouth shut, probably caused by a fractured jaw. He was completely stunned. I didn't want to leave them alone together but knew I needed to get up to the house and make sure everyone was ok. First, I called dispatch.

Dispatch, unit 7, ETA for back-up?

Unit 7 dispatch, 2 minutes over.

10-4 dispatch. 2 perps secured. Waiting over.

10-4 unit 7.

It was Deputy Bob and my friend. I asked him to keep the boys separated. Mine will need to go to the ER and get checked out. Bob and his partner laughed until I turned to face them.

Bob nearly fell over as he asked if I was alright. Hawk, your bleeding man. There is blood all over you.

"Oh? I hadn't noticed. Just look after these two punks until Tyrone, and I get back. Need to check the residence".

"Are you ok Hawk, Bob asked"?

"Not a problem. Tyrone, follow me".

"Bob, do me a favor and measure the knife for evidence. Also, add assault to a police officer. I am sure there will be more charges.

"I got it, Hawk, Bob said." He pushed the knife button and the Mexican switchblade came out over 7". Most were 4" but either size they could deadly.

"Ok, you got the punks secured Bob"? "Keep them quiet. No talk, alright,"?

"Understood Hawk."

Ok, Tyrone, you and I are going up the driveway to see what is going on, up in the house. Look for victims if any, and talk to them.

"Ok but you better get yourself to the ER soon yourself Hawk Bob insisted."

"I will, after we clear here. Tell Capt. Joel for me what went down here so far and that we are going to the house now.

"10-4, Bob replied.

Tyrone and I quietly and slowly approached the house to make sure we didn't run into any more perps and get surprised by another charge of the tennis shoe brigade. I knocked on the door and listened. I heard a frail voice inside.

Opening the door slowly and my right hand on my 357 Magnum, we were peering into a darkened room. Not lights on and window shades drawn. Shoving the door all the way open, I proceeded forward. Drawing my weapon, I was preparing myself mentally to use it. With Tyrone behind me, we started into the house.

I was shocked and unprepared for what I saw in the dim light. I could not believe what I was seeing. Especially thinking no one was even home.

What saw was nothing short of horrific. Tied up in a wooden dining room chair was an approximate eight-year-old woman, with gray hair and a torn dress from the shoulders to past her knees. Her bra was cut into and hanging from her arms.

Her panties ripped with such force; she was bleeding from both upper thighs. Her stomach, waist, and legs were suffering from the trauma of her clothes being torn from her body and what looked like small knife cuts on her legs, stomach, arms and chest area around her breast.

She could not have been more than 5'4" tall and not more than ninety pounds. I saw bruises on her face and neck from being beaten and finger marks on her neck. Letting my eyes fall and surveying every inch of her body in a matter of seconds, I saw many bruises and blood emitting from her pubic area. These two punk kids had beaten her, cut, and then forcibly raped her. Nobody should have to endure personal crimes like this, but the rape of an (80) year old woman? This poor lady was some one's mother and grand-mother. Come on! Lord help us. 

Tyrone was in shock, and I had to force him to finish the sweep of the house. Be careful I cautioned in a low voice.

Tyrone went back outside to catch his breath first. Come on, Tyrone, help me here. Get over it now. Take a few deep breaths and get back in here.

Slowly and carefully, I untied the ropes that were binding the older woman's frail hands, wrists, and feet. With the ropes free from her body, I moved the chair she had been tied too. I then lifted her into my arms and onto a soft blanket.

She moaned in pain while in an unconscious state. The trauma of her ordeal and being beaten so severely lapsed her into unconscious. All I could think of was, her next breath could be her last. The pain was so etched in her face and bloody bruised body that I just kept encouraging her to breathe.

"Come on, Momma; you can get past this. You are stronger than your pain Momma. We love you, and we need you. Breath Mom. Breath for me, Momma."

Her moans continued, and with each new breath, she was easing down into some acceptance of her plight. Or, she was slipping away from me for good. Her breathing was weak and waning to nothing.

Tyrone came back into the living room and asked what he could do?

"Go grab a blanket from the bedroom and bring it to me fast. Also, grab a few towels".

Very gently, I laid the blanket that Tyrone brought me, over the frail, battered, and abused body of this courageous woman. I realized quickly how fragile life is, and it didn't matter what age we might be. Life can be over, changed forever in a second. Why did these two kids have to do this? How sick and perverse, to have tied up an older woman and then proceed to beat her up and rape her. It makes no sense. Crimes like this never do.

In Law Enforcement, you run into many different types of crimes and horrific situations, that make you sick and question our fellow man. In my career, life was no different than any other veteran cop. I have seen the worst and the best and taken many rape reports. In the case of rape, as a police officer, you must maintain the chain of evidence and be responsible for Doctor and Police evidence rape kits.

