Roman: ‘Never upset your girlfriend when you’re a drug dealer’


Back in late 1995 or early 1996, I was dispatched to another 911 call at a small apartment complex I had never been to before.

It seemed like it was going to be the typical hang up call where someone was either playing with the phone or dialed 911 by accident.

Whenever a 911 call is received, dispatch will call the number back to see what the problem was. If there’s no answer then officers will have to be sent out. On this particular day there was no answer on recall. I figured I would be done with this call in one minute tops.

A white male in his 20s opened the door just a crack. Not like most people do when they open the door wide open. This was just enough to see his face and nothing else inside the apartment from where I was standing.

I told him the reason we were there and that we needed to go in and make sure there was no one injured inside. The man seemed a little hesitant at first, but he backed away from the door as he opened it for us.

I noticed he was wearing boxer shorts and he was holding a pair of jeans in his hand. Maybe he was just being shy when he had opened the door. Since we still didn’t know what we had on this call yet, I told the man to give me his pants because I wanted to check them for weapons.

I then found a large knife in a sheath that was attached to the belt. I didn’t give him his pants back and had him sit down.

From where I was standing, I scanned the apartment interior. It was the typical small apartment I was used to going into. A small kitchen was to my left with very old and stained counter tiles and dirty grout. A couch, chair and coffee table were in the front room where we were standing.

This room was a little messy, but I had seen worse. There was a hallway between the front room and the kitchen, which led to the bedroom. The room was dark and the window blinds were closed.

I looked down at the coffee table and saw two scales in plain view. They were three beam scales, which is not something you see every day unless you’re watching Miami Vice or in the police evidence room. I then saw small plastic zip lock bags on the table next to the scales.

These particular bags were smaller than sandwich bags and are used to package methamphetamine to sell. I looked even closer and there were small bits of marijuana crumbs all over the table next to the scales.

Of course, the one gallon zip lock bag full of marijuana sitting there on the table didn’t look out of place.
I looked over at the male and asked him why he had the scales. The male hesitated as he was trying to figure out damage control. He then said, “I collect them.” That was the best he could do? Now, I was starting to think this wasn’t the smartest drug dealer in the world. He could’ve at least tried to say, “Those aren’t my scales.”

This call was a done deal for me and it was time to handcuff him to go to jail. I told him to stand up and turn around, which he did. I noticed that one hand was open, but the other was balled into a fist. I told him to put his hands together, but he wouldn’t.

After a few seconds he revealed a large rock of meth that he had been holding. Who opens the door for the police while holding a rock of meth in their hand?

There was no one else in the apartment and I learned that he had just had an argument with his girlfriend today and she had left right before we arrived. I’m pretty sure she had the last laugh on that one!

Never upset your girlfriend when you’re a drug dealer.

Editor’s Note: John Roman is a traffic officer for an Orange County police agency who recently launched a blog, Badge 415 ( His posts focus on the human side of police work and safety tips. Roman, a cop for 20 years, has handled more than 5,000 accidents as a collision investigator. will share some of his columns.