2 May 2001
Charlie Shift (4X12)
Approximately 0045 Hours
TGI Fridays Reisterstown Road

“Deserves got nothing to do with it.”
(Clint Eastwood as William Munny – UNFORGIVEN)

So, I kept at it. Foot chases and car stops, serving warrants and tracking crime, handling calls and making arrests. Aggressive policing. I was in the best shape of my life having lost almost twenty pounds in the Academy, and I kept myself trim by chasing criminals around Sector One like it was going out of style. I gained a reputation on the street as one who could not only run down a bad guy, but one who would not hesitate to do so.

On 25 March 2001, I received a permanent Post Car assignment. I took over Fourteen Post car on a permanent basis, and things really took off for me. No more floating from car to car, day to day. No more wondering whom I would be riding with each shift. And most importantly… no more driving around in shitty cars that no one seemed to take care of. Fourteen car, Shop #9154, was the best car in Sector One, at least in terms of condition. The Officer that previously occupied Fourteen car in our Squad had been a guy named Kent Martin, somewhat of a friend at work, and Kent had taken care of that car. Kent recently left the Department to lateral to the Carroll County Sheriff’s Department, and upon his departure, I asked Sergeant Roper to consider me for his replacement. His answer had been a quick “OK.” I was quite surprised how easily I had been handed Fourteen Post… but I knew in my mind that I had earned it. I had been working my ass for over a year, jumping from car to car on any given day, and trying my best to make a name for myself. I had been doing the Field Interviews… I had been writing traffic tickets…. and I had been making arrests. It was not uncommon for me to make thirteen arrests in seventeen days of work. In fact, on one 4X12 shift, I worked eighteen days and made thirty arrests. Below me, the next highest arrest record was only five. The only other Officer in Sector One with as many arrests as me was Agent Melissa Hyatt with twenty-seven. (The only difference between an Agent and an Officer is that an Agent has a college degree. Since I did not graduate from college, I could only maintain the rank of Officer.) Agent Hyatt is the short, scrappy daughter of a former Police herself, and I found working alongside her to be refreshing. She knew how to handle herself, and despite the fact that many of my male coworkers displayed a strong attitude that women had no place in policing, I frequently thought that I would prefer her as my backup to some of the men in my Squad. She was tough and bold and would eventually work her way up to the rank of Chief of the neighboring agency, the Baltimore County Police Department. This was a rare distinction for a woman. We worked well together in Sector One, and I often thought that the reason we got along so well was that I was the only male in the entire Northwest District that did not attempt to hit on her. She often complained to me about the constant “harassment” that she received from her male counterparts, and at one point even commented that she appreciated the fact that I did not act in that fashion. It simply never occurred to me to think of her in that way. Agent Hyatt was and is a good Police, and that was as far as it went for me. Besides, I was happily married, and she was engaged to a fellow Officer from another District. Even if I was not married, I could never think of a fellow Officer in that manner. To this day I cannot understand how a Cop could marry another Cop. Especially one from the same Department. There is just too much drama that comes along with that concept. Most male Police that I have met are misogynistic, sexist people who think of women as one thing: objects. I cannot tell you how many Police I have encountered in my time with this Department who are or have been unfaithful to their wives. It sickens me for a number of reasons. Besides, it would drive me crazy to think of all the Police who were constantly looking at my wife in that way. But Melissa and her Fiancé seemed to think it would work, so I wished them the best. As of this writing in September of 2008, they are still married and still going strong. But back to me.

Some would say that I took over Fourteen car because I was the only one that wanted to take it… but I knew better. Even if Sergeant Roper never said it, I knew that I had earned the right to have a Post Car. I considered it a mini promotion, and Fourteen had quickly become my favorite post. It had everything that I liked about Police work. There was a terrific intersection that I could catch people driving through a three way stop sign at the corner of West Garrison and Cordelia Avenues. (And believe me, plenty of people did just this.) There were plenty of places to hide and watch people buy and sell their drugs. And there were plenty of drugs on Fourteen Post. In fact, that was the biggest problem about that post. At least until I took over Fourteen car. Over the next few months, Fourteen post would change from having almost ten drug related calls per shift, to having fewer than three… at least when I was working. Now I am not trying to brag, but I must have been doing something right. You see, my philosophy started early on in this job… and I have carried it with me throughout: To be a good police, you have to be proactive not reactive. You have to actively go out there and look for things to get into. You have to make your presence known. If you don’t, the criminals will become bolder, more aggressive and more likely to do wrong. However, if they know you are there… just around that corner or coming up the street… they are less likely to try something. I think of myself like a shark in the ocean; certain sharks must constantly swim and never stop moving or they will die. The same principal applies to Policing in this City. If I stop patrolling, the shit is going to hit the fan on my post. Now don’t take that to mean that I think that if I leave for a few days, my whole post is going to fall apart. Not at all. In fact, when I am not working, I hardly ever even worry about what is happening at work. That is how I stay sane. Work hard for eight hours and then go home and forget it. Fill the off time with activities totally unrelated to Police work. I like to mountain bike and hike. In later years, I would pick up kayaking and camping. Pretty much anything outdoors. I find these activities calming. Anything to take your mind off the city.

And never… no matter what you do… never hang out with fellow Police off duty. Especially when there is alcohol involved. I learned that lesson the hard way. From Officer Mike McDavis…

(*The name of this Officer has been changed for the purposes of this book… but he knows who he is.)

McDavis was a great cop to work with, and for. Sometimes he was in a patrol car and sometimes he would be the OIC, which stands for Officer In Charge. An OIC acts as the Sergeant when the actual Sergeant is off. This function is generally given to members of the Squad with more time and experience, so you can imagine that when I began acting as an occasional OIC in the Northeast District, it became a point of great pride for me. (I was eventually transferred to the Northeast in December of 2001, but more on that later.)

