First Day at the Stone

                                                                          By Curtis Jackson


I was working Wayside Maximum Facility on the P.M. shift. Generally when I came to work I would meet with the other young, equally impressionable, jail deputies. We would complain, moan and cry "will we ever get to go to patrol". After all, some of us had worked there almost a year. How much could we be expected to endure?


Most of us felt pretty macho. We wanted to go to Firestone Station to "kick butt and take people to jail". We had heard all the war stories about how the Firestone Training Officers treated new deputies at Firestone, but those stories never scared us one bit. Anyway, you knew the stories had to be overly exaggerated. No one would ever disrespect another "experienced officer” like our selves. We weren't cadets anymore. We were full-fledged peace officers.


On what I thought would be just another night at Max, I was met at the front door of the facility by my excited cohorts. They said, "Congratulations, you're going to Firestone!"   "I WHAT?"  "You're going to Firestone! You're first night is this Sunday. Congratulations"!


I mustered up my best phony look at being excited. I was in shock. "All right!"  I yelled. I really was excited. I did want to go to Firestone. I wanted to be a cop trained by the best. Then reality hit. "I really am going. Will I make it? What kind of training officer will I get? Are they as bad as everyone says?"  I had a hundred questions I asked myself. All hundred of them made me nervous.


Sunday came before I knew it. I was there! P.M to Earlies shift. It was dark when I arrived at the Stone. Should I go to the front door, or should I go to the back door? Where ever the back door is. Where should I park? Must be inside the station area. No one would want their vehicles left unattended, so I chose to park in the station lot.


As I exited my vehicle I didn't notice any unusual or crazy activities occurring as I had expected, so I started to relax a little. I pushed the rear rubber double doors opened slowly so as not to bring any unnecessary attention to myself. No one was in the in-custody cage. The Watch Sergeant was reading a report. Everything was quite. A kind of low-keyed atmosphere.  I identified myself to the Watch Sergeant and ask him where I should go. He was very nice and pointed towards the briefing area, which was adjacent to the Watch Sergeant's office. He said briefing would be occurring in a few minutes. I thought I would walk around a little and look the station over. Everything was going real smooth. Better than I had imagined.


I turned the corner and headed towards an open door area, which was apparently the coffee room. As I neared the door a nice Deputy Blaylock approached me and ask me if I was new. I told him I was. He ask me if I wanted a cup of coffee. I said no thanks. He put his arm around me and escorted me to the briefing room and told me to sit next to the Sergeant's window. By this time, the briefing room was starting to fill up with what looked like a bunch of Neander"thals". One of these strange looking meat eating deputies had a name of something like Oden"thal". I thought that was an appropriate name. He was obviously a member of that "thal" family.


I started to really feel uncomfortable as everyone seated at the briefing table just stared at me. It seemed as if they were all slobering. Maybe not. I'm not sure. Soon I saw young ashed-faced deputies standing just outside the briefing room doors. They were loaded down with supplies. It appeared as though they were someone’s personal pack mule. They also didn't look left or right. Their body was there, but their mind seemed somewhere else. The same look a "lifer" has on his face as he stands in front of his cell door. Just staring off into space.


The nice Deputy Blaylock stood up and announced to the group of Neanderthals that I was a new deputy. He asked me to repeat my name. I barely got out Curtis Jacks... Before he went completely insane. He started yelling and called me every name under the son. He asked me who did I think I was just strolling in here like I was somebody. Then having the additional quall to sit in the Sergeant's chair. His outburst seemed to last for days, but I'm sure it lasted only a few minutes. All the Neanderthals started asking "who does this piece of *&#@ belong to". The sergeant said I belong to Richardson. Richardson motioned for me to get out of the briefing room and stand outside. I was glad to comply.


Three-fourths of the way through briefing some unit apparently ask for assistance. Richardson said let's go. People were exiting every door of the facility and jumping into patrol vehicles. I was sitting in the back seat wedged between Jerry Brown and Bob Bolong. Their legs and shoulders touched each other. I was located somewhere in between. We roared out of the station area along with every other car in the parking lot. I must admit I did feel safe between those two mammoth individuals. Couldn't breath, but safe. By the time we got to the location of the call for assistance it was apparently code four. Everybody was going back to the station.


As I walked back into the station to look for my training officer, the semi-tranquil feeling I had experienced the first time I walked through those doors had vanished. It seemed like total chaos. The booking cage was full of recalcitrant, bloodied individuals. In the mist of the in custodies I saw Deputy Blaylock again. He was inside the cage with them. On one knee. He had an individual by the back of the neck. He was forcing him to kneel beside him and telling him to ask God to forgive him for his "unacceptable behavior".


Another in-custody was attached to the wall across from the booking cage. Seemed to have been pressed to the depth of a decal. Blood was also running down the wall.  No one was holding him up, so he must have been stuck there somehow. Deputies were holding a violent individual by all four extremities and running towards the open jail door. Richardson said lets get to work. Grab my bags.


As we exited the station and turned south we saw a large black man with a chunk of concrete beating the head of a woman lying on the sidewalk. Richardson said, "go get him!"  I ran a short distance after him praying please God don't let this guy kill me. I yelled for him to stop. I couldn't believe it he did. I escorted him back to the vehicle. Richardson said. I don't want to be in the station over ten minutes. But. But. Okay. We were out in ten minutes heading for the "Brook" Paperwork wasn't done but we were going anyway.


On the way down to the Brook we received a call of a major 415. We had the handle. I didn't personally hear the call, but that's what Richardson said happened. We arrived along with a number of other patrol vehicles, including the Sergeant. A Sergeant Fransen. Everyone at the scene was yelling and acting crazy. I just stood there. Waiting to see what was going to happen next. Fransen yelled at me "WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO. DON"T JUST STAND THERE!" Richardson said "yell out everyone goes to jail! I'm writing." I did..... It was like I said, sickem' to a dog.


We grabbed a couple of individuals ourselves and "placed" them in our vehicle. Richardson said. "I told you to never leave the vehicle with the shotgun unlocked." When we get back to the station "write me a full page memo why you left the shot gun unlocked." (That was another nightmare)


When we did arrive back at the station, the scene I described before repeated itself. Chaotic. Richardson said, "I don't like to be in the station over ten minutes. Get going." Needless to say we were heading back to our vehicle in ten minutes. Paperwork wasn't done again, but we were heading out.


This scene repeated itself over and over. Just that one night. I thought, "will this ever end". Some how it did. Twenty-seven calls, numerous arrests, torn up reports and about twelve or thirteen hours later. Oh, another memo why I thought I could park in the station lot.


Welcome to the Stone. All those stories I had heard about training at the Stone weren't true. It was worse. But... once I made it though the training, and was released to be a real "Firestone" deputy it was one of the proudest moments of my life. Still is.


Curtis Jackson