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A look back at law enforcement in 2023: Just another weird shift

No one can claim policework is boring for the men and women working patrol



Here’s a roundup of stories from 2023 that will have you shaking your head and saying, “You just can’t make this up!”


A monkey-napping case in Dallas, Texas had police searching for two missing tamarin monkeys stolen from the Dallas Zoo. The primates were recovered the next day in an abandoned home.

In North Carolina, a man was arrested after leading the Boone Police Department on a chase while driving a stolen John Deere tractor. The driver, Ronnie Hicks hit several vehicles, a dumpster and a church during the miles-long pursuit.


Police in Hatfield, Massachusetts, launched a search for a 200-pound statue of the cinema ogre Shrek after it was reported missing from its home.


DNA found on a sweet potato helped Massachusetts police solve a 12-year-old cold case murder.


Six cows in Texas were found dead and mutilated with their tongues cleanly cut out leaving Madison County law enforcement searching for answers.

“There’s like an 8-foot person beside it and another one is inside and it has big eyes and it’s looking at us — and it’s still there,” a caller told LVPD dispatchers. This followed a Las Vegas, NV officer capturing what he thought was a shooting star in body-worn camera video.


Springfield, Colorado police found that a suspected drunk driver switched places with a dog before being contacted. “The dog does not face any charges and was let go with just a warning,” said police.

In Nevada, Washoe County Sheriff’s Officers were called to a report of a bear trespassing in a vehicle. Deputies attached a long rope and opened the door from a distance, freeing the beast.

A herd of cows helped a North Carolina police department corral a suspect on the run. A man fled from officers of the Boone Police Department into a fenced area. Officers lost sight of the suspect until the irritated bovines led officers to the suspect.

Louisville, Kentucky officers arrested a man who allegedly shot his roommate during a fight about eating the last Hot Pocket.


It took the Denton County Sheriff’s Office in Texas a few hours to corral an uncooperative bull that was wandering around a neighborhood after escaping from a transport trailer. Deputies described the animal as “quite agitated.”


Huron, Ohio police found a bank burglary suspect still at the scene. Tristan Heidl needed money so he broke into a credit union, but while using a recycling bin to leverage his descent from the ceiling, he fell in and was immediately arrested.

An Oak Grove, Missouri police officer working the midnight shift took time out to help a raccoon whose head was stuck in a jar after a brief foot pursuit.

Anaheim Police arrested a 26-year-old man on suspicion of indecent exposure and being under the influence of a controlled substance after he stripped naked and wandered around the display characters in Disneyland’s small, small world.


Ferry County, Washington deputies shot out the tires of a stolen backhoe Tuesday after the suspected thief refused to stop driving toward an animal shelter he intended to knock down.

Police in Norfolk, Nebraska, pulled over Howdy Doody, a Watusi bull known as a celebrity in northeast Nebraska, and his owner Lee Meyer while the bull was riding shotgun in an old police cruiser. Meyer was stopped for vision obstruction.

A Chicago TV news crew was robbed at gunpoint while reporting on a string of robberies.

A suspect who fled from Baltimore City Police in a stolen vehicle stopped to get gas along the way, under the watchful eye of a police air unit, before being arrested.

Douglas County, Colorado, sheriff deputy Lee Jazombek responded to the call of the distressed bear and met up with Colorado Parks and Wildlife officer Sean Dodd, who was already on the scene where a bear became trapped in a dumpster. The officers fashioned a ramp that allowed the bear to escape.

San Diego, California home surveillance video shows a burglar taking a bicycle from a garage and being confronted by the homeowner’s dog. The Golden Retriever approaches him as he exits the garage with the stolen bike where the crook stops to give the undisturbed dog belly rubs.


LAPD pursued a robbery suspect at speeds of up to 10 miles per hour. The suspect was in a misappropriated golf cart and had a dog in his lap until his ultimate arrest after he jumped from the cart in a parking lot.

Rocky Mount, North Carolina police followed the sounds of a gunshot to a burglary suspect. The man broke into a dance studio, discharged a gun into a neighboring business, and in the process accidentally shot himself in the leg.

