Some claimed yesterday that David Hester’s views of a government-issued Panther are more desired than his discussion of D.I.Y. engine mods. You ask for it, you get it today. How’s that for service? Also, be judicious with your comments about his prose. David may be a rookie writer, but he’s a seasoned cop, and he knows where to find you. In any case, I’ve seen a few police reports in the past, and Dave’s way with words definitely beats them all.
My cellphone begins to bleat a mere three hours after my head hit the pillow. I shake the cobwebs from my head and listen to an excitable 3rd shift sergeant inform me of a criminal act requiring the immediate attention of the Special Victims Section detective, yes, pronto, never mind the pre-dawn hours. Quick shave. Quick shower. Quick peck on the cheek of my sleeping wife. Then out into the cold for the forty minute drive from my home into the sleeping city.
My G-ride awaits, a 2007 Ford Crown Vic Police Interceptor in “Official Government Business” silver. My department assigns each officer a home-fleet vehicle and I’ve been driving this one for a little over 40,000 of its 89,000 miles. One of the last of the real Police Interceptors, it boasts the civilian interior upgrade, with mouse-fur covered cloth bench seats instead of vinyl, carpeting instead of vomit resistant rubber, and a CD player. However, in a surprise outbreak of fiscal prudence, whoever ordered the cars that year failed to check the box for the exterior upgrades, like chrome trim. It’s the best of both worlds: soft semi-luxury inside with the blacked out “move to the right” front grill.
It takes about 10 minutes to reach I-75 from my driveway. I accelerate down the entrance ramp onto the empty interstate and settle into the left lane at… a reasonable and prudent speed. The big Ford loafs, eating up the miles without drama, solid as the day it rolled off of the assembly line. The only other vehicles I pass are 18 wheelers, their drivers probably wired to the gills on coffee, No-Doz, maybe meth. All of them are on high alert, scanning the road ahead and behind for the Crown Vic’s distinctive headlight pattern in their mirrors. Tonight their vigilance is rewarded: there is a Bear out there and I spy more than a few quick flashes of brake lights, even though none of them are in my lane and I subsequently couldn’t care less about the lies in their log books.
As I approach the bridge that crosses the river separating my quiet, rural home county from the urban jungle I work in, traffic is picking up a little bit. Not much, but there’s four-wheeled traffic mixed in with the truck traffic, and as I cross the bridge I can see a few lingering in the leftmost lane. The police radio goes on as I enter my jurisdiction and I start the light show a few seconds later.
The disco lights do the job. The left lane bandits are shaken out of their trances and slide into the center or rightmost lane well before I arrive. There’s no need for the vulgarity of the siren, which would interrupt Sinatra’s request for one more for his baby and one more for the road. I reach my exit and the lights go off, rendering me all but invisible to the traffic rolling on beyond. The city is beginning to stir, with lights coming on as shop owners prepare for the first customers. Joggers are out, as are paper delivery… men. I don’t suppose there have actually been paper delivery boys for decades.
I pull up at the emergency room and park in the ambulance bay. There will be at least an hour of waiting until the victim is cleared by the doctors, followed by another hour of interviews. Sometimes the case will be legitimate. Those are draining, especially if it involves a child. More often the case will be a case of regret, an attempt to cover up infidelity, or even a dispute over prostitution services rendered. Those cases will be unfounded, pended and forgotten in short order, sometimes with false report charges against the “victim,” but usually not. I suppose that’s for the best. A city in which every rape report was legitimate would be a horribly dangerous place to live.
The sun is up by the time I finish the interviews, and I roll on into the office to get an early jump on my shift. The day will drag by. Maybe there will be a suspect to find in regards to the new case, maybe not. By the time the day is over, the paperwork, at least, will be in order. I’ll mount back up and drive back across the river, feeling the weight of the case and the responsibility of the job disappear as the Crown Vic’s wheels thump across the last expansion joint. Dinner awaits, perhaps a beer or two, and then a good night’s sleep. It will be another twelve days until I have to cover the on-call schedule for the unit again.
Another twelve days before another night flight.
David Hester is a detective with the Lexington, KY Police Department by day and night. He drove a Crown Vic for work, but “does not suffer from an overabundance of Panther love.” David is a Editor’s Choice Future TTAC Writer, just in case we ever drive through Lexington, KY.