It was a necessary unpleasantness but was required of all police officers back then. The evidence sample is then handed to the officer for processing. It is all part of the job but to beat an old woman unconscious, rip her clothes off of her body and then torment her with a knife and finally rape her is way beyond the depravity of human lows.

Not sure what got into these two punks' brains, but my judgment at that moment, they both deserved long, long prison terms. They deserved to be some one's bitch's in prison. I knew I was venting and judging and knew that it was necessary to remain focused and objective on the crime scene. You take all the horror in and then breath it out fast. I had too to keep it all together.

As I watched this lady struggling for air and life itself, my thoughts turned to perform CPR. Our (80) year old victim of this heinous crime was falling deeper into a coma, and I was looking at a dead woman in front of me. CPR, I thought, on her weak, frail body and upper torso could not take chest compressions. I yelled for Tyrone.

"Ty, get back in here now."

"Yes, sir Tyrone responded from another room."

"Run back down to the unit and have Bob contact dispatch immediately and get me an ambulance - ASAP. While you are at it bring the car up here then too."

"Yes, sir."

"Anything else going on in the house that I need to know about?"

"No, sir."

"Then go, man. Go fast."

Very carefully, I lifted her head slightly up and back, automatically opening her mouth and airways. I bent over her with tears in my eyes at the sight of this poor lady. Gently I administered steady, even breaths of life back into her body.

She never wholly regained consciousness but did open her eyes once, which meant my eyes with tears and fear in them. I smiled down at her and told her who I was and that everything was going to be alright. I kept repeating the same thing. Her expression never changed, and she fell back into the semi-coma. However, she was alive when the ambulance arrived.

I quickly briefed the EMTs of my findings and alerted them of the beatings, possible broken bones because of age and frailty plus the rape. The attendants were disturbed, and one EMT remarked that she looked like his Grandmother. He kept shaking his head as tears ran down his cheeks.

What the hell happened here the other EMT asked?

I did a quick review with them and showed the EMTs any bleeding points that required closures and reminded them not to touch her pubic area until the doctors retrieved DNA of the two perps who raped her. Then I told Tyrone that I wanted to go to the ER with our victim. I had to make sure she was going to be alright. Plus, the chain of evidence necessitated I stay in charge of the investigation until complete.

Tyrone drove our unit and followed the ambulance to the hospital ER. On the way into the ER, the EMTs patched me into Capt. Honey. I related the situation to him and said I was remaining with the victim. His remark was, don't forget to get yourself checked out. Are you ok or are your guts hanging out?

"Sir, it was nothing. Just a little bleeding. Everything is fine, sir".

I was still holding onto our victim's hand, gently rubbing it, while the EMT was working on her breathing with an oxygen bag. In my head, I was doing a quick review of the incident and realizing that I needed to return to the crime scene house and get all the history and family information I could find. Capt. Honey dispatched a detective unit for evidence gathering. Deputy Bob was trailing us with the two perps, so the one kid could get checked out.

"Capt. Honey, 10-4 Hawk. Get yourself sewn up and drop back to the office afterward.

"10-4".

By the time we got downtown, the younger of the two kids was on his way to Juvenile Hall, and the older, aggressive kid was still in surgery, getting his jaw wired up. Just as well, I thought. Looking back at the victim, I realized that my adrenal gland was still hyperactive. My motivational thoughts were one of jacking up both of the perps, just one more time. Easy I told myself, let justice work its course.

Tyrone drove us back to the station after we finished our jobs at the hospital. We discussed it with Capt. Honey, what had happened and jokingly asked him for a uniform allowance. This time not only did the uniform shirt get sliced open, but my uniform pants were a bloody mess as well. Maybe I could salvage them enough to at least wear them in the yard for working I laughed.

After finishing the report and turning it in, Capt. Honey told me to leave early and get some rest. Thanks, Captain, think I will. It has been a long day. Thoughts of my nana and this latest rape victim wouldn't leave my head for the longest time. I kept remembering when a purse snatcher targeted nana.

Another kid running amuck came up behind her as she was walking home after shopping at the store. Her purse was on her shoulder, and the kid ran by hitting her shoulder while he lifter her purse and knocking her down. Unfortunately, but instinctively nana tried to hold on to her bag and ended up with a broken finger, bone bruised shoulder and bruises all down her side and front. Older people don't fall very well after a certain age. I will have to remember that when I get old. If I live so long and have a chance to get old?

