Fractured Facade

"A fathers death...a daughter's life...a sociopath's vendetta...FRACTURED FACADE ...a novel written as memoir. Only $4.99 and available exclusively on Amazon. Kindle Unlimited members read for free! Click here for direct link.


THE VALENTINE'S DAY CURSE -- A Short Story, Free everywhere...except on Amazon (boo! hiss!) where it's $.99 to buy! Click here for direct link! Let them know it's free at these stores and they may price match it! Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books...more to come.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Autumn on Mill Mountain in Roanoke

It was such a gorgeous weekend in Roanoke. Here are some pictures taken from atop Mill Mountain and then in downtown Roanoke...enjoy this wonderful weather while it lasts!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Who Polices the Police?

This last couple of month's my life has been consumed with the twin C's, neither subject I'm particularly fond of having to deal with...cops and cancer...both subjects out of my control, yet both topics important to not just me, but society as a whole, which just cannot be ignored.

Today I'm back on the cop topic as I have additional information regarding the original July 23, 2016 incident we had with the Roanoke County Police Department that I detailed in this blog post - "My Life Matters" along with the follow up post, "The Incident Follow-up."

Those of you who know me personally or through this blog already know the details of how the RCPD erroneously came to my residence and held my husband and & I at gunpoint. I followed up with a request for an investigation into the incident. As outlined in my interaction/correspondence/interviews with the RCPD as well as my blog posts concerning the RCPD I had hoped for answers to the following questions.

1. How was it that the RCPD arrived at the wrong address?
2. Did Dispatch give them the wrong address? If not, why did they come to my address?
3. Upon arrival why didn't the officers identify themselves as the police?
4. Why were there so many officers dispatched?
5. Why were guns held to our heads?
6. Why weren't we asked to identify ourselves immediately?
7. Once I informed them they were at the wrong address and they fled, why was no apology issued?
8. Why wasn't the initial Call of Service report nor the Incident Report filed where the public is allowed the view them weekly on line?
9. Does video footage exist from the RCPD, whether from hand-held cameras, uniform cameras, or dash cams?

I didn't bother asking who the officers were that arrived at my house. Frankly, there were too many, and I know it would be highly unlikely RCPD would provide that information anyway. Heck, Kionte Spencer's family, the teen who was shot and killed by Roanoke County Police back in February after waving a b-b gun that looked real, have been unable to learn who did the shooting, so I highly doubt I would learn who held guns to our heads.

I felt all my questions were valid, and even though I kept getting told I might not get the answers to all of them, I certainly expected to at least get a couple answered. So that's why even though the media, both print and television, had expressed interest in running a story on what had happened not long after it happened, I kept them at bay. I wanted to give RCPD the opportunity to do the right thing. I had hoped once all was said and done, not only would I have answers to questions and a sincere apology, but that police procedures could possibly be improved upon to eliminate the potential of a future tragedy happening to both citizens and police.

On October 13, almost 90 days since the incident, I did finally receive a letter dated October 6 from an Assistant Chief of Police. This is it in its entirety:

"Your complaint was assigned to a supervisory officer for investigation. That investigation has been completed and the facts of this after were reviewed by the Command Staff. Following that review, the Department determined the allegations in this matter were not sustained. If I can be of any assistance, please do not hesitate to call me at ...... "

Not sustained? Not sustained? What the heck did that mean??? Were they saying I made this shit up??? You'll notice there was not one answer to any question/concern I had expressed, not a single one. No apology either. Totally dismissive. So, as I don't believe in conducting serious business on a phone as there's too much potential of a he said/she said scenario, I sent off an email to the Assistant Chief of Police asking him two things: What did "not sustained" mean, and are the police saying I made this up?

I never received a reply from him so I called a columnist, Dan Casey from the Roanoke Times, who had been aware of the event for a while, and who I had told that once everything was said and done we would speak further. I let him know I finally received the "verdict" and asked him what did he think "not sustained" meant. He too was not sure. At that point I said Dan, maybe you can find out more than I have been able to, so go for it. I also did ask him to wait until the following week, not only to give the Assistant Chief time to respond to my email, but as the next day I was undergoing radical surgery to remove cancer. Apparently, he didn't wait as he contacted the RCPD with some questions of his own. I was barely cognizant when I returned home that Friday when I saw an email from him letting me know he'd been in touch with the RCPD and received a response. Even in my anesthesia stupor, pain ridden body, I couldn't just disregard it, and after I read it and saw some of the info in it from the RCPD it really pissed me off.

There were quite a few elements that I vehemently dispute in that email, but instead of going one by one of all of them, I will let you read Dan Casey's 10/20/2016 column entitled "Leisurely evening shattered by police" so you can see what RCPD claims happened.

Before getting into what the column does not say, back to the email to Dan from RCPD who claimed this at the end of it, "I shared with Ms. DeRosa that I would be happy to discuss the investigation with her and I provided her with my contact numbers. Instead, she contacted you." Well, that's odd. I did try to contact him via email, and as I said I never got a response, so was he saying he never received my email? Since Roanoke lost its sorting post office to Greensboro, NC a lot of our snail mail is delayed or never arrives. Is our email now being sorted through Greensboro too??? Ha! Now, notice in the column, the Assistant Chief says he did respond to my question of what "not sustained" meant. So which is it? Did he get my email or didn't he? Whichever it was, I never received a response. I even had my daughter double check my spam folders, and other places to see if it wound up somewhere it shouldn't have. Nope, nothing. Still waiting.

