When people have brushes with the paranormal and bizarre, the police may be the first ones that many will call, but what happens when it is police officers themselves who come face to face with things beyond their understanding? As it turns out, there are numerous accounts from law enforcement personnel of having encounters with the unexplained, something I have actually covered before, and for the most part they are just as baffled and frightened as any one else in these cases. These accounts are intriguing, as they show a glimpse into what happens when the men and women of the law come face to face with mysterious forces they have not been trained to deal with, and illustrate that they are only human, and just as susceptible to being unsettled by such phenomena as anyone else.
Many of these paranormal encounters of law enforcement revolve around places imbued with a violent past. Take the case of a house in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in the United States, which was the location of a gruesome and notorious crime. On February 17, 1970 a medical doctor assigned as a surgeon for the Green Berets named Jeffrey MacDonald killed his pregnant wife and two young daughters with a knife, ice pick, and club at their home, after which he had smeared the word “pig” in blood on the headboard of a bed, in a murder case that would shock the nation. In the wake of the crime, the house, which was abandoned for years, was said to be intensely haunted, and this has been confirmed by military policemen who work at the base.
Officers regularly received calls from frightened residents saying that lights could be seen flickering within the boarded up house and screams could be heard emanating from within its dark confines. Officers investigating these reports often told of seeing these phenomena with their own eyes, which was apparently enough to put some of them off of patrolling that area altogether and made many of them unwilling to go near that house. One military policemen at the time said of the disturbances:
It wasn't unusual for us to get calls to go to the house because people saw lights on or heard someone talking or screaming inside the residence. Some of the people making these complaints were high-ranking people that you would think would be very believable.
Another case from November of 2006 involves a policeman who was shot while looking into a family that had not been heard from for a few days in Detroit, Michigan. The shooter, a Tony Lynn was then faced with a stand off with police before being killed by a police sniper. A few days later, a gruesome discovery was made when three bodies were found stuffed within a basement closet, including Lynn’s own grandmother. Not long after this, there was purportedly a series of mysterious 911 calls made from the house, which would hang up as soon as they were answered. This was odd considering the house was now abandoned and the phone disconnected. At one point an officer Sean Haefeli, incidentally the officer who had been shot by Lynn, was sent to investigate and what he found would chill him to the core.
The house itself was boarded up, and upon the lawn he found crosses. He would say that it looked like “a house from Nightmare on Elm Street.” He entered the residence with flashlight in hand and soon found a Ouija board on a table with its marker over the letter “U,” which he claims seemed to be pointing in his direction. Unsettled, he made a run of the house and the basement and claims that as he passed the closet where the bodies had been found he felt a blast of cold air and an intense sense of being watched, even though no one was there. He would say of his strange experience:
It made the hairs on my neck and arms stand up. I said what I wanted to say to the victims and then just ran out of there. It felt like something was constricting me. I felt like somebody was there watching me the whole time.
Supposedly the 911 calls stopped after this visit. One very intriguing report of paranormal activity connected with a place with tragic history comes from the ruins of the World Trade Center in New York City, in the aftermath of the 2001 9/11 terrorist attacks. Now retired Lt. Frank Marra claimed to The New York Post in 2013 that while sifting through the rubble and debris of the fallen towers that had been brought to the Fresh Kills landfill, in Staten Island, he had seen something he could not explain. While picking through the rubble looking for survivors and human remains, he claims that on several occasions he saw a spectral woman wandering about dressed in a World War II-era Red Cross worker uniform and holding what appeared to be a tray full of sandwiches. He said that the woman always appeared 50 yards away and would vanish into thin air if he approached or stared at her for too long.
Not believing in ghosts and thinking his mind was simply playing tricks on him, Marra then apparently put the encounters out of his mind until he began doing research and interviews for a book about 9/11 called Hallowed Ground. He says that during one interview with a policeman the officer asked him if he had ever heard about the ghostly Red Cross worker trying to hand out sandwiches over at the landfill. Mara would say of his feelings upon hearing this:
It hit me like a ton of bricks — I had put that dormant – and it just reminded me that I remembered seeing her.
