A Learning Experience   Leave a comment

Image          The roll call showed Gerry assigned to the station house post again, He was hoping that today would be different. He had been assigned to the Eight-Three precinct for two weeks and aside from the few days he spent as the third man in a patrol car he had the same boring post every day. He was walking out the door when Sgt. Capp called him over to the desk.

            “How do you like working here so far?”

            “I don’t really know. I have had Post 33 every day. All I do is walk back and forth in front of the station house. I’d like to get out and see something else.”

            “I think you have a point.  It’s time you started to learn something. Harry, Sean, come here a minute.”

            “Would you mind taking Gerry here out with you? I think he needs a break from 33.”

            “Sure Sarge, no problem.”

            “Show him around and try to get him to see more than the outside of buildings. Teach him something if you can.”

            “You got it. Gerry get your stuff and meet us outside, RMP1092.”


            Sgt. Capp had wanted them to take the rookie, Gerry Loman out with them because his hands were tied on what he could do with him. The Eight-Three was designated as an “A” house. That meant a high crime precinct. The city administration could not bring themselves to admit that, so they just said an “A” house. The command was considered extremely dangerous so no one could walk a foot post at night without a cop on the adjoining post. There were also no one man patrol cars. Things like that only existed in the quieter precincts or as the cops called them the country clubs.

            Gerry was excited as he ran to the car. He was almost afraid that it was a joke and he would be back on 33.

            “Hi, I’m Officer Gerald Loman. Sgt. Capp said I was to patrol with the two of you.”

            “I know Gerry, we were there remember?”

            “Yeah, sorry.”

            Harry just shook his head, “And no you will not be on patrol with us.  We will be on patrol and you will be listening to what we say and you are not Officer Gerald Loman to us. So just get in the damn car Gerry. Anymore of that Adam-12 bullshit and we will throw you out of the car.”


When Gerry got into the back seat Sean looked at him and shook his head.

            “Did you search that seat before you got in?”

            “No, why should I?”

            “Didn’t they teach you in the academy to search for drugs or weapons when you got into a sector car?”

            “Yeah, but you were here so I assumed you did it.”

            “So if you arrest someone and find drugs in the backseat when he gets out are you going to testify that you assumed somebody searched? If so you will look like an asshole and the drugs will be thrown out. Search the seat.”

The search done and the radio quiet for a while they went to get coffee. As the three sat in the car with their coffee containers Harry and Sean questioned Gerry. He was nervous; it felt like he was back in school.

            Sean said, “Where are you from?”

            “What do your parents do?”

            “My father’s a dentist and my mother is a teacher.”

            “How much time have you spent in Brooklyn?”

            “None, I have never been in a neighborhood like this until two weeks ago.”

            “How much time did you get riding along as a third last week?”

            “Two days.”

            “Who were you riding with?”

            “Zabinski and Purvis.”

            “What did you do?”

            “Not much we just rode around. We only answered a few calls. They said they couldn’t go on too many because they had me in the car.”

            “That’s not it, they didn’t answer many calls because they are worthless, lazy empty suits. They wouldn’t make a pimple on a good cop’s ass. Don’t listen to anything they say.”

            Harry jumped in, “Don’t strike a match with those two in the car. They are dead wood, one spark could start a forest fire. Gerry, have you ever been in a shooting gallery?”

            “Yeah, a couple of times in Coney Island.”

            “You’re not kidding me are you? That is not what I meant. When we finish our coffee your real life education will begin.”

As they sat finishing their drinks Sean gave Gerry his rules for rookies. Harry then went over his rules.

            “My only rule is do not to do anything that will get us killed or indicted. Aside from that I’m pretty flexible.”

When they resumed patrol Harry drove to Wilson Avenue. He parked a half block from the corner of Myrtle Ave. Before they got out of the car Sean explained to Gerry what was happening.

            “There is an abandoned building around the corner on Myrtle. When we go in keep quiet. We will be going up to the second floor. There’s a shooting gallery up there so be ready for anything. Just keep your gun in the holster unless we tell you to take it out.”

They crept around a trash strewn lot to the back of the building. As they entered Gerry could hear movement from the second floor. Sean motioned for Gerry to be quiet and pointed up. They silently ascended the stairs. Like lions stalking prey, their senses alert they moved toward the sounds that came from behind an apartment door on the far side of the building.

The floor was covered with the unmistakable litter of a den of junkies. Creeping closer Gerry could hear the empty glassine envelopes crunching beneath his feet like the dead leaves of autumn. But these were the dead dreams of heroin addicts. Reaching the door Sean turned to Harry. Nodding his head and silently raising a finger for each count. One, two and on three Harry kicked the door wide open. Sean rushed in gun drawn. Harry and Gerry right behind.

            “Everybody hit the wall now.” Sean yelled.

Six stunned junkies started stumbling to their feet. Harry and Sean herded them like sheep to one wall. All six were spread eagled on the wall in seconds.