Now, Dan did get answers to some of his questions, (unlike the person who was the actual victim seeking answers, me) not all of them, and not all I agree with (only 3 cops, really? Is that why the investigation took so long?), and some I find hard to believe. Cops are responding to a situation where they've been told, "When the police come, make sure they're ready to shoot his a-- or get shot" and not one of them is videotaping the event. Oh, and all the dash cams were not facing the home. Ok, I was born at night, but it wasn't last night. By the way, reading that be ready to shoot line sent shivers down my spine.

Learning that the "officers were listening for what was going on in the house, believing bad stuff was happening inside" was really creepy as well. What they should have heard was the television on and my husband and I talking. That's real bad stuff. The barking of my dog only began because she heard bad stuff going on outside our door.

As you read in the column, the RCPD does admit they did make a mistake, but "the officers didn't violate policy, and they didn't violate the law." The officers also have been reminded of the importance of ascertaining street names of addresses they're dispatched to and "making sure these small details are very, very important." Well, that's reassuring isn't it? Reading is fundamental, so is learning how to use a GPS.

I'd like to enhance the closing paragraph of the article where it says I say "The thing that bothers me the most is not identifying. I think that's a bad policy that could end up harming somebody." What I really want to say is the police not identifying themselves when pounding on your door is fucking ridiculous and could result in civilians and cops getting not just hurt, but killed. If the law really is that the police don't have to identify themselves, that's one fucked up law.

Apparently, mixing up addresses happens a lot more across the country than you may realize. Something eerily similar happened to this family in Florida, and now the cop is indicted for shooting into wrong home after dispatched to wrong address. "It does not appear as if the cops ever made it to the correct address where the domestic violence was taking place because they spent the next ten hours further harassing the family by keeping them handcuffed on the curb." Unfreakingbelievable!

Another thing cops have to calm down about is rushing to judgment. Do they not realize how many pieces of shit are out there looking to ruin someone's life by making false accusations, whether it's to reduce their time sentence, or as a vendetta against someone for a multitude of reasons I could list. Or perhaps the police are looking for someone who hasn't lived at an address for years. One commenter on a friend's Facebook page had that happen to them a couple of years ago when they lived in Roanoke County. She relayed how the cops entered and trashed their home, while they weren't in town, to serve a warrant to someone who they didn't know, and never even lived there!  If you think that's bad, there's even worse.

Take this story for example: Sheriff's Office Claims Infant at Fault for SWAT Team Blowing Apart His Face With Grenade "As previously covered, Bounkham “Baby Bou Bou” Phonesavanh, 19-months-old, was asleep in his crib. At 3:00 am militarized police barged into his family’s home because an informant had purchased $50 worth of meth from someone who once lived there. During the raid, a flash-bang grenade was thrown into the sleeping baby’s crib, exploding in his face." Not only was it a bogus tip, but then they went with this claim: "Merely by being in that room, Bou-Bou had assumed the risk of coming under attack by a SWAT team.  By impeding the trajectory of that grenade, rather than fleeing  from his crib, Bou-Bou failed to “avoid the consequences” of that attack." I can't even begin to grasp my head around that story. Do your homework before lobbing grenades in cribs and accept responsibility when you screw up!!!

I've said to my friends and family, I really believe had we not emerged outside when we did we probably would have gotten shot. Since Dan's column has come out I've read comments here and there from the different sites that picked it up. For the most part the majority of folks totally understand,  get what happened to us, are sickened by the actions of the police, and applaud our reaction to diffusing the situation.  I knew there would be the folks saying the only reason we didn't get shot is because we were white, or that we should be thankful we didn't get shot because if we were black things would have been different, and one of the most inane claims came from a local yokel saying she didn't believe this story. Hey Einstein, even the RCPD doesn't dispute it happened!

Gee, I'm sorry we didn't fit into the narrative and never made the headline national news because we are still alive and didn't actually get shot. There's always going to be those who think a cop can do no wrong, spouses, family members, etc. so it's useless to try and reason with them, but to all those misguided persons who think the color of my skin is a bulletproof shield, I will say what I've said over and over and over again...We did not get shot because we freaking complied with the police commands!!!! And remember, they came to us...we did not cross paths with them on the street, or on the road, or anywhere. We were forced to interact with them in our carport on our property after they pounded on our door without identifying themselves, which apparently is not against the law, and the practice utilized by the Roanoke County police.

But truth be told, I may have been living in a bubble all these years. Because I did always believe if you don't do anything wrong, you're not going to get harassed by cops. The people they shoot MUST have done something wrong. Well, since my incident I have read folks' police horror stories, not only from the Roanoke Valley, and wow are there a lot of those, but from across the country. It's very disturbing. I don't know what happened to Mike the Cop from my youth who walked the beat.  Remember this? Here Abbott & Costello remind all the boys and girls the police are here to help you...

Ha! So what happened? I don't know, but it saddens me, both for the citizens and the officers. Police perform more like military men and women than the approachable beat-walking cops of yesteryear. Trust has eroded to the point of no return. Respect is a two-way street and I'm just not feeling it on either side. Changes have to be made. And police policing themselves does not work on any level. I think every department needs to have an outside entity that will take citizen complaints seriously, and perform a thorough investigation rather than having someone stationed in the same station "investigate." C'mon, whose side you think they're going to take? The person they share beers and a locker room with or Joe Schmoe? That thin blue line is very thick...

