True Blue: Police Stories by Those Who Have Lived Them

True Blue: Police Stories by Those Who Have Lived Them

by Randy Sutton

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After September 11, 2001 Las Vegas Police Sergeant Randy Sutton began soliciting writing from law enforcement officers-his goal being to bridge the gap between the police and those they serve, with a book that offers a broad and thoughtful look at the many facets of police life. Hundreds of active and former officers responded from all over the United States: men

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After September 11, 2001 Las Vegas Police Sergeant Randy Sutton began soliciting writing from law enforcement officers-his goal being to bridge the gap between the police and those they serve, with a book that offers a broad and thoughtful look at the many facets of police life. Hundreds of active and former officers responded from all over the United States: men and women from big cities and small towns, some who had written professionally, but most for the first time. Sutton culled the selections into five categories: The Beat, Line of Duty, War Stories, Officer Down, and Ground Zero.

The result is True Blue, a collection of funny, charming, exciting, haunting stories about murder investigations, missing children, bungling burglars, car chases, lonely and desperate shut-ins, routine traffic stops, officers killed in the line of duty, and the life-changing events of September 11. Here, officers reveal their emotions-fear and pride, joy and disgust, shame and love-as they recount the defining moments of their careers. In these stories, the heart and soul behind the badge shines through in unexpected ways. True Blue will change the way we think about the deeply human realm of police service.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
On the infamous day of 9/11, more police officers died serving their country than on any other day in U.S. history. In the aftermath, Sutton, a veteran detective in the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, was inspired to compile a number of stories written by police officers (many of whom had not published previously) depicting their multifaceted lives. This book represents Sutton's attempt to honor all police officers but especially those who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks of 2001. The stories are divided into five sections (although it is structurally odd that only Part 5 has its own subsection, while pieces in the other four sections are combined in a disorderly fashion). These stories include "The Beat" (police who walk or patrol specific neighborhoods), "War Stories" (every cop has them, and sharing such stories is a cop's way of sharing the moment and building camaraderie), "Officer Down" (the very words chill the blood of police officers), "Line of Duty" (most of the time, police work is quite routine), and "Ground Zero" (stories regarding the devastating events of 9/11). The result is an effective overview of police work. Recommended for specialized collections in criminology; all proceeds from the sale of this book will go to the families of the law enforcement officers killed during the attacks.-Tim Delaney, SUNY at Oswego Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
"A simply great new book...funny, sad, and, at times, haunting, the essays capture mundane events, as well as tragic ones. Some of these 55 stories are lyrical, some are gritty, some so heartbreaking they make you cough up a tear, and others laugh-out-loud funny, and some more thrilling than top suspense fiction. But they all come right from the heart that beats beneath the badge." -New York Daily News

"If you want to enter the hearts and minds of the men and women sworn to protect us, read True Blue. These intimate episodes, written by the law officers who lived them, are funny, sad, moving, and powerful...everybody should own this memorable book." -Joseph Wambaugh, author of The Onion and Fire Lover

"If you want an adrenaline rush, forget about intricate mysteries and so-called thrillers. These pages bring to vivid reality the real stories of cops whose guts and glory are seldom seen and rarely heard."-John Langley, creator of COPS

"Wanna know what cops really think and when they're under stress, and what makes them act and react? These stories will tell you. Most telling their stories in these pages are first-time authors; some are polished, some are gritty, but all have a story worth reading." —Dan Mahoney, author of Justice: A Novel of the NYPD

"I've been a Las Vegas cop for twenty-five years and I got a rush reading True Blue. This book achieves what all the police shows strive for, hard-hitting action combines with genuine emotion. These stories are real, the cops are heroes."-Sheriff Bill Young, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department

"Heartrending...some are hilarious...All [the stories] demonstrate that cops, who have reason to reflect on their experiences, are wonderful philosophers and storytellers."-Booklist

"An effective overview of police work. Recommended for specialized collections in criminology."—Library Journal

"Candid true-life tales of officers from places as diverse as downtown Los Angeles to small-town America...illustrate 'the heart behind the badge' and bridge the gap of misunderstanding and distrust that often tarnishes the public perception of the police."—Michael Ratcliff, The Times (Trenton, NJ)

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St. Martin's Press
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Little Boy, G.I. Joe

The Beat

By Scott Harmon

Police Officer, Galena PD and Kankakee PD, Illinois, twelve years.

It was an early afternoon and I was pulling a double shift because I was ordered over. It was a beautiful July day, not too hot, about seventy-five degrees with a perfect breeze. I remember thinking how nice it would be to take the bike out for a cruise, but I was stuck working.

Then my reverie was over and I found myself thinking about an incident that happened the night before, where a guy had gotten shot in the chest when he was holding a gun by the barrel while approaching me. I was contemplating how I could have made the situation better, while at the same time thinking about how I got called into the office for a “beef” I had received from a citizen. It just seemed like this was not my month. The week prior, a guy had jumped off a train bridge into a shallow river embedded with rocks. His family was blaming the police department and my name was at the top of the list.

