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The Badge, the Street and the CopA Lance Lapore Fictional Memoir
By Leo LePage
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2011 Leo LePage
All right reserved.
Chapter One"Recruit class GI attention!" Captain Pat Sullivan, commander of the training academy, gave the command. His command echoed. It resounded, loud, and crisp all throughout the auditorium.
Chief Paul Rudnick strode toward the podium. He was an imposing figure at 6'1", broad shouldered and graying at the temples. The scrambled eggs on his hat bill and three stars on his shoulder epaulets were gleaming in the hall's lighting.
There was respectful silence as the Chief reached the podium. His sparkling blue eyes were scanning the sea of blue uniforms before him. Beyond the contingent of officers were family and friends. Chief Rudnick paused as he looked at the faces before him. He thought of how young and full of hope they were. The torch was slowly being passed to a new and promising generation. He cleared his throat.
"Ladies and gentlemen, I want to welcome you to the Hartford police training academy. You are the hope of the future. You have completed three months of vigorous training, both mental and physical aspects. You now have an understanding of the law and the different agencies which deal with it," he said.
"Starting tomorrow you will be assigned to squads within the ranks of the Hartford Police Department. You will fill the gaps of the thin blue line! You have chosen an honorable profession, but I warn you, it will take all you can give. Most of your career will be spent dealing with unsavory types, lost souls. You will be called upon repeatedly to show personal restraint. You will be asked to place your heart and soul, even your life, on the line on a daily basis. You will be constantly under the scrutiny of the public you serve. You will be harried and criticized over and over by the media and political bodies who govern them. Yet you will remain silent and go about your business in a professional concise manner."
"You must stifle fear, grief, and at times loneliness. As you go about this great calling, you will be besieged by temptation everyday of your careers. At times, you will be a psychiatrist, a teacher, a minister, and motivator of life. You will bring life into this world and you will see countless lives leave this world. As police officers, you are given a sacred trust. Men and women of society will trust you with their homes, their property, their children, even their lives. It is a trust given by man but monitored closely by our maker. A trust I would hesitate to violate."
"To you, the mothers and fathers of the officers, I give thanks. Parents who have raised these officers in a way they would chose to serve humankind. To you, the wives and sweethearts, I say be prepared for late suppers, broken dates and many anxious moments. It goes with the territory. It takes a special breed of woman to be the wife or sweetheart of a police officer. When you see your man suit up and go out the door, you can always have this comforting thought: he is truly an envoy of our maker. For God himself used these words: blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall see the kingdom of God! Thank you, and I wish you all the best in your career of law enforcement!"
With that, the command of attention was once again bellowed as Chief Rudnick left the stage. He could feel a sea of eyes upon him and he smiled to himself hoping he reached into their hearts. For he knew it was a tough and ungrateful calling. He would mingle with the young officers at the small social gathering that was being held in the gym.
* * *
At the reception that followed, newly appointed officers Lance LaPore and Daniel Baker had just introduced their wives to Captain Sullivan. They were praising the Chief for his words but felt it was a little short. Sullivan countered saying the Chief was always short and direct with words. He had forty—two years of service to the department having come up hard through the ranks. He was a man who always forgave mistakes, but never forgave lies!
The young officers listened intently as Lance's dad approached the group. The young officer stated "Captain I would like you to meet my father, Leo Lapore." The two older men shook hands. Lance's father said, "Pleasure to meet you Captain. I'm Leo Lapore. You've put together a nice event here." Captain Sullivan smiled and replied, "We try to take care of our own."
After a few more moments of conversation the elder Lapore looked at Josie, LaPore's wife, and asked, "Would you mind taking Lance's mother and sisters home? I would like some time alone with my son."
Josie, who was into her eight month of pregnancy, was tired and more than happy to oblige. She was exhausted, and her feet had swelled to the point of making her shoe straps feel like they were going to fling open at any time. She was happy to go home at last.
Lance and his dad bade farewell to Captain Sullivan and the ladies. After mingling for a short time with other officers, they made a quick exit out the side door. They made small talk about the day's events as they walked to Mr. LaPore's car.
"Well, you made it son. I hope you realize the responsibility that comes with the uniform."
"I think I do, Dad." He answered. He felt somewhat uncomfortable because he could feel people looking at him. Then it hit him. "Well, yeah, they would look at me. I'm in uniform. I'm a cop," he thought.
His dad had parked his car, a sixty Ford, on Talcott Street. After a five-minute stroll, they entered the vehicle. His father was behind the wheel. He started driving and immediately turned onto Route I-91 headed north. Lance was surprised by this and asked "Dad where are we going?"
His father replied, "Sit tight my son, you'll see." They rode mostly in silence reaching exit 38. His father pulled off the highway and turned left onto Benedict Avenue. Lance was somewhat annoyed, thinking to himself, "Here I am in my blues for the first time, wearing a service revolver and I'm tired. Where the hell is he taking me?"
