Last weeks robbery Motes reminded me of this story.
The Twelve Hour Rolex
Like most cops I would work off duty whenever I could. The official jobs were handed out by specific office workers and it did seem that some officers got more than others.
The security and on-screen officers in shows like 5-0, and Magnum P.I. were a very small select group and those positions went to that group and only that group. I had a shot at it once, but letting a co-star take a long ride on my motorcycle ended that chance.
I’ve had to fill in for another officer, I was on duty and he was making extra money, while he booked a driver for something or another.
Once I did security at the Roosevelt High School carnival. All went well until two gangs from other schools entered, started a whole bunch of fights, so we had to arrest about 15 people whose friends didn’t want them arrested. I was never so glad to see blue lights and black Merc’s in my life.
I guess I’d better explain that one. In the ‘70’s there was a special unit of police officers called the “Task Squad”. Not really sure why it was called that, but they did handle situations that called for a more physical solution. They traveled four men to a car and almost all of their vehicles were big black Mercury sedans. Hence, the “blue lights and black Merc’s” reference. And most of them were big men. Several of the group members would go down in Hawaii history on both sides of the law.
And this situation certainly called for a physical response. When those guys came out of their vehicles the crowd just sort of melted away. When you see several cars full of guys big enough to be professional football players or pro wrestlers, and you have a chance to get out of their way, you get out of their way.
Sometimes friends or other officers would ask you to work special duty at their party or benefit or such. You always had to sign a waiver saying you were doing this on your own time and were not being paid for it.
This was one of those under the table situations. A jewelry store owner had asked me to help with his parents while they were in Hawaii. The father was also a well-known jeweler, with dubious friends, in New York City. Since his father was used to having armed driver and/or bodyguard, I was asked to show them around and provide security while they were out of the hotel. This worked out well because I was working the 11 pm to 7 am shift, this made it easy for me to show the family around during the day and maybe catch a few hours’ sleep just before work.
Now I’m not going to tell what a bunch of crap that family was, or all the hoops they wanted me to jump through. The group consisted of my friends’ father, his brother and sister-in-law, and their 2 kids. The adults were totally oblivious to what little snots their spoiled rotten kids were; because they were too busy trying to dicker price on everything from t-shirts to hamburgers. In other words, like the citizens of New York everyone loves to hate.
They were in town for 5 days; it only seemed like a life sentence. I’d had my days off in the middle of their visit so I had gone short on sleep only the last two days. The very last day I had seen them to the airport but because of a screwed up flight, I didn’t have a chance to go home and had to go straight to work.
Just before they departed the lounge area, my friend’s father approached me, thanked me for the tours and information, and he acknowledged the children had been hard to handle, and then handed me a box saying it was a token of his appreciation.
I opened the box and realized it had all been worth it. Not only had I gotten paid for the 5 days, but the father had just handed me a stainless steel Rolex watch.
I thanked him very much and really tried to hand it back. That watch could be enough to start an IA investigation and I didn’t need any more help on the end. He refused to accept it back and told me it was a gift and if anyone every asked, that’s what they’d be told.
What could I do, I accepted the watch in good grace and sent them on their way. I have to admit, that watch looked awfully good on my wrist. And it really set off the blue of the uniform.
Okay, maybe not that last, but it did look good.
After seeing them off I headed straight to the station and was just in time to start work. It had been a long day but it was a fairly quiet night, just a few calls, made a couple of traffic stops to keep the sergeants happy and I was visible to anyone up and around at 3 am.
About 3:30 am I decided to have my dinner break, meaning I was going to sleep for 45 minutes in an out of the way location. I drove down Kahakili Highway toward Temple Valley and happened to look to my left and what do I see, a vehicle parked off the road where there isn’t supposed to be a vehicle parked. I mean about 60 to 70 yards off the road and if I hadn’t looked when I did I probably would have missed it entirely. I also see there is the vehicle of one of our well known burglars parked next to this vehicle.
I turned off all my lights, radioed in my location and asked for back up, slowly approached the subject cars as quietly as possible and then aimed the front of my patrol car toward the two parked vehicles and turned on all the lights.
There are two figures inside the unknown vehicle and they are taking the dashboard apart. Bingo, the vehicle is probably stolen and I’ve got these two red-handed.
I got out of my car with my flashlight in my left hand, I did not draw my gun, I lighted up the two dummies by the vehicles and loudly called out; “Police. Stop right there.”
I won’t blame being tired or not thinking straight, I screwed up several ways. I didn’t draw my weapon and I should have. I should have noticed the “known” burglar was not one of the two men I was illuminating, I didn’t. And I should have been more aware of the areas I wasn’t illuminating, I wasn’t.
The first indication I had screwed up was when the first punch came to the right side of my head. Then someone’s hand began dragging at my holstered revolver.
My first move was to maintain control of my firearm and the strike out at whoever had just hit me. I locked my hand on top of the hand grabbing at the gun butt and threw a less than powerful left punch. I then realized the other two were almost on top of me and they were all throwing punches at my face and body.
I fought back as best I could but my primary concern was preventing them from getting the revolver. I was being rocked by some of the punches and so I was relieved when I saw the other blue lights pulling off the road and toward my location. And the first guy out of his vehicle was Turner and he was a big guy. I was very happy to see him. The appearance of more cops kinda put the punch throwers off their attack and I had a chance to throw a couple of decent punches of my own.
But the best one was when I finally identified the guy to had thrown the blindside punch and had tried to grab my weapon. It was the owner of the vehicle I had recognized at first. It was my friendly neighborhood burglar. He stopped when Turner called his name and that gave me the chance I needed to throw a really good left cross. As it hit, I felt that middle knuckle give away, again.
Well, we rounded up everyone, found the owner of the vehicle, and started all the paperwork. The vehicle owner didn’t even know it was gone. They must have just gotten started because there was only a little real damage to the vehicle where they had punched the door and ignition.
At the station they were booked for Auto Theft, Assault on a Police Officer, Resisting Arrest and all the other good stuff we could think of to charge them.
By now my left hand was swollen to the size of a foot so the Captain complimented me on the arrest, that was a first, and sent to Castle Medical Center to get the hand x-rayed.
The Emergency Room was mostly empty so I got seen right away. They took me to X-ray, the technician told me to take off my rings and watch. Told him I wasn’t married so no ring and that’s when it hit me, I wasn’t wearing a watch.
It was all I could do to not run out of the hospital and go back to the scene. When they finally announced the hand wasn’t broken and I could go home, put it in ice water until the swelling went down, I headed straight for Kahakili Highway and the location of the incident.
By now it was late morning and starting to rain. Not just any rain, but a full blown road cleaning type of rain. So there I was, in the pouring rain, searching through knee high weeds looking for my Rolex.
I never did find that watch. I spent several hours that day, and the next looking but it was never found, by me.
As for the other individuals involved, a few years later the primary suspect helped beat up an elderly man who died. He ended up doing a long sentence for Manslaughter.
The other two went on to have long careers and sentences of their own.
I figure I owned a real Rolex for just less than twelve hours. And every time my wife and I pass that spot, she always asks me if I want to stop and look for my watch. I married a warrior, but she’s also a smartass.