Correct Spelling Is Important

I never forget one of  my first introductions to the reality of being a cop. There was a murder. A 17 year old girl was stabbed 37 times in a most brutal killing.

A cab driver that was in “debt” to me contacted me and related that he had been in that area at the time of the killing and had seen a possible suspect running away. Not wanting to expose him at the station I took a statement from him at my home and then took it to the station to give to the Homicide detectives.

I had been a beat cop out of the academy for about 4 months at this time. It was a Saturday so they called the handling detective to come in to meet me. He was a long time veteran with an “old timers” attitude, especially concerning “rookies”.

I handed him my report. He took one look at it, threw it in the trash and told me “this is a Hom-I-cide. Not a Hom-o-code. Get your shit together before you bother me again.” And he walked away.

I took the papers out of the garbage can and “observed” that I had misspelled the crime. I was so angry I never resubmitted the report. And he never asked for my information and never told the Captain that I had come forth.

To my knowledge the “hom-i-cide” has never been solved. Maybe it’s my fault it was never solved. That has bothered me for a long time. She visits my dreams on a bad night.

In those early years there were very definite lines of authority and work. Patrolman didn’t do the detectives work, the plainclothes guys didn’t drink with uniformed patrolman, and nobody had anything to do with the lowly footman.

But they were always ready to take the information, make the arrest, and take all the credit for it. It wasn’t like some places were a cop’s advancement can be measured in good arrests, but you could count on being put in your place if you stepped up too far.

 

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