One of the most interesting things I learned during my recent stint on the Putnam County grand jury was who it is that testifies. On rare occasions, it was a private citizen testifying against another private citizen. Every now and then, someone from the District Attorney’s office brought charges.
Many times, it was “loss prevention” personnel from local retail stores. They always had interesting stories to tell and often said things I couldn’t help but write down. Such as:
- The encounter with the suspect took place in the Pop Tart aisle. But be assured that we do not restock food that has been hidden inside someone’s pants.
- We stopped Miss (fill in the blank) after she passed the point of pay without paying.
- We’re always suspicious when a woman walks into our store with a purse big enough to carry hockey equipment. Sure enough, we observed the suspect stuffing DVDs and several pairs of underwear into her purse.
- Mr. (fill in the blank) knew he was not welcome at any Walmart store anywhere in the world, especially Cookeville and Algood. He walked on in anyway.
Even more enlightening was when the police testified. With few exceptions, they were well-prepared, polite and earnest. My favorite was the Tennessee state trooper who apologized for having to refer to his notes while he testified. “I don’t remember this stop exactly because it took place several months ago,” he said. “I’ve arrested a lot of people since then.”
Other stuff the cops said that seemed like good column fodder:
- Mr. (fill in the blank) tends not to do well on field sobriety tests. When asked to recite the alphabet, he rarely makes it past the letter “D.”
- We were flying around in a helicopter on eradication duty. That means we were looking for marijuana plants.
- The suspect said she didn’t have a prescription for the Oxycontin. She got the pills from her friend at the strip club.
- The drug dog indicated on the car. When Mr. (fill in the blank) opened the console to hand me his registration, he handed me a bag of marijuana and a pipe instead.
- The suspect was so out of control that I was forced to tase him with my taser.
- Mr. (fill in the blank) had just left court on a charge of driving on a suspended license when I pulled him over for driving on a suspended license. He hasn’t had a driver’s license since 1977.
- The suspect demonstrated an impressive vocabulary in the words he used to describe me as I loaded him into the back of the patrol car.
Finally, my favorite conversation between a police officer and a member of the grand jury:
JUROR: Is Mr. (fill in the blank) still on the loose?
COP: No. He’s actually in prison in Mississippi at this time.
JUROR: Maybe we ought to leave him there.
COP: That’s what I was thinking.
(August 18, 2013)