            “Okay” Sean announced, “I am going to toss all of you. When I come to you I will ask if you have anything I should know about before I search you. Tell me the truth, if I get stuck I am going to beat the shit out of you. Do you understand? If I get stuck you will be admitted to the hospital. Now who has something they want to admit to? If you do raise your left hand slowly. If we see anything but fingers in that hand Harry will be happy to shoot you, so no surprises.”

Gerry fumbled for his gun but Harry put his hand out and shook his head.

The second from the left and the fifth raised their hands. Sean walked to the first raised hand.

            “What do you have?”

            “My works are in my sock.”

            “Anything else?”


            “Slowly take them out and drop them behind you. Don’t turn around. When you are done back on the wall.”

            Sean collected the home made syringe, an eyedropper and hypodermic needle and moved to the second raised hand.

            “Okay, what are you holding?”

            “I have a knife in my belt.”

            “Is it closed?”

            “No, it’s not that kind it’s in a sheath.”

            “Anything else?”


Sean pulled a metal sheath with a knife in it a tossed it to Harry. Now Sean searched each junkie. When he was done and no more contraband had been found he had them turn and face the three cops.

            Harry said, “There are six of you and only one set of works. Where are the rest?”

 One of them pointed to the window sill where another set was found. They said they had been sharing the needles. With the drug paraphernalia collected they chased the junkies out of the building.

            Gerry asked, “Why didn’t we arrest them? Those needles are illegal.”

            Harry told him, “Look if you start arresting every junkie carrying his works the bosses are going to on your ass every day. You will write out a Desk Appearance Ticket. The junkie won’t show up for arraignment. A warrant will be issued. He will be arrested on that warrant, plead guilty and get time served. That will take a cop off the street for three or four days with no results. Just take the works and toss them down a sewer when no one is watching.”

            “But how about the knife?”

            “We take the knife off the street and maybe someone doesn’t get stabbed in a drunken argument. If he has to go get his knife he has time to calm down. If it is on him maybe he stabs before he thinks. Almost every cop in the city has a locker full of knives.”

With that they went to the car. In the car Harry examined the knife. It turned out to be a German Luftwaffe officer’s ceremonial dagger. It would have been considered a beautiful piece if it wasn’t for the swastika on the top of the hilt. That emblem signifying the horror men can inflict on each other could ruin the beauty of Michelangelo’s David. Harry tossed it into his bag. It would end up in a box in his locker. He would probably not see it again until he retired. Then it would be a souvenir and a memory of his time on the job.

            Gerry was babbling on about how amazing that was, “That was the most exciting thing ever. I have only seen things like that in movies. Is it always like that?”

            Harry said, “Sorry to burst your bubble kid but that was pretty boring. You will be in a thousand places like that.”

            Sean said, “Gerry, would you like to sit in the recorder’s seat and handle the radio?”

            “Yeah, sure.”

            “OK, you got it.”

As they pulled away from the curb they received a 10-24 past assault. They were told to meet the victim in the ER of Knickerbocker Hospital.

            “Gerry answer it. Say 83 JohnKing responding, Central.”

            “83Johnking responding, Central”

            “Very good, now say it again, this time press the button of the radio.”

            “Oh shit, 83 JohnKing responding, Central.”

            “Very good. Now where are we going?”

            “To Knickerbocker’s ER”

            “Write it down that’s why you are the recorder. Time, Location, 10 code and call.”

Gerry had it done as they pulled into the ambulance dock. Inside, a nurse pointed them to the victim.

When they got to the bed they found a male with a knife sticking out of his right eye. It looked like he had about two inches of the blade inside his head. Gerry felt the room spin for a few seconds when he saw him but was able to hide it. He looked over as Sean questioned the man.

            “Do you know who stabbed you?”

            “It’s OK he’s my friend he didn’t mean it. We was just having an argument and it went too far. No report needed, I don’t want to press no charges.”

            “In case you haven’t noticed you have a knife sticking out of your eye. I think we have to take a report on this.”

            “Man, it’s no big deal. It’s OK.”

Gerry thought, This is the bravest man I have ever seen. He has a knife sticking out of his eye socket and to him it’s no more than a little scratch.

At that point a nurse came in and advised the victim she had to give him a shot. He looked over at her and started crying.

            “No needles please, I hate needles.”

            “I promise it won’t hurt.”

            “Are you sure? They always really hurt a lot.”

When she gave him the needle he screamed and cried like a little girl. Sean couldn’t understand it. A knife in the eye, no big deal. A little needle and he’s screaming.

After all the information was gathered and the forms filled out Gerry turned to Sean.

            “I don’t understand it. The junkies living like animal and that guy terrified of needles but okay with a knife in his head. None of it makes sense.

Harry smiled, “See you are learning already. The only thing that makes sense is that nothing makes sense. Got it?”

In time Gerry would see the sense in the nonsense. Someday he would be teaching a rookie the same thing.


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