One of my characters in Faithful Lies is a police detective. I know a retired San Diego cop and so before I wrote a particular scene I recalled a story he had once told me and I spliced it into a bit of dialogue. However I didn’t quite remember it properly and when I had lunch with him last week I asked him to tell me another story- one I could blog about. He offered up the below from his rookie days and asked me not to use his real name. So… I think I’ll call him Carey Mahoney. Also, other names have been changed (for obvious reasons)…
Carey Mahoney (while drinking a beer across from me in a bar downtown): It was the 1970’s and I’d been a cop for eight or nine months. When you first get out of the Police Academy you ride with a training officer for two months. I’d only been on my own for about a month and a half when I got a call to back up the county constable. She was serving an eviction notice. When that happens, the station automatically sends two officers. I got to the house first because I was closest. A Volkswagen pulled up at the same time I did- a man was driving and a woman was in the passenger seat. The lady got out and came up to me and said, “I’m Constable Bizzy and I’m going to evict Emily Wilson.”
Mahoney informed her, “You have to wait for the other officer to arrive before you can approach the house.”
Instead of acknowledging the protocol reminder, the constable pulled a four inch blue steel revolver out of her purse and scowled, “Don’t tell me how to do my job.”
While she marched up to Emily Wilson’s front door, Mahoney doubled back to his police cruiser and radioed: “That back up needs to step on it!”
Constable Bizzy rapped on the door with her gun and a very petite eighteen year old with a two year old daughter answered. The constable handed her eviction papers and said, “I’m evicting you. Get your stuff and get out.”
Mahoney joined Bizzy on the step just as Bizzy’s purse slipped down her shoulder. Using the barrel of her gun to push the strap back into place, she shoved past a terrified Emily.
Mahoney pulled his gun and began searching the house. When he’d made a thorough check, he holstered his weapon and told Bizzy, “All is clear, constable. Put your gun away.”
But Bizzy simply yelled at him, “I ALREADY TOLD YOU: DON’T TELL ME HOW TO DO MY JOB!” And then, overcome with defensive annoyance, she leveled her gun right at Mahoney.
Emily began frantically packing her things while trying to calm her frightened daughter.
“Put your gun away!” Mahoney barked at the constable, knowing full well poor young Emily was scared to death. “There’s no threat here. PUT IT AWAY!”
To which Bizzy screamed at him, “You’re under arrest, officer!”
The backup walked in (Officer Tackleberry) and when he saw Bizzy pointing a gun at Mahoney, he freaked because he had no idea SHE was the constable. Tackleberry drew his own weapon and aimed it at her. “Drop your gun please, ma’am!”
Mahoney tried to calm Tackleberry down, attempting to diffuse the situation. “This is Constable Bizzy. She’s just a little… shook up.” Then Mahoney called his sergeant and told him to come to the house right away. “There’s an… issue… here, sir.”
When the sergeant arrived, he confronted Constable Bizzy so of course Bizzy reacted to this reprimand by turning her gun at HIM. He told her to put it away and when she refused he mumbled something like, “I don’t have time for this shit…” and grabbed the gun out of her hands.
Constable Bizzy, totally wigged out, shrieked. “Now YOU’RE under arrest too!”
So the sergeant radioed for the captain and when the captain arrived on the scene there was talk of placing the CONSTABLE under arrest (which, at this point, everyone but Emily and her daughter appeared to be destined for the clink) . The captain called the sheriff’s department and during the middle of the whole fracas Bizzy’s husband finally got out of their Volkswagen and wandered into the house to see what was happening.
After much confusion, everyone finally dispersed, with Mahoney having to go straight back to the station to write a report on the whole incident (which took him the entire evening). At the same time, Bizzy made a beeline for the press.
The debacle ended up going to trial and during a recess at the court, Mahoney and three other police officers were standing in the lobby when Constable Bizzy walked past them.
She stopped in front of Mahoney, a scowl on her face. “You tried to trip me!”
Which of course he hadn’t.
When court reconvened, the judge threw the case out and declared a mistrial.
Carey Mahoney sent me newspaper clippings of the event after we met and these quotes were my favorites…
“A county constable tried to arrest two San Diego police officers Thursday night, but the officers took her .38 caliber revolver away from her.” (because that’s what happens when you wave a gun around at cops, lady, duh)
“The constable said, ‘Although the police won the round, their victory may last only until President Carter hears about it.’” (talk about taking it up the chain- I’m sure Carter had extra time to spare from dealing with, say, the Iran hostage crisis)
‘“The second officer was very nice,’ Constable Bizzy said. ‘But the first one was a real bully. If he had asked me to put away my gun and then said ‘please’ I would have.’” (riiiiiiiight)