Now don't go thinking that I'm saying all cops are bad. Yeah, there's more than a few incompetent and downright dirty ones, but there are plenty who really do want to help and be an asset to their community. And I know they have a hard job, a dangerous job, a deadly job where weapons are drawn on them. But they knew that going into it. They should be trained better to handle that because that's what they signed up for. "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" sitting on a couch in their own home on a Saturday night minding their own business did not. And they really don't appreciate paying the salary of those who not only threaten, disrespect, and abuse them, but then not show any remorse or take any responsibility for their actions. You try acting like that at your job and see where it gets you.

****Note to the public**** If you ever find yourself in a entanglement with the police, I know in the heat of the moment it might not be the first thing on your mind, it wasn't on ours, as staying alive was the most important issue at hand, but make sure to at least note a badge number if the officer will not reveal who he or she is. Then they can't dispute they were there and you might even be able to find out how many other "incidents" they've been involved in.

By the way, this blog does welcome comments, but only if you bring something to the table. And you don't have to agree with me, but if you make up an "unknown" identity purely for the purpose of disparaging me, I'm not going to approve it. The police may police themselves, but you're on my turf here and I police this blog.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Cancer, Get Thee Behind Me...

So when I last left you I had blogged about my mom coming to me in a dream sparking my not canceling a gynecological appointment...this is the post: "Listen To Your Dead Relatives."

Since that post things have been a whirlwind to say the least. I saw the gynecological oncologist the first week of September. From there I underwent pre-testing for surgery to take place on October 13th. I was very nervous about the pre-testing as I had never had an ekg or chest x-ray taken before. I worried that they would see something that would halt the procedure from taking place. Since I did not receive any phone calls and did get the results sent to MyChart, I felt there was nothing serious going on. Even my blood work looked good, and my A1C was only 5.8! The only real problem was degenerative discs in my spine, which would not stop the operation. Upon googling I realize that maybe that's why my legs go numb and I have lower back pain. Certainly something to look into down the road, but for now, one medical malady at a time please.

Upon check-in I was brought back to pre-op where I waited and waited and waited. I was the second surgery scheduled and the first was not as quick as they thought it would be. That was okay with me. Take your time. Help the case before me. Rest. Have lunch. Relax. Then start on me. Of course I was starving because you cannot eat from the night before, so my stomach kept growling.

No food did not stop my system from working and after I went to the bathroom using the single ply cheap toilet paper I didn't feel "clean" enough for surgery. I remembered there was a wipey container on the sink outside the bathroom so I asked my husband to get it for me. The top was already opened but there were no wipes sticking through it so I asked him to unscrew it so I could retrieve some from the bottom of the container. He did. They were soaking wet so I squished a couple and then proceeded to use them. Holy mother of God! I about hit the ceiling. They started burning my butt. My daughter came to see what I was yelling about and I told her those freaking wipes are burning the shit out of me. She grabbed the container and said, please tell me you did not use these on your body. Uh, yeah, I did. She started yelling at me that they were not body wipes but industrial strength hospital surface wipes.

I start screaming to get me a rag and wet it down. My husband had a shop one in his pocket so I saturated it and tried wiping myself while hooked up to IV. It was quite the scene. My daughter is husband is frantic...I'm burning. The girl starts reading the container whose wipes kills pretty much everything. Worried that I really screwed up I'm yelling at my husband for not reading it. Poor thing looked distraught! The nurse comes in and I tell her what I did. She looks at me like I'm crazy, and says, "You Brooklyn folks really are tough!" I'm sure the operating room staff had quite the chuckle over my burning bottom.

It wasn't much longer until I was wheeled back in to the operating room. They were using the DaVinci surgical system and I really wished they hadn't told me how I would be practically upside down while they operated. I get dizzy if my head is not elevated with three pillows! We still did not know if I had cancer or not so the plan was to have a radical hysterectomy and check to see if cancer was present while I was still under. What would happen next would be up to the oncologist and team. As I was wheeled down the hall I prayed to Mary and Padre Pio for their assistance.

Next thing I knew I was being woken up with six hours lost. They said the operation was a success, and I did indeed have uterine cancer. They also had to remove my appendix which was not part of the original plan. The surgeon did not remove any of the lymph nodes as he felt the criteria was such that I was in more danger if he had at that time. He felt the cancer was contained within my uterus based on a number of factors including the pathology report during surgery which he said has a very high accuracy rate. They still send everything out to be checked further so there is still a chance I may have to undergo more surgery but as of right now, no. I will know more at my follow-up appointment next week.

They wanted to keep me overnight in the hospital and possibly for another day. The bed I was in moved constantly and I felt like I was on a canoe on a rolling river. It made me sick. I begged them to stop it but they said they couldn't and that it was to prevent bed sores. I told them I plan to only be here overnight so that's not a worry. Nope, there was no off button. WTF? I understood the leg things blowing up constantly to prevent blood clots but this rolling rock bed was just too much. I literally did not get one minute of sleep and I knew if I stayed there more than a day I would get sick because my immunity would be compromised from lack of sleep. I begged them to let me go home.

Once they took the catheter out I had six hours to urinate on my own or I would have to undergo some sort of bladder procedure. Within two hours I was out of that bed and into that bathroom. I begged them for food and this midnight ice cream treat was the best tasting ice cream I've ever had!

I asked the overnight nurses to walk me around but they said it was too soon. I told them there was no way I could sleep in that bed so at least let me sit in the chair, which I did. And let me just say one thing that did annoy me a wee bit...the support staff asking me constantly where I was from. I've been living in Roanoke 21 years, so I'm from here now, but yes, I was born in Brooklyn. Hearing that they were constantly talking about it is not amusing, even if one of them tried to convince the others I was from Floyd County. Yeah, that's hysterical.

