By Trey Rusk
I had the pleasure of working with tough street smart men. That's not to say that there were no females in law enforcement, but when I began my career, women were a small part of the total make up of officers. I also had the pleasure of working with some good female officers. Officers then carried brass knuckles, saps, night sticks and heavy aluminum flashlights that were used as take down weapons. If an officer began putting on leather gloves while speaking to a suspect it was an indication of an imminent arrest.
But let's not kid ourselves. I also had the displeasure of working with a few douchebags. Officers that had no business wearing a uniform or gun. I'm not going to concentrate on the bad officers because they were a small minority and most of them were eventually fired. However, I do mention them because I try to tell the truth on my blog. Not all cops wear halos.
I once worked with a cop that excelled in catching business burglars at night. He went around the businesses at the beginning of his shift and marked doors and windows to see if they had been tampered with. I'm not going to tell you they way he did it because it's a trade secret that still works well. In between calls for service he would drive behind the strip centers and if one of his markings was disturbed, he would call for back up. Usually he could catch a couple of in-progress burglaries a month. He also taught me to give a false location to dispatch if you were watching for a crime. These crooks listened to scanners and if they thought you were somewhere else they would come out and steal in their comfort zone.
When I made detective, I would keep up with the local parole releases. A veteran detective in a nearby jurisdiction taught me that most convicts always revert back to their specialty. It was a lot easier then because Texas only had 30,000 to 40,000 inmates. TDCJ now averages 150,000.
I had a safe burglar hitting oil field service companies. This was before DNA evidence and we relied heavily on fingerprints and confessions. My local parolee of choice had been released one week before the rash of safe peeling began. It takes several hours to peel a safe and it's very hard work. I surveilled him for several days. He was staying with some dopers in a rent house near the county jail. I reported to work one morning and was told that a safe had been peeled. I headed to the scene and found fresh sand below the entry window with perfect work boot impressions. I made plaster casts of the boot prints. I went back to the office and saw my parolee walk out on his front porch. I walked over and told him I wanted to speak to him. As he started to walk to me I noticed he was bare footed. I stopped him and told him to get his shoes because there was some broken glass in the parking lot. He went back in and emerged wearing the work boots. They were a perfect match. I got a confession and retrieved the sledge hammer and chisel. He was back in TDCJ within a week.
I worked for some good Chiefs and Sheriffs. I always listened well and never tried to interrupt them if I was being chewed out. These autocratic men could really spit out the cuss words and seemed as if they were trained in professional ass chewing. What I liked about them was that when the lecture was over, it was over. I wasn't called in often. You see, the same chiefs or lieutenants would also compliment officers when they truly made a difference. I wouldn't give a hoot in hell for a supervisor who never said, "Good Job."
I guess I would be remiss if I didn't tell you that all Chiefs and supervisors were good. Just like officers there were some that climbed the ladder of promotion any way they could. I could spot a bad one fairly soon because they seldom if ever said, "Good Job."
I miss the good officers and supervisors that have passed on. I think about them often because they helped me become who I am. One of the good guys.
That's the way I see it.