Greg in uniform and next to his car in his first law enforcement position.
By the time Greg got into law enforcement, at age 54, he had already been a member of the Church for years. He’d been trying to instill Christlike behavior into everything he did for a long time and this skill was well-honed. In an appropriate way, he took all these behaviors into his law enforcement career, and it showed.

There is a multitude of examples and probably many that I don’t even know about, and now will never know about. However, I’ll share some of my favorites.

In his first law enforcement position, he had not gone through the police academy yet so he was operating on his existing skills.

The Town Bully

One memorable incident came when the town bully had been driving all over the lawns of some of the town’s most prestigious and influential citizens. Naturally, a complaint came into the police department. Greg was sent out on the call. When the undersheriff and another officer heard the call come in, they actually left town so they would not be called for backup. Greg was alone.

The bully was not unknown to the other officers. He was, in fact, notorious for this type of behavior. Other law enforcement really didn’t know what to do with him.

Greg went to his house. I won’t say what techniques Greg used on him because they were somewhat situation specific. Greg handled his threats, his anger and his combativeness and got him to back down completely.

Using reason, keeping his emotions cool and his extensive personal skills, Greg got the man to actually apologize, confirm that he would not repeat his actions. Greg connected with him on a personal level.

After the call was over and Greg radioed dispatch that he was available for another call, the undersheriff and officer reentered town, found Greg and asked to be briefed on what went down.

This was not a tentative change. This man turned into a friend and asset. He actually helped the police during that year’s Halloween craziness, keeping his eyes on the kids and their activities which prevented any mischief. He volunteered at other times too.

What I especially remember is that we got a nice Christmas card from the (former) bully and his wife that year.

"Active Shooter"

Greg arrived at one call location and was waiting for his backup to arrive when dispatch clarified the initial call and warned him that it was an “active shooter” situation. Greg could see the other officer arriving from down the street. When the “active shooter” caution was radioed, Greg saw his backup veer off of down a side-street. He knew he was on his own.

It turned out that there was no active shooter and Greg handled the call. The other officer didn’t have much to say for himself. Given he was former military police, Greg had expected more of him. From then on, he knew better.

Dealing With the Mentally Unbalanced

Greg also proved his worth to the department when dealing with a man who appeared to be unhinged. Greg was the only officer who could handle him. In essence, the man was caught displaying himself nude and was hauled in for indecent exposure.

He continued his nudity while incarcerated. He couldn’t be forcibly dressed, nor would he consent to dress himself, unless the Sheriff said, “Please” which didn’t happen.

Greg had him rational, compliant and even friendly. He wouldn’t behave for any other officer. When it came time to transport the man to the funny farm, naturally Greg was chosen, with the Sheriff keeping a wary eye on the man from the backseat.

It wasn’t just mental cases that Greg was called on to deal with. If anyone was out-of-control or emotional, Greg’s colleagues knew he was the officer to tap. In fact, when the city manager got threatened, Greg was often sent to the man’s office to head off any problem and get the irate citizen(s) cooled down.

Posing outside our home as a Sheriff's Deputy, his first law enforcement position.

Cultivating Kids and Others

It was in his first location that Greg got dubbed, the “Lollipop Cop.” Halloween had passed but we had a full bag of dum dum suckers left. With my consent, he kept them in his patrol car and handed them out to kids he talked to or was dealing with for some reason.

The “Buttered Popcorn” flavor was the most desired as well as the rarest. Giving out these suckers resulted in him getting intel on crimes or just the kids’ antics around town. The kids liked him and knew he was approachable. This paid out in law enforcement dividends in so many ways.

He continued his lollipop tradition in other locales he worked. It had the same effect on the kids.

He was the police chief in his next position. A friend at church who worked in county juvenile corrections told me that, “The only place kids are having a positive experience with law enforcement is in your town with your husband.” She knew this because kids in the system had to report to a central phone line every interaction they had with law enforcement. She had to check the log periodically for any of the kids she worked directly with.

Greg would give kids a ride home in his patrol car. Sometimes it was kids who were veering toward trouble and he wanted to cultivate them in some way. At other times it was weather-related. Whatever the reason, the kids really seemed to enjoy the distinction.

After a particularly nasty ice storm, Greg saw a young girl who was obviously frightened inching toward her home. Greg got out of his cruiser, took her hand and helped her to her door.

