A Day in the Life: Never a dull shift

2012-10-01T06:00:00Z 2012-10-01T08:40:39Z A Day in the Life: Never a dull shiftLARRY HENDRICKS News Team Leader Arizona Daily Sun
October 01, 2012 6:00 am  • 

The stabbing happened at 3 a.m. Sept. 20. The victim and his girlfriend were walking home from a bar.

A suspect, or suspects, tried to get the victim's girlfriend to come to a party, or another bar.

The victim protested, a confrontation happened, and the victim was stabbed.

The bar had no surveillance. Witness statements are vague.

The case is thin.

"Someone in that bar knows who was involved," said Eric Carlson, a detective with the Flagstaff Police Department. "In this case, I don't have any suspects yet."

Welcome to a day in his life.

When he got the call at 7:30 a.m., another detective was already on scene taking photographs. Carlson followed up at the hospital with the victim, but the victim had been intubated and couldn't talk.

The weapon wasn't conveniently left at the scene. The victim is out of the hospital; he's healing. The case goes on.


Carlson, who has been a police officer with the department for nine years, promoted to corporal two years ago and became a detective five months ago.

"Honestly, it's something different," Carlson said of his desire to be a detective. "It's a whole new ballgame when you're working strictly felonies. It was a change of pace, and I get to learn something new."

Each detective, in addition to receiving a wide array of cases while on call some weekends and nights, has a specialty. Carlson's is credit card fraud and identity theft.

He said he gets about five new cases assigned to him a week. He works another 20 to 30 that are pending more evidence, results of tests, or are in the adjudication process. He closes out two or three cases a week, on average.

He is one of 15 detectives being overseen by two detective sergeants. A lieutenant oversees the detective division. The small division means that when he is on call in the rotation, he could receive a wide variety of felony crime types.

Big, high-profile cases often require several detectives working as a team, but none of the detectives in the division works with a partner, Carlson said. He looks to other, more experienced detectives for advice when he comes upon a dead end in a case. Detectives David Holland and Mike Slayton have worked fraud and ID theft in the past, so he goes to them for advice.


"There is no typical work day," Carlson said.

The day begins for detectives with the 8 a.m. briefing.

"That's the time we can throw around cases we're currently dealing with, throw around new ideas," Carlson said.

Much of his day is running down paper trails with the fraud cases. There are calls to banks, requesting transactions, following up with stores, running down video surveillance, talking with victims, conducting follow up on evidence testing.

Each day is different.

"You never know what you're going to get into," he said.

His reason for being a police officer?

"It's so cliche', but the bottom line is being able to help people. It's that simple," Carlson said. Being helpful -- that's the gratifying part of the job.

That, and a detective gets to see a larger piece of the case. As a patrol officer, Carlson would see only the front end of cases, seldom knowing how they turned out at the back end -- if there was a conviction, a trial, charges were dropped. As a detective, he gets "the meat of the case," and he gets to follow the case through. There is a deeper involvement, a context, in talking with victims, family, friends, prosecutors through the criminal process.


Carlson moved with his family to Flagstaff when he was 5 years old. He went to Christensen, Knoles and Sechrist elementary schools. He went to Flagstaff Middle School, and he graduated from Flagstaff High School. He graduated from Northern Arizona University with a criminal justice degree.

After an internship with the police department, he applied, was accepted, sent through the academy and hit the road as a patrol officer. He said he thought briefly about a career somewhere else, but he kept comparing every place to Flagstaff. So, he decided to stay. His wife's family lives here. He has two sons.

He's currently 31 and has plans to promote again in the future. At 42, Carlson will have his 20 years in with the police department.

"I don't know what's around the corner from that, though," he said, smiling.

Larry Hendricks can be reached at 556-2262 or

Stabbing incident

Flagstaff police are seeking the public’s help in solving a stabbing that happened Sept. 20 at about 3 a.m.

According to information from the Flagstaff Police Department, the victim and his girlfriend were walking home from a bar and were in the area of Sixth Avenue and Third Street being followed by one or more people from the bar. The person or people were trying to get the girlfriend to attend a party or go to another bar. When the victim confronted the person or people, he was stabbed.

The girlfriend described a single suspect: A Native American male wearing a blue T-shirt, jeans, about 5-feet, 7-inches, 230 pounds, with shorter hair.

The victim described three suspects, and the suspect who likely stabbed him was: Hispanic male with a bandage on his cheek, 250 pounds, 5-feet, 10-inches, in his late 30s or early 40s wearing a white shirt, belt buckle and boots.

He was with two Native American males with long, gray hair, possibly brothers.

Residents who might have information about the crime may call Detective Eric Carlson at 679-4060, or Silent Witness at 774-6111, or visit Cash rewards of up to $2,000 are available if information leads to an arrest.

Copyright 2015 Arizona Daily Sun. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(1) Comments

  1. wingmountainjon
    Report Abuse
    wingmountainjon - October 01, 2012 8:31 pm
    Congratulations on making detective, Eric. Your neighbor, Jon.
Add Comment
You must Login to comment.

Click here to get an account it's free and quick