When I walked through the door, Annie was shocked and thought I had been shot or something. I calmed her down and told her it was nothing and not to worry. Not being very hungry, I said to her that all I wanted to do was take a shower and then go to bed and get some rest. She agreed and got the bath ready for me. After inspecting my cut and the bandaged, she helped me put some shorts and a tee-shirt on and got me into bed. I was asleep in no time.

I wished I could let go of the unfortunate pathetic look on the Grandmother's sad face. Her battered and bruised body and all the knife cuts were not easy to put away — no joking or making light of this incident. Just to have survived was enough, and we were not positive about that yet. The detectives brought me all the information on the victim and her family. I called and let them know all I could. Her daughter was driving up from Los Angeles this evening.

The victim's name was Mrs. Barbara Lane. After her surgery, Mrs. Lane finally resting in ICU.  When I walked in, I could hardly believe my eyes. In spite of the ugly blacken bruises and knife cuts, skin tares on her body and all the bandages, Mrs. Lane looked remarkably good. Her bright blue eyes were piercing yet kind looking. She was moving about the bed and very much breathing.

"Hello, Mrs. Lane. How are you doing? Was all I could think of to say at the moment"?

"I am doing fine young man. Please let me introduce you to my daughter Rhonda and her husband, John".

"Hello, officer Rhonda said."

“Please call me Hawk.”

"Hawk, Rhonda said, we want so much to thank you for all you did for my mother. You saved her life".

Rhonda broke down in tears and sobbed on my shoulder for what seemed like a couple of minutes.

Funny what goes through one's mind at times like these. In my mind was oh no, another uniform shirt getting ruined with lipstick and tears. I think police officers should be issued bibs to wear like they use for babies who spit up and women who cry and smear lipstick all over them and possibly rain gear for all the other incidents that happen.

Rhonda was very genuine and grateful for what law enforcement does every day, and we consider it routine. Mrs. Lane called me by her bedside and wanted to talk. She still had a little difficulty with her voice modulation after being choked and beaten.

She motioned me closer. I came within kissing distance, and she did kiss me on the cheek and told me that she had heard every word I said to her that yesterday afternoon.

"You told me that I could make it. You called me Momma and said you loved me as well as my family. Hawk, that kept me going. You warmed my heart and gave me the courage to keep living. Thank you. I love you too. Thank you for my life and another day to celebrate with my family. God, Bless, you Hawk, in every way."

"You are very welcome, Mrs. Lane. God has blessed me by seeing you doing so much better today. You are the most courageous woman I know, and you stayed with me and dared to keep breathing. You are a beautiful woman and went through something so heinous. No human being should never have to endure what you went through. But you showed true grit, if I may say that?"

"Yes, you can, and thank you."

"By the way, Mrs. Lane, I don't know if you have heard, but we did catch the boy's responsible for this.

"Both boys, are awaiting adjudication right now."

"Thank Hawk. Can you come close again please"?

I leaned in again close to her, and she gave me another kiss on the cheek.

I think we both had tears in our eyes that could only be shared by people who have shared a life and death experience before. You become a kindred spirit to them for life. A better question would be this should never have happened to begin with.

"By the way Hawk, Rhonda was asking. How did you get the name of Hawk"?

It seemed like that question was always coming up, and I could never dodge it.

"Will ma'am, my mother took me to an Indian Reservation up in Lone Pine, and the Chief there gave me that name because of my intent interest in watching the Hawks soaring so high up. So, he named me, and everyone agreed. Plus, my mother used to care for baby hawks that fell out of nests when she was a little girl and agreed right away. There you have it".

"Beautiful story, Hawk. You are a great man, and like the hawk you talked about, you keep soaring above the crowd. God loves you, and so do we".

Rhonda asked me what my real name was. I told her it was Rex.

"Rex is a beautiful name for you, she said. The King".

"Will I think I would rather be a Hawk than a King, but thank you."

I gave another round of handshakes and kisses and said good-by. I never saw Mrs. Lane again, but I know she was alright and headed in the right direction. Eternity Heaven was hers.

I returned to the office and told Capt. Honey what took place at the hospital and all he could do was shake his head. Good job, Hawk. You know that you and Tyrone have been recommended for accommodation on this one, don't you? No sir, I didn't. I was just doing my job, sir. You know that.

Rhonda and her husband took Mrs. Lane home a few days later from the hospital and insisted that her mother moves into their home with them so she would never be home alone again. Good move!

What would be next? How about a day of writing simple parking tickets? Yes, that would be a beautiful relaxing day. But, that is not the 'A' typical day. Every day, when a Peace Officer puts their uniform on, including weapons, and walks out his/her front door, someone needs to pray for them. Danger is lurking everywhere. 

In 2018 more than 2372 military troops were killed in Afghanistan alone. More than 20,300 wounded. Too many lives cut down too soon. Pray for them, please.

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