Almost as if he was reading Lance's thoughts, Leo made an abrupt left turn into St. Benedict Cemetery. Lance had not even noticed the cemetery until his dad made the quick turn. They drove a short distance under the canopy of old pine trees that seemed to be guarding the entrance. Monuments of the deceased loomed eerily all about them; sentries of the deceased, reminding the living of their location.
Mr. LaPore pulled the Ford to the side of the road, shut off the engine, and turned to look at his son. "Come on boy let's take a walk."
By this time, Lance was really thinking his dad had taken leave of his senses. As they reached the center of the cemetery, his dad stopped short and without looking at Lance he asked." Son what do you see here?"
Lance was a bit confused and stated, "I see graves, monuments and headstones."
"That's right son." he replied. "But, what's on them?"
Lance sighed in exasperation and answered, "I see names!"
His father spun around and came close to Lance's face and in a hoarse, forceful whisper he said, "You're right son. Names! Remember it and remember it well, because when you leave this world your name is all you take with you! Don't tarnish it, don't disgrace it. Your name was clean when it was given to you. Make sure it's clean when you give to your son!"
Having made his point clear, he turned and briskly started walking toward the car. Officer Lapore watched his father's back as he marched away and knew he was the greatest. He vowed as the tears welled up in his eyes, that he would do his name and his badge honor! He made this promise silently to himself and to his father.
Chapter Two"Squad, fall in!"
Sergeant Dan Shay gave the command as he and the squad commander, Captain Heinrich headed to the podium. The officers of the graveyard shift lined up at attention for roll call without much enthusiasm. Officer LaPore was enthused though, as it was his first night on this beat. After calling the roll and handing out the night's assignments, Heinrich stated, "Listen up ladies! The Geek is back and up to his old ways especially around the shopping centers downtown. G. Fox and Jupiter's have called in two complaints. He's putting his hands in people's pockets. Beat twelve get on it and I want extra attention paid to it. Chief of operations is on my ass because the mayor is on his back! This could hurt shopping sales in the downtown area. So, officer Travois, I'm getting on your ass, got it?"
"Yes, Sir!" Travois replied.
"Also, Doc Buzzard has his girls walking the streets again. Now, my dear tired troopers, we know that is not unusual, but when they're doing it in front of St. Joseph's Church well, the Arch Bishop gets really pissed off! Now officer Hatfield! Do you think maybe you can spot these broads or do we have to hang neon lights on them for your convenience? I mean I don't think they're walking around in Nun habits at two in the morning. Do you, Hatfield? Get on their asses and move them along. I want paper on what action you're taking and just a few names so we can at least appear to be taking corrective measures. You got that Hatfield?"
"Aye Captain, I'll get on it!" Hatfield said
"Yeah, well, use discretion. It's theArch Bishop's residence and vice is on it, so they say. Get together with detective Carping. See how we can assist." He continued, "Oh, by the way, Officer McGuire had a son today!"
Catcalls and hard claps followed this information. "Hey, Captain, is it his?" shouted officer Milroy. The squad needed to take the edge off and continued with various remarks about McGuire's son. "Alright! Knock it off!" shouted Sergeant Shay. Be on your guard out there and let's hit the streets."
The men filed out onto East Drive to their respective cruisers. The other officers they were relieving were waiting anxiously as their shift was over and they wanted to grab a cold one before heading home. Officer Lapore slid into unit eighteen whose operator was Officer Jim Coplift, a fifteen-year veteran with a wary sense of humor. After an equipment check, Coplift eyeballed Lapore. "Your first night alone on the beat, 'eh kid?" he asked.
"Yes sir. I just completed field training with Officer Logan." Lapore said.
"Yeah, well, he's one of the best. I hope you paid attention. The shit they feed you at the academy looks good on paper; it ain't worth a donkey's ass out here!" Coplift said. He started the cruiser and headed south on market street. He pulled into a Bess Eaton donut shop and said. "Need some hot sludge boy. This midnight shift gets worse and worse each time I hit it. He pulled in front. "Okay rookie, I'll take mine black, make it a large, seeing as your buying!" he sneered. Lapore didn't argue. Within minutes, he returned carrying the large black for Coplift and a small light and sweet for himself.
Officer Lapore was assigned to night beat number nineteen. A foot beat on North Main Street, which spanned from Albany Avenue north to Suffield Street. A bustling beat which consisted of several bars and a large influx of Latino immigrants, mainly from the island of Puerto Rico.
Weekends could be trouble and filled with much bloodshed, but this was a Monday night and should be quiet. Coplift pulled the cruiser over in front of Duffy's bar and grill. To the Police it was a known hot spot on beat nineteen, but quite empty on a Monday night.
