The 10 p.m. call came out as a burglary in progress at an apartment complex. When I arrived, dispatch advised over the radio that the caller was elderly and had the front door open.
I walked up to the apartment and saw a frail-looking woman in her mid-70s standing just inside the door. She had one hand on the wheelchair in front of her for support. The other hand was holding a phone as she spoke to dispatch. The screen door was locked and it took her a long time to move 4 feet to open it for me.
She had called the police because she heard voices outside the door. Her hands were shaking and she moved at slower than a snail’s pace. We checked all the rooms for her while she stood next to the front door. We were about to leave when she told us she was going to bed.
I looked at the distance from the front door to her bedroom and thought it was going to take her forever to walk back. I looked at a new cop and said, “You should give her a ride in the wheelchair so she doesn’t have to walk that far.”
The officer, who just got out of training, looked at the woman and said, “Ma’am, can I give you a ride in your chair?”
She smiled and sat down in the wheelchair. He turned her around and started pushing her toward her room as she said, “I get a free ride.” I stood at the door as another officer followed to help tuck grandma into bed.
I heard the officers say goodnight to the woman as they left the room. That’s when one of the cops said, “How are we going to lock the door? It’s only a deadbolt.”
We stood there looking at the doorknob with a “WTF” look on our faces. One of the officers said, “Maybe we can climb out the window.”
“Maybe we can lock the deadbolt and slide the key under the door,” said the other officer. He went back to the bedroom and asked the woman where her key was. He then told us, “She doesn’t know where the key is.”
All three of us walked to grandma’s bedroom and told her the bad news about not being able to lock the door. She slowly sat up in bed with great effort. She grabbed ahold of the wheelchair and sat down for her second free ride of the night.
I shot video of the probationary officer as he pushed grandma back to the front door. They both had smiles on their faces.
You just can’t make this stuff up.
Editor’s Note: John Roman is a traffic officer for an Orange County police agency who writes a blog, Badge 415. His posts focus on the human side of police work and safety tips. Roman, a cop for more than 20 years, has handled more than 5,000 accidents as a collision investigator. BehindTheBadgeOC.com shares some of his columns.