Halloweekend Police Roundup
After living and studying at Penn State for the past five years, there’s little (if anything) that surprises me anymore when I step out on to the streets of State College; Chicken-costumed students running laps in my lecture hall in Thomas Building, atheists protesting crazy religious groups that flock to our campus each semester, and girls doing the walk of shame at all hours of the day are only some of my favorite memories of college life.
But Halloween in State College? Now that is a horse of a different color. It’s one of the only weekends of the year where it is acceptable — if not welcomed — to walk down the street in nothing but your knickers. As Sue Sylvester ‘C’s it,’ “It’s the day when parents encourage little boys to dress like little girls and little girls to dress like whores.”
Except in our town, boys don’t dress like little girls (that would probably be illegal) … they dress like Waldo. And the girls? Between the Santa Claus sluts and the Snooki impersonators, our ladies left little to the imagination. But this year, it was not only Halloween, but also Michigan weekend, which only added to the drama.
So what better weekend to do a police ride along?
A few weeks ago, during Homecoming Weekend, I also participated in a police ride along, but unfortunately, you college kids weren’t up to your usual antics, instead trading puking for pomping as you readied your floats for the parade. I was very disappointed in you. Please do better next time.
So with my fingers crossed for Halloween weekend, I grabbed two large coffees and an energy drink from Dunkin’ Donuts and headed down to the State College police department Thursday night. My past ride along partner, Sgt. Gregory Brauser, and I spent a few minutes talking while he organized his papers and thoughts, preparing himself both physically and mentally for the night that lay ahead of us. We both knew this might be the only peace and quiet we had all night.
Several minutes later, I found myself jumping into the front passenger seat of the patrol car, a Chevy Tahoe SUV, settling in next to three guns as if they were dear friends from childhood. It’s hard to believe it was only a few weeks ago that I was scared of them.
***FLASHBACK TO HOMECOMING WEEKEND***
“What is that one?” I asked like a 4-year-old kid in a toy store meant for adults.
‘That’s a regular shotgun,” Brauser answered me.
“And that one?” I said, pointing to the scariest looking one.
“An assault rifle,” he said, matter-of-factly. My mouth dropped open.
“And that one,” I asked hesitantly, slightly afraid to know the answer.
“Oh, that one is a beanbag rifle.”
A beanbag rifle? Did I hear that correctly? As it turns out, the State College police department doesn’t have any tasers… bad news for the boys in The Hangover, but good news for us! So instead of tasers, the police have traded (up? down?) for beanbag rifles, which deliver a bullet-sized beanbag and create a small popping noise that most criminals don’t realize is not from a real bullet.
“Part of it is a psychological effect, as most will believe they were hit with a real gun, but it can still be deadly if it’s aimed at the head or the chest,” Brauser said.
Duly noted, officer. When police point a gun at you, duck.
***FLASH FORWARD TO HALLOWEEN WEEKEND***
Shockingly, the first few hours of Thursday night really weren’t too exciting. Sgt. Brauser parked our car on an alley facing south toward Beaver, which gave us a front row seat to the costume contest walking past us. We took turns shouting out our favorites, be it the best costumes, and more often that not, the worst costumes.
“Ohmyg-d…. Is that her butt?!” I screamed, pointing across the street at a girl whose full buttocks was revealed in a lingerie “costume.” Honestly ladies, that’s not even a costume. Be a little more creative next year.
Like my favorite girls of the night, Devin O’Connor and Teresa “Tee” Sberna, who created one of the best costumes I’ve ever seen.
Onward State fans, meet “The Vladiators.” No further explanation needed.
Some girls went a little more “traditional” though. French maids, naughty nurses, and Lady Gagas galore filled the downtown district. I have to admit I’ve always found it amazing how these costume companies can take even the most innocent characters of our childhood and make them dirty.
“Oh look! There’s Little Red Riding Hood!” I shouted, turning to the left as she passed our car.
‘Yeah, and that’s not the fairy tale version,” said Brauser, laughing.
Sometimes though, Sgt. Brauser and I weren’t always entirely sure as to what we were seeing, so we enlisted some help.