Sometime later a young boy identified himself to Greg thus, “It was my sister you helped over the ice!”

Why Do They Hand Him Evidence Against Them?

There was a particularly notorious family of perps who actually lived fairly close to us. I didn’t know them but Greg had been sent to the home several times on calls. They were moving and they owed everybody money, their landlords, the city, everybody. Everybody wanted to know what their new address was and where they were moving to.

One night, Greg came home with their address on a lid fragment from a moving box. When he told me whose it was, I was incredulous. I asked him, “How did you pull that one off?” He just shrugged, “They like me,” he said.

In his longest-term position in law enforcement, Greg was able to really shine. He along with the other officer in his 50s was assigned the 3 pm – 11 pm shift which included over the weekends. He had Wednesdays and Thursdays off. It was a difficult shift to work for many reasons. I kept Greg’s hours myself, otherwise, we wouldn’t have had much of a marriage.

I respect the Chief’s decision to place Greg and the other man on that shift. If any of the other, younger, officers had been assigned they would never have been able to see their wives or their children awake. Greg and the other officer were empty-nesters.

Everything happened on the 3-11 pm shift. The kids were out of school and people were off of work. Everybody was home during the weekends.

Taking Down a Notorious Meth Dealer

Greg came home at 4 am one Sunday morning. I had gone to bed by this time but I wasn’t asleep. I knew something had gone down that night. I wanted to know what it was.

Greg sat on the bed propped up against the wall. Still in uniform, he crossed his legs and said, “I’m a hero.” He was rather smug about it and he had every reason to be.

He’d been sent out on a “keys locked in car” call, one of the most common calls the officers there dealt with. Each patrol car was equipped with extensive tools for this type of call that were unavailable to the public.

The woman’s car was her own and it was sitting in her garage. Her ex had locked it out of spite as well as stealing the money she had saved for her upcoming move. She was livid with him.

The other officers considered this woman scum. They would have unlocked the woman’s car and left. They would not have extended a sympathetic ear to this woman like Greg did.

She fumed about her ex. Greg listened and learned. I don’t know if he asked her the name of her ex or whether she volunteered it. However, he instantly recognized it as the name of the most notorious drug dealer in the area that law enforcement had been after for some time.

When she expressed her desire to somehow “get even” with her ex. Greg volunteered, “Well, maybe we could help you out there.”

He persuaded her into writing out many pages of testimony along with her daughter. Armed with this, Greg, the rest of the available force, the county Sheriff’s office, the highway patrol and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) executed a warrant on several properties and discovered several hot meth labs. Hot means they were currently cooking meth.

They caught the drug dealer and collected a mountain of other evidence. Greg arranged with a local charitable organization to supply this woman with the money her ex took from her so that she could relocate as planned.

It was indeed a coup.

Greg had had prior dealings with one of the current women of this drug dealer. She had told him she was of the Pottawatomie tribe of Native Americans. She knew nothing about them.

As a native Hoosier, Greg knew quite a bit about them. On one of his off days, he researched it online, printed it out and took the information to this woman at her home. She was very grateful and touched by his kind gesture. This woman was also arrested when her drug dealer friend was.

From jail, she called Greg. She told him that law enforcement had found the meth but not her personal stash of cocaine. She told him where it was. He told her that this would increase the charges against her. She said she knew that but didn’t want any later inhabitants of her former house finding the cocaine, especially children who could hurt themselves with it, Greg found the cocaine and it did indeed increase the charges against her, but at least children were safe from it.

This wasn’t the only intel Greg received from incarcerated prisoners. It happened rather often. After one such requested visit, the Sheriff’s officers in corrections asked Greg, “You’re going to share any intel you get with the Sheriff’s office, aren’t you?!”

Fully aware that Greg was central to his being caught and incarcerated, the notorious drug dealer he took down even called Greg from the jail to rat on other prisoners and give Greg intel on other crimes. Although somewhat used to it by now, I asked Greg why perps kept doing this. As always, he shrugged and said, “They like me.” Sometimes he added, “I treat them with respect.”

Off-duty and relaxing with our two Weimaraner puppies.
Handling the Mundane and the Extraordinary

People were constantly coming up to him and saying hello and shaking hands with him like they were old friends. These people were largely unknown to me. I knew he hadn’t met them when I was present. After they were gone, I’d ask Greg how he knew them. Nearly always he would answer, “Oh, I had to arrest them.” I usually asked him what they were arrested for, even though the answer often unnerved me – rape and child molestation.

