WARNING: this blog post contains foul language.
Vernacular. Cool word, bro. It means the “language or dialect spoken by the ordinary people in a particular country or region.” I speak three and happily conflate them in my writings: Marine, Californian, and Collegiate. I learned that by adopting certain mannerisms, verbs, and sentence structures, I could ensure effective communication with people from each walk of life. If you use certain words, terms, and phrases that people are conversant in, they feel more comfortable, even if you just called them a motherfucker.
For the military, four letter words are replacements for any noun or verb. To speak Californian, just use the informal version of everything. Collegiate vernacular requires a pretentious flamboyance constantly toying with the line between docent and toker.
Since every important thing ends up in court, cops are constantly penetrated by the horns of a dilemma. Lawyers and judges like the clinical legal speak in recordings. Real people want it straight. Phrases couched in legal niceties come forth like softly pillowed words that cause hard men to sneer in derision. “Be careful or I will effect an arrest on you and overcome your resistance.” is ludicrous to say, even if prophetically true. Street vernacular is just another level in the use of force…but it doesn’t sound good in court or on a tape recording.
“A39, A39 handle the ADW Gang fight on 1415 Trump. PR (person reporting the crime) states two suspects are assaulting each other with a baseball bat and a knife, Code 3.”
“A39 roger, responding code 3 from Obama and Sunset.” another officer responded over the radio.
“Sounds like a good call, yeah?” I asked my partner leadingly.
Officer De Vito sighed, “Yeah, we’ll back them on this one.”
“Sweet.” I replied and sent the radio operator a text message to let them know we were joining the kaleidoscope of units backing A39.
De Vito was a slug, but even he couldn’t avoid a high drama call like this.
By the time we got there, De Vito stopping for every stop sign like I was Miss Daisy, Knife Dude was already in custody. I saw him kneeling in the middle of the street, dramatically backlit by the lights of multiple headlights and sparkling emergency lights. The dark outlines of other officers slowly wavered as they approached the shirtless, kneeling suspect. The suspect was bleeding heavily from a large impact on the side of his head. I was impressed he was still functioning. Bat Dude hit the side of Knife Dude’s head like he had been trying to knock Knife Dude’s eyeball out of the park. Tattoos covered his arms and chest, but I couldn’t decide which gang because of the blood.
Knife Dude was handcuffed and dragged off to wait for an ambulance. Now to find Bat Dude.
Fortunately we were all provided with a small clue when a short woman came running out of the nearest apartment complex in a white tank top and tan shorts all covered in sticky blood (the technical term is “coagulated”). She was screaming something stupid about her boyfriend being stabbed, pobrecito, and how he needed medical attention, “now dammit! What are you all standing around for?!”
“Where is he?” my partner demanded.
She pointed a shaky hand shiny with red slickness at an apartment on the second floor. “He’s in apartment number four.”
“Who else is inside?”
“Just my two children, they’re asleep, why aren’t you helping him?”
“We just need to know what we are getting into up there, are there any weapons?” De Vito asked lethargically.
“No! Nothing! He needs help!” she was rapidly becoming irate again.
“Fine, fine,” My partner told her, “look, we’re going up now, you stay here.”
We went into the apartment complex, following a trail of blood on the right wall with hand prints scattered among the red smear.
When my partner and I reached the door at the head of a long snake of blue police bodies he announced our presence and opened the door. I moved in to the right smoothly after he opened it, gun drawn and eyes searching for threats. Bat Dude had a bat and knew how to “swing away.” My partner moved in behind me, along with a superfluous number of cops. In El Castillo, ten cops happily do the work of three.
The apartment was a mess, not in a violent manner, but in the standard explosion that comes from too many people living in the same apartment with too many children. If it makes sense: it was messy, but not criminally so.
With my partner I cleared through the house, identifying two rooms where children still lay, sleeping soundly. We ignored the children and followed the blood trail to the bathroom in the center of the apartment, all other rooms were clear and there was the distinctive noise of someone showering inside the bathroom. I indicated the suspect’s location by pointing a bladed hand at the restroom and everyone in the hallway backed up. Yeah, I’m cool. I Point with FIVE fingers.
I kicked open the door to the restroom and backed up to the nearest corner for cover. The quick glimpse I got of the restroom only showed me a lot of blood on the floor, sink, and Dora The Explorer shower curtain.
“Big City PD! Come out slowly with your hands up!” I called.
“Hey vato, what the fuck? Get the fuck out my house!” Bat Dude called from the shower.
“Sir! We are here to provide you with medical attention, but we need to take you into custody first… come out slowly with both hands up and you won’t be harmed.”
“Yeah? I SAID FUCK OFF, MOTHERFUCKER!”
I could hear the “middle finger” even if I couldn’t see it.
“Hey, give him the warning about the TASER.” Another officer sagely whispered to me.
Legalities. Enforced madness. However, “La Ley es La Ley.”
I robotically chanted the required incantation for Taser use: “Sir, if you persist in resisting our lawful orders we may use force and less lethal options to compel you to comply. These less lethal options may cause injury and pain.”
“What?! I’m naked. Fuck you. Go away.” The suspect replied.
I was hurt. It took me a long time to memorize that.
Another cop tried to reason with the suspect, “C’mon, man. We’re here to help…Step out, Alright Buddy?”
Then from the back of the stack, all tense with the expectation of imminent violence, came the gravel avalanche voice of Sergeant Rodriguez. Enthusiastically named, “The Closer” by other officers for his ability to cut through the insanity of a call like Alexander through a Knot, his limit for eating felonious bullshit was low. “What the fuck are you guys doing? Stop with the foreplay and give him something simple and hard.”
Looking over the trinity sights of my pistol I shrugged mentally, give the boss what he wants: “Hey motherfucker, get your ass out here before I drag you out!”
“Man, you can’t talk to me like that?!” the suspect replied, irate.
“Fuck you. Get out now, asshole.”
“I’m naked! Just let me get dressed! Grab some shorts or something.”
“Damn your shorts, walk out before I fry you out with a taser.”
“All right, all right, I’m coming out! Fuck!”
Two hands appeared at the doorway, followed shortly by the rest of his body. The suspect was wearing a pair of shorts and bleeding heavily from a trio of long shallow cut to his abdomen.
“Get on your knees, facing away from me!”
“I’m cut man!”
“Enough of your shit, on your knees before I put you down.”
He turned and dropped slowly onto his knees. Another officer approached and cuffed the suspect while I covered his approach with my pistol. Bat Dude was hauled off by the Gang Unit to a waiting ambulance. I put my pistol away and walked out into the street. Outside I found Sergeant Rodriguez smiling, “Wolcott, nice job back there. These motherfuckers don’t understand you unless you talk their talk, comprende?”
“I do now, yeah.” I said sheepishly.
“No really, you did fine, just remember, someone talks to you like that, mirror it. Start somewhere else, but go there if you need to. Did you see how fast he came out when you spoke his language?”
“Yeah utilizing same vernacular helped out a lot with his comprehension of our conversation.” (Oops, wrong vernacular.)
“What? Whatever… good job.” Sergeant Rodriguez went and spoke with the PR, who was so impressed at the rain of cops that came at his phone call, The Closer talked the PR into submitting a commendation for all the cops and their great response. The suspects were booked for mutual ADW and the excess police officers, including De Vito and I melted back into the night, looking for more troubles, more calls, and maybe a good cup of coffee.
Readers: Do you have “the common touch?” Ever had difficulty communicating in English with another English speaker? Is it offensive to communicate a true someone’s level? Let me know in both comments below!