“What is that?” we asked each other at the same time, looking across the street to a man wearing a blue blanket.
Brauser picked up his walkie-talkie and radioed to the unmarked patrol car across the street.
“Ask that kid what he’s dressed as,” he snickered into the phone.
The police car across the street rolled down its window and beckoned the kid over as he passed the car. Radio silence for a few moments, and then:
“It’s a… a… it’s a snuggie! We have confirmation! He’s a Snuggie!” said the policewoman.
“And he’s probably one of the only idiots out here who is warm,” responded Brauser. Hysterical, and soooo true.
Around 1:45 a.m., we responded to a call at a West College Ave. apartment about a kid who drank too much. When we arrived, Brauser started questioning his comrades.
“Is it really bad? Is he breathing?” he asked the boy’s roommates and friends.
The drunk kid lay in the middle of the floor, legs curled up beneath in the fetal position, naked from the waist up, and surrounded by vomit. As it turned out, the kid had several Four Lokos, the newest alcohol controversy to reach Penn State.
Just as Brauser was about to enter the apartment, the EMTs arrived and pulled the kid into a seated position. The kid’s head bobbed up and down, a three-inch, loogie-like piece of drool hanging from his lips, and try as the attending EMT might, he was not able to swat it away.
Working like a pit crew in a Nascar race, the EMTs quickly loaded the kid onto a wheelchair and carried him down the steps. I feared that he was going to throw up on the crew on the way down, but luckily for those carrying him in the front, he managed to hold it in.
Brauser asked who was going with the kid to the hospital as the EMTs prepared to load him into the ambulance.
“I can’t. I have class tomorrow at 8 a.m.,” said his cousin Nathan.
“I mean, he is my cousin, but it’s his own fault.”
Classy, Nathan. Very classy.
As they prepared themselves to actually lift the kid into the van, I ran around the paramedics taking pictures.
“Who the hell is taking pictures?” demanded a heavy-set EMT. I tried to answer, but he didn’t seem to care about my explanation.
“I don’t care who you are. You don’t take pictures of the patient,” he said.
Climbing back into the patrol car, Brauser turned to me with a mischievous smile.
“Way to piss off the paramedic,” he said, laughing.
Though we had a few more calls that night, my all-time favorite call was of one student who was beat up randomly by another student in the streets. Not that I think fighting is ever funny, but the kid was dressed as a nerd… and the irony of a nerd being beaten up, even though it was only a costume, was not wasted on me.
And then Friday began.
“The costumes are better, so the crimes are bound to be [better too],” said Brauser hopefully, as we sat on Beaver waiting for the night to begin. Sadly, nothing excited happened outside of a few kids throwing eggs as a police car, until 2 am, the last call of my shift with Brauser. Dispatched to the Days Inn on South Pugh Street, Brauser and I entered the hotel and were led by a janitor directly to the little girls’ room on the first floor.
Opening the door, I was almost knocked backward by the smell that instantly engulfed us as we entered, despite only stepping two feet inside. Brauser looks at my horrified face, and with a twinkle in his eye that can only come from more than 10 years on the force, he pulled out a pair of disposable gloves, snapping them into place around his wrist.
“MUST BREATHE THROUGH MOUTH,” I thought to myself desperately, as I looked down at the floor, a mixture of human feces mixed with vomit and urine.
Fortunately for Brauser, the EMT arrived just in time.
“This is all yours,” Brauser said, throwing his hands in front of him.
The EMT sighed as he opened the door to the stall, where he saw what appeared to be an unconscious girl sitting on the toilet, pants around her ankles, and head between her legs.
“Better tell Rich to get up here for a code brown,” said the EMT as he reached into the stall to pull the girl’s head up.
Rich arrived, with a stretcher in tow. Within minutes, they had the girl on it, strapped in and head lolling to the side.
As they started to wheel her out, she opened her eyes for a parting goodbye. Red contact lenses stared back at me, boring through my soul like something from another world. Any other night, I would have screamed, but tonight it made sense — this girl was a vampire.
And that’s when the EMT noticed blood on her neck. “Is that blood?” he asked in alarm. Upon close inspection, he learned it was fake.
Only on Halloween.