Cops and the Paranormal

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Most people think of police officers, military police and public safety officers of varying sorts as being reliable witnesses.  Such individuals are trained observers, often with extensive experience in documenting what they observed and with a finely honed sense of the verity of those they come into contact with.  I just got finished reading Cops’ True Stories of the Paranormal: Ghosts, UFOs and Other Shivers compiled by well known author Loren W. Christensen and had to get my two cents worth in on this subject.

About the book, Mr. Christensen seems to have been a little short of stories of a particular type for the book so he pads the contents with news stories and pretty much takes a kitchen sink approach to the paranormal, throwing in everything from ghost stories to tales of ‘divine intervention’ to his own UFO experiences working as military policeman in the 1960’s.   The tales themselves are worth a read; more than one of the stories will make even the most seasoned paranormalist do a double take, especially when considering that the witnesses are public safety personnel.

Having spent a considerable amount of time working security of one type or the other when I was young, I had my own interesting experiences of the paranormal kind. The two incidents that stand out for me both happened when I worked as a security officer for a popular tourist hotel on the Riverwalk in San Antonio, Texas (no, this was not the haunted Menger hotel, it was one of the structures that went up to accommodate the crowds that came for Hemisfair in 1968).

The top floor of this hotel was actually a large ballroom and, of course, it was a place that the security staff had to make certain was secured after hours since I and other officers had encountered adventurous lovers in various states of dress (or undress) when someone had forgotten to lock the doors.  Given that one never knew what one might stumble over and that walking the empty floor of the ballroom in the dead of night, with no light coming in but ambient illumination from the street below, was spooky even without the story below, patrolling the ballroom was not a duty that officers looked forward to.

I was working the midnight shift when a call come through from one of the other officers working that night to meet him in a service area on the floor below the ballroom.  I hustled to get there since the officer sounded a little panicked on the radio and, when I arrived, I found that the other security person working that evening had also responded.  “George” (names have been changed since I do not have express permission to use them), the officer who had called, was in a state.  He was pale, his hands were shaking and his eyes were so wide that I could see the whites all the way around.  At first, he could not seem to get out what the matter was but eventually, he led “Maria” and myself up the stairs to the ballroom.

It seems that George had been on patrol, walking the top floor of the hotel.  He unlocked and came through the double doors to the ballroom and, after re-locking the doors, noticed that there was someone standing in middle of the ballroom floor.  This, by itself, took him aback since he was certain that there was no one there when he came in.  He told himself that it had to be one of the banquet staff who had been behind the partition that hid the serving area from the main floor.  George hailed the figure standing in the middle of that large expanse of dance floor and, when he got no reply, turned his flashlight on.  The figure promptly disappeared and George made record time getting down to the next floor and calling back up to accompany him upstairs.  We cleared the area and there was no one there.

I might have been inclined to treat George with a strong touch of disbelief if I had not had an experience over the winter that convinced me that something odd was going on in this hotel.  Strangely, it happened that “Maria”, the officer who had accompanied us to the ballroom that night, was on duty with me that evening as well.

It was shortly before Christmas and, as happens with some hotels, our property was experiencing very low occupancy.  As such, “Maria” and I were covering the whole hotel for the evening.

I was about an hour away from finishing up my shift at 11:00 p.m.and was looking forward to meeting some friends for a friendly round or two after work when the call came in.  A guest was complaining of work men hammering in a room adjacent to him.  I responded to the area and did not hear anything and “Maria” showed up a couple of minutes later.  We stood in the hallway and listened.  There was no noise at all except for the murmur of a television down the hall.  After a few minutes, I knocked on the guest’s door, identified myself and spoke with him once he opened the door.  He invited “Maria” and I in and, sure enough, as soon as we were in the room, something banged on the wall in the room next door.

Now, this was alarming since our dispatch had confirmed that there were no guests in the rooms around the complainant.  There were no room renovations in progress and no reason why the maintenance crew would be working so we swiftly moved out into the hallway and used a master key to enter the other room.  It does not take long to check occupancy on a hotel room.  There was no one there but, as we stood looking confused, we heard the banging clearly again.  Only this time, the sound seemed to be coming from the room on the other side of this guest’s room.

Again, we sprinted past the occupied room and entered the unoccupied room where the sound seemed to come from and, again, the rom was completely vacant.  Since the hotel was almost empty, “Maria” and I spent the next half hour systematically checking all the rooms above and below the guest’s room and never found anyone.  We did, however, hear the banging two or three other times, always in rooms that we had either just left or in rooms that we were going to next.  Eventually, we explained to the guest that we were unable to locate the source of the noise and offered him a change to a room several floors below the one he was in.  He accepted gladly and that was the end of the problem.

The property was fairly old so I suppose that the banging could have been caused by pipes or some other mechanical issue but the trickster nature of the whole incident still gives me pause.

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About stormeye60

A place for discussing the interface between magic and things that go bump in the night. View all posts by stormeye60

3 responses to “Cops and the Paranormal

  • Dan H.

    Quite often in old properties the central heating pipes are fixed onto floor joists using copper brackets. Over time, the brackets become a little loose, and as the heating comes on and goes off, so do the pipes expand and contract.

    This sets up tensions in the pipes against the brackets, and periodically the pipe slips and creates a knocking sound. The other trigger for this knock is walking about on the floor joists to which the pipes are attached; this bends everything a bit and alters the tensions, setting off noise elsewhere.

    It is very possible to go chasing around all over an old property chasing these sorts of noises, if you don’t quite know what’s causing them; this can be quite scary if you’re on your own. On the upside, noise like this is an absolute godsend for fake mediums.

  • stormeye60

    Hi, Dan

    Always good to hear from you. This particular building was constructed in the 1960’s and these events happened in the early 80’s. The pipes certainly were held in place by brackets and the pipes ran though an extensive series of pipe chases that were accessed from locked doors that opened onto the hotel hallways. I certainly considered the pipes as a source for the knocking since I am fairly certain that the heat was on. The thing that argues against this idea was the seeming intelligence of the phenomenon; both my colleague and I had the strong sense that whatever it was, was playing with us. In either event, it was certainly creepy and makes a great story!

  • sikisewa

    When I worked in a hospital I had some odd occurances happen to me. One incident happened when I was working the graveyard shift. I had to change the linens on the bed in an unoccupied room. To save ourselves from back strain we would raise the beds to above waist level. I had stripped the bed, wiped it down to sterilize it, and walked about 10 steps into the hallway to retrieve the clean linens. When I got back into the room, there in the middle of the mattress, was a large footprint. I was gone from the room less than 30 seconds. Since it was the graveyard shift, there was minimal staffing, so anyone coming and going in my immediate vicinity would have been seen. And lastly, even had somebody managed to sneak past me, there was no way they could have climbed up that height of the bed without making noise, leaving other prints, or taking much longer to do so.

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