When McDavis was OIC, he would ride your ass and work you hard, but it was all meant to teach you something. When he was your side partner on the street, he would back you up and constantly show you new tricks of the trade… even if his method of teaching you something was to belittle you. When he and I first started working together, I hated him for that. Then I grew to respect and even like him. I cannot tell you the amount of tips that he gave me on how to be a better police. In a very real sense, McDavis was one of my first mentors on the job. He taught me little things like when any unit from anywhere keys up on your radio channel and asks for directions to an address on your Post, not only do you get on the air and give the directions yourself, but you do it before anyone else gets the chance. Then you meet that unit at the location and offer assistance. This is an integral part of Post Integrity, a concept that I will discuss at length later. And he taught me bigger things like how to search an area and find the exact spot where a dealer has hidden his stash. He taught me that if you want to find that stash on rainy nights, you look for the dry bags and ignore the wet ones. This is because dealers usually hide their drugs in paper or plastic bags lying on the ground or in some hidden location like under a pile of garbage. The wet ones have been there for a while and a dealer never leaves his stash unattended for very long. Simple but effective. He taught me these things and more. And that is what makes what he did even harder to understand. As of this writing, I have not spoken to him in over seven years, and I don’t ever care to.

The night of 1 May 2001 finds me working 4X12 shift. McDavis calls and tells me that he is coming by the station after work as he has the night off. He wants to go out drinking. Two other Officers, Marc Carneal, a good Officer with – at this time – about three years of service under his belt, and Rich Gusherowski, are planning to stop by TGI Fridays on Reisterstown Road for a few beers. They know one of the bartenders who is married to another Officer in the Northern District and she usually gives free drinks whenever they come in. Gush, as we call him, was in my Academy Class, but we were not close at that time. In fact, we hated each other. It wasn’t until we started working together at the Northwest that we became “tolerant” of each other. He lives about three houses away from Carneal and the two of them bonded while working together in Sector Three. The bartender at Fridays is married to an Officer that had also been in my Academy Class, so Gush and Carneal ask if I wanted to join them. Even though I am not much of a drinker anymore, I agree to have one beer and head home. Fridays is only about ten miles from my house anyway, so why not? I ask if McDavis can come as well, and they reluctantly agree. They aren’t too fond of him it seems. I will soon find out why.

McDavis arrives at the Northwest District station at about midnight. We are just finishing our shift, but I am running late due to a last minute arrest of a juvenile. I am turning in my reports at around 0030 hours when McDavis rushes into the Sector One cubicle and starts yelling

“Hurry up you pussy! I want to get going! We’ve got beers to drink!”

I can immediately tell that he is already drunk. McDavis is dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, and Carneal and Gush have changed into casual clothes before leaving , but I only have my uniform that I wore all night. I am not in the habit of going out after work like Gush and Carneal, so I did not bring clothes with me tonight to change into. I strip off my uniform shirt and ballistic vest and drop my gun belt in the car. Under my vest I am wearing a blue short sleeved T-shirt with the Baltimore Police emblem on the left chest, a shirt that I always wear under my uniform. I also have on my dark blue uniform pants and the black boots that I wore all shift. I unload the live round from the chamber of my Glock 17 9mm handgun and replace it in the magazine. Then I slam the magazine into the grip and slip the gun into my waistband, un-tucking my T-shirt to conceal the weapon. There are now no live rounds in the chamber of the gun, which will become an issue later that night. (Removing the live round keeps one from shooting ones dick off when the gun goes into the dip area, you see.) The fact that I am wearing my uniform pants is also extremely important with regard to what will happen later, because Baltimore City Police General Order C2 Section 25 clearly states the following:

“Members of this department while on-duty, or when off-duty in uniform, shall not enter bars, taverns or liquor establishments, except in the proper performance of their duties.” (Emphasis added.)

I am out on the lot putting my gear into my car when I find McDavis standing by his pick-up truck. He is drinking a Coors Light from a bottle and I can tell from his demeanor that this is not his first of the night. He is talking extremely loud. When I ask him how many he has had, McDavis says:

“About seventeen.”

Seventeen? Now, I know McDavis is somewhat of an exaggerator, but seventeen beers? The man should not have even been standing, let alone driving. But drive he did.

We race north on Reisterstown Road, me in my Mitsubishi Eclipse and McDavis following in his pick-up. He runs every red light along the way even though he has no idea where we are going. You see, McDavis lives in Red Lion, Pennsylvania… about an hour north of where we work. This too will become an important factor in the night’s events.

Carneal and Gush are already at the bar when we arrive. The Northern District Officer whose Wife works at Fridays is also here, and they all seem to frown when McDavis walks in. Over the course of the next hour, I personally observe McDavis consume three twenty-two ounce glasses of beer. In that same time I consumed one. McDavis is loud and obnoxious the entire time. He yells obscenities and stumbles around the bar. I am embarrassed that I had brought him with me. The guy’s a mess. I apologize several times, but it is no use. The damage has been done.  Finally, Gush just can’t keep quiet any longer.  He loses his patience and tells McDavis to “Shut the fuck up. That works… for a while.

We all leave the bar at a little after closing time, around 0200 hours. It is now 2 May 2001.

Carneal and Gush head home and the Northern Officer stays inside to wait for his Wife. This leaves just me and McDavis on the parking lot. McDavis ventures to his truck and reaches behind the driver’s seat. He produces a small red cooler and opens it. Inside are at least twenty twelve ounce bottles of Coors Light beer. He pops one open and hands it to me. Having only had one beer inside, I figured, what the hell. He opens another for himself and we stand by his truck listening to music and talking about work. An interesting fact about this location is that directly across the street from where we stand is located the Baltimore County Police Garrison Precinct. This is the 9600 block of Reisterstown Road. 

We drink and talk for a while, me nursing my beer because I don’t want to drink more than the one, and McDavis tearing through his. In just over an hour, I personally observe McDavis consume twelve beers from his cooler. And the more he drinks, the more he talks. He tells me things that I never could have guessed he felt. He confides in me that he believes I will be a great Officer someday. He tells me that he likes my style of Policing. He confesses that he is so hard on me because I am one of his only friends. He says:

“Why do you think I ride you so hard? You’re the only friend I’ve got. I have to have somebody to pass what I know onto.”

This is when I know the alcohol is doing all of the talking.

It is almost surreal, but as we prepare to head home, I really don’t think about how much I have seen McDavis drink. I start my car to warm it up and McDavis sits behind the wheel of his truck. Then it starts to seep in. Three huge beers in the bar. Twelve or more on the parking lot. McDavis is only about six feet tall and about one hundred eighty pounds, and I have personally watched him slug down over two hundred-ten ounces of beer in a three hour period. And that doesn’t even count the alleged seventeen that he claims to have consumed prior to his arrival at the District. Before I even realize what I am saying it, I tell McDavis to give me his keys.

