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How I Spent My Sunday Vacation

This was supposed to be a strictly State-Police Sunday for me.


Usually I’m content to “shoot and scoot;” -- you know, snag a photograph or twelve of a traffic stop or radar control then move on before subjecting myself to a vindictive-given sham citation.

It’s a little after 2:30PM. Impulsively I decide to swing by the Area Three Division Headquarters. Considering it’s a weekend, I believe there will be no chance of me encountering BCI Special Agent Jason Trent.

I motor the short distance down Police Tower Rd. Often there are specialty vehicles at the far expanse -- same place I almost got my first picture of SA Tony Gattuso -- however I don’t detect anything remarkable today. Instead I proceed into the front part of the lot at the main building on 3rd Division Loop. There are two cars present but since neither appear official, I drive around to the back. Now I remember why I don’t bother with this place on Sundays. The concrete square dominates the sparse smattering of metal on wheels stationed in betwixt the painted white lines. I circle to make my way out. I am about to go right at the T, intending to leave. I glance left, in case of unexpected oncomers, before pulling forward. Is that... oh my gosh... that looks like... Curiosity forces me to dart where I gazed.

I haven’t seen the Beater belonging to the Jefferson Area Drug Enforcement Task Force in eons but, wow, the ugly rusted Chevy sitting in the space close to the double towers sure seems to be it. So much time has passed, I can’t even remember its license plate. Without slowing, I edge the block of bricks and head west down the narrow plot of pavement out. An east-bound marked gray and blue cruiser is traveling in my direction. My brain is so focused on recalling the JADE tag, I devote nearly no attention to the VSP officer as we cross paths.

Because it’s bugging me, and for the sake of blog fodder, I return to where the abandoned Beater is. Once I break the corner, I observe the abovementioned Trooper’s prowler. I ignore it and bring my Toyota to a halt beyond its rear bumper. Feh, I’m not doing anything wrong. I tug my camera out of the bag and power it up. I adjust the settings, debate for another moment whether JFW-4327 is familiar, aim, and push the shutter. What in the world is it doing all the way the hell down here in my neck of the woods? They donate it to the VSP?

In my side mirror, I catch the Trooper approaching me.

I can direct quote the following because I’m all audio-record-y like that.

“Ma’am, is there something I can help you with?” asks the young man wearing the hat -- not especially politely, I might add.


I glimpse his name badge then pivot my face away from him. He inquires about my purpose for being there.

“Oh. I wanted to take some pictures” I declare.

You can imagine how he handled the information.

His tone oozing with superfluous suspicion, he queries “What’s your name?” I supply my first. Once it dawns on him I’m going to leave him hanging on my last, he progresses to “Pictures? Of what?”

I’m not going to lie. “Well, of your --” And I totally blank on what it is. “Umm, that, uh, tank… thing.”

“Tank thing? Ma’am, I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

That’s great ‘cause I have no idea what I’m talking about, either. “You know, big, boxy thing -- it’s silver -- you use it for... I can’t remember what it’s called. Your Tac team uses it. I thought y’all kept it here.”

Though he’s now aware of what I’m referring to, he fails to assist me with its title. “We have several of them. It’s in Richmond.”

“Them” implies plural. “It’s” implies singular. Heh. I don’t point out his inconsistency. Rather, I state the obvious. “That’s far away.”

He glares at me through his pricey sunglasses. “Yes ma’am.”

“Okay” I smile.

He bids me a good afternoon and spins on his heels, returning to his ride.

What a d... I am not giving up on capturing a close-up of the possible JADE assault SUV. Dismissing the existence of the PITA with a Sig Sauer, I remain in position. I hold the Canon up again and zoom in on the Beater.

I spot the Trooper come tearing back at me full speed. Good grief. My eyes roll. I drop the device between my seat and door panel and pick up my cellular phone.

When the Trooper tries to communicate to me this time, I raise my index finger at him to shush him and make him wait. He listens silently to the monologue I have with my Samsung. When I decide he’s been adequately delayed, I hit the end call button and direct my brown orbs at him to signal he can continue.

At that point, the uniformed fellow gets quite aggressive. He notifies me that, although I am “not violating any laws,” I must vacate the premises or he will arrest me for “trespassing.”

“I can’t take pictures?” I question.

“You can take pictures during normal business hours” he responds and starts to ramble about opening at 9AM tomorrow and something-something speak to a supervisor then.

I can… take pictures… during… normalbusinesshours?! Ahahahaha… Hahahahaha… Bwahaha… It is one of the most nonsensical things I’ve ever heard one of these guys say.

Ridiculousness aside, awful nice of him to give me a great opportunity to intel gather. “Who is your supervisor?” He identifies the higher-up.

“Do you have a number for him?”

“352…” He pauses as I grab paper and pen and jot down “Randy Campbell.”

He resumes “7…”

I realize he’s merely going to offer the general Appomattox number for the Virginia State Police, so I end up writing the rest of the digits -- 128 -- faster than he says them. “And your name?” I stare at his pin, as if I haven’t read it already.

“Buzzard. Trooper Buzzard. Like the bird.”

“Ha.” I mention my maiden name to him. “Like the bird.”

He nods. “It’s kind of the same thing, yeah.”

The uniform-donned male advises me to drive safe and I encourage him to do the same. As I exit I see he’s animatedly rushing into the small structure, his cell phone plastered to his ear.

I don’t trouble sneaking a still of Trooper Buzzard or his duty-sedan; I have enough of a site story as it is.

The most hilarious part is I got all this, believe it or not, just because I planned on scanning in, for my other site, a copy of a hotel receipt from one of my and VSP Special Agent Gattuso naughty romps. I’ve redacted his home address but notice he listed Virginia State Police under company when he checked in: