As you celebrate this great day in our land, I hope most of you have the day off. And I hope you also take at least a moment to remember all those who died so that we could live in such peace and prosperity in this incredible country.
But I wanted to make one other point that I think often gets forgotten. Yes, we do a decent job of remembering those who died in battle. But I think we forget those who died in peacetime. In regular ole’ training — almost NONE of which is safe.
I probably came closer to dying during a couple of different training exercises than I actually did in harm’s way. Matter of fact, my battalion went into harm’s way in 1997 and returned without any losses. But we lost a great man in “routine” training in 1999. (Lance Corporal Andre Foster.)
I come across some amazing people as an author. Usually, it starts with a cautious email from them, after they’ve read one of my books. (Or hopefully several of them!)
From there, often quite a few emails are exchanged back and forth, because A ) It’s not like I get a lot of emails and B ) I’m well, chatty. And as my wife regularly reminds me, I ask a TON of questions. (Former journalist here, for those who have forgotten…)
It’s always amazing to meet (and get to know) these people who I would have never met otherwise, so I’m always so excited when someone reaches out to me. With all that being said, I wanted to highlight an amazing reader/lady, who I came across probably six months ago and have become (dare I say?) friends with.
Her name is Barbara Jamison, though she goes by Barb. And Barb was the first female police officer in her county. Even crazier, she did some dangerous, undercover work, which she discusses below. (Best of all, she even talks about the most insane thing she ever saw as an officer, which involves an out-of-this-world story about a possessed woman that you have to read!)
Enough of a preamble. Let’s get down to the good stuff.
Me: How did you hear about me as an author?
Barb: “Suggested to me by Amazon based on my past genre purchases. Darn glad they suggested your Nick Woods book, as I was hooked in 10 pages.”
Me: What do you appreciate about my books/writing?
Barb: “Always action packed, characters with deep personalities, and how they intertwine. Never can figure out the ending till it happens. Surprises galore.”
Me: What in the world made you decide to become a police officer?
Barb: “When we were stationed in Japan, I wanted to start college courses. I wasn’t sure what to major in. A guy I knew that was in Security on base said he was teaching a class in Criminal Law at the College (University of Maryland Overseas) and said, “Take my class, you will really like it but if you don’t, you can use it as an elective until you decide on a major.” I did and decided on Criminal Justice Major. The rest is history.
“I finished in Washington State while working as a reserve police officer and in less than a year was hired full time by the PD. Four years later I was hijacked from the city PD by the county sheriff and was a deputy from then on. It wasn’t the lame desire to “help people,” which I did, but mostly because I love to solve a puzzle — especially if that puzzle is a crime scene.
“At 67, I am still a cop at heart. You can’t turn it off any more than you can turn off being a Marine. Currently, I am keeping an eye on a couple of drug houses in my neighborhood for the local PD, watching the comings and goings and jotting down license plate numbers.”
Me: Since we’ve exchanged several emails, what have you found most surprising in talking to me?
Barb: “That is an easy one for me. In talking to you, I have come to realize that authors are people, too. They have thoughts, feelings, good days, bad days and days that the brain just can’t focus on writing, not to mention authors have other interests besides writing. And you are willing to share those with friends. Also, I’ve learned all writers have families who sacrifice time with them so they can write great stuff for us readers. I love that you have shared your Marine Corps service with us.
“Also, I’ve learned all writers have families who sacrifice time with them so they can write great stuff for us readers. I love that you have shared your Marine Corps service with us fans. It really lends a lot of power to your Nick Woods sniper stories about the uncertainty, fear, team spirit, funny anecdotes, pain and loss in war zones. Again, thank you for your service to our great country.”
Me: Let’s talk some more about your police work. What was the coolest thing you did as a cop?
Barb: “It was definitely my undercover work, which I did in 1983. I was a Deputy Sheriff doing undercover drug enforcement. (Washington State). I made an appointment to meet a drug dealer at a very remote location to buy from him. I was in civilian clothes, jeans and t-shirt and driving my Mustang Pace Car. He showed up and pulled in driver to driver next to me. We chatted up a bit and he said “I heard you were a cop.” I replied, “Do you believe everything you hear?” He said “No.” Then I said, “I got to get to work, do we have a deal or not?”