By the time the first doctor came around at 7:00am the next morning I told her I was ready to go home. She said I had to walk first and I was like, damn, I'll run if I have to! So they walked me around the ward, and agreed to let me go home. It was too depressing to be in the cancer and palliative ward. My heart ached for those patients and family members holding vigils. After every room I passed I asked Padre Pio to provide comfort for them. I actually had to wait for my husband to bring me clothes or I would have been out of there even earlier than 11:00am.

Today is the fifth day after surgery. I still do not feel like myself. I feel dizzy, disoriented, and slightly nauseous. I finally slept four straight hours last night. The only pain medicine I've been on is two Tylenols every six hours. I am unable to drive in a car for two weeks because of the blood thinning meds. I am walking around the house as much as I can. The hardest thing has been keeping Bella away and from jumping on me. She is a smart dog so she remembers what "Boo-Boo" means. We used it when my daughter had her surgery and had to be away from her. And after the first night of me saying, "Mommy has boo-boo" she is leaving me alone and letting me sleep in the spare room without banging on the door all night and crying for Mommy.

No, I'm not myself yet, but I am alive! I am thankful to be alive! I am thankful for my family...for my mother coming to me in a dream...for my gynecologist who recommended my tests...for my oncologist and surgical team...for Padre Pio and Mother Mary, and I am thankful my intuition once again led me down the road I needed to go. Don't know if I'm totally out of the woods yet, but it could have been so much worse. These past couple of months really made me realize what's important in life, and that is, life itself.

Hey, cancer, get thee behind're not getting me yet...I'm from Brooklyn...I'm a fighter, so fuck off.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Listen to Your Dead Relatives

When I was younger my mother and I did not have a good relationship. It got better once I had kids, but I still never felt as close to her as I did to my father. I pretty much never listened to anything she said as I felt she was there<...and I was...>here. If she ever said "I love you" to me I don't remember hearing it. The last time I remember saying it to her was when she was on her death bed in the delirium stage of cancer. I hoped she heard it and understood I meant it.

She's been gone 16 years, and only recently has she begun visiting me in my dreams. Over the last couple of months she's been hovering there, in the background, silently staring, and not a friendly stare. She always looks like she's angry, perhaps at me. She exudes a cold chill. She's always silent. I do all the talking, to her, and I usually, like I did in real life too many times, have a snippy attitude. "Say something, dammit!" She never does. And then a couple of weeks ago she finally did.

She looked younger and thinner than when she passed and had her dark hair of her youth. She stood apart from four female friends and relatives of mine. She looked at me with the same cold stare but this time she spoke as she pointed to the four ladies, herself, and then to me. "We are all on the same team," she said and spun her arm, with finger pointed.  My son came running from somewhere and rushed to hug her. "Grandma, it's been so long since I heard your voice," he said. She stood there looking back at me and not acknowledging him. In my dream I said to myself this is weird, she loves him, why is she acting this way? She must be trying to tell me something. Do not forget this dream. And then I awoke with a start.

My mom was happiest when she was with her grandchildren

In the morning I thought back to the four females who were in the dream and what the link between them, my mother, and myself could possibly be. And then it hit me. All of them had some form of cancer. All of them, except my mother, had beat cancer. So how does this relate to me? Well, recently I'd been having "female trouble." When I called my gynecologist the first appointment I could get was three weeks as he had just left town. By time the appointment was rolling around I felt better and my symptoms had stopped. Even though "Google" said I shouldn't, I was going to just cancel it. In fact, the morning after the dream was when I was going to, but then I thought maybe I better not. So I kept the appointment and saw the doctor two days later.

He didn't seem too concerned as I had had similar event happen four years ago and had a biopsy which came back normal. A couple of months ago I had my regular yearly exam and even though he said I didn't need to have a Pap test I insisted on one which came back normal. This time instead of going for a biopsy, which hurt like hell last time, he ordered an ultrasound which took place two weeks later. I was glad because I thought that would be less painful. After having to drink 24 ounces of water an hour before I was scheduled it was almost worse than having a biopsy. I thought my bladder would burst, and every time she pressed on my stomach I thought I was going to have an accident.

I watched the screen and remarked how it looked like doppler radar. The technician said that's exactly what it was. They've come a long way since I had one when pregnant! I asked her what she saw and she would not tell me a thing, no matter how much I pressed her to. The following Monday I got a call from my doctor. When he calls on the phone, it's never good news as I usually get the results sent to Mychart. The ultrasound came back abnormal. I needed to get a biopsy. Oh joy.

So Monday on the anniversary of my father's death, I underwent a uterine biopsy. Ouch. I kept the pain to myself. My doctor said I was "stoic" and the results would take about a week. I already "knew" what they would be, so when he called yesterday with the news I was not surprised. At the very minimum I have to have a complete hysterectomy. What comes next depends on the lymph node sampling. I'm waiting for a call from the Oncologist to set up the consult meeting. My gynecologist forwarded everything over to her. Apparently you just can't call the head of the department up and say, "I want you. C'mon let's do it, now!" So the referral is in, and I await the call.

