Tim Whyte | You Don’t Want to Be THAT Guy

Tim Whyte
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We got a news tip the other day. It said sheriff’s deputies — with dogs — were searching for SOMETHING on Hillcrest Parkway in Castaic.  

We called the local sheriff’s station. They deferred comment to the downtown Sheriff’s Information Bureau. We called SIB and they told our reporter they were conducting a search related to the nearby Pitchess Detention Center, where some of L.A. County’s most dangerous criminals — I mean, misunderstood individuals — are housed while they wait for District Attorney George Gascón to get their cases dismissed. 

No, the search wasn’t about an escaped inmate… er, GUEST… of the former honor rancho and dairy farm. No one had escaped, but, “They did have an incident and it was concerning more of the jail facilities up there,” was the word from SIB.  

Well. That’s not vague at all. 

But later in the day, they acknowledged that the search was on… for a GUN. 

And not just any gun. Specifically, it was a gun that had been “lost” by a sheriff’s recruit at Pitchess. 

The gun was not recovered, as far as we can tell, but SIB assured that there was no reason to believe it had fallen into the wrong hands. 

Evidently, they think it had just fallen into the bushes along Hillcrest Parkway. 

Many questions come to mind. First and foremost, how much would you hate to be THAT guy or gal? The “recruit” who lost his/her/their (pick your gender-specific or gender-neutral grammatically incorrect possessive pronoun) service weapon.  

This from the “You Had ONE Job” Department.  

“Here’s your gun. Whatever you do, if you do NOTHING else, don’t $%&*-ing lose your gun.” 

How much longer do you get to continue being a sheriff’s “recruit” after you lost your gun? Is there a walk of shame the recruit must take on the way out the door before it hits the now-former recruit squarely in the rear end? 

I mean, of all the things you have to think about and take care of as a sheriff’s recruit, I’d think maybe “Keep Track of Your Gun” would be at or near the top of the list. It’s not like you misplaced a pair of sunglasses or the keys to the camper.  

Imagine the conversation.  

“Uh, Sarge, got a sec?” the recruit sheepishly asks the boss, eyes squarely locked on the floor. “I’ve had a little bit of an oopsie. You know that thing that goes in the holster on my hip? Says ‘Smith & Wesson’ on the side? Yeah. Well, mine apparently just up and walked away. It’s a MYSTERY!” 

And then, how does the search lead to Hillcrest Parkway? How would the gun end up in the bushes along that stretch of suburbia? It’s at least a long 3-iron’s distance from the Pitchess campus. Does the recruit live up that way?  

Maybe. Taking the dog for a walk? Would you really need to pack heat for that? Toting the sidearm just in case you need to plunk a coyote to protect Fido?  

I mean, other than the occasional ’yote, Hillcrest isn’t exactly one of the Mean Streets of Castaic. It’s not like you’re walking the gauntlet of flophouse motels and truck stops a couple miles up the road, on the other side of the freeway. You’re not bumping into hookers and long-haul truckers. You’re bumping into soccer moms. 

Perhaps the recruit was driving up Hillcrest, and got into an argument with his or her Significant Other, and the Significant Other tossed the gun out the window just to fix the recruit’s wagon. “I bet you won’t ever forget our anniversary NOW, will you?!?” 

The mystery persists. If the gun IS found, where will it be? Somewhere in those bushes along Hillcrest Parkway? A pawn shop? Under the recruit’s couch cushions?  

Kitchen junk drawer? 

That’s my bet. EVERYTHING ends up there. 

It’s odd. We’ll never know, of course, but I have to wonder what will become of the recruit. Maybe choosing a different profession, one that doesn’t require one to keep track of a lethal weapon? Future yoga instructor? Barista? Journalist? Bikini inspector? 

Suppose the recruit manages to atone for the sin of misplacing the gun, begs forgiveness, does about 10,000 push-ups and actually makes it onto the force. It will make for a somewhat tortured career in law enforcement. Imagine the future conversations at whatever station the recruit ends up being assigned to. You will always be THAT guy who lost his gun when he was a recruit, and it will come with the appropriately endless and merciless ribbing.  

“Hey, we’re going out on a robbery call, Code 3. Do you know where your gun is? Are you SURE? Haw haw haw haw haw…” 

It’s the sort of thing that will stick with you. As they say, you fart once, and they call you Stinky for life.

Tim Whyte is editor of The Signal.

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