“Mike, I can’t let you drive home in this condition.”

He just smiles.

There is never a moment where a conscious decision is made.  I just commit to the deal.  Right there on the parking lot, I know McDavis is not driving home tonight.  The difficult part is going to be getting the keys from him. McDavis is seated behind the wheel of his pick-up truck and the engine is running. What transpires over the next several minutes is a mix of pleading, followed by firmness, followed by begging on my part. And at each turn, there is McDavis… just smiling. I reiterate that he is in no condition to drive. I remind him of just how much he has consumed. I point out that Red Lion is a long way from here. I note that it is getting near four in the morning. But it is no use. McDavis is not going to budge.

But suddenly, he gives up his license. He just hands it to me. I am not even sure what I say to change his mind, but he just gives it up. Not that this will do any good without the keys… but it’s a start.

“Now give me your keys. You can’t drive home without your license so you might as well let me take you home.”

But he still refuses to get out of the pick-up. I offer to let him sleep it off at my house, which I explain is only about ten miles away.    

“Let me take you home to my place.  We have a four-story townhouse, Mike.  You’d have your own bedroom on the third floor with a bathroom right next door.  You would have your own bed with clean sheets and your own bathroom.  Mindy won’t care.” 

McDavis’s reply is as surprising to me as it will become repetitive: 

“I can’t leave my truck here.” 

“Who cares about your truck?  No one is gonna steal it when the County Police are right across the street.”  

“I won’t leave my truck here.” 

“Mike, the parking lot is empty.  Everyone left while we were out here bullshitting.  Just let me take you home with me and I’ll bring you back here tomorrow.”  

“No.  I am not leaving my truck here.”  

“Then follow me in my car and park your truck at my house.  You can call your Wife from there and tell her you are going sleep it off at my place.”  

What he says next offends me more that I care to admit at the moment:  

“I am not staying at your shitty house.  I am going home and sleeping in my own bed tonight.”  

Up until this point, things seem to be a big joke to McDavis.  I have managed to talk him into giving me his driver’s license – somehow – but getting him out of that damn truck has eluded my grasp.  I even offer to drive him all the way to his house in Pennsylvania!  And I would do it if he would let me.  It seems as if McDavis is simply humoring me, but somewhere underneath I sense that he might be considering letting me help him.  I begin to realize that I am worried about more than just McDavis making it home safely.  There is the distinct possibility that he could kill someone.  And there is the issue of his unborn child.    

“Mike, give me your keys.  I can’t let you drive like this.  You have a pregnant Wife at home for Christ’s sake!  You already lost one child… don’t you want to be there when your next one is born?”  

This pisses McDavis off.  Immensely.  I do not know the circumstances surrounding the fact that he lost a child, I only know that he wears a tattoo of her name on his arm.  When I asked him one day what the tattoo was for, he simply told me that it was his Daughter’s name and that she died as a child.  Now he begins refusing my help outright.  

“Look, I am going home.  That’s it.”  

Without thinking about what I am doing, I reach into McDavis’s cab and grab the keys from the ignition.  

“I can’t let you kill yourself Mike.”  

“Give me my keys you fuck.”  


It is a stand-off.  I continue to bribe and cajole him.  It isn’t working.  I even try to trade his keys for his badge.  I figure if I have his badge, McDavis will follow me anywhere… even to my shitty house.    

We continue to argue back and forth until I realize that I need to urinate.  I tell McDavis to hang on a minute because I have to piss.  I turn my back to him and walk over to a patch of nearby grass.  While I am relieving myself, I hear McDavis’s engine begin to rev.  I turn back just in time to see him speed away toward the parking lot entrance.  I just stand there.  

“That mother fucker.”    

I will later learn that McDavis stores a spare set of keys in his truck.  No wonder he has no problem giving them up.  He has been toying with me the entire time.  I march over to my car and slam the door as I get in.  I sit for a minute trying to think of what I should do.  I have McDavis’s keys… at least one set of them… and his license.  As I sit and stare at the keys, I suddenly realize that McDavis has stopped his pick-up at the west end of the parking lot.  He isn’t leaving just yet.  As he turns the truck back in my direction, it hits me.  I stare at the keys in my left hand and realize what McDavis has also just figured out.  I have his house keys.  

“Oh shit.”  

McDavis drives his pick-up back and parks it directly in front of my Mitsubishi, in a T-bone fashion.  I can easily place my car in reverse and escape, but he is out of the truck and on me before I can think.  He approaches my driver’s side window and I open it about two inches to talk with him.  In retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have done this.  McDavis grabs the top of the window with both hands and begins trying to force it down into the door.  

“Give me my fucking keys.”  

He is in a rage.  He continues to push down as I grab the handle and try to roll the window back up.  I know that I cannot back my car up now because I might run over his foot. 

“Give me my fucking keys!”  

He pushes and I pull until he finally succeeds in lowering the window enough to get his arm inside the car.  He reaches down and unlocks the driver’s side door, then he pulls it open.  I immediately grab the door handle and start pulling it shut.  

“I am gonna get those keys you faggot.”  

I manage to get the door shut once, and McDavis manages to get it open again.  When I pull it shut the second time, I hear a terrible scream and I realize that I just slammed McDavis’s right hand in the door-frame.  

Or so I think.  

He is screaming and writhing in pain as he tries to free his wounded hand.  When I open the door to do just that, McDavis acts in a flash.  He is leaning inside the vehicle with his right hand on the back of my neck before I even realize that it had all been a trick.  His hand had never been smashed… he had tricked me into opening the door for him.  Damn devious fuck.

Then he starts shoving my head toward the steering wheel.   

Just so you can picture it, you must understand that my Mitsubishi Eclipse was manufactured in 1994.  A 1994 Mitsubishi Eclipse does not come equipped with a driver’s side airbag.  McDavis is driving my face into the horn as hard as he can, with no airbag panel to cushion the blow.  