Guess my trip to New York is on hold right now. Guess all trips are on hold right now. Thanks mom for the heads up...sorry it took you to be dead for me to finally listen to you. So I guess the morale is, listen to your body and your intuition, and if dead relatives come to you in dreams, listen to them too.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Podcast 1 - Interacting with the Police

Ok, so I've been threatening to Podcast for a while now...tried a couple of microphones and they all stunk, so before I go spending $$$ on something I may get bored of I figured I'd just use the microphone in my laptop. I used GarageBand to record it, and that was a learning curve which I still haven't mastered. As if actually figuring out how to create a podcast wasn't hard enough, once I finished I realized I couldn't just plop it into my blog as I had hoped. Nope, it entails a lot more, and I'm still researching the best/easiest/cheapest way to accomplish that. Meanwhile, I discovered I have iMovie on my laptop and thought maybe I could create a "movie/podcast" that I could upload to Youtube and then just plop it into my blog. So, what follows is nothing fancy, and my maiden attempt to see if this is something my readers/I would enjoy before I get too involved.

This first Podcast rant is about interacting with the police, and more specifically the Roanoke County Police. Let me know what you think...

In case you haven't already read them, here are the two blog posts, My Life Matters and "The Incident" Follow Up that I mentioned in the podcast which go into more detail about what I actually experienced...

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

"The Incident" Follow-Up

It's been over three weeks since "the incident" happened with the Roanoke County Police coming to my home shortly before midnight and holding my husband and I at gunpoint. As my friends, family, and readers know they came to the wrong address, never identified themselves as police banging on my door, frisked us, and held us at gunpoint until I informed them where they were (the wrong address) and who we were (the wrong people). I blogged about it detail in this post - My Life Matters. Many of you have been asking me what has transpired since then, so that's what this post is about.

The next morning when we went outside we found a large branch of one of our cherry trees which lines the front of our home, bent down and broken.

Since it was one of the healthy branches which was not broken the previous day, we figure the police maimed it. I wondered if it happened when they rushed the house, or if they tried sitting in the tree to aim a gun at us. My husband said they probably pulled it down to use as cover to hide behind. That really upset me, and I wouldn't let my husband take it down all the way. I told him to leave it like that as a statement. When he cut it down the following weekend I was really pissed as I would have kept my wounded and broken branch dangling forever as a symbol that it could have been us who were wounded and maimed by the police. A relative who is an officer of the court in another state had left a comment on my fb page remarking that it was an awful lot of police power for just a "report of an assault" and he thought there was more to it than what the female officer had said to us. That comment, and the many others I received urging me to report "the incident" made me realize that I needed to find out more. This event was not something that I could in good conscious ignore.

On Monday morning I called the Chief of Police and left a message briefly outlining what we had experienced on his answering machine and asked for a call back. Late Monday afternoon I received a phone call from one of the Assistant Chiefs of Police. I reiterated the event and asked what had happened. He did not sound familiar with "our part" of the story, but did reveal an interesting tidbit. That Saturday evening RCP had received a call about an assault that had happened and if any officers responded they would be shot. Holy cow! Although I could certainly understand now why there had been a multitude of cops wearing bulletproof vests, weapons drawn, it also made me sick to my stomach. When the responders came to my door they thought they were there to confront a suspect who had assaulted someone with a weapon and was going to shoot cops! They thought we were the suspect! They were all hopped up, and had we not immediately complied with their commands to put our hands on top of our heads and allow them to frisk us, we could have been shot.

When my questions of what address had the dispatcher received and passed on, why didn't the police officers identify themselves immediately when they pounded on our door, and why they didn't ask our names immediately could not be answered during my phone conversation, I decided I needed to file an official complaint. The Assistant Chief did apologize. A late apology is better than none, however I still needed more than that. He said he would drop a form in the mail which I should fill out if I still wanted to after I received it and then mail back.

Another friend of mine thought I should let the County Administrator and my Board of Supervisor representative know what had occurred. I agreed. Knowing how long the mail now takes to get across town I decided to drop them an email that day instead of waiting for the complaint form to arrive. I pretty much copied my blog post, without the "colorful" words and commentary, included pics of the broken tree and sent it to both of them. Have you received a response from either of them? Yeah, me neither. Although it's not something that they can "handle" I do believe even a brief response to the effect of, "I received your email, thank you for letting me know what happened, I hope you will pursue this further so that no other resident will be subjected to this happening, yada, yada, yada..." would have been appropriate.

Five days later I received the Citizen Complaint Report form. The space to provide details was way too small so so I gave a brief description and attached a three page detailed report, along with pictures of the broken branch to it. I did not want to drop it in the mail so I hand delivered it to Cove Road. The officer at the front desk asked me what it was, and although I didn't feel comfortable telling him it was a complaint report, I did. He asked if they were expecting it. I replied yes they were. I hoped it wasn't going to be tossed in the trash bin! It wasn't. A week later, I received a letter from another Assistant Chief of Police informing me my complaint was assigned to a Commander as an internal affairs investigation.

On Friday, August 12th I met in person with the investigator who recorded our meeting in which I reiterated again the event and answered his questions. The only question he was able to answer (and I had many!) was that dispatch did indeed give the correct address, not mine. He informed me that there was a good chance I would not get all, or even many, of my questions answered. Although the investigation could take up to 90 days he thought it would be over before that. I was the first person he spoke with. He had not spoken to any officers involved. He asked me if I knew the names of the officers, or could describe them. I told him since the bright light had practically blinded me, and the large cop had all SWAT like gear on while holding his rifle, or whatever type of long weapon it was on me, and with all the confusion going on it was hard to give an accurate description of him. I couldn't really see his face. The only one I could give some sort of description was the female who frisked me. It was dark, there were so many of them, and I was more focused on the guns pointed at me than anything else to be able to give accurate personal descriptions. When the investigator mentioned there were so many police present most likely because it was "a shift change" I responded with, "Really? It had nothing to do with them getting a report that police would be shot when they responded?" He seemed surprised I knew that and asked who told me that. I told him, but I have to tell you, that one statement he made me uncomfortable.

