Georgia police officers talk funny

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By Rick Dalton

With all the hype and hoopla concerning our non-existent immigration policy and the resistance of our so-called illegal immigrants’ failure to use our native tongue makes me remember several instances that were both humorous and informational. Early in my career with General Motors in Doraville, Georgia we had the occasion to become friends with the morning watch commander of the Doraville Police Department.

The second shift normally quit working around 2 a.m. depending on our production schedules and after nine or 10 hours of working at the frantic pace that the scheduling department demanded, a few of us would normally take in one of the local all night greasy spoons for some much needed nourishment. While dining at these local establishments we would often engage in friendly banter and conversation with other customers, many of which were the area’s night shift police officers.

As time and circumstance permitted some of us were accepted into the tight-knit circle of these dedicated men who had the responsibility that only a certain few could ever hope to obtain. To this day, I have nothing but respect and admiration for anyone who dedicates their life to the welfare and protection of their neighbors.

As it was the duty of the local officers to check businesses to ensure everyone had locked their doors before going home for the day, it was surprising to me one evening at work to receive a phone call from the police dispatcher asking me to report to the station when I got off work. As the phone call was routed through several areas of the assembly plant more than a few of those working were sure I was going to be gone and their might be another job opening upstairs.

Such was not the case as I was directed to report to the watch commander at a certain location within the city limits. Upon arrival I was met by more than one of these fine upstanding men and shown two pails of used wheel weights that had carelessly been left outside a local discount tire shop.

These officers suggested that the lead weights would make fine bullets for the officers to practice their shooting and as a citizen it was in my best interest to secure these weights lest some other person be overcome by temptation and steal them. The first pail weighed more than a hundred pounds and it tested my resolve to put it in the back of my truck.

The other pail was even heavier. Saving some citizen from temptation almost herniated yours truly.

To this day I cannot recall how many bullets were cast from those wheel weights that we alloyed with other metals to harden them to standards. Once we had them cast, we used the department’s STAR loader to assemble several thousand rounds of target ammo.

Getting to know the officers of the Doraville Police served me well in later times. When I was promoted into the fire chief’s position at the plant, I became the assembly plant’s liaison with both the police and fire departments of DeKalb County, Georgia.

When the North American Free Trade Act was implemented in the early 1990s the Doraville Assembly Plant became one of the first manufacturing facilities to receive imported material direct from Mexico. The trucks were supposed to do the check in at Laredo, Texas and then drive unimpeded to their destinations.

As time went on, the trailers were sealed at the point of loading and the Border Patrol would do a customary check to ensure that the metal seals remained intact when crossing the border.

Working vacation relief to cover the second shift security supervisor gave me the opportunity to inspect some of the areas that needed close attention to prevent unwanted problems from becoming major incidents. So I was surprised to receive a radio message to report to the material receiving dock to settle some issue with an incoming truck driver.

When I arrived at the location it was observed that an inbound NAFTA truck was blocking the unloading dock and the truck’s driver was either asleep or passed out behind the wheel. Along with several other members of management we began shaking the truck as best we could to get the driver’s attention to relocate his rig.

About all we could understand from his mumbling was “No habilis ingles.”

General Motors had gone to the “fust in time” delivery system several years past and smooth production operation depended on the parts arriving in a timely and systematic process. We had some time cushions built in, but none of them extended for much over a few hours.

Stopping production meant losing one vehicle per minute of down time and the cost per minute was often in excess of $10,000. As time was of the essence in our situation, I radioed my dispatcher and requested that Doraville Police send me a Spanish-speaking officer double-quick.

We received one of my redneck buddies who spoke the same two languages that I speak: Southern English and North Georgia hillbilly. When he arrived I explained the problem and told him we needed to get the truck relocated as quickly as we could.

As my friend uncoupled the 12-gauge riot shotgun from the cruiser’s lock I asked him what he was going to do with the shotgun. He said, “Watch,” then ordered all GM personnel away from the truck and climbed up on the fender and rapped the windshield with the business end of the 12-gauge.

Our newspaper cannot print the words this officer used when addressing the truck driver. However, the truck driver’s face was ashen and his eyes were really opened wide.

The driver opened the truck’s door and our police officer pulled the driver out and handcuffed him as he lay on our roadway. About this time I was alerted by my gate security personnel that a U.S. Customs car had just run through the gate and was inbound to our location. Before I could clear my radio, another call came in that the Georgia Highway Patrol had entered our rear traffic gate and was heading toward us.

As it turned out the driver of the truck was smuggling contraband and people across the border and had eluded several attempts to stop his egress across the several states between us and Texas. Inside the trailer we noted empty water jugs, bread wrappings and other things less appealing.

A bale of marijuana was hidden behind a parts rack and evidence concluded that they had off-loaded several bales somewhere else. Before the truck driver was taken away we had units of BATF, U.S. Border Patrol, U.S. Customs, Georgia Highway Patrol, DeKalb County Police, Atlanta Police, and of course the Doraville Police present in this already overcrowded area.

My local police officer handed me the riot gun and laughingly explained that I had in my hands the very best “universal translator.”

Rick Dalton is a certified horticulture professional, who resides in southwest Marion County with his wife, Brenda. He says: “When you cease to learn, you begin to die. And if we cannot have a little fun while passing through, then plunk it.”