Another inept burglar’s moans set off the alarm at a business after his Mission Impossible/Spiderman-style attempt to rappel from the ceiling went awry and he got tangled up in the thin nylon cord he was using.

In New York, Carmel Police Department Officer Vincent DeSantola and his K9 Pietro responded to the report of 30 goats loose in the roadway. The dog, a German shepherd, lived up to his name by helping corral the goats who were quickly returned to their pen.

Springfield, Missouri officers managed to capture another fleeing critter when they were able to catch an escaped lemur in a city park. Civilians helped shoo the creature toward the officers who managed to toss a towel over it and end the circuitous chase.

A headline that sounds like it should be from Florida instead took place in the Possumtown neighborhood of Piscataway, Pennsylvania. A concerned citizen spotted a 4-foot alligator that had been the object of a gator BOLO for two weeks. Police subdued it with no injuries.

An 8-week-old pit bull apparently overdosed on fentanyl in Irvine, California. Police were able to revive her with Narcan.

A Pierce County, Washington deputy barked like a K-9, tricking teen car theft suspects into surrendering when they thought the dogs were on the way.


A young bull elk’s antlers tangled in the ropes of a rustic tree swing in the woods of Western Washington. Officers responded by calming the creature, duct-taping a knife to the wooden handle of a metal rake, and setting the animal free.

During a routine traffic stop by Kern County, California Sheriff’s Office deputies opened a pizza box and found toppings of meat, cheese and a loaded handgun. Other weapons and drugs resulted in multiple charges against the driver.

A man conducting a wedding in Nebraska shot off a firearm to get the crowd’s attention and shot one of the guests.

A 47-year-old man driving a forklift wouldn’t pull over for Sacramento, California police officers, who pursued him at speeds that reached 11 mph before the suspect gave up following a foot pursuit.


A Hillsborough County deputy responded to a residence near Tampa, Florida after a 911 call from there got disconnected. The 911 call turned out to be a boy’s call for a hug, which the deputy happily provided.

In Michigan, a 12-year-old stole a forklift from a middle school, the Ann Arbor Police Department said. Multiple officers initiated a pursuit of the vehicle at speeds of 15 to 20 mph with emergency lights and sirens on During the pursuit, the forklift struck 10 parked vehicles.


In the dumb crooks file, add a Haslett, Michigan woman who was arrested after she attempted to steal more than $725 dollars of merchandise from a WalMart during a Shop with a Cop event in Genoa Township where 75 officers were present.

In animal shenanigans, a Canadian Durham Regional Police officer near Toronto was punched in the face by a kangaroo. The ‘roo was an escapee from a zoo whose handlers advised police to restrain the animal by getting behind it and grabbing its tail. The officer was not seriously injured.

Two loose bulls and a stray donkey interrupted a Bristol, New Hampshire police officer’s shift when he came across stray farm animals outside a health center. Over in New Jersey, transit police encountered a long-horned bull on the tracks that kept the trains delayed after loping three miles from Penn Station three miles away.

Lawyers aren’t the only ambulance chasers. A police pursuit involving a stolen ambulance with the patient behind the wheel ended when it crashed outside the front doors of a Florida sheriff’s office, pursued by officers in Lake City. No injuries were reported from the drug-addled patient.

Top takeaway: These stories prove you never know what you’re going to respond to on patrol.

Joel Shults retired as Chief of Police in Colorado. Over his 30-year career in uniformed law enforcement and criminal justice education, Joel served in a variety of roles: academy instructor, police chaplain, deputy coroner, investigator, community relations officer, college professor and police chief, among others. Shults earned his doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis from the University of Missouri, with a graduate degree in Public Services Administration and a bachelor degree in Criminal Justice Administration from the University of Central Missouri. In addition to service with the U.S. Army military police and CID, Shults has done observational studies with over 50 police agencies across the country. He has served on a number of advisory and advocacy boards, including the Colorado POST curriculum committee, as a subject matter expert.