During our interview, I did remark that it was a good thing that knowing what I know now, that we went outside when we did rather than wait inside for the police to break through the door to confront us. Had they seen us standing there with weapons meant to protect ourselves from a home invasion, they probably would have shot us like the New Jersey State Troopers had recently shot a 76 year old man after they went to the wrong address and found him standing in his living room with a shotgun. Read about it here. At least those cops identified themselves! Anyway, the investigator said he wasn't familiar with the story, nor the NJ State Troopers policy, but it wasn't RCPD policy to break through doors, so I asked if it was RCPD policy to go to the wrong address and not identify themselves as police. Never say never, with the hostile environment aimed at police these days, what was once "not policy" could easily become "policy." What is a "mistake" could easily become a "tragic mistake."

All in all, I felt the interview went well. He was very respectful, as was I. I don't think this was his first rodeo so I hope he does a thorough job. He said he needed to interview my husband separately from me so I suggested he go that day as we didn't want this to linger on. I couldn't answer some of the questions he had as my husband was the first person the police confronted and held at gunpoint. He did meet with him that afternoon and my husband was also recorded, did not have his questions answered either, but he did answer all the investigator's.

When my kids heard about "the incident" they were very upset. My daughter was appalled and wanted me to immediately contact the media. My son was angry with us that we went outside to begin with. I think it's the first time I ever had him yell at us. When I told him about the event that had happened to the NJ man being shot staying inside his living room, he insisted we invest in a video surveillance and recording set-up. He said he would hook it all up for us. A couple of years ago we did have two crappy cameras set up after someone had knocked on our door at four in the morning, which we did not answer. The following morning we found our flower box on one of our windows ripped off and saw footprints in the mud by all the windows. We had called the police but a report was never filed as there wasn't enough to investigate a potential break-in. So we bought cameras, but they didn't record unless they were hooked up to a VHS machine, and after a year of no "problems" we got lazy and stopped using them.

I researched different systems and forwarded all the possibilities to my son and we agreed on a set-up that would record and that we would be able to monitor from anywhere. He came up last weekend and helped us set it up. We could never have done it without him. It involved much more than just plugging it in. Luckily he's a computer whiz so he didn't have any problems and now he can even monitor it from Raleigh! Funny how the child-adult roles switch as we all get older.

While he was setting everything up something dawned on me. If the police thought they were responding to a suspect who had assaulted someone, and who threatened to shoot officers if they arrived, wouldn't they have taped their operation??? One would think they would want to document everything that went down in case they were shot at, or if they had to shoot at someone. I didn't notice if they were wearing body cams. I don't know if RCP even have them, but I do know they have dashboard cameras, and I would think there would have been at least one of the many holding some sort of camera to document. All the questions the investigator had could be answered upon viewing the recording. Since the investigator said I could contact him if I had any more questions, I knew this would be one of them.

I also had another question for him. Upon researching public records I noticed, under the Uniform Crime Report which is reported to the VA State Police, there were 0 reported offenses for the date of "the incident" and address block. While I thought that was odd, I found it even stranger that on the Roanoke County Calls for Service report there were also 0 incidents reported for the date and address block. On 7/24 at 16:38 there was a entry for "Civil Advice" for that address block but "No Report Taken." That was a full 17 hours since "the incident." On 7/25 at 11:49 there was an entry for "Break-In Residence" but again "No Report Taken." Now, I didn't expect to find that they had reported "the incident" at my address, but I certainly expected to find reports at the other address. How is it possible that neither a Crime Report nor a Calls for Service report doesn't exist??? This newfound information really disturbs me. Something is rotten in Roanoke County.

I decided not to just place a phone call but to write an email to the investigator asking about the above. I also thought it would be good to cc the Assistant Chief who advised me of the internal affairs investigation since he also said if I had any concerns I should contact him. When I called to find out his email address he let me know basically what happens during an internal investigation. The bottom line is that after all parties are spoken to the info is sent to the Assistant Chiefs. If they have any additional questions they will ask the investigator, and if any are for us he will contact us. Once they are satisfied they have all they need they then pass it onto the Police Chief. He will then decide if my complaint is true or not. If they deem it is, they decide what actions, if any, will be taken. I will probably not know if any actions are taken. That's it???

Every word I've written is true. As soon as the police left I texted my kids to let them know what had happened to us. I posted on Facebook not long after that. I blogged the following day. I took pictures of my tree damage. I emailed representatives. There is no way they can say what I've reported is not true. Just because RCPD did not file a report does not mean "the incident" never happened. If this incident was never reported, how many others have not been? It's a scary thought. Since the RCPD is interested in the actions of its employees and expects every employee to uphold the department's values of Integrity, Courage, Accountability and Respect, I sincerely hope with all my heart the investigation will not be corrupted, and that proper actions are taken to those responsible to ensure that an event like this never happens again.

I cannot stress enough to all citizens reading this. Please, please, please, comply with the police when they ask you to. Even if they're wrong, just do it. Better to take actions later than have your friends and family mourn you because your non-compliance was seen as "threatening." Also, something I took from this experience...if you do not have a phone on you to record, make sure to look for and remember that badge number. I wish I had at least one of them...

Here is a follow-up post to the follow-up entitled, "Who Polices the Police?"