“He showed me a huge brick of marijuana and said, “Do you have money for this?” and I showed him a banded stack of $100 bills. We both reached out the window of our cars and traded his brick and my cash. He pulled out first while I was looking busy in my car, then I followed at a distance. Little did he know that my two-man back up car was hidden in the woods near the road and followed him as well. I stayed way behind and when I saw the pull him over, I pulled to the shoulder a quarter mile back, lights off. After they pulled him out of his car and put him in the back of the patrol car, I let them take off, then I did as well, staying way back.
“The whole drug deal was recorded and the patrol unit with me heard every word of it. Thirty minutes later, I walked into the jail, smiled and waved at him and said, “Maybe you SHOULD listen to your friends!” Snicker, snicker. The bust was successful and he was convicted. As he was escorted out of the courtroom by another deputy, he nodded his head at me and said, “You are gonna die!”. I just smiled and said, “OK, you have the next 30 years in prison to think about it, so Bring It On!”
Me : What was the scariest thing that ever happened to you as a cop?
Barb: “There was an area in our county called “Possession Point,” and it was ripe with Witchcraft and Satanic activity. It was just a scary place, mostly wooded. We were sent to a complaint a man called in, that his wife had gone insane. Four cars from various agencies, as well as myself, got there and connected with the husband outside a trailer that sat by itself in the woods. Husband said, “I’m getting the hell out of here!” and he left in his car.
“We hadn’t seen the wife yet so we went up onto the porch, guns drawn, and peeked in living room window and saw Marie feeding $100 bills into a pot belly furnace along with any other paper she could find. The chimney stack that went out the roof was red, it was so hot from all the burning paper. We saw her reach out, grab the smoke stack with her bare hands lift it off of the furnace and pitched it onto the floor which immediately lit up the rug and curtains and a lounge chair.
“We busted in to get her out and to safety, but she ran into the small bathroom, sat down and wrapped her arms around the toilet bowl. It took four of us to pry her off. The irises of her eyes were red, not blue or brown… RED. And she was chanting some indecipherable words about Satan. The fire was spreading like wildfire behind us. We got her to the front door where we had come in, opened it while trying desperately to handle Marie, who was screaming, “Die You Fools.”
“Something inside the trailer exploded and blew all four of us and Marie out the door and onto the surrounding deck. By then an ambulance and fire truck had arrived.
“She was now off the porch and we were dragging her toward the ambulance, where paramedics already had a gurney out. We got her strapped on the gurney and the paramedics were working on her, when I mentioned to the, “Check her hands for burns. She took the smoke stack off with her bare hands.”
“But, there were no burns or redness at all from that RED hot smoke stack. They gave her a light sedative to relax her a little then asked us to step away from her and tell them what happened in the house. The cops ( numbering eleven now) huddled in a circle answering the paramedics’ questions. Everyone disbursed so the paramedics could load the gurney into the ambulance. When all of us turned to face the gurney still on the ground, Marie was standing next to it, naked suddenly, chanting satanic prayers of some sort. “He rules the world!”
“How in the hell did she (under sedative) manage to unlock 4 straps down her body, holding her on the gurney? It took six of us to get her on the ground and sit on her while medics gave her more sedation. Then we were finally able to get her in and head to the hospital. We, all eleven of us, just stood there, looking bewildered.
“Finally after about fifteen minutes, we all agreed seriously that Marie was possessed. Scariest thing I had ever seen in or out of Law Enforcement.”
Me: Wow! lol. That’s probably the craziest, scariest story I ever heard. And it’s the kind of story that had there been no witnesses, no one would ever even believe you. What is the one myth about cops that’s completely wrong and drives you the most crazy?
Barb: “I have heard this dozens of times, “Cops have the best stash!” Like anyone in a police uniform, that takes drugs away from someone “for evidence,” but some think the cops put the drugs in their own pockets. Maybe a few do. It’s a big country with lots of cops. Most of them love their jobs and want to get drugs off the street and put the pushers and suppliers behind bars. You need the evidence to do that in court to support your arrest reports.
Me: What are a few pieces of advice you’d have loved to have known when you were younger?
Barb: “Don’t ever get married. Don’t have kids. Having children is your penance for having been one. Buy a house as soon as you can, pay it off, and stay there. You don’t have to ‘keep up with the Jones’.’ It will ultimately hurt you. Put money away for your golden years because you have no idea what it’s like to be a senior citizen. Trust your instincts, they are usually right. Kiss your loved ones every day and tell them you love them before you part because you never know if you will see them again or not.”
Me: Thanks so much for doing the interview, Barb! It’s been great getting to know you through our emails, and I really appreciate how supportive you’ve been of my writing!
Stan R. Mitchell
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