When I was in a police academy, they prepared us to “meet” the dead. Teachers (mostly experienced cops) have been telling us their stories, and were taking us to autopsies.
Cop story: "Meet" the dead
On 07.07.2010. someone started a blog titled "Police stories". Unknown author published his stories under a pen name "Good blogger". In less than a year he wrote multiple stories portraying police life in his country.
Then suddenly, without explanation he disappeared. Last post he published was a short one. "Because of personal problems, this week's story has been skipped. I hope the situation will be resolved by the next week. Greetings!"
What happened to him and why did he stop writing his blog was never revealed.
This is the fourth story he published.
Autopsies were interesting, although we (vast majority of us) would avoid to look directly at the body. We were looking anywhere else in the room, at the ceiling, floor, lamps and whatever, while simultaneously trying not to vomit. We felt the stench for days.
I have to admit that our teachers really gave their best, but nothing can prepare you for the reality.
When you are a cop you usually find dead people in identical situations. Older people who live alone, and die alone. Most of the time neighbors are the one to call the police – saying that they haven’t seen their neighbour for several days, or that they noticed ‘the smell’ coming from the apartment. Our job is to try to find relatives who have the key of the apartment, or to call firefighters to break in. It is always a challenge to be the first who will enter in an apartment.
Sometimes, it turns out that tenants left on a holiday, or they are visiting relatives, etc. Relief in such situations is impossible to describe.
Unfortunately, in most cases we find dead people. Usually, people are found dead in their beds as most of them dies in sleep. Stench is the worst. If a person died few days ago, there is no smell or it is not intensive. However, if the body lied there for more than that, stench can be unbearable (especially if the windows are closed). The worst is when a body is found in water. Then, we vomit together with firefighters and paramedic. The horror.
Lets get back to the procedure of entering the apartment.
When you open the door, first you have to do is to smell the air. If there is no smell, it’s good. Then you start walking from one room to another, ready for the worst. You should also be on the lookout because you never know, a hungry dog can be somewhere in the apartment. Interestingly, every time I found the body, it laid in bed covered with a blanket over his head. In this situation, you first introduce yourself loudly, and you ask is everything okay. Just in case. When there is no response, you uncover the body, check for pulse and vital signs, and that’s mostly it. After that there is no more excitement, everything after that is just routine.
But sometimes things can get interesting. Once I was called. Situation looked typical. Man was not seen for days, no one heard from him, so firefighters were called and they broke the door.
I went into the apartment and found the body in the bedroom. It was covered over the head. It was night time, and for preemptive reasons (possible gas leakage) i didn’t turn on the light, but I used the flashlight. As always, I introduced myself and asked is everything OK. The man bounced out of the bed, and I jump scared backwards and almost slammed the door behind me. It turned out that the man had changed medicines he drinks for calming, and he was sleeping all day long. He didn’t hear when we were breaking in the apartment. When I woke him up, he was scared shitless, and so was I after he jumped from the bed. In the end, he was furious with us busting down the door of his flat.
The other time, we entered the apartment and found a man on the toilet with his pants dropped. Breathing was not visible, and the pulse was not felt. We concluded he had a heart attack while on the toilet (he had heart issues). Firefighters left, and we stayed in the apartment waiting for paramedic (the usual procedure). While we were standing in the hallway in front of the open door of the toilet, the dead man suddenly stood up and started unarticulatedly screaming. It was animal like sound. We almost died of fear. We were able to compose ourselves, and we laid him down slowly. The paramedic soon came. It turned out the man had a stroke that paralyzed him. He was exhausted and almost died, and his heart rates beat was terribly weak as well as his breathing. Although he was taken to the hospital, he passed away after a few days.
I’ve saved the best for last.
I was not present, but colleagues told me this story countless times. The intervention started just like every other one. Firefighters broke through the door, and the cops came into the apartment. They found the lady in her bedroom covered over her head, they checked her pulse and breathing and figured out she is dead. Her skin has changed colour to ebony gray, and a terrible stench was felt in the apartment.
While they waited for the paramedic, colleague were talking to each other and at one point the lady got up out of the bed and asked them who they were and what are they doing at her apartment. The colleague who was standing next to the door fainted out of fear and the other guy didn’t understand what is happening. He was standing a bit further, and he only saw a colleague falling down, but couldn’t see the woman in her room.
Nothing was clear to him, so he began to panic. When he looked into the room, he saw a lady sitting on the bed and looking at him, and he pulled the gun on her, thinking she was a ghost. Luckily, he didn’t pull the trigger.
She was just sleeping.
As she was very old, her skin was full of gray spots that they misinterpreted and the windows in the apartment were not open for years (old people who live alone often do that) so that was the reason for the smell inside.
Police procedures (as well as most other occupations) are mostly common. When you are working for years, you in danger of entering a routine. Exceptions like this one are good for breaking the routine.
They help you stay cautious because you never know what’s gonna happen this time.
Sometimes they give you nightmares, but it does not matter. That’s part of the job. At least you get an interesting story.
It is interesting that, no matter how prepared you are for all possible situations, real life always finds a way to be unpredictable and surprising.