He gets about three strikes in before I manage to throw my right arm in front of my face to block the blows.  I brace my hand on the steering wheel and this allows my face to smack against my right forearm as opposed to the actual steering wheel.  But McDavis is relentless.  I look to my right and see my gun belt lying on the passenger floor board… just out of reach.  In it is my mace container, which if I could have gotten to, I would use in a heartbeat.  Anything to free me up enough to drive away.  I would have even thrown McDavis’s keys and license out the window as I fled, but there is no way to get to the belt.   He continues to thrust my face into my arm when I finally resort to the only option I have left.   

Between thrusts, I release my grip on the steering wheel, allowing two more blows to connect, and I reach into my waistband and remove my gun.  Knowing that there is no live round in the chamber, and hoping that the sound will be enough to scare him off of me, I point the gun as far to the right as I can, keeping my finger off the trigger – facing it toward the passenger side of the car – and rack the slide one time, slamming that round home.  

It must have worked because McDavis immediately withdraws from the inside of my car and stands for a minute.  But not for long.  He is back, and this time he grabs my shirt and drags me from the car.  I stand in front of him, with my car still running behind me, and I keep the gun pointed at the ground.   McDavis begins pushing me in my chest as he shouts obscenities.  

“You fucking faggot!  Where the fuck are my keys?”  

As he pushes and pushes, I become more and more certain that I might have to use my gun on a fellow Officer.  There is no way for me to fight this man.  He is bigger, taller and stronger than me… and he is drunk.   

“You just assaulted me!” I shout, hoping to break through the alcohol haze with words that he would understand.  I doesn’t work.  And what he does next is the most vile thing anyone has ever done to me.    

McDavis has been chewing tobacco all night, as is his custom.  Upon hearing my pathetic charge of assault, he gathers up a large amount of the wet, sticky, disgusting slop from his lip, and launches it at my face.  The pile lands on my right cheek with a loud “slap”, and begins to ooze down my face.  But that isn’t the worst part.  A large chunk of the bile manages to land square in my open mouth.

I mentioned previously that when I was in high school, I participated in all of the plays.  Besides this activity, I also helped out with stage construction and lighting chores when a nearby elementary school borrowed our auditorium to perform their shows.  During a rehearsal of one such play, Annie I believe, I made my way to the back of the auditorium and up into the light booth.  I had a fondness for working the spotlight, which would be my task on this particular show.  I had with me a Canada Dry Ginger Ale in a plastic bottle.  Up in the booth was another student from my high school and like McDavis, he too had a habit of chewing tobacco.  He had been using and empty Sprite bottle to discharge his juices, and I placed my soda next to his without thinking.  You can guess the rest.  Suffice it to say that when I reached for my bottle without looking and guzzled down a huge portion from his…  

So here I am again swallowing sloppy, wet, used tobacco. 

McDavis just looks at me and laughs.  

“Oh, dude!  I am so sorry!”  

I do not see the humor.    

McDavis then reaches past me and into the car.  He finds his keys and license and takes them.  Then he stands in front of me glaring.  I no longer see the point of continuing, so I take advantage of the moment to remove myself from an already escalating situation.  I get into my car and immediately slam the stick shift into reverse.  As I drive back away from his truck, McDavis walks over to it and opens the driver’s side door.  As I speed away, I swear I see McDavis searching through the interior of his cab with his flashlight.  I get the very real impression that he is searching for his gun.  

I speed north on Reisterstown Road in a panic.  I don’t know what to do so I call Marc Carneal on my cell phone.  It is now almost 0430 hours.  I relay what happened to him and as we speak, I think I see McDavis’ truck following me.  I tell Marc this, but it turns out not to be McDavis after all.  But the thought of him searching for his gun leaves me with a sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach.  

“What the fuck do I do, Marc?”  

Carneal is exhausted and sleepy and no doubt annoyed by my call.  I can almost hear the “I told you so” tone in his voice.  

“Drive to the Garrison Precinct.  Tell the County Police he’s following you.”  

There is no way I am going back there, not with the possibility of McDavis standing in the parking lot with his gun in hand, so I drive home.  

“You’ve got to call the District and tell someone.”  Marc advises.  

“No way Marc, I’m not a rat.” 

“You have to.” 

 I apologize for calling him and hang up.  

When I get home, I wake Mindy and tell her what just happened.  She is not pleased. 

I stand by the foot of our bed, debating.  I know that McDavis is scheduled to work tomorrow.  I am off.  If McDavis goes to work and even lets it slip that we had an altercation off duty… and my gun came out… I am screwed.  He can get his version on the record while I am sitting at home for two days.  Knowing what I know about how Cops exaggerate… by the time I return to work the story will have morphed into something akin to me attempting to kill McDavis for no reason.

I make the call.  It is a hard call to make. 

Lieutenant Michael Newton takes my call.  I am ordered to respond back to the District and provide a statement.  No surprise there.  I ask if I may take a shower first.  No answer.

“Lieutenant, I have been working all night, and I would like to shower and change my clothes.  If you are ordering me to come in, I’ll come in.  But can I please shower first?” 

“No.  You need to get in here now.” 

Nice.  I tell Mindy.  She is not pleased.  Out the door I go and back into the night.  I choose to avoid Reisterstown Road as I make my way back to the District.  Just in case.  Upon arrival, I am met by Lieutenant Newton.  He is wearing his uniform as he is the Adam shift Supervisor.  Also present is Sergeant Reggie Hendrix.  They are not happy when they hear my story.  I am ordered to provide a written statement in which I detail the events described above.  I am thorough.  I don’t like it, but I have started this ball rolling.  There is no going back now.  I am now officially a “rat”.

Newton transports me to the Central District where I am ordered to submit to a breathalyzer test.  I pass with a  .014 blood alcohol level.  No surprise as I only consumed two beers, the last of which was several hours ago.  By the time I am returned to my car and make my way home, it is almost 0630 in the morning.  Finally, I shower.  Hope the water will wash away the previous nights filth.  It does not.  Fall into bed and try to sleep.  I figure by now someone is on their way to pick up McDavis at his home in Pennsylvania.  Once they get him back into the City, they will surely suspend him without pay.  I am correct in the first assumption, incorrect in the second.

McDavis blows a .026 on his breathalyzer.  