It would also come to light that a few other policemen had also seen this figure, and that there had also been reported black, shadowy shapes and “large black masses” skulking amongst the ruins and rubble of ground zero right after the attacks. One spirit medium who Marra talked to suggested that these entities were “soul collectors” who were responsible for bringing the dead over into the afterlife. Some of the shadow figures may have even been ghosts of the victims themselves, confused and wandering about. This is especially chilling when considering that some of the victims’ bodies were never found. Marra would say of this:
How many had their ashes and remains uprooted and brought to this place? Why isn’t their presence believable?
When it comes to places where one would expect to see ghosts, graveyards are probably right up there with places of violence or death and dilapidated old houses, and of course there have been strange police encounters here. One such strange odd account was given by a police officer named Nino Dicandia, in Saint Louis County, Missouri, who claims that he saw something he couldn’t explain while patrolling the city’s Park Lawn Cemetery at around 3 AM. He says that as he passed he saw an older couple standing by the gates, a man wearing a brown suit and a woman wearing a dress. The two held hands and proceeded to walk into the cemetery together, and Dicandia, sensing it was rather weird, immediately went to investigate but found no sign of the couple anywhere after searching the area. It was as if they had just completely vanished into thin air. Dicandia would say of his spooky experience:
That's when I got the chills. It’s not like it was just a glimpse. I watched them for a good 20 to 30 seconds. ... Maybe they were husband and wife or longtime companions and she had died first and was there waiting for him and showed him the way. It's something I won't soon forget. I wasn't tired and I know what I saw.
Other police encounters with the unexplained are not tied to any place linked to a particular dark history or death, but are plenty spooky nevertheless. One case occurred in the city of Imperial, Missouri, in the United States, and began with a series of calls to police from a frightened couple claiming that they could hear disembodied footsteps roaming about their home at night. On two occasions officers were sent to investigate but they found no signs of an intruder. When there was a third call, the sheriff’s department went again, thinking that it was likely just another false alarm, but on this occasion they reportedly found a sliding door slightly opened and the motion lights on outside, yet oddly no footprints in the snow outside.
Within the home itself were found various items scattered about the floor, as if someone had rummaged through, and the couple claimed that none of this was their doing. Jefferson County sheriff's Cpl. Rich Rice interviewed the couple and claims that as he did there was the sound of floorboards creaking from different areas of the house even though no one was walking there. No other signs of an intruder were found and apparently when the couple moved away the disturbances at the residence stopped, with no new complaints from the new owners. Rice would say of the eerie incident:
I've been a cop for 27 years and even talking about it now gives me the chills. I’m not a believer in ghosts and this was enough that it gave me the heebie- jeebies. I’m a Missourian, you gotta show me. Unless I see a goblin walking across the floor, I think things are explainable, and this was not explainable. It was like something out of 'The Exorcist.’
One story related by a commenter claiming to be a cop on a reddit thread for police paranormal experiences starts with a call in 2008 to a home for a neighbor dispute. As soon as the officer got there he was confronted with an angry woman who the officer described as otherwise normal, well rounded, and “professional looking.” The woman fumed that her neighbors were racists, and that they had the habit of shouting through her walls at her at all hours. She claimed that she had lived in the house for a month with her husband, and although they generally liked the home and the area they were getting fed up with the man next door shouting racist things at them and telling them to “leave the home."
The woman then went on to say that just before calling the cops she had come home from grocery shopping and had set her bags on the back porch to open the door when one of the neighbors had allegedly shot a 24-pack of soda with a pellet gun. The officer went to go check out the groceries and this was around when he began to sense something was awry. He said of the groceries:
I go outside and look at this case… and there are several cans inside the case that look to be leaking into empty but I don’t see where a projectile hit the case. It was also about 70 degrees and beautiful. So I open the case… which was sealed and there are four cans that just look smashed to hell…. but the rest are fine… and I see no pellet holes or whatever else. Also in my mind I have no idea how these cans could have been this deformed in the pattern they were found in without damaging cans near them… or the case they were in. I might be college educated and have some cop exp… but I shrug it off because how the hell do I know they weren’t damaged in packing, or some other explanation. But the spider sense started tingling.