Sunday, July 24, 2016

My Life Matters

Last night I witnessed my husband looking down a barrel of a gun while I had a couple pointed at me, in my carport, and not by criminals, but by Roanoke County cops.

It was just your average sweltering Saturday night spent in the cool air conditioning of our home, drinking wine while watching movies. Around 11:30 we turned on Saturday Night Live and after about fifteen minutes of not laughing, we decided to go to bed. As we were getting ready, Bella, our dog, started to freak out...whimpering, running to and fro before jumping into the front window. Once she did that she started barking ferociously, more so after the doorbell rang and a loud pounding ensued.

My husband and I looked at each, "Something's up!" No one we know uses the front door, and no one we know would be out at 11:45pm banging on it. Bella is barking danger, danger, danger! There's been home invasions in the county, one just last week, the perps are still out there. There's no way I'm answering that front door, to be bum-rushed as potential criminals might push their way in. My husband is already heading to the side door, stopping to grab his piece as Bella practically pushes him out of the way so she could "get 'em!"

Adrenaline kicks in and I know I have to be back-up. I've undergone training and know how to use my .38, only shattering water-filled bottles or just missing the bullseye on paper targets. By the time I get to it my husband is already out the door, with me yelling, "wait for me, wait for me, be careful, be careful!" I enter the sunroom, blinded by a light coming from somewhere, as I open door to Bella's yard to let her out. I hear shouting, but it's not coming my husband. I'm not out the door but being yelled at to "Step outside, step outside!" Still, not knowing what is happening I yell back, "Shut that light!"

I'm praying I don't hear a gunshot...I don't want to have shoot anyone, even a criminal who shoots my husband. Whoever it is, they are not lowering the light so I look away from it and see my husband to my left staring down the barrel of a gun while a cop shouts to him to put his hands on his head. WTF? The light gets lowered as I'm being yelled at to step out of the house, and for the first time I see cops, many, many cops all over my yard, guns pointed at me and my husband. I quickly put my piece on the shelf inside and step out to the shouting, "Put your hands on top of your head, hands on the head!" while three of them advance on me, their guns drawn and pointed.

"Do you have a weapon?" "Not on me." Wearing a dress, without a bra, I get frisked and patted down as does my husband, even his privates. He's wearing shorts and a wife-beater t-shit and remarks later, "We were dressed for an episode of cops."

"What the hell is going on?" I ask. "Keep your hands up, hands up!" is the response. Our hands are up and Bella's not liking this one bit, she's barking crazy and banging on the fence, "Let me at 'em, let me at 'em!!!" And I'm thinking, Oh damn, they better not shoot my dog. I'm looking at all the cops in the side yard, front yard, driveway, I count five cop cars. My husband tells me later there were more than that. I still don't know why they're here.

Finally a female cop states, "We got a report you assaulted someone." "What?! We've been home all night. You got the wrong people." They don't want to hear that, "Keep your hands up!!!!" Then it dawns on me. "What address are your looking for?" She says our four house numbers. "Yeah, but what street? This is xxDrive. Are you looking for xxMountain Road? That's two blocks down!" I try to point the way but I'm told to keep my hands up. She looks at her pad then all the cops start looking at each other. Then, only then, do they ask our names. Yeah, wrong names, wrong house.

Like what happens when a light switch is turned on in a hoarder's home, the roaches scatter. They all jump in the cars and head down the road. Not one apology. Not one we're sorry. I yell at them as they leave, "We're the fucking good guys!" I don't even know why I said that. Maybe I said it because I police the park across the street that they're supposed to. I've thrown druggies and pedophiles out of it. Just a couple of days ago we had a run-in with someone there, so it was no stretch of the imagination that maybe, just maybe they were the ones coming to our front door in retribution. When the banging on the door occurred not once was "Open up, it's the police!" uttered. They NEVER identified themselves as cops, not until I was looking at guns pointed to our heads did I realize they were law enforcement.

This could have been a disaster. Had we not complied immediately who the hell knows what the outcome might be. They all seemed quite hopped up, and why in the world would there be so many cars for a report of an assault??? It got me wondering why they were here, and why they thought our house was the place especially since our mailbox clearly states the correct address. It's one thing when the post office continually screws up delivering the right mail to the right address, but this is a whole other ball of wax.

I couldn't see all of the cops faces because I was mainly focused on the ones who had their guns pointed at me and the one who felt me up, but I wonder if this had something to do with another occurrence of a false report that happened two years ago, bringing three cops at my door at midnight then again. Waking me out of a deep sleep to question me and check my and my husband's hands for bruises one of the male cops at that time said, and I quote, "I hear you're a hot-headed crazy Italian, but we do things differently down here." I didn't even know what the fuck that meant. Flabbergasted that they would believe a report from someone who was just released from a mental institution after trying to kill themselves with drugs, I did go down the next day to file a complaint. Since no charges were brought, and no report was even made, nothing happened. But what if one of the cops last night was that same cop and heard the address, not listening to the full address, and immediately thought, that's the hot-headed Italian, follow me, I know exactly who they are and thus arrived at my house??? How screwed up is that???

When my kids were young I always told them cops are your friends. As the years passed and I saw and experienced more and more ineptitude from them, I changed my narrative. Now, it was more, "Be careful of cops. Not all of them are your friends. Some have a power complex. If you're ever stopped, do exactly what they say. Answer yes, sir, yes ma'am. Tell them you're reaching for your license, registration, whatever. There are dirty cops, ones that steal from dead men's homes. There are lazy cops, ones who can't be bothered to investigate crimes. There are judgmental cops, ones who see a teenaged girl with hair dyed a different color than the norm and immediately assume she's walking around a supermarket to shoplift. There are prejudiced cops, ones who think if you're Italian or a New Yorker in a southern state you must be a criminal.

