Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Do it yourself

Abbey, 4, Fort Collins, Colorado
While playing Wiffle Ball in the backyard, Abbey said, “Mom, I did it! I hit a Home Depot!"

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Vested interest

I don’t want to sound like a scaredy cat, but when everyone around me — big guys from U.S. Marshals, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Tri-County Narcotics Task Force, Jacksonville Police, Flagler County Sheriff’s Office — was strapping on bulletproof vests and stuffing every pocket with tasers and pistols, I have to admit I felt like I had made a mistake. I had no one to blame but myself for accepting the offer to ride along during the largest drug bust in the county since last November. We were in the P-Section serving one of almost two-dozen warrants Thursday, Sept. 16, to break up the Script Club, a loosely organized group of traffickers, sellers and users of Oxycodone.

“Watch out,” said Sgt. Chris Sepe.

I ducked and spun around.

“No, I just need to close the door,” he said.

He pulled down the hatch to his SUV.

OK. We walked along the sleepy, Palm Coast street. Sunlight glinted in the pine needles high overhead, and the sun hadn’t heated up the air yet. It could have been any morning, anywhere in suburbia, except for the guns and the battering-ram canister being toted by one of the U.S. Marshals.

Sepe, who has been with the Sheriff’s Office for 17 years, said I should wait at the end of the driveway rather than approach the door. No problem, I thought. Between this plastic mailbox and my four-inch writing pad for a shield, I’m sure I’ll be safe.

The law enforcement officers spread out, surrounding the home. They had a tip from a neighbor saying the suspect, Sherri Le, was home and must be hiding out inside. I had my doubts, because an old copy of a certain free community newspaper lay yellowing in the driveway. Surely even drug dealers wouldn’t let a perfectly good copy of The Palm Coast Observer go to waste, I thought.

Then, the knocking started. They knocked on the windows and on the doors. Then they pounded: Thud, thud, thud echoed through the street. A little old lady on the corner stood and watched, and I smile awkwardly in her direction.

“U.S. Marshals! We have a warrant for your arrest! We’re about to breach the door! You have three seconds!”

Nothing. A half-dozen crows flew back and forth through the trees a few blocks away. Creepy, right?

Then, the pounding really began, as the officers rammed the door repeatedly until the deadbolt gave way. Sepe motioned for me to stay put while the rest entered the house. Yessir. I’ll just be keeping an eye on this mailbox and warding off any brave elderly folks.

In they went, but still nothing. A minute or two later, the same routine was repeated, with the knocking, the pounding and the shouted warnings: “We’re about to breach the door! You have three seconds!” This time, they rammed in a bedroom door.

Handcuffed, a young woman in jeans and pink T-shirt was led out a few minutes later, a cigarette dangling from her lips. As I snapped a few pictures, she muttered to an officer: “Glad to see you invited everybody.”

According to Sepe, when they entered Le’s bedroom, she was sitting in a relaxed pose on her bed, a cigarette in one hand and a phone in the other. Sepe said based on her body language, she seemed to be asking, “What’s up, boys?” Apparently, the pain killers she has allegedly been dealing have a mellowing effect and aren’t likely to incite violence.

As she was led to the car, Le said she hadn’t answered the door because she didn’t know who was knocking. Hmm. To me, the shouts and the battering ram would have given it away, but I have little experience running (or chilling out) from the law. As she was getting in the car, Le complained no one had read her rights.

I asked Sepe about that while we were driving back to the Emergency Operations Center, where a mobile command center had been set up for processing the 15 suspects who were booked in jail that day.

“We only have to say we’re here executing a lawful warrant,” he said, “We don’t have to read Miranda until we’re questioning her.”

“Well, that’s not how they do it in the movies,” I said.

“And in ‘CSI,’ they get DNA back in 24 hours,” Sepe said, referring to the crime-solving show. “That’s why TV is killing us.”

Sepe was right: This drug bust was nothing like the busts in prime time. First of all, on TV they always kick in the door — no battering rams. Second, the suspects’ faces are always digitally smeared. Third, there usually isn’t a reporter hiding behind the mailbox, furiously composing his will. Next time, I’ll bring my own vest.

Note: This was first published Sept. 23 in The Palm Coast Observer.

Grant and the amazing, technicolor dream plaid

Grant, 4, Palm Coast, Florida
Pointing to his plaid shirt, Grant said, "This is my fancy gown, because it has so many colors."

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Friday, September 24, 2010

Saucy suggestion

Abbey, 6, Fort Collins, Colorado
Wanting to be a big girl, Abbey ordered her spaghetti by herself at Olive Garden. “Yes, please, I will have spaghetti," she said. "But can you please make it naked?”

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Come to think of it, so does school ...

Hannah, 6, Marquette, Michigan
"I don't like to make my bed. It waste-ez my play time."

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Check, please

Girl, 8, and Boy, 6, New Jersey
Big sister: You should always love your mommy because she takes care of you, she cooks for you, she's nice to you, she feeds you...
Little brother: (matter-of-factly) No, that's a waitress.

Friday, September 17, 2010

From the King Grant Version

Grant, 4, Palm Coast, Florida
Pretending to read the Bible, Grant said, "Jesus said to be nice to be people. Don't punch them in the face. Don't throw your friends out the window."

Thursday, September 16, 2010

That comes later, like facial hair

Jacob, 6, Fort Collins, Colorado
About his baby brother, Jacob said, "Mom, I know Josh is a baby. Know why? Cause he hasn't grown a neck yet."

Monday, September 13, 2010

Wildlife appreciation 101

Grant, 4, Palm Coast, Florida
"When a bird dies on the road, it's big and dead. But when a car runs over it, it's flat. Except for the head."

Sunday, September 12, 2010

I'm lovin' this typo

Erin, 4, Redding, Connecticut
"Why is there a big 'M' outside Nickdonald’s?”

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Fuzzy memories

Jacob, 6, Fort Collins, Colorado
While watching the show, “Cops,” one night, Jacob yelled out, “Ma! Look! That guy is blind!” His mother looked up to see the arrested individual’s face blurred out for privacy.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Farming 101

Jack, 3, Albuquerque, New Mexico
After his father brought home a delicious watermelon and bragged about his talents in picking good ones, Jack said, "I know how to pick a watermelon." His father asked how, and Jack replied, "I use two hands."

Monday, September 6, 2010

It's bird! It's a plane! It's a baby astronaut!

Grant, 4, Palm Coast, Florida
When asked where his baby sister was, Grant said, "I think she jumped into outer space."

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The world of Pooh

Grant, 4, Palm Coast, Florida
After sacrament meeting on Sunday, Grant went to the bathroom and said, "Sometimes, when I flush the toilet, it sounds like Tigger bouncing over the church."

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Give us this day our favorite chairs

Jackson, 6, Palm Coast, Florida
In a prayer at the dinner table, Jackson said, "... and please bless that Grant will get out of my chair."

Friday, September 3, 2010

(This shouldn't have to be a rule): Put underwear on immediately after bath time

Jackson, 6, Palm Coast, Florida
As heard from the other side of the house, Jackson yelled at his younger brother: "Hey! Stop following me if you're naked!"

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Mama knows best ... especially compared to Papa

Kate, 5, Marquette, Michigan
Kate was sick on the couch when she called for Mama. Papa responded to the call by hurrying over to her. "Can I get something for you Kate?" he asked. "Yes," she said, "you can get Mama."

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Do you know anyone else named Batman?

Grant, 4, Palm Coast, Florida
When his brother told Grant he was looking for a Batman toy, Grant responded, "Batman who?"