Lisa Provost: Crime Scenes, Elvis, and a Bologna Sandwich
Born in August 1974, in Brooklyn, NY., Lisa Provost grew up in the Catskill and Adirondack mountains of upstate N.Y. where, from the time she was 12 – 16-years-old, she raised dairy goats.
Lisa studied Biology at RIT in Rochester, N.Y. from 1992-1994. Later, in 1998, Lisa married and moved to the Midwest when her husband enlisted in the US Air Force. The couple moved to N.C. in 2003 when his enlistment term was done. In August 2007, Lisa began studying Forensic Biology at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC. Lisa is an avid knitter and lover of four legged mammals.
The Other Scenes
In one of the internships I participated in, they dealt closely with what some would call the very common criminals. The Prostitutes, drug dealers, drunk drivers and the like. When people think of crime scene work they think of people responding to scenes like traffic accidents, assaults, rapes, breaking and enterings and of course, homicides. These are all important scenes and I found all of them fun, exciting, and extremely interesting… but it’s the drunks, “crackheads” and dope fiends that in some ways I miss the most.
Most of the technicians in the department were certified to use an intoximeter. This device is used to determine if the person is legally intoxicated and what their blood alcohol level actually is. Of course you realize when doing this… you are dealing with drunk people who are usually not the most coherent nor the most cooperative people. Trying to take the mugshot of or the fingerprints of a drunk or stoned person is not the easiest of tasks. There are more than a few mugshots of people out there that have my gloved hands holding their heads straight for the camera. Trying to roll the prints of a person as they themselves are rolling around on their feet can be an interesting challenge as well. Try holding onto the pinky of a person when they start to fall backwards because of their intoxicated state. Your instinct is to pull back in an attempt to keep them upright. Pulling someone by their pinky is not easy especially when you know full well it’s not going to help in the slightest!
Just for note: In North Carolina the law states you are impaired if you have a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or higher and you are taken to the hospital if your blood alcohol level is 0.30 or higher.
Every week it seemed the excuses got more outlandish and bizarre. One man said “he wasn’t doing anything wrong. He was just heading home.” His speech was so slurred that when the handcuffs were removed, the technician and I were sure he had said his “ass hurt”. He was saying his “hands hurt”. He blew a 0.29. One lady said that she had only one drink that day about four hours prior to her arrest. She blew a 0.22. One man stated that he should have “never gone to that titty party.” He blew a 0.19 then proceeded to begin a forty-five minute tirade about anyone and everyone he could.
He threw himself against the holding cell door until he cut himself and began bleeding from various wounds he inflicted upon himself. He spit at the magistrate. He called us “f***ing pigs” and “wondered how we could sleep at night” since we had “just arrested a man going home to his family from an innocent titty party” and “Didn’t we give a shit what his wife would think?” God I loved that guy! I learned later that in his incredibly intoxicated state he had punched an exotic dancer in the face because she would not perform fellatio on him. I wondered what his wife would think…
Then there was the young man who told us that our job as crime scene technicians was nothing but “lies and bullshit” and (of course my favorite) “f***ing heebee jeebee f***ing science”. He then lunged at the technician I was with. He was subdued and back in his chair before I even realized what had happened. Thankfully, there was always an officer with us when the technician was running the intoximeter. But what made him the most memorable was when he ran for the door. He begged, pleaded and cried until he had the opportunity to use the bathroom. When given the chance to relieve himself, he bolted for the door. The door he ran for was the one unlocked door in the entire secure area and it led to the secured garage where all the patrol cars and incoming officers were. Once again though, he didn’t make it very far. He was brought back in kicking, screaming, swearing and biting. And he finally blew a 0.10.
There was the lady that at 3:00 am who was pulled over two blocks from her home. When the officer stepped out of his car to make the traffic stop, she drove off. He caught up with her in the parking lot of her apartment complex. She had a rocks glass with vodka and cranberry juice in it. She had obviously been drinking from this glass while driving since the vodka and the cranberry juice bottles were on the passenger seat. When asked why she drove off she stated “well I saw this strange white boy walking toward my car. I didn’t know what he wanted.” My time with her got even better when she tried to beat the machine. She burped.
She touched her face. She even put her tongue over the tip of the nozzle you blow into. These are all things you are specifically instructed not to do. While she waited there for us to reset the machine to try again, we found out that she had been arrested ten days prior for DWI.
There was the man that asked for my phone number. When I declined he said “It’s because I’m drunk right?” My response was “…among other things.” Then there was the man that was determined to show us his “Mexican shoes. My Italian shoes. My Mexican shoes.” That is all he would say non-stop for half an hour. (His shoes were the color of the Mexican and Italian flags.)
There was the prostitute that was so high on crack cocaine that she was naming her prices and attempting to show the officers her “goods” so they could choose what they wanted from her. We had to make all the men leave the room so that she would keep her clothes on so we could fingerprint her and take her mugshot. When the officer (male) returned to take her to the magistrate it started all over again. I would have paid good money to go with them to see her interaction with the magistrate since a man was on duty that night.
There was the man high on who knows what that had to fix his hair before his mugshot so “he could look good for the ladies!” He primped and fluffed his hair then proceeded to put his best pose on which ended up looking like it was somewhere between Elvis and Austin Powers.
