Being a deputy sheriff can have its humorous moments, some you can share and others you cannot. A number of years ago I was working security at the Shelby County Rodeo at the rodeo grounds on Highway 7 East. I had arrived early to watch people parking and entering the arena and just to be seen by the public.
I noted a professional rodeo clown getting his props in order when suddenly he approached me. “Hi, officer. I need you to do me a favor.” A little stunned by his request I replied, “Sure thing. What do you want me to do?” The clown explained, “I am going to do a skit that requires a police officer to arrest me and lead me out of the arena. Would you do that?” I pondered the request for a few seconds and could not think of any reason I could not help him. “Sure, I’ll do that. But, how will I know when to arrest you?” He thought a minute then explained, “Well, sir, I will have my little trick car out there and when you hear me say ‘I could get arrested for doing that’, then you come out and do your thing.” So, the plan was finalized and the rodeo began.
About what would be half-time at a ballgame, the clown raced out into the arena in his small car, spewing smoke and flames. He went into his skit after he stopped in the middle of the arena. I had asked my partner, Larry, to help me make the arrest, so we were watching for the cue. After performing several stunts with his car, he suddenly pulled out what looked like a sawed-off shotgun and shot it toward the ceiling. It made a loud “bang” and with that he said, “Now you folks know I could get arrested for doing that.” Everyone laughed except Larry and me. We ran out in to the arena and grabbed the clown and I put my handcuffs on him. The crowd roared its approval as we escorted him out of the arena. I felt that everything had gone as planned.
The clown shouted at me, “Hey, I didn’t mean for you to actually put the handcuffs on me. Get them off me quick.” I noted a tinge of panic in his voice. Now he was at my mercy. I patted my pockets and looked at Larry and asked, “Larry, do you have any handcuff keys? I can’t find mine.” Picking up on the prank, Larry chimed in, “Nope, don’t have any with me either.” The clown was getting really nervous by now. “Hey, you guys. I am serious. I am claustrophobic. Get these dang things off me in a hurry”, he stammered. I noted a few beads of perspiration showing through his makeup. I decided that the joke had gone on long enough.
“Hey, I just found my handcuff key on my key ring”, I announced. He thrust his cuffed hands toward me and shouted, “Good, get them off, now !” Extending his agony for a few more minutes, I had to really work the key to get the cuffs to unlock. Finally, his hands were free, free at last. He stopped our laughter by saying, “I have never had handcuffs on before. No one has ever actually done that. It was a terrible feeling.” I sort of apologized and we left to resume our security duties.
I thought that the clown had forgiven me for the practical joke on him, but I noted that at the next night’s performance he had hired another officer to “arrest” him. So much for my clowning around.