The case is forwarded to Internal Affairs immediately.  The “rat” comments start almost as quickly.  A few voice their encouragement and understanding… but to most guys in the District, I am now a rat.  I have crossed the Thin Blue Line, and once you cross that line, you can never go back.  McDavis is placed on the desk answering phones for a week, then he is back on the street, albeit on the opposite shift from me.  I am ordered not to have any contact with him.  The last contact we have comes several days after McDavis returns to the streets.  He confronts me on the parking lot at shift change.  He wants to know what I told IID.

“Mike, I can’t talk to you.”

“Look man, I ain’t mad at you.  But you should have kept your mouth shut.  I never would have hurt you.  We could have discussed it when I sobered up.  I am just worried that IID will try to jam you.”

Jam me?  Is he nuts? 

Little did I know…  McDavis was dead right. 


Time passes.  I am finally summoned to IID on 19 July 2001 in order to provide a taped statement.  There I meet up with a former co-worker from my time in the Northwest.  Detective David Greene, a smooth talking, slick dressing black male whom I used to consider a mentor.  Dave tells me I should be proud of myself. 

“I don’t feel proud.  I feel like a rat.” 

“Man, you should get a commendation for this shit.” 

Sensing that I am uncomfortable, Dave asks me if I want to drop the allegation.  I jump at the chance.

“Hell yes.  Let it go.  I never wanted it to go this far to begin with.  I just wanted to cover my ass in case the gun issue came out.” 

“Nah, the gun’s not a problem.  You did what you had to do.  But you say you want it dropped?  Done.  Just sign this form and I’ll close it out.” 

Done.  Or so I thought.  Several days later, Detective Greene calls to inform me that he cannot close the investigation.  His Supervisor won’t let him.  Something about Mike’s intoxication level.  He informs me that McDavis has recently been transferred to the Northern District Drug Unit where he has been promoted to the rank of Detective.  Detective.  Promoted. 

I am not making this stuff up folks. 


A year goes by.  On 1 May 2002… exactly three hundred and sixty-four days after I reported the incident… I am visited at my home by Sergeant David Qualls from the Northeast District Command Investigations Unit.  (Each District has a Command Investigations Unit that handles complaints of a none criminal nature such as discourtesy or neglect.  If their findings merit IID’s involvement, or vice-versa, then the appropriate Unit takes over.  Somehow, my complaint of criminal assault – which should have been handled by IID – has been transferred to the Northeast Command Investigations Unit.  And just one day shy of the one year “anniversary” of the incident, I am being paid a visit by the Sergeant of said Unit.  It is important to note that IF the Police Department wishes to charge an Officer with any form of internal misconduct, such as neglect of duty, this must be done within one year of the incident being reported.) 

Sergeant Qualls and I sit at my kitchen table as he calmly informs me that I have been officially charged with Conduct Unbecoming a member of this Department.  Apparently, when I wrote my official statement, I made mention of the fact that I was wearing my uniform pants during the assault.  Of course I mentioned it.  I knew that if I lied about just one single detail, I could be charged with a false report.  Well, remember General Order C2 Section 25 which clearly states the following: 

“Members of this department while on-duty, or when off-duty in uniform, shall not enter bars, taverns or liquor establishments, except in the proper performance of their duties.”  (Emphasis added.)  

I am screwed.  Officially.  The report even goes to the extent to state the following: 

“The Internal Affairs Division conducted an investigation of Misconduct, in which the respondent (that’s me folks) was alleged to have been intoxicated while off duty in Baltimore County and his behavior was such that it brought discredit upon himself as a Police Officer and deemed to be conduct unbecoming sworn members of this agency.  Despite all indications that the respondent was attempting to act in the best interest of McDavis, it became apparent that McDavis was not going to comply with the respondent’s efforts to prevent him from driving and rather than immediately notifying on duty Baltimore County Police personnel, the respondent engaged in conduct which tended to infuriate an already hostile McDavis.” 

So according to the final report, I should have called 9-1-1 and attempted to have a fellow Officer ARRESTED instead of trying to help him safely out of harm’s way.  The Department is actually telling me that they would have preferred the publicity of an off duty Officer getting arrested for drinking and driving than a fellow Officer giving him a safe ride home.  In short, while trying to do the right thing, while trying to save the life of a fellow Officer and while trying to prevent harm to innocent civilians, I brought discredit upon myself and the Department.  McDavis gets a promotion and I am charged with Conduct Unbecoming.  A charge which, according to Sergeant David Qualls and the report he is holding in his hand, has been sustained.  I repeat, I brought discredit upon the Baltimore City Police Department. 

No folks.  It is the other way around.  I did the right thing and it is the Baltimore City Police Department who brought discredit upon themselves by choosing to discipline me and not McDavis. 

Ladies and gentlemen… THIS is the incident that began the downward spiral.  The incident that left a sour taste in my mouth which still lingers.  The incident that taught me to never, under ANY circumstances, trust anyone from IID. 

The report recommending a finding of sustained for the charge of Conduct Unbecoming against me was signed by Detective David Greene.  Mister “You should get a commendation for this shit.”  My friend and former mentor.



16 March 2001
Charlie Shift (4X12)
Approximately 2330 Hours
Corner of West Belvedere Avenue and Cordelia Avenue


“Hey Dad, what do you think about your son now?”


It is coming near the end of an almost completely uneventful shift, except for the fact that on this night my dad came on a ride along with me. We spent most of the night trying to find something to get into, but the radio has been quiet. It has been raining most of the night, possibly lending to the silence on the streets. I worked hard all night to make sure that dad and I did not get held over because I knew that he had to be tired after working all day before even meeting me for the ride along. Finally, we park near the station on Linden Heights Avenue at around 2325 hours and are waiting for shift change to be called so that we can get out on time. Just as we get settled into position close enough to the station to make a bee line in at shift change, we hear Sergeant Mahoney, the acting Lieutenant that night, on the radio:

“Charles O-Nine, I am clear of the shooting, heading into the station.”


There had been a shooting in Sector Two at around 2200 hours tonight, and Sergeant Mahoney is just now clearing up. We had driven by the scene earlier in the hopes of catching the suspect as he fled, but to no avail. I look at dad as Sergeant Mahoney speaks. I know that he will be coming right past our location on his way into the station, and I decide that it might not look too good if we are just sitting here doing nothing with twenty minutes to go on our shift. I mean, everyone does this, and everyone knows about it… but no Sergeant or Lieutenant wants to actually see you doing it.