The man that was arrested for possession of crack cocaine that came back to retrieve his crack pipe still makes me smile. He was so upset that we would not return it to him. He even offered to pay for it. He said it was an heirloom and that it meant a significant amount to him. He even demanded to see a supervisor about getting his crack pipe back.
There was the woman that was so drunk that upon being placed into the back of the patrol car she attempted to kick the rear window out. She tried to head-butt one of the officers in the testicles. She kicked them both so much she broke a toe nail on one foot. They pepper-sprayed her when she would not stop attacking them. When I saw her she was crying demanding that “someone wipe my tears!” The officer asked her if she needed to use the bathroom to which she replied no. She then urinated on herself and then screamed that we were being mean to her and we would hear from her attorney. It was midnight when the officer called her family. They said we “could keep her”. I was not at the courthouse for her intoximeter screening as I had to respond to a different scene but I would have been interested to know what her blood alcohol level was.
Some of these fine folks urinated and/or defecated on themselves in an attempt to get out of their tickets/arrest. Some cried. Some hollered and screamed. Some spit, bit, kicked and fought. I only remember one that was polite and remorseful. He was nineteen years old and had been pulled over for weaving all over the road and blasting through a red light. When he was brought in he was wearing a pink Bacardi Rum hat, cocked to the side. He smiled and his cheeks glowed red with the rum flowing through his system. As his rights were explained to him his smile faded and he nodded and answered politely. It was when what would happen to his vehicle that his whole demeanor changed. He had no problem with it being impounded. “Yeah I f***ed up man, I understand.” He had no problem with paying to get it out of impound. “Yeah man, I know… I f***ed up. A cab would have been better than this.” He nearly fainted when he was informed that the person that would need to retrieve the vehicle was the registered owner. His father. In New Jersey. Every ounce of blood was gone from his face and the look of terror that crossed his eyes made me turn my head because I couldn’t help but smile. “Are you gonna call him?” he asked. The officer nodded. He swallowed hard then asked “Can I use the phone man? I gotta call him before you do.” I wish I could have heard that conversation between father and son but I had another scene to respond to. When I left all I saw was the young man on his knees with a death grip on the phone and his eyes fixed on the number pad. Apparently he was trying to figure out what to tell his father about why his father’s pretty little Jaguar was sitting in an impound lot in North Carolina.
I could go on and on… but I will leave you all with the one person that I still cracks me up whenever I tell the story. When I got to the PD they were bringing in a woman who was incredibly intoxicated. She was arrested because she had been trying to get back into her house because she locked herself out. The problem was the house she was trying to get in was not hers. When she was brought in she referred to all the officers as “Deputy Fife”. (Mind you … we were not at a sheriff’s office.) You could hear her all the way around the corner when she was brought in. “What the hell is this all about?! I was stopped dammit! What’s going on Deputy?” She was placed on the bench in the processing room, hands still cuffed behind her. “And where the hell is my God damn bologna sandwich?!” I looked up from my notes to the technician sitting across from me and she shrugged. “Pardon?” the officer asked. “My God damn sandwich! I want my damn bologna sandwich!” We had no idea where she got the idea that we owed her a sandwich. The officer came into our office with a huge smile on his face. “All yours,” he said. One of the other technicians got up to process this woman. The questions began:
Your name? – What the hell do you need that for?!
I just need your name ma’am. – Ma’am! I’m not your damn mother, girl!
Would you prefer Miss? – Why yes I would.
Your name please Miss? – What the hell do you need that for?!
I need it to add your information to our computer system. – I ain’t saying nothing.
Are you invoking your right to remain silent? – I didn’t say that!
So you’ll answer my questions? – As soon as I get my bologna sandwich…
This went on for some time until she finally relented.
Your address Miss? – You gonna come and visit me girl?
Maybe… can I have your address? – Well it’s gonna be the prison ain’t it? Lock me up with them dykes!
Do you want to be locked up with the women there? – Well I ain’t had much luck with these men. Bring on the dykes!
Well then maybe you’ll find some love there. – Maybe. It’d be nice.
Is the address on your license correct? – What?
Is the address on your license correct? – Nope.
What is your new address? – The prison! Put me in there with them dykes… and where the hell is my God damn sandwich?!
This went on and on for the entire time I was there with her. Apparently she continued on like this with the magistrate (referring to her as “Sheriff”) when she went to the court house for her intoximeter. And no, as far as I know, she never got that damn bologna sandwich.
Great stories! I worked for five years in the ER and all I ever heard from drunks was, “You can’t do this! I know my rights!” Really? ‘Cause your rights went right out the window when you became inebriated and therefore are no longer mentally competent, but, okay, you know your rights.
I would have thought you would wait till they sleep it off to finger print. Fun stories !
Wow. That’s a helluva post.
I think as a medical technologist working in a clinical hospital lab, the highest blood alcohol level I ever saw was .69%
That of course was above our linear range and had to be run after dilution. It was on someone who was a chronic alcoholic and had a history of extremely elevated alcohol levels, so it wasn’t the lethal dose as the textbooks say it should have been.