I was thinking all this as I was patrolling up Evergreen Street and saw a little boy sitting on the curb and crying. He had blond hair and was wearing a white-and-blue-striped shirt and blue jeans. Normally, since the kid was obviously not in any danger, I would have just driven away without asking what the problem was, but for some reason I was curious as to why this little boy was sitting all alone and sobbing his heart out on such a beautiful summer’s day.

“Hey kid, what’s the matter?” I asked before I had considered that this might be opening a can of worms.

The boy pointed to the sewer drain at the corner and said, “My G.I. Joe fell in the drain!”

I could see the tears streaming like tiny rivers on his cheeks as he relived this horrible occurrence. “Oh, that’s not good,” I said.

Hey, what can you say in response to something so trivial? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not heartless, I was just in one of those moods. But I radioed dispatch, “City K-13.”

“K-13?” dispatch replied.

“I’ll be out at Evergreen and Oak with a juvenile,” I said and exited my squad.

I walked with the boy over to the drain and looked down. “Don’t worry kid, we’ll get him out.”

He sniffled and wiped his eyes and then looked up at me with absolute confidence. “Okay, you’re a policeman, you’ll be able to help him!”

Hey, no pressure kid, I was thinking. Then I wondered how the hell I was gonna get down there. You know how your mind starts racing with different thoughts? I was thinking, I really don’t wanna get dirty and “un-tucked.” Stupid, huh? Yeah, I know. But I looked again at the boy’s trusting face and something happened—it was as if something cracked open inside me and I too felt the urgency and gravity of the G.I. Joe-in-the-drain situation. Suddenly all the things I’d been thinking about earlier seemed trivial. I knelt down and first put my hand, then my whole arm, all the way into the drain. I had maneuvered myself so that I was just barely able to touch G.I. Joe’s crewcut head when my sergeant drove up. He rolled down the window in his squad, looked at the two of us for a moment, and said, “Hey! What the hell are you doing?”

The boy and I, excitement evident in our voices, responded in unison, “Getting G.I. Joe out!”

I could hear Sergeant McCabe mumbling as he exited his squad, “You gotta be shittin’ me.”

But I said, “Hey Sarge, your arm’s longer than mine, give it a try!”

McCabe just stood there for a second staring at me, unamused. I could see the wheels turning in his head as he considered various stinging retorts, but then he looked in the drain and at the boy who was now standing next to me. “Oh, man!” McCabe said as he knelt down on the pavement.

We discovered that McCabe’s arm was longer than mine, but apparently not quite long enough. As McCabe tried to reach our American Hero in the drain, my sister beat car pulled up. Officer Brian Coash is not only my partner but also my best friend, and when he saw the three of us alongside the drain he just started to laugh. But he got out of his squad and assessed the situation, laughing the whole time, and then said, “Let’s just pull the drain grate out!”

Why didn’t I think of that, I was muttering in my head.

“There’s no way we can pull that thing out, we’d need a crowbar,” McCabe said, appraising the grate.

Without hesitation I reached for my radio’s lapel mike. “City, K-13!”

“K-13?” dispatch replied.

“City, will you contact the city crew and have them twenty-five my location with a crowbar.”

“Nice!” McCabe said, smiling.

Then another squad pulled up and then another just to find out what we had going on. Moments later the city crew arrived. I grabbed the crowbar from them and went over to the drain and started prying. But it was a lot harder than I thought.

“Get on this!” I said to no one in particular. Brian leapt forward, grabbed the end and started prying.

“It’s moving!” the boy cried.

“Yeah! Keep it up!” McCabe was as excited as the little boy.

Finally the grate slowly lifted up and gave a low suction noise. As I knelt down to reach into the drain, I bumped heads with Brian and Sergeant McCabe.

“I got it, I got it, spread out!” I cried, realizing that we were experiencing a Three Stooges moment. I felt the soft cotton fabric of G.I. Joe’s uniform and grabbed him in a tight fist.

“I got him!” I shouted with joyous triumph. And at that moment I saw myself as someone I hope I’ll always be. I looked over at the boy and his face was almost angelic and his smile simply brightened my existence and warmed my heart. I stood up, dusted myself off, walked over to the boy and presented him with G.I. Joe, no worse for his experience in the drain.

“Here you go, sir,” I said.

“Thank you so very much!” the boy said with utter joy and gratitude. I realized at that moment what this job is all about. It’s not about the contract negotiations, or how much comp-time you have accrued, or how you get called into the office for pointing your finger into some guy’s chest. It’s not about the fact that your favorite food hangout rang up full price and now you gotta bum five bucks from your partner, or that your uniform got a little ragged from a long tour of duty.

I realized right then and there, you do it for the little ones.


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