Oddities in Police Work

Oddities in Police Work

By Stephen Owsinski

Rhetorically referred to as the best seat in the house of life, police work affords some inexplicable experiences catering enough material for any law enforcement officer to write a non-fiction book that may be interpreted as fiction.

Unrelenting tides of life-threatening encounters confronted by cops are enough to take anyone’s breath away. On the flip side are dubious things that are odd and thought-provoking…

In Orange County, Florida recently was the four-days-long MegaCon (“Mega Convention”) held in the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando.

Last year, the MegaCon, “a four-day celebration of fandom culture, featuring celebrities [typically actors from ‘Star Wars’ fame], cosplay, anime, horror, fantasy, and sci-fi,” drew crowds topping 160,000.

Given the size of the arena (target-rich structures are typically eyed by terrorists for mass destruction) and the gobs of attendees, law enforcement presence is required by county ordinance specifications. What those in the police community often refer to as a “Special Detail,” OCSO deputies and local police agencies participate in the large-scale venue by signing up for such events well in advance.

Special Details often culminate in some peculiar experiences and law enforcement officers find out that what they’ve signed up for is…different than the norm.

Besides some of the cosplay characters and the bizarre costumery, as illustrated on our cover photo up top, certain assignments strangely include LEOs stationed at a check-in table whereby deputies and police officers are scrutinizing gadgets and props, hence the Prop Check cops…

(Photo courtesy of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.)

As an experienced law enforcement officer whose career came across some weird things, the mind immediately goes to wonder: How can this thing hurt or kill me?

From the look on the deputy’s face in the Prop Check photograph above, I’d say the expression is a fusion of amusement and caution. However, cosplay often engenders fantasy and sci-fi features, technically allowing pointy-tipped antlers attached to a wooden rod.

Likely, event coordinators and law enforcement commanders overseeing the security operations had a long pow-wow about such devices and how they are potential weapons despite the lore of cosplay characters innocently acting out their fave icons.

(Photo courtesy of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.)

In any event, an OCSO spokesperson offered the following tidbit, referring to their deputies as MegaCon Guardians: “At MegaCon, our deputies don’t just uphold the law; they protect the very essence of imagination, ensuring everyone’s experience is magical and safe!”

Nowhere Near ‘Down Under’

As a young cop new to the field of law enforcement, I knew police personnel had a talent for pulling off pranks to alleviate the enormity of job-induced stress.

After a while, people employed in the police profession get used to potential pranks and may become highly scrutinous by colleagues. But it is no laughing matter when what sounds like off-the-wall stuff turns out to be quite true, albeit unrealistic and non-indigenous (that’s a hint).

The other day, deputies in my neck of the woods were dispatched to an apartment complex pool area after a bevy of 9-1-1 calls reported a full-size kangaroo bouncing around on the fenced-in deck. A kangaroo! Not lounging but hopping, with a pool’s blue-hued shimmering water nearby. Can kangaroos swim?

Now, I know I mentioned police personnel joshing one another to defray psyches taunted by gruesome incidents but any public safety dispatcher realizes the airwaves are no place for fun and banter.

(Image courtesy of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.)

Watch an encapsulated version of the kangaroo call and subsequent footage recorded by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) Aviation unit deputies.

Notice all deputies on-scene recording footage on their cell phones? Now the kangaroo knows exactly how cops feel when tons of people record them during duty.

From an HCSO spokesperson, it sounds like this odd encounter with a kangaroo is a first for them:

“A kangaroo? On the loose?

“You read that right! Earlier this morning, our deputies responded to a call in Tampa for a loose kangaroo where they were able to trap [the animal] in an apartment complex’s pool area (near Fowler Avenue and 56th St.). Thanks to Team HCSO’s Agriculture Unit, the kangaroo was reunited with its owner after proper registrations for ownership were verified.”

This caper made national news, with the Associated Press reporting on it with the title, “Sheriff’s deputies corral wayward kangaroo near the pool at Florida apartment complex.”

Cops corral loose cows, horses, pigs, and other animals all the time. A kangaroo, though, is quite odd.

I had no idea that owning a kangaroo as a pet is legal in a metropolis city such as Tampa. I trust the Ag cops on that one—trained and well-versed in animal statutes stipulating the allowances. Agriculture Unit deputies are assigned large fully-marked wide-body pickup trucks fully outfitted with emergency lighting and sirens, etc., just like patrol deputies. The only exception is they also have trailers designed to transport loose animals; presumably, that is what contained the kangaroo while they figured out who the owner was. No report indicated how they arrived at that, only that ownership was verified.

(Photo courtesy of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.)

Nearby Busch Gardens has a large zoo with kangaroos among their animals. From what I read in media reports, many 9-1-1 callers believed it was “one that got away.”

I used to patrol that area, so it is not a far stretch for a kangaroo to hop along to the apartment complex. Since this was when most folks were fast asleep (sheriff’s aerial footage indicates 05:02 a.m.), cover-of-darkness would have enabled the creature to make headway. However, the Busch Gardens Zoo is akin to Fort Knox, securing a wide variety of mostly wild animals from Africa. And both the Tampa police and county deputies work Special Details there, too.

What a way for these deputies to end their 12-hour midnight shift after hopping from call to call in that always-busy zone.

As I said, law enforcement officers are often known for having the best seat in the house when it comes to odd and unique events and things most won’t believe unless they see it for themselves…and these were only a few.