The names of the victim, assisting officer and motel where this event took place have been changed to protect “Naomi’s” identity and to ensure that any notoriety the puke offender might gain from the story being shared is prevented.

The call had been holding for a few hours prior to me even logging in ahead of my ten-hour tour of duty. A night shift police officer in Albuquerque, New Mexico, it wasn’t uncommon for ten to fifteen calls for service to be holding at any given time within my assigned patrol and work sector.  It was coded as a 10-38 which there, in layperson’s terms, means a disturbance.  A call coded as such might encompass anything from a loud party, obnoxious music emitted from the vibrating bass of a stereo system or any other variety of issues that disturb the peace.  A 10-38 is considered a low priority call because the city is plagued as one of the most violent in the nation.  Homicides, rapes, burglaries, aggravated batteries take precedence for obvious reasons. 

I worked the area of town every new officer and those still wanting to see a lot of action would strive to work, the area known to locals as the “War Zone”.  With so many calls holding, it was commonplace for us to go without a lunch break.  I learned the hard way to throw protein bars and beverages inside my unit ahead of a work shift, otherwise I likely wouldn’t get a chance to eat until much later than the hunger pains would request that I do.

Our squad was ambitious, and we would work hard to clear the calls waiting list with fervor driven by both that hunger and ambition.  We served as one “man” units (one officer per police car).  The strategy of one officer per police car is used to create a wider visual presence.  That presence can serve as an effective crime deterrent where there is respect for police.  

I find myself smiling as I write this thinking of how many times I was asked… “what’s it like to be a policeman?”  I would answer, “I have no idea,” and wait for the answer to sink in as I stood there watching their face register… As a woman, my experience is quite different from a man who also wears the badge and uniform.

My police unit was truly a heap of junk with a light bar.  I say that affectionately because I was so proud to get it and I kept it meticulously clean.  Cleanliness couldn’t keep the brakes from giving out though as they did after working all night and exited off the interstate into downtown for court early one morning. 

That was an invigorating experience to pump the brakes and for there to be none! 

Yep, it was that kind of junk… a coffin with wheels.  So, I took it to the yard to get fixed and I was riding two “man” (two officers per car) on the night of this particular call, riding shotgun with a squad mate.

We made it to about mid shift when I finally dug into one of my stale protein bars.  All high priority calls tackled; my partner radioed that we would take the 10-38 disturbance call at the Casa de la Rosa Motel. It had been holding for hours and we would likely do a quick looksie and determine that whatever disturbance it was had long quieted.  We were optimistic that we might get to grab a quick lunch break following this call.  Curious, I read the notations to the call made by dispatch.  An anonymous person called in to say that the neighboring room at the motel had some loud noises coming from it.  It sounded to the reporting person like a party was going on and that it had gotten pretty rowdy.

My protein bar, having survived several triple digit daytime temps was as hard as a rock.  It was a mistake to think that I could chew the bite I had taken prior to stepping out of the car to investigate the call.  When we rolled in I could see that it wasn’t going to be a simple roll by and clear because the door to the room was standing open, dark inside.  A rustle of noise, a muffled voice could be heard.  The hair at the back of my neck rose.

I grabbed my flashlight from its loop on my belt and positioned it in my support hand.  Knocking at an angle with my flashlight I announced our presence from behind the wall that separated us. 

You never know what you’ll find on the other side of a car, residential or any other door.

“Albuquerque Police! Is everyone okay in there?” I called out and my flashlight pushed the door further open with the knock.  My partner hit the light on his to come on and I did the same.  I could see a bed, a man on top of a woman with her arms over her head from the doorway where I stood.  He was obviously blinded by the light as I saw his eyes blink rapidly.  The woman called out to me.

“I’m not okay!” she said and the scene quickly illuminated before my eyes as she rushed through the door and into me to find shelter. I could see she had deep bruising forming already around her neck which indicated strangulation.  Minor bruises take time to develop so I knew by their deep coloring that the effort used to inflict such harm could very likely have been lethal.  She had more marks covering her nude body and I saw that wet fluids of different colors covered her also.  It was a sickening scene. 