The police officer decided to go and talk to the neighbors to get their side of the story, and found, to his surprise, that not only were they of the same race as the one who had filed the complaint, but that no male lived on the premises, odd considering the woman had said it was a man’s voice that shouted at them all of the time. There was also the fact that the neighbors were described as “two of the sweetest old women ever.” Nevertheless, the complainant insisted that the voice had come from that house, and that it was undoubtedly that of a very pissed off sounding male. The officer decided to get the neighbors to talk it over in his presence, and would say of the rest of his experience:
We all got invited inside and if you could picture two grandmothers that were roommates… you can picture inside this house. They even had a candy tray and pastries to offer. So finally I explain to the grandmothers what is going on. I shit you not… one looks right at me and goes… “::name omitted:: said that happened to him before he passed” they then tell us that the previous homeowner before the current one apparently told his neighbors that a voice was yelling at him to “leave the home” a few months before taking a handful of sleeping pills.
Now… I’m a pretty rational person. But the more I thought about it… crazy racist neighbors don’t yell things like “leave the home” they are usually more explicit and hateful. I kinda think that the only type of entity that would tell you to “leave the home” would be something inside the home.
So I have no idea what to believe. I know that a short time later i saw a real estate sign in front of the house and the complainant packing her stuff into a truck. She waved.. I waved back. But that's all I know and I luckily am not assigned to that area anymore.
Another spooky case comes from the country of Chile, in the municipality of Fe y Esperanza, where police officers were treated to something like the scene from a horror movie when they went to investigate a domestic disturbance call on February 26, 2017. When they arrived at the home, the family claimed that they were being terrorized by “unnatural forces,” including levitating objects, mysterious noises, and objects spontaneously catching on fire, and the skeptical police began to suspect that this was all a prank. Nevertheless, they went in to investigate anyway, and this was when they would have their minds changed.
Upon entering the home, a Second corporal Boris Olavarría González claims that a trowel immediately came plummeting down from the attic, but when officers went to look there was no one there who could have thrown it. As officer González was making his way back the front door, he then claims that he was struck from behind by a knife, even though no one had been behind him, later saying of the incident :
It was super strange. Thankfully, I was wearing my bulletproof vest, so I suffered no serious injuries. This was the kind of thing you only see in horror movies, unexplainable in real life. At first we couldn’t believe it either.
Other officers experienced strange phenomena within the house as well, such as seeing smoke where there was no fire and objects moving on their own. One officer Alexiz Ruiz claimed that as he walked through the house his arm suddenly went numb, he felt overcome with waves of negative energy, and that his mobile phone lost all reception for no reason. Another officer named Arturo Sánchez said that he saw windows inexplicably break and heard various strange noises when no one was there. No explanation could be found for any of these phenomena, and the frightened family was supposedly moved out to a social center nearby until things could be figured out.
Sometimes even actual police stations can be ground zero for supernatural phenomena. One police station in Espanola, New Mexico, has a bit of a history of hauntings, with many officers claiming to have seen ghostly figures or heard unexplained noises on the premises. Most unusual of all is surveillance footage at the station that seems to show an actual ghost. In September of 2014, Officer Karl Romero was on duty monitoring the various state-of-the-art cameras set up at the station when he saw something very odd in a secured area surrounded by locked gates. As he looked on in bafflement, a distorted glowing white figure walk through the area before disappearing. At the time the place was totally secured, with no way in or out without opening the secured gate, and no alarms were set off by whatever it was, leaving Officer Romero dumfounded. He would say of the incident:
At first I thought it was a podilla — a fly or moth — then I saw the legs ... and it was a human. But not a real human. No, a ghost. I don’t know (what exactly was on the video), but we’ve had some unsolved murders in the area.
The video itself can be seen here, and it has caused a fair amount of debate, with skeptics saying it merely shows a spider or insect crawling across the camera. Interestingly, one of the biggest skeptics of the footage is a paranormal investigator named Bryan Bonner, of the Rocky Mountain Paranormal Research Society, who thinks it is certainly a bug of some sort and points out that police have no training in analyzing such footage. Bonner says:
Because of that they fall back on the same biases as most people and jump the the conclusion that if they cannot explain it it has to be a ghost, when it is very easy to explain.
With their guns and badges, people may think that police officers are unshakeable and fearless enforcers of the law, and that they have all of the answers. Yet they are just as likely to be perplexed, confused, and scared by paranormal encounters as anyone, and these unexplained events seem to not care about badges or guns. Police officers undoubtedly see many odd things every day, but these are things they can deal with and are trained for, and perhaps nothing that compares with coming into contact with the world beyond which we know.