“We better move.” I offer.

I turn the car over and start down the alley toward Cordelia Avenue. Just before we come out onto Cordelia Avenue, I see a man approaching the car on my side. I roll my window down and look out.

“Officer,” he starts, excited and breathless, “I just got held up by two kids with a gun but they didn’t get anything cause I didn’t have any money on me. They just ran up the street when you came.”

“What were they wearing?” I ask, knowing that this was either the on-view incident that we could hang out on until shift change… or the one that would keep us here late.

“One had on a red jacket and the other had a tan jacket and jeans.” He thinks for a minute more. “The tan jacket kid had the gun.”

“OK, stay here while we look for them.” I advise.

We start south on Cordelia and I advise over the radio what had just been told to me. The dispatcher asks for another unit in the area and Charlie Thirty-One, Art Harvey, answers up. We turn left onto West Garrison and as we drive westbound on Garrison, I notice that on my left is a young black male walking with his hands in his jacket pockets. His jacket is tan. My immediate thought is: Keep driving. Dad didn’t see this kid yet and THAT kid has the gun. Just keep driving. But I can’t do it. I turn left onto Beaufort Avenue and spin the car around to head back toward the kid. As we approach him, now on dad’s side of the car, I use the microphone to order him down.

“My man, have a seat.”

He does not comply. He simply stops walking and stands against the fence along the curb, hands still in his pockets.

“Sit down on the ground.”

The kid starts to slouch down and as I exit the patrol car, I notice that he has not sat completely on the curb. In fact, he has his knees bent under his body as if preparing to…

“There he goes!” dad shouts as he moves toward his door. (What he was thinking at this point, I’ll never know.)

The kid is up and across West Garrison in a flash. We both jump back into the car and I start following the kid. I get on the radio and call out what I have and as we drive behind him, he runs southbound onto Litchfield Avenue and then he makes the cut into the first alley on the right. As I cut the wheel and start into the alley behind the kid, almost running him down with the car, I can sense that dad fears we might not make it. He is almost right. As we jolt right, the left front fender of the patrol car grazes the chain link fence of the corner house by the alley and dents it. But we make the cut it into the alley just as the kid cuts left behind the houses. He never once takes his left hand out of his jacket pocket as he runs, and I know that he is hiding the gun there. I slam the car into park and throw my door open. Just before I jump out into the dark night, I turn to my father and shout as I point a finger directly in his face:


And then I am gone. Running for all I am worth.

“Charlie Eleven… I have a foot chase… number one male… tan jacket… blue jeans… tan boots… in the alley. Possibly armed.”

The rain makes it hard to stay on my feet, but I manage. My dad must be terrified. But I know that if he stays put, he will be safe. Besides, I left the car running… someone had to stay with it! I bolt down the alley about ten feet or so behind the kid. He never looks back as he runs, nor does he ever take his left hand out of his jacket pocket. At some point, I un-holster my Glock 17, but I am not sure exactly when I do this. All I know is that I suddenly have the gun in my right hand as I run. I can hear units calling for me to identify my whereabouts on the radio, but I am unable to process exactly which alley I am in. You see, in a foot chase, the only real thing you are able to process is where the guy you are chasing is going, and what he is doing with his hands. You always watch the hands. Sometimes you are able to relay what street you are running on, or where you are headed… but in this case, I can’t even remember what street we just come off of. Then suddenly it hits me. I know exactly where we are and exactly where we are going.

“Eleven… we’re in the alley off Litchfield, headed for Oakmont.”

Just then, we cross Oakmont Avenue and I can see that the kid is getting tired. After all, half of this chase occurred with me in the car and him running for his life. I step up my pace a notch and drive my weight into his back, throwing him face first into the ground near a fence at the corner house. As I land on top of him, I grab his jacket with my left hand, shove my left knee deep into his back and thrust my Glock against his neck.

“Show me your fucking hands!”

The kid never speaks a word… he just lays there, face down in the mud, gasping for air. I’m am not even a bit winded as I have been running for the better part of six months in the Academy. The kid slowly raises his right hand in the air, but the left one never moves. He still never speaks a word, and it is his not saying anything that has me scared. Usually when someone is caught, they beg you not to lock them up, or they plead with you to let them go. And when a suspect has the barrel end of a Glock 17 9mm handgun stuck in his neck… he usually begs you not to shoot him. But this kid just lays there… panting and barely struggling against my weight. I suddenly have a flash of panic as I realize that the kid still has his hand in his damn jacket pocket, and that at any moment, he can shift his weight to his right and slam that gun against my face and pull the trigger. My Wife’s face flashes across my mind… Mindy… and then it is gone. My only comfort is in knowing that I have the drop on him. I already have my gun out and ready to fire into the back of his pathetic head should he choose to move to his right at all. I start to take up the slack in the trigger.

SHOW ME YOUR FUCKING HANDS NOW!” There is no fear in my command, only urgency and authority.

Still no words escape his mouth. Wailing sirens pierce the night as ten Police cars careen my way. The radio screams with the sounds of units calling for my location… but at the moment, I have my hands full. Literally.

“Look fucker, this is a REAL FUCKING GUN in your back… and if you move, I am gonna DRILL YOU! Now SHOW ME YOUR FUCKING HANDS!

Just then, I feel movement under me… slow and to the left. The kid is trying to get rid of the gun. I hear rustling as he tries to stick the gun into the lattice – work fence that he is pinned against… and rather than shoot him… I let him do it. I know he is giving up and as his left hand timidly reaches toward the sky… I ease up on the trigger and holster up. I then grab the kid with both hands, lifting him off the ground and throwing him to the ground about six feet to my right, effectively moving him as far away from the gun as possible. I land on top of him again with a thump and look up toward the approaching cars.

“Where are you, Eleven?” It’s Art Harvey’s voice, and he sounds scared for me.

I manage to get a hand up to the microphone on the radio: “Look in front of you.”

I can see a Patrol car at the intersection of Litchfield and Oakmont Avenue’s, and I assume it is Harvey’s. The car speeds toward me and screeches to a halt just beside where we are on the muddy grass. Out jumps Marc Carneal, my neighbor from home, and he looks right at me.

