Officer Jungle Gym
By Jason Schaefer
What began with a curious animal became a test of patience when during a traffic stop, a kitten used a Taylor police officer as a jungle gym.
The incident was recorded on the video camera of Taylor Police Officer Keith Urban’s squad car, and is quickly becoming one of the department’s most entertaining stories of life as a police officer.
A few weeks ago, Officer Urban stopped a vehicle on County Road 112 near the Taylor city limits. The vehicle pulled over in the driveway of an old farming lot with a barn and other aged buildings, and a black kitten, likely around a year old, happened to be in the vicinity.
The police video from Urban’s car shows the kitten prancing in the field around the stopped vehicle as Urban talks to the driver and begins to write a ticket. The cat approaches Urban and begins to rub against his ankles and legs.
The cat grows more bold, attaches its claws to Urban’s pant leg and begins to climb up his side and onto his shoulders. When the cat’s actions finally interrupt Urban’s writing, he leans over to gently drop the cat to the ground.
Urban continues writing the ticket, but the cat persists, returning to once again climb up Urban’s pant leg. This time, it circles Urban’s hips and climbs up his belly and chest and once again onto his shoulders. In a final move, the cat steps its forepaws onto Urban’s head.
Through all this, Urban does his best to ignore the cat, remain professional and finish writing his ticket. After the paperwork is complete, Urban once again pulls the cat off of him and drops it to the ground, nudges it away from him with his foot and then makes haste back to his squad car, the cat following in his footsteps.
Chief of Police Jeff Straub would likely have never come across the video, he said — which was received with outrageous laughter from himself and other officers in the department — were Urban never to mention it. But, as it is in Urban’s nature to do so, he approached Straub with the story and apologized for his behavior, concerned he might have injured the cat.
“We review a certain amount of videos, but for the typical traffic stop, we probably wouldn’t have looked at it,” Straub said. “(Urban) came in and said, ‘Hey, you know, I kind of kicked this cat away from me, and I’m sorry.’ He was trying to get it away from him and kind of launched it. Of course the cat thought it was great fun and wanted to come back.”
Straub believes the video shows “incredible patience on the part of the officer,” he said, and illustrates how police officers deal with a wide variety of strange situations.
“What makes it so funny is that he is so cool, and so kind to the cat,” Straub said. “I think many police officers would have dealt with it differently to try to shoo the animal away. I know the vast majority of people would not have stood there and allowed it to climb on him. You know that’s got to hurt, the cat climbing up his legs.”
Urban said the cat didn’t scratch him at all, which made it easier to ignore. If the cat would have dug in its claws, Urban might have reacted differently, he said.
“I didn’t have any pain at all,” Urban said. “But next thing you know, (the cat) worked its way up and it was climbing around my waist and such. I think the driver of that vehicle was laughing a little bit, and the driver even offered to get out of the vehicle and remove the cat.”
Urban handled the situation himself, however, and followed through the stop as professionally as he could.
“It didn’t really bother me,” Urban said. “I didn’t really think a whole lot of it. The cat wasn’t hurting me so I didn’t pay a whole lot of mind to it, but the driver definitely thought it was funny.”
Though the cat was wearing a collar, Taylor Animal Control revisited the property looking for the animal, but it was nowhere to be found.
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