Going 10-8 on the Fourth of July

Going 10-8 on the Fourth of July

It was all about going 10-8 (in service) for the first time on the Fourth of July. Those were my thoughts in 1985.

I had completed my tour of duty in the USAF—security police, graduated the police academy in Orange County, Calif., and was so excited to launch into service for my first “real” shift in law enforcement.

Going 10-8 on July 4, 1985

On July 4, 1985 I stood gawking in front of a mirror while wearing my police uniform. Although I had already worn it for months at the police academy, the Fourth of July was different. My gun was actually loaded for the first time outside of the range … and my badge read, “Officer,” not “Recruit,” “Cadet” or anything short of sworn police officer.

I was the first cop in my family, and it was indeed a proud moment.

questions new officer fto


Weapon Inspection

After roll call I learned my field training officer (FTO) wanted to inspect my weapon. I initially hesitated while thinking, Should I unload it before handing it to him, or not? I knew the correct move would be to unload it, but he seemed abrupt in the request, so I wanted to immediately comply.

Therefore, after a brief moment, I handed it to him … loaded—butt first.

After dropping (ejecting) the magazine and clearing the round from the chamber, he commenced an ass chewing for handing him a loaded weapon.

What a set up, I pondered. Obviously I guessed wrong, were my next thoughts. But I didn’t blame him, I knew better.

Then, when he reloaded and returned it, he said, “I just wanted to make sure you were carrying live ammunition.”

Day Watch

It was day watch on the Fourth of July, so I knew we’d be chasing “firework” related calls during the shift. However, our first call out of the box was an injury collision.

Everyone from the Traffic Bureau was scheduled to report for duty later in the day—pre-planning/staffing for the 4th of July related nighttime activity. As a result, we found ourselves rolling to the traffic accident.


My FTO didn’t say anything, but I could tell he was unhappy being dispatched to a 901-T, traffic collision, in the absence of our Traffic Bureau. While most cops seeking action abhorred working day shift at my department, i.e. my FTO, one benefit was being assured traffic officers were there to handle injury accidents.

But not on this particular day!

Upon arrival, I received my first lesson in controlling a chaotic scene. There were so many vehicle parts scattered everywhere, along with the injured, it looked like a small explosion had occurred.



Born in 1895

We blocked off lanes of traffic, set up cone patterns, and began to investigate the crash while paramedics tended to the injured. I retrieved the driver’s license of one of the motorists.

Keep in mind the year was 1985. Moreover, prior to the year 2000, the state did not indicate the century with the date of birth, just the two-digit year. When I viewed the birthday on the CDL (California Driver’s License) I thought I misread it. The year indicated ‘95.

My first thought was that it had to be a typo. Then I realized the gravely injured driver was old … very old. Suddenly it hit me, 1895, not 1995. It wasn’t a typo after all. The critically injured driver was 90-years-old … and not at fault in the collision.

No Room for Small Talk

After coaching me through the injury collision report, which took about two hours between other calls for service, I made the mistake of trying to make small talk by asking my FTO about his family.

“Look,” he said, “if you’re still here a year from now, I’ll fill you in. But for the time being, focus on becoming a police officer, not Phil (Donahue),” who was the precursor to Oprah, Dr. Phil (McGraw), and other TV talk show hosts.

Bam! … Got it! … He shut me down … BIG TIME!

‘Rollin’ Stolen’

Soon after my second humbling admonition of the day, we heard another officer request a rolling “10-28/29 check” on a vehicle. Before MDT’s became commonplace, we asked dispatchers check for wants/warrants related to the license plate of suspicious vehicles. And by saying, “rolling,” was unwritten code, which meant, “hurry.”

“Clear for 10-35?” came the reply from the dispatcher using code, which means “confidential information.”

As a result, every officer listening to the radio knew what this meant. It was a “rollin’ stolen.” The dispatcher was simply verifying the requesting officer did not have a bad guy within earshot before giving him the news.

Felony Car Stop

Our partner officer continued to follow the stolen vehicle before a few more marked units teamed with him to make a felony car stop.

Within minutes, we joined him and one additional unit to initiate the take down. Emergency lights were activated and our police units fanned out behind the stolen vehicle.

purposeful journey

It quickly yielded. We assumed barricaded positions behind our respective car doors, weapons drawn, and began to issue orders to the vehicle occupants.

As the driver exited the car with arms raised, he began to “chip” at the initiating officer.

This Isn’t the Police Academy

I looked over my gun sight and the realization that my weapon was loaded with live ammunition became surreal. My conscious awareness kicked into overdrive. This isn’t the police academy, and if I pull the trigger, my gun will go BANG, I thought to myself.

‘Go ahead punk, make my day’

Suddenly, everyone heard the initiating officer say something he’d live to regret for decades to come.

“Go ahead punk, make my day,” he said to the driver who was disrespectfully chipping away.

Naturally, many of you recognize the famous line from Dirty Harry (Callahan), played by Clint Eastwood, in the 1983 movie, Sudden Impact.

The officer actually snickered, and buried his head in brief embarrassment, before eventually taking several suspects safely into custody.

“I can’t believe I said that,” the seven-year-veteran officer told peers once the scene was secure. “What was I thinking?”

Private Admonition

Later, my FTO privately told me, “I’ll kill you if you ever say something that stupid.”

While I don’t recall my response, I learned to avoid movie tag lines when dealing with the criminal element.

Going 10-8 on the Fourth of July

Finally, the day came to an end. It was a time that I will always remember going 10-8 for the first time on the Fourth of July.

Going 10-8

Huntington Beach Police Department motor officers working their Main Street Fourth of July parade in 2017. (Photo Jim McNeff)

And what came of my FTO? He developed into a professional mentor and lifelong friend!

For all those going 10-8 this year, be safe out there!

Jim McNeff, editor-in-chief, Law Enforcement Today

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