“Marc,” I shout, “get the gun… by the fence.” As I point toward the fence, we can both see the handle of the gun sticking out from the lattice – work. More units arrive and as I calm myself, I click back on the radio mike and call off the chase.

“Eleven, you can ten – thirty – two the location. We’ve got the gun. Everyone is alright.”

Relief must have overcome my dad at this point, but I’ll never know. Someone’s voice asks:

“Is he cuffed yet?”

In all the commotion, I hadn’t even gotten around to cuffing the kid. I was just so obsessed with getting that gun into our hands… and away from his. I think it is Tom Jackson… or maybe Marvin Colson that actually cuffs the kid… but who knows at this point. It seems like there are a hundred voices all yelling and talking at the same time. Mine rises above the crowd as I shout at the kid:


I suddenly feel rather stupid myself for letting all this happen. My dad is sitting all alone in a dark alley, far from the safety of his home, worried to death as his only son starts running like a mad man after some gun toting kid in the rain. Colson asks where my dad is; Gusherowski asks as well; and I assure them that he is with the car. A voice calls out:

“Someone find Eleven’s car. His ride along is still in it.”

I am standing now and the kid is cuffed. There are units calling on the radio, searching for my Patrol car… and in it… my dad.

“I got it. I know where the car is.” I say, only a little spent from all of the drama.

I grab the gun from the weeds and head back toward the car. It is at this point that I finally get a good look at the gun. It is a silver handgun, longer and lighter than my Glock, and it looks almost… plastic. It isn’t. But it also isn’t a real gun either. It is a BB gun. A “Grossman Airgun” to be exact, and it contains a CO2 cartridge in the grip end. I stop dead in my tracks and stand completely still as the rain falls around and on me and the realization sinks in: this kid almost lost his life over a toy gun. And he knew it all along. Why hadn’t he just chucked the gun when he saw me turn the car in his direction? Juveniles. Jesus.

I head back to the car, and as I fall back into the driver’s seat, dripping wet an emotionally spent, I drop the gun onto my clipboard that rests between the two front seats.

“There.” I state, matter-of-factly. Dad just stares at it.

“So that’s the gun, huh?” He seems impressed.

“I’m sorry…” I start, but he cuts in. I am trying to apologize for a lot of things: For scaring the hell out of him when I ran off, for making him worry, and for yelling at him to stay put. I feel really bad for yelling at him to stay in the car, but that would have to wait.

“Don’t be. I could hear you on the radio, and I knew you were OK. I could hear the other cars coming…” He seems unable to say much more, and I wonder if it is due to pride or fear. Probably a little of both.

Carneal calls out for me on the radio and I advise him over the car’s PA that I am right around the corner from him. He approaches the driver’s side window as I back out of the alley, and I roll it down a bit. He looks in with a smile a smacks my left arm affectionately.

“Good run.”

All I can say, with a sigh of relief, is: “Fuck.” I am sure dad is irked by the comment… but I honestly don’t care at the moment.


To the best of my recollection, my father has never, in the almost twenty – nine years (at this point) that I have been alive, ever told me face to face that he was proud of me. Oh, sure, he has given me birthday cards and Christmas cards that say how proud he is… but never face to face… never man to man. Now, don’t misunderstand what I am saying. I am not accusing my dad of not loving me enough or anything like that, but wanting to hear him tell me that he was proud of me has been a driving factor in my life for a long time. It’s just that my dad is what some people call the “Strong Silent Type.” He rarely shares his emotions, at least with me. So, when he corners me in the hallway back at the District, and he manages to choke out these words… I am stunned to say the least:

“I am proud of y…”

I think he had to stop before he broke. Not to mention the fact that several Officers had just started down the hallway toward us. But he was smiling when he said it.

The next day, I call to see how dad liked his ride along experience. I again apologize for yelling at him, and try to explain my reasoning for it. He jokes again, as he had the night before, that he “doesn’t even talk to his dog that way…” and that makes me feel even worse.

But this time when he says it, I really know he means it. He doesn’t even stop himself:

“I’m proud of you.”

He even says it once more during our conversation. I find out later that he stayed up until almost two–thirty in the morning talking about his fantastic ride along. Now that is pride.


The down side to this entire event was that I had to let the kid go free. The problem was that when we returned to the location where we had been flagged down, our victim had vanished. He was probably a junkie out to score his next fix, and the idea of sticking around with all those cop cars screaming through the streets had most likely made him nervous. So, he was gone and the kid had to go free. This after two hours in the District checking his background and criminal history. Apparently, the kid had three prior arrests; two for assault with a deadly weapon and one for armed robbery; and he was only fifteen. Unfortunately, in the City of Baltimore, it is not illegal to carry a BB gun; it is only illegal to use one in the commission of a crime. And as you might have already deduced… no victim = no crime. The deeper issue here is that the kid almost died for nothing at all. He hadn’t even gotten any money from his victim.

But at least my father expressed his pride to me. And that I will NEVER forget.

Plus, I got two hours overtime out of it… which is, of course, the more important of the two.





 “You will find somewhere there’s a house, and inside that house there’s a room…
Locked in the room in the corner you’ll see, the voice is waiting for me, to set it free…
And I’ve got the key…
I’ve got the key…”
(Russ Ballard – VOICES)


There is a door to a bedroom in a townhouse in Crofton, Maryland. 1732 Aberdeen Circle. Second floor. Front bedroom. I walk through that door every single day of my life. At least once a day. Sometimes more. But what happened inside that room in June of 1986 shattered my life into a thousand tiny, jagged shards of glass. I have been trying to put those pieces back together ever since. But the pieces just won’t fit.

I didn’t always want to be a cop. For a long, long time I wanted to be a professional actor. From the earliest age that I can remember, whenever someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, my patented response was always the same: “An actor.” I would announce it like it was a living, breathing thing. Films, music and television… that was a huge part of my childhood. They still are. I still love movies. I still love music. I taught myself to play the drums by watching and playing along to Genesis and Phil Collins concert videos. Not on actual drums, mind you. I did not get my first – and only – drum set until I was eighteen. No, I taught myself to play by banging away on pillows with butter knives. Got quite good if I do say so myself. As for films, I have covered the walls of one room in our house with nothing but framed original movie posters. BRAVEHEART, HEAT, THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, DIE HARD, JFK, CARLITO’S WAY, ROAD TO PERDITION, all three STAR WARS and all four INDIANA JONES films and more. These are just a few of the images that hang on the walls of my basement sanctuary. Along with those drums, a pool table, big screen TV and other forms of relaxation. And for a long, long time, I planned to have my own movie posters up on those walls along with the others. A part of me still does.