I knew that the fluids covering her body and long wet hair could carry disease and would need to be preserved as evidence; but she required physical and psychological shelter as much as a person needs oxygen.  She flung herself into me and I responded by placing an arm around her and stepping in the space between her and her attacker.  Given what little I knew already about what she had just endured, I returned the hold as I backed us out towards the police car. I removed her from the offender while my partner listened to his side of the event.

In that brief moment, taking it all in…. the physical evidence on her person, her bare feet and nude escape from the room where this event had been taking place for HOURS…. My heart swelled with compassion for her.

She shared what she had endured:

Cancer brought Naomi to Albuquerque because it offers a free medical facility.  One needs very deep pockets to treat cancer and Naomi’s were turned inside out and empty following her double mastectomy.  The scars were still fresh across her upper ribcage.  Even in the darkness of the night and the contents of what had happened to her, Naomi stood with a strength that astounded.  I opened our unit door and offered her a place to sit but she declined.  The door remained opened though and served as a shield for her.  As her story was told I took her paused moment to indicate via radio to my partner that the male half must be “sixteened”… that is to say he must be placed under arrest.  It would do her good to see him escorted in handcuffs from the scene.

Naomi had returned to Albuquerque months after the double mastectomy for follow-up radiation and chemotherapy.  This roadside motel here in the War Zone which is often frequented by prostitutes and johns was all she could afford.  She could take the bus the short distance to the hospital.

Earlier in the day, someone she had met since arriving to Albuquerque for treatments had come by.  He had asked to use the phone so she moved it so it could be reached while he stood outside.  She was willing to help because she herself was well acquainted with hard times. 

This friend had a man with him.  While her friend used her phone, Naomi made small talk with the him.  Standing there a bit uncomfortable she hastily shared the first thing that came to mind… about how the door had to stay open because the heat thermometer was broken in her room and she had to keep the door cracked.  If the door wasn’t cracked open to let in some cool air she would “just swelter to death” she had told him.

They left and she retired for bed later that night.  She told me that she had spoken with the motel manager about the heating system but he had done nothing to help.  Her unsettled hormones following the surgeries and cancer treatments caused her a great deal of difficulty as her body was not capable of regulating temperature.  She cracked the door open during the night because she was overheating inside her room.

The friend of a friend returned and gained entry to her room through that open door. 

I tell this story and it is part of that haunting collective of experience gained while working as a police officer.  I have heard it said that those of us who have served in this capacity, soldier or police ought not use the skills we have learned to teach (defensive firearms).  I cannot fathom the sense of that sentiment. 

Of course we ought use the skills and knowledge we have to serve our fellow man/woman/child! Some good should come from the struggles that have been endured.  That is my hope.

The man was a repeat sexual offender having previously victimized women in multiple states.  It brought me great satisfaction to see him led away and later to be incarcerated for his offenses. It was an easy conviction since we caught the puke amid his extensive violent offense.  Unfortunately, his stay behind bars was much too short…

Using keyboard detective skills, I learned that he has failed to register as the sexual predator that he is. He is no longer incarcerated. Yes, that is maddening.  We need to do better as a society to hold offenders accountable.  Elections matter.

It’s easier to have peace if we know who the monsters are among us…. The problem is that they don’t always look that different from everyone else.  There are often though, telegraphing actions/behaviors that we refer to as Pre-Assault / Pre Threat-Indicators.

Hindsight at this point, but part of good op sec and personal security is to refrain from telling “unknowns” your business.  If Naomi could turn back the hands of time, I’m certain she would not have disclosed the details about the door needing to be left open to the man she had just met.

The puke gained access to Naomi via the introduction of the mutual friend.  He piggy backed his way into her inner circle. Unfortunately, it happens altogether too often in this manner.

I have developed a class to inform women about the characteristics of these Pre Threat-Indicators. It is an unsettling topic because the knowledge gained has come through great cost.  I taught the class recently and realized that I simply must edit the content to include some range time.  After that dark tunnel, future classes will include some lead therapy!

As a reporting party, if you believe a person may be at risk of losing their life at the hands of another because it sounds that way or because you think that is the case… use specific language to best assist dispatch of your concern so that it can be coded… and responded to as the priority that it in fact is.  

Text to schedule your training. 406 961-5375

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