How I Arrested the Gingerbread Man




My partner Dean DeGroot and I were on patrol at Ocean Beach on a Saturday afternoon. We observed two guys drinking along the sea wall, a violation of San Francisco Municipal Police Code twenty-one. We parked the car and contacted the two guys at stairwell number seven. We verified the two beer drinker’s identification and ran their names for any wants and warrants. One of the men had a felony no bail warrant for failure to pay child support. As soon as the guy heard the radio code ten “seventy-five Charlie” he took off running. The radio code ten seventy-five Charlie meant a criminal warrant. So, this guy knew he was wanted and had enough police experience to know the radio code.

We chased the guy down the stairwell onto the beach and across the sand.

After fifty yards, Dean collapsed out of breath to his knees saying, “You pant-pant go on pant-gasp I can’t make it.”

I continued the chase while yelling, “Police, stop!”

I kept chasing the guy south along Ocean Beach while yelling for him to stop. All kinds of beach goers watched, but none helped or intervened. They just stood and stared like at a car wreck scene. I was in my police uniform with long uniform pants, a bulletproof vest, jump boots, and my gun belt. My gun belt was comprised of my handgun, two extra magazines, pepper spray, a baton, radio and handcuffs. The man I was chasing was wearing sneakers, shorts, and a t-shirt.  I jangled as I ran sounding like the Good Humor Man or a janitor. The only thing the fugitive carried was a vial of cocaine that he snorted while running for some extra speed.

Beach goers, visitors, and other bystanders watched as I chased the man yelling, “Police, stop.” After running for a block or two we both started to slow from a sprint to a jog.

My commands got more labored as I said, “Police, pant-pant, stop.”

The man would look back as we were running and he would say, “You can’t catch me, you can’t catch me.”

I’d say, “I’m, pant-pant, going to catch you.”

The man would look back as we were running and he would say, “You can’t catch me, you can’t catch me.” He was taunting me, not unlike the Gingerbread Man from the kid’s story.

This went on and on until our voices got quieter and quieter, but neither quit. It was surreal like I was chasing the Gingerbread Man and he was teasing me. I kept thinking about the children’s story as we ran and decided I was going to catch the Gingerbread Man like the fox in the story did. I envisioned myself catching the Gingerbread Man as we ran. I visualized the man who refused to pay child support for five years as the Gingerbread Man with me as the friendly fox offering him some handcuffs and a ride to the jail like the fox offered the Gingerbread Man the ride across the river before he ate him.

The chase seemed to go on forever as we continued to jog with me quietly saying, “Police, pant-pant-pant, stop!”

The man saying, “You can’t catch me, you can’t catch me, ha-ha.”

You could hear both of us panting and breathing heavily like racers in a ten kilometer foot race towards the finish line. I could smell the salt air as we ran and it reinvigorated me as the ocean always does.

After one mile, the man changed direction heading east towards the Great Highway. I knew if he got into the Sunset District housing I would lose him in the alleyways and buildings. The man was slowing down and I began catching up to him like I’d gotten a second wind. I slowly closed the gap while he continued to berate me.

“You can’t catch me, you can’t catch me,” He said.

I tackled the man adjacent the Great Highway in a flowerbed. An old lady came out of nowhere and began to question my motives while I was wrestling with the man.

I got him handcuffed as the lady said, “Officer, unhand that man.” My backup, Officer Jonny Law pulled up in his police car. Yes, Jonny Law, really.

John told the lady, “Back off lady or you’ll go to jail for interfering with an arrest.” She backed off.

Snap went the handcuffs on the Gingerbread Man. He no longer said, “You can’t catch me, you can’t catch me.” We transported the Gingerbread Man to the Hall of Justice at 850 Bryant Street where he stayed because of the felony no bail arrest warrant for failure to pay child support. The moral of the story is stay in shape, eat right, believe in yourself and pay your child support.