Why The Grimm Reaper?

Tales Of Nightingale Lynn[su_dropcap style=”flat”]A[/su_dropcap]S I MENTIONED in my very first Articles, “A Rookie Females Story”, I gave a glimpse of my first day on my own after training in the field of Law Enforcement. I’d like to take you, (the reader) backwards to the days of my training, before passing probation. I was assigned to an FTO (Field Training Officer) whose reputation was no-nonsense, matter of fact, pass or fail, and not one to hit on his female trainees. Needless to say, it was refreshing.

My FTO was hard on me, and I knew that it was my last stop. I had been with two other male FTO’s, passed with flying colors, but I had one last stop, and now it was this FTO’s turn to either make me or break me

He had two weeks to decide if I was cut out to be a cop. Breaking into this male dominated field in the early 80’s was not easy. We had been assigned calls from every thing to drunk in public, domestic disturbance, man with a gun, suspicious vehicle, shoplifter, grand theft and narcotics, homicide, but I did not know at the time that my FTO had made the request to the WC (Watch Commander) to give all DEAD BODY calls to him for the remainder of my training.

Within two weeks, we were assigned (8) dead body calls, to the point where I would come into the station, and the term “Grim Reaper” was floating through the air.

grim-reaperI had no problems with death, as prior to coming into Law Enforcement, I was in the nursing field, and along with my childhood, there was not much I had not been exposed to. However, one call of a DB (dead body) really got to me.

It was the 4th call of such in one week. As we turned onto the street, we were greeted by one of the paramedics who flagged us down, and informed us that we may need a mask. The smell was pretty bad.   This was the month of February, so cool weather, and most apartment occupants placed their thermostats at about 70-75 degrees. As we pulled up to the residence, it was an apartment complex. Lights and emergency vehicles were everywhere. As we exited the car, my FTO suggested I put some Vicks on my upper lip below my nose, which would help block the odor.

Reluctantly, I did so. We entered the apartment and the first thing my FTO did was go into the kitchen and opened up the cabinets looking for something? I had no idea what he was looking for. Finally, he reached for a can of coffee, and with that, took a frying pan and placed it on the stove, turned on the heat and poured the loose grounds into the pan. Soon the smell of coffee was everywhere.

We made our way into a small room considered the den and curled up on the floor was most certainly a body. The only trouble was, I could not tell if it was male or female, woman or man, but I had an idea because of the décor of the apartment, it was a female. The body had been in the apartment a few days with the temperature warm and as a result, the body was deteriorating rapidly, thus the pungent smell. I took a look, and quickly said to my FTO, I will be right back, and exited out the front door to the birds of paradise located in the front yard to empty what I had for lunch, (code 7) a few hours before.

I managed to compose my self quickly because my FTO made it clear that if I got sick or even thought of getting sick, my probation period was over. Although it was his way of training and would not let such a call ruin a good trainee, I had no idea and believed ever bit of what I was told, so back into the apartment I went.

I was instructed to examine the body without touching or disturbing it to see if there was any entry wound or anything unusual. I couldn’t tell, because what I thought was a knife wound was actually the ear. It was hopeless. We had to wait for the medical examiner, and that too was something I was not prepared for.

As the Medical Examiner came and began to record in detail (with us present), what she removed from the body, it was all I could do to remain standing. She turned the body over and gas noise was the last draw. I prayed to God to give me the strength, and HE did, and when we departed from the call, it was pretty quiet within the unit, on the way back to the station with the exception of the ongoing radio calls.

I went home that night after writing my report with a different perspective of this career, which would become (hopefully) my lifetime career.

As for my FTO, he was the best in the career, because he gave me respect and had faith I could do the job…and I did… Hence, “The Grimm Reaper”!


Lynn Forrester-Pitocco
Lynn Forrester-Pitocco
LYNN is Retired from Law Enforcement as a Police Officer, with a background in nursing and previously a member of the Search and Rescue Team with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, A retired member of the Orange Police Department, she became the first female SWAT member on an elite team while becoming a member of the Olympic Shooting Team during the early years on the department. A mother and a grandmother, a devout Catholic who currently resides in Houston, Texas. Her hobbies include writing, painting, and a contemplative prayer life. She is in love with her faith, but the love she carries for her two grown children and grandchildren who rest in her heart surpasses everything except her faith in God. Since retirement, Lynn has done private investigation, worked as a gang counselor with middle schools, A member of Bl. Mother Teresa’s Order called the (Lay Missionaries of Charity), she is also a pro-life advocate, often called upon to give testimony and speak to youth groups, as well as adult forums. She has published a children’s book entitled “The Children’s Garden” and is currently working on two additional children’s books. She is currently working on the major one focused on her experience in Law Enforcement entitled “Heels and a Badge”. (copyright). Her paintings and sketches, writings, can be viewed on her Pinterest boards (click on the Pinterest ICON below). Her dream is to one-day write a movie for Hallmark. Dreams do come true … See Lynn’s entire collection of thought-provoking Articles by clicking on her byline. Lynn is a contributing author to the inspiring book Chaos to Clarity: Sacred Stories of Transformational Change.

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  1. Dear “Reaper” Lynn,

    A lot of civilians never consider the fact that the police officers are the first rrsponders to some horrific death scenes such as the one that you encountered. You then handle this call and then go on to other various calls although your humanity had been assaulted. I personally admire the strenght that you exhibited to perform such “grim” duties and still maintain a healthy perspective to function in your past career.

    God bless you for your service and thank you for giving us readers some pause to think about the men and women in blue.

  2. Lynn, lest any reader think that you may be stretching the truth, my daughter went through much the same as a trainee. The big difference was her “ripe body” was an elderly man that had been dead for several days in an old mobile home in South Florida in August. Average temps for the period was high 90s and more like 120+ in the trailer.

    She is now one of the FTOs on the force and always takes her trainees through such experiences.

  3. YIKES! Oh Lynn – I would have failed 1000% – yes one thousand percent. I wouldn’t have just had a code 7, I wouldn’t have had any innards left at all. I can’e even look at a bruise without getting squeamish. I applaud you for being able to make a lifetime of law enforcement and love it so much you are willing to tell us stories about it. I don’t envy you but how I admire you!!!