By Trey Rusk
Late night prowler calls are common place. They usually wind up being something like an animal in the trash or a broken gate being blown by the wind. Sometimes they might be being a Peeping Tom.
When I worked patrol in residential areas after 2am the herd thinned and you usually saw newspaper throwers, drunks and burglars. If an area had a burglary problem, I would park nearby with my lights out and windows down to listen to the night.
Mrs. Johnson lived on the extreme West Side of the city. At least once a month, on a Thursday night Mrs. Johnson would hear a prowler. Two units worked her area but only one of them always responded to the call. Officer John Jones (not his real name) was a protector of the community. He had one weakness and that was Mrs. Johnson. He was her personal protector. He would arrive at the call and she would open the garage door in her nighty so he could hide his patrol car.
Mrs. Johnson’s husband worked offshore and would be gone three weeks at a time and Mrs. Johnson would get scared at night.
One late Thursday night I was blacked out listening to an area that had been hit with rooftop burglars. It was around 3am that I heard the thumping noise. It became louder and soon I heard wood breaking. I called in my location and advised dispatch to send a backup. I was certain that someone was breaking into the roof of a local hardware store. The Sergeant arrived and called Officer Jones. We parked our cars about a block away and watched the roof. Officer Jones arrived a little late looking disheveled.
The burglar exited the same way he entered. Had he come out a door or window the alarm system would activate. He threw an axe and his loot off the back of the building and climbed down a drain pipe. We were waiting. It turns out he was a local burglar who had just returned from a stretch in prison. When he reached the ground and turned around we were standing in a semi-circle around him. All he said was "Shit!" He was arrested without incident.
The Sergeant looked at Officer Jones and said, "Jones? Where is your gun? Zip up your pants."
I transported the prisoner and booked him.
Officer Jones was moved to the East Side and given Wednesday and Thursday off. He had been off on weekends. A note was placed on the dispatcher console. It read, “Attention: Mrs. Johnson will no longer be serviced by this department.” The Sergeant
I learned long ago that the badge could get you a piece of ass, but all it took was one piece of ass to get your badge.
That's the way I see it.