Then there's cops like the ones in New York City who recently thought a bomb was tossed in their vehicle and rather than have it blow up everyone in a crowded area drove post haste to minimize the mayhem as much as possible. It didn't matter that it wasn't a bomb, but that they thought it was. Too bad there seems to be less and less of those types of cops lately...

So, after all this what would I have done differently? Probably the only thing would be the next time I would also reach for my phone and hit record...

My watchdog




On October 11, 2016 I received a letter dated October 6, 2016 from Roanoke County Police Department Assistant Chief of Police

"Your complaint was assigned to a supervisory officer for investigation. That investigation has been completed and the facts of this matter were reviewed by the Command Staff. Following that review, the Department determined the allegations in this matter were not sustained."

Needless to say I sent an email requesting what this means, in particular if Roanoke County Police thinks I made up the story. I am awaiting a reply...


October 24, 2016 follow-up post to the follow-up entitled "Who Polices the Police?"

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Monday, June 6, 2016

Tommy James & the Shondells in Atlantic City

I went to Atlantic City and all I got was this cool Tommy James shirt...

Actually, that's not all I came home with...I also have a couple of lousy shots of him but, more importantly, wonderful memories from a great show.

Last week I was fortunate enough to attend a concert at Harrah's in Atlantic City to see the amazing Tommy James and the Shondells. This was the first time I had ever seen the legendary act, one of my favorite bands who shaped my musical tastes as I listened to them on AM radio during my pre-teen years. I remember digging through the sofa cushions amongst the lint in the cracks of the pillows to find enough change to go and buy Crimson & Clover. I think I wore that 45 rpm disc out playing it over and over, and even mastered the quick press of the throat technique to mimic the latter chorus as Tommy sang "Crimson and clover over and over...crimson and clover over and over..."

All the aggravation of having to endure the poor planning of Harrah's regarding the issuing of tickets, resulting in waiting on a long line to pick them up (more on that, and observations on Atlantic City in general in an upcoming post) dissipated as soon as the band walked on stage and the first note was played. TJ played all his hits and I danced in my seat non-stop to such classics as "Hanky Panky," "Sweet Cherry Wine," "Dragging the Line," "Crystal Blue Persuasion," "Mony Mony," (yes, that's his song not Billy Idol's) and others.

One of my favorites was "I Think We're Alone Now." Tommy told us that it was going to be the music on the closing credits of an upcoming film based on his book "Me, the Mob, and Music: One Helluva Ride with Tommy James and the Shondells." The book was great and that's one movie I am really looking forward to. The song was played at a slower tempo than the original and moved me to tears...such simple lyrics that evoke such a strong response. My hand always beats on my heart in tandem with the sound of the beating drum after that last line in the stanzas below...a TJ fan knows what I'm talking about.

"Children behave
That's what they say when we're together
And watch how you play
They don't understand
And so we're running just as fast as we can
Holdin' onto one another's hand
Tryin' to get away into the night
And then you put your arms around me
And we tumble to the ground and then you say
I think we're alone now
There doesn't seem to be anyone around
I think we're alone now
The beating of our hearts is the only sound"

As an added bonus we got to hear the original in all its glory during the encore. TJ did not disappoint. He still got it, his voice was strong, his fingers nimble on the guitar strings. The band was tight and the concert venue was the perfect place to see them. There was not a bad seat in the house. Tommy seemed very happy to be there, connecting with the audience on many levels..."I used to drop acid, now I drop antacid" garnered a good laugh from the understanding crowd of baby boomers. I was particularly impressed by him during the musical stretch in "Mony Mony." He jumped right into the audience, shaking hands, getting hugs, and *gasp* posing for selfies! When's the last time you saw a performer do that during their show? Class act.

After the show he agreed to sign anything we wanted, hopefully something bought from the merchandise table. We were told he even said he would have no problem posing for pics but it had to be a smooth, quick session as he had a fight to catch. I bought the shirt and was preparing to get to the back of yet another long line when my husband reminded me if I got the shirt signed I wouldn't wear it. I want to wear this shirt, and I really didn't want to wait on line, so I passed up meeting him in person. Of course, I'm kicking myself now.

Tommy James and the Shondells, please come to Roanoke, Virginia. We've got a great amphitheater that would be a perfect fit. The sound system & acoustics are great, the venue comfortable, holds a nice crowd number, and, I can also get much better shots. I'd be happy to show you around the valley.

One thing that really bothers me is that these guys are NOT in the Rock 'N Roll Hall of Fame! What's up with that????

If you want to know more about TJ click here for his website. With music so easily gotten for free on the internet, musicians these days really need to tour and sell merchandise to make money, so make sure to check out the store to see some really neat and affordable mercy.

Tommy James...You still got it, baby!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Blondie in Roanoke

I was surprised last year when Joan Jett performed at Roanoke's amphitheater, but I never thought I'd see the day when Blondie would grace us! It was a phenomenal performance...for a full review of the show, check out Tad Dickens' from the Roanoke Times piece.

Below are a couple of pics from the free seats up on the hill...and some even shot through the legs of this guy...

Blondie seemed to really like Roanoke, and we really love them too. Maybe the band had such a great time in our city that they'll tell Patti Smith to come on down! Dreaming is free...