Greg arrived at one domestic disturbance call where several men, all related, were outside. The first officer already had some cuffed and compliant. One of them appealed to Greg, “You know me,” and started to tell Greg the circumstances. 

The other officer was annoyed that Greg “wasn’t cuffing his guy.” Greg finally said to the officer, “Look, they are all brothers. Their mother just died unexpectedly and they are having a tough time dealing with it. The guy’s fist is bloody because he punched the truck and the truck isn’t pressing charges …”

After the uncuffing, the other officer left. Greg lingered and chatted with the men about dealing with grief.

Another of my favorite stories was the unpredictable man who had been threatening people with violence. This man was known to law enforcement and they felt the threats were credible. Greg was dispatched to the man’s home to talk with him.

While there, Greg noticed some of the man’s knives. He expressed admiration for them and asked about them. Greg had his own knife collection from years of collecting so he knew quite a bit about knives.”

Obviously proud, the man showed Greg his entire collection and the bulk of the visit was taken up with this activity. During my debriefing, I asked Greg if the knives were really all that special. He told me no. Then, I demanded, “Why did you tell him they were?” “Simple”, Greg responded. “I appealed to his vanity and he let his guard down. He went and got all his knives and showed them to me. This enabled me to know exactly what weapons he had as well as where they all were.” I told Greg he was ingenious. He just smiled.

Greg chose to wear law enforcement shirts whether on or off-duty for the rest of his life.

Service In and Out of Uniform

In one area, Greg had had some dealings with a young teen boy. From a broken home, the boy lived with his mother in a small home. It was so small that the boy didn’t have a bedroom or even a bed. He slept on the couch. It was beastly hot that summer and it was difficult for him to get cool enough to sleep. His mother had purchased a ceiling fan for the living room but couldn’t install it herself because she didn’t know how. She was looking for help. Naturally, Greg volunteered.

He and I went to the home on one of Greg’s off days and installed the fan. The family was very grateful. Somehow Greg’s influence over this young boy made a real difference in the boy’s life. In fact, the boy’s father sought out Greg about 7 months after he installed the ceiling fan to personally thank him for the continuing positive effect Greg was having on his son.

These kinds of stories were not rare for Greg. They were common. I know about most of them but I don’t think anyone else could even appreciate the sheer numbers of them.

The Six-Year-Old Runaway

One of my absolute favorites is the story of the runaway six-year-old girl. The little girl had gotten angry at her mother and run away. Obviously panicked, the mother had called the police. Several officers and others were scouring the town looking for the girl. Significant time passed.

Two officers had actually found the girl but she managed to run and escape from them as well. Greg found her and took her in his cruiser to her grandmother’s house.

I had to pull the details out of him. Several things didn’t add up to me. I demanded, “She ran from everybody else, including other officers, but she didn’t run from you! Why?!” He answered, “Because I didn’t do anything threatening.” I made him tell me exactly what he did so I could understand.

After seeing her, he specifically maneuvered his police cruiser so that he pulled up alongside her with the passenger seat and spoke with her out of the window. He did NOT get out of his cruiser. He asked her where she was going. She told him she was going to her grandmother’s house. He asked her if she wanted a ride. She wanted to know if she could sit in the front seat. He said, “Sure.” She climbed in and he transported her the rest of the way to Grandma’s in safety.

A Contrast in Moving Committees

The last story I’ll relate is more my own. Our moving committee in Kansas, when we were moving to Utah, consisted largely of two men, both Hells Angels. Believe me, they looked the part. Greg had become acquainted with them both because he had arrested them both on prior occasions. He had developed enough of a rapport with one that he had asked Greg to accompany him to court as a friend and support.

I was able to get to know both men. They were certainly rough and they had their challenges, but both were fundamentally kind and thoughtful men.

Our moving committee in Utah was largely two missionaries, one from Ukraine. I was chatting with the Ukrainian elder and remarked on the contrast between our moving committee in Kansas and the one in Utah using the term Hells Angels.

Obviously deeply confused and disturbed, the Ukrainian elder asked, “What is Hells Angels?” I did my best to explain the concept of biker gangs to him but I really don’t think I succeeded.

Next: Part 5: Tribute to My Husband Greg Cook - His Intelligence

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