"Look kid, I'll be by to check on you. Watch yourself and, if you take a breather, be sure to put your back up against the wall." He glared.
"Thanks officer Coplift, I'll be just fine." Lapore answered in a tone of voice only the arrogance of a rookie with a gun could muster up.
"Alright kid, and by the way, the name's Jimmy, see you on the fly." He accelerated away and headed north on Main St. Officer Lapore watched until the rear lights turned into tiny red dots and then disappeared into the city night. A cold feeling of loneliness descended upon him. He felt a chill down his spine. He turned and was facing the bar. He could feel he was being watched. He observed two black males smoking. One smiled and a gold tooth glistened as the light from the lamppost struck it. They were speaking in a hushed whisper. He caught bits and pieces in the night's breeze. He overheard something about "watch out for the man, 'cuz he be watchin' out for you!" They laughed aloud, turned, and went back into the bar.
Lapore started walking his beat patrol and began to reflect on some of the advice given to him by his Field Training Officer Logan. He could hear the words, "When talking to someone on the street, don't ever let them get closer than your arm and night stick. Watch their eyes and their hands; never let your guard down. They know who you are; you however have no idea who the hell they are!"
He continued his patrol and passed an alleyway cluttered with garbage and debris. A strong pungent odor filled his nostrils and he made eye contact with two greenish-yellow glowing eyes low on the ground! It was a stinky rat! He hated rats! Like many patrolmen before him, he took aim and threw his nightstick at it. He missed by three feet but the dirty little rat scurried away. He could have sworn he heard it screeching in a snicker.
He checked a few doors and found them all locked and secured. Once he finished making a sweep of the west side of Main Street, he crossed at Suffield and began heading south on Main to the east side. He checked his watch and the time was 01:30 hours.
Suddenly, as he approached Kennedy Street, he heard a loud commotion, yelling and screaming. He thought he heard something about 'niños'. Another loud pitched hysterical scream made the hair on the nape of his neck stand on end! A crowd of Hispanics, about 30 large, were pointing and shouting at him. They were crying and screaming mostly in Spanish. He heard the word 'niños'again trying to make some semblance of their mixed, broken English.
"Niños? Does that mean children?" Fear had crept into his brain; he had no idea what problem these people had or where it was happening. One young girl was able to get out the address of 14 Kennedy Street.
As he stood facing the distraught crowd, a city cab came cruising by slowly. Lapore jumped into the street to make sure the driver saw him. He motioned to the taxi driver to pull over.
"Hold on a minute." he called. The cab stopped abruptly with the engine idling and waited as the officer approached. "Hey man, do me a favor, have your dispatch contact the police department. Inform them officer Lapore is going to 14 Kennedy Street. I don't know what floor or what I've got. Just tell them to send back-up.," he yelled.
Juan Morales, the cabbie, stated. "Man you've got some problem down there, I'll call right away. From what I hear there's been a stabbing. Good luck!" he raced away at high speed, microphone in hand.
LaPore headed down Kennedy Street, sweat forming under his armpits. His mouth was dry. The hysteria of the crowd pushing him forward only added to his apprehension. The crown fell back as he reached the apartment. They stood on the sidewalk and in the middle of the street. They were crying and many were wailing as they beat on their chests.
The officer faced the building. It was a six-tenant apartment building. Three stairs led to the front entrance. He could see the hallway was in complete blackness. He started up the stairs and peered down the hallway as he approached the entryway. He could see an open apartment door on the right side. It was smashed as if hacked through. He saw the floor was strewn with items as light shined out from within. The open door was beckoning him to come in to help. Behind him, he heard the screams of the crowd rise in a crescendo. They were pointing at the same door but fear kept them transfixed in their shoes.
Excerpted from The Badge, the Street and the Cop by Leo LePage Copyright © 2011 by Leo LePage. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The Badge, the Street and the Cop is well written and keeps your interest all the way to the end. If you like to read then you don't want to miss this one. The Author Leo LePage ranks up there with the best selling authors. I look for to reading anything else he writes.
Where has this guy Leo Lepage been? This is the first book I've read by him but it won't be the last. You won't be disappointed with this writer. Can't wait for another.
We found this book at the American Police Motorcycle Museum in Meredith NH and the owner said it was the best book he had ever read depicting the life of an inner city policeman. I could not put the book down and found it to be facinating with a series of stories that had me riveted. One of the best written books I've read!
This book is mesmerizing, entertaining and informative all in one . It achieves the authots goal " to bring the reader along with him on the beat" LePages hard hitting,realistic stories depict the conditions police officers faced in te 1960-1970's and also face today. This is the best lawenforcement officer book published in years. I could not put this book down without a desire to return to it.
Not my usual type of book, but gave it a try. I loved it! Really grabbed you right from the beginning. Wrtten about a time when cops were allowed to be cops and use common sense.