When you start to read this, you will think that I am talking about the Rome Speedway. No, I am writing about the car races, foot races and all other kinds that come from being a police officer. They can occur at any time of the day or night and I have been involved in all of them.
When you are young, you are foolish. It is in most of us that, while we are young, we are the best. There were times when it was a let-down to get beat by someone.
Take the time when my partner and I were chasing a car out through the Armuchee area and he turned onto the Old Dalton Road and I drove by it. At the Old School Road, though, I made it back onto Old Dalton and the chase was on again. There, where the lake is, I was pushing him so hard he decided to stop.
But just as his taillights came on, my police car came to a sudden stop. It felt like someone had grabbed it from the rear. The radio went out and we were in the middle of the road with everything off; nothing was working. I stepped out onto the road in time to see the car we were chasing take off at a high rate of speed. I raised the hood to find the battery hanging by one of the cables, almost dragging the road.
I managed to get the battery back into its box. I put the hot cable on and, with a rock, managed to get it back down on the post. Everything started to work again. I drove back to headquarters and told the captain what had happened. I found out the next day that the mechanic had put in a new battery and forgot to fasten it in the box. We were lucky that when the battery fell out we did not wreck the patrol car.
That wasn’t the only time that I can remember being lucky enough not to wreck the patrol car.
When I went on the department, Turner McCall ended there where Ralph and Blanche had a cafe. It was in a corner next to the apartment house where Turner McCall intercepted East Second Avenue. The highway ended with a barricade and a high pile of dirt. Cars had busted down the barricade but managed to stop before going over the pile of dirt. The dirt was red clay, and the rain and weather had packed it down to the point where it was as hard as concrete.
On this night we caught two people coming out of Elliot Sales. They jumped into a car and sped off. We followed with siren and blue lights on. They turned down the road beside the railroad tracks and made it to Brooks Avenue — which is now Turner McCall. In pursuit, we headed toward the barricade and the high pile of dirt. They hit the barricade and it went flying into the air. The car went over the top of the dirt.
I managed to get the patrol car stopped about halfway to the top of the dirt. Dirt, smoke and screams pierced the night. I believe half the people that lived on Brooks Avenue were woke up. We scrambled from the patrol car and made it to the top of the dirt pile. I shined my light and saw two people scrambling to get out of the car, which was upside down.
We got them and put them in the patrol car. It was a miracle that they were not hurt. With the car behind a wrecker we took them to headquarters and I turned the key on them.
Every time my partner and I talked about it, we would shake our heads. Oh yes, did I mention that it was two girls in the car? And I almost forgot to say that the car was a new Cadillac belonging to someone’s daddy. Wonder what Daddy said when he saw the top of his new Cadillac — with less than a hundred miles on it — flattened down to where you could not tell what it was.
When I went on the Police Department I was young and fast. We would line up at Fifth and Broad and race to the Krystal. Last one there would have to buy the hamburgers. After the captain put me in the car with The Whizz I had a few good foot races. This is one that stands out in my mind:
There was a grocery store on South Broad called Thomas. Purse-snatching went on there. We got a call that a lady’s purse had been snatched, and the culprit was going down South Broad. The only description was that he was wearing a red pullover shirt. As we approached East Main I saw him. “Get him,” Whizz yelled as he pulled in beside him. He looked at the police car and took off.
I jumped out and went after him. He was no match. I had him by the belt before we had gone half a block. He still had the purse in his hand. I turned him around and bumped him on the seat of the pants and said, “Run.” I made him run back to where the patrol car was. If he slowed down, I would bump him again. We got back to the car and took him to the station, laughing at him all the way about how slow he was. I know he was glad when I finally turned the key on him.
I can say I ran foot races with some of the best in those days. I am here to say there was very few that got away from me. When I tell this one, I take no shame in telling it.
There was a man who walked Maple Street on crutches. I had talked to him a lot and got to know him. One day there was an incident where a child got hit by a car on Maple and the driver jumped out and ran. The man on the crutches pointed him out to me going down East 16th Street. I started to go after him when the man on the crutches went by me. “Come on,” he yelled. “I will help you.”
I turned on the steam only to have him walk off and leave me. I lost them and was looking around when I saw the man on the crutches sitting on a wall in front of a house. I went to him. He pointed to a small shed and said, “He’s in there.” I walked over to the shed and saw someone hiding behind a riding lawn mower. He saw me and put his hands up and came out.
When it was all over, I went over to tell the man on the crutches how much I appreciated his help. He smiled and said, “You need to practice running. You know, you are kind of slow.” I laughed with him and carried the hit-and-run man to jail. I thought I was fast, but when a man on crutches outruns you, I believe I did need some help.
Another time we got a call on a shoplifter who had stolen a new pair of shoes from a store in the mall. My partner and I came in from Turner McCall just as a description was given. We were going toward East Second Avenue, where the road made a bend, and I saw him. “Get him,” I told my partner.
At that time, the only thing in that area was the bowling alley. I hit the ground running. Just as he made a jump for the river, I grabbed him. I held him, but the new shoes that he carried fell into the river. I took him back to the car. We locked him up for shoplifting but, needless to say, we didn’t get the shoes from the river.
Lonie Adcock of Rome is a retired Rome Police Department lieutenant. His latest book is “Fact or Fiction.”