I acted in every high school play that came along, and did a few plays in college. I even toured with my college traveling Shakespeare company for a summer. I lived in Los Angeles for a time in the summer of 1995. I even had a small speaking part in a film that was shot in LA that summer. Ironically, I played a cop. I was an extra in the television series HOMICIDE: LIFE ON THE STREET three times… once playing a Naval Midshipman, once a New Years Eve party-goer, and once a fireman. You can still see me as a fireman in an episode titled “Valentines Day”, but only if you glue your eyelids open and never blink cause you’ll miss it if you do. That’s me walking into the room behind Kyle Secore after a mad bomber had blown a lawyer’s office apart. The episode also guest starred Neil Patrick Harris… yeah, Doogie Howser. I never met Doogie personally, but Kyle Secore and Clark Johnson are simply great guys. And Andre Braugher is such a powerful and polite man that I felt almost dwarfed in his presence. But Reed Diamond was as much of a dick in person as his character was in the show. And following this, during my time with the BPD, I appeared as a Baltimore City Police Major in the final season of THE WIRE. No lines, but you can’t miss my fat face in the opening scene of Episode Eight.

So, from the time I was a child, I was either watching television and movies, or pretending to be in them. And for some reason, that would not become clear to me until much later in life, cop shows played a big part in my television watching experience. The signs have always been there, but it took many years for the realization to hit me: I have always been meant to do this job. How could I have missed the signs for so long? It all started in 1984 with a television show called MIAMI VICE.

MIAMI VICE had a huge impact on me as a kid, and I still consider it one of the best television shows ever produced. I started watching VICE in its first season, but I honestly cannot remember which episode was the first I ever saw.

This was not the case with the show NYPD BLUE, however. I can remember living in Los Angeles in the summer of ’95 in a house that had no air conditioning and even less room to live comfortably. I was up one Tuesday night and I was bored. At the time, I had a minimum wage job as an Assistant Manager at the Eddie Bauer clothing store nearby, and I had the night off. I flipped channels on the television until I came across an episode of NYPD BLUE. This was the episode where Jimmy Smitts as Detective Bobby Simone shoots an armed gunman in an apartment in order to save the life of his partner, Detective Andy Sipowicz, played by Dennis Franz. I was hooked into the show from then on. I would later learn that this episode came from the second season, just after its original star, David Caruso had decided to quit playing Detective John Clark. Mistake.

But back to VICE. As a kid in 1984 and ’85, MIAMI VICE became my entire existence. I watched it every Friday night. I collected every scrap of paper that had anything to do with the show… every newspaper article, every magazine clipping and cover, everything. I bought posters and the soundtracks… everything that I could get my hands on. It was the coolest show I had ever seen. It redefined what “cool” meant to an entire society. I am sure there are those of you reading this that will remember with some amusement men going sock less and not shaving for days on end just to cultivate that Sonny Crockett five o’clock shadow look. I must admit that at the age of fifteen, I myself even had the famous white jacket and pants outfit with a pastel blue shirt and white Espadrille shoes, although I honestly cannot remember ever wearing it… except for one Halloween. And I am sure that if I had been able to, I would have grown my own shadow. I wanted to be Sonny Crockett. Little did I know I would get my chance someday. Sort of.

As the show progressed, my fascination with it grew as well. Everything about the show changed the way I looked at television. It was the first show that I really paid attention to. The look of the scenery, the sound of the music, the dialogue… everything. It was, to me, how shows should be made. Every episode was like a one-hour mini movie. And most of them were outstanding in their story lines. Especially the entire “Calderone Saga” that started with the premiere two-hour episode and continued through four more episodes spread out over the first four seasons. Nowhere in television or movies does there exist a better scene that exemplifies what MIAMI VICE was all about than the “Voices” scene from the fourth episode of the first season. The episode is alternately known as “Calderone’s Return Part II” and “Calderone’s Demise” and this was the episode where the series really found its groove. The entire series changed pace starting with this episode.

Crockett and Tubbs have learned that their nemesis Calderone, a Columbian drug lord that earlier ordered the death of Tubbs’s brother Rafael in New York; an execution that Tubbs himself witnessed, and the death of Crockett’s partner played by a young Jimmy Smitts; is hiding out in the Bahamas. The episode begins with a tough interrogation followed by a sorrowful boat ride in Crockett’s cigarette boat to the island to find Calderone. During the boat ride, the song “Voices” by Russ Ballard plays over the scene. We see Tubbs remembering the death of his brother; a montage used frequently during the show’s five season run; and we see the two partners speeding across the ocean to the island only sixty miles away. To me, there has never been a scene so powerful as this. To this day, it is my favorite MIAMI VICE scene. It is this scene which I “relive” almost every day. I see it in my mind just as clearly as I do the scene in which I – as a fourteen-year-old boy – walk lonely and scared through that door…

In later years, I would begin a crusade to collect every episode on VHS tape, which I finally did via reruns on the USA network and by way of the FX network. That is how I came across this episode. I never saw it during its original run, but I have it now. I am proud to say that I now have every episode from all five seasons on DVD and Blu ray. Not to mention some of the old collectables that I had from my childhood, and some that I purchased through Ebay. These include every TV Guide that featured the show on the cover, along with several magazines and even three plastic build-it-yourself models that I had put together and painted for me. I know it seems extremely silly to read this now, but I cherish these items from my childhood because they represent a time of great enjoyment as well as great sorrow. As I said, my enthusiasm for the show grew with each passing season. I even stuck with it in the third season when the look of the show took a decidedly left turn. Gone were the pastels that had made the show so revolutionary. Now the look was darker and more brooding. But interestingly, my life at that time became infinitely darker and more brooding as well. It was another sign.

On 21 June 1986, I walked through a door to a bedroom in a townhouse in Crofton, Maryland. 1732 Aberdeen Circle. Second floor. Front bedroom. I walk through that door every single day of my life. At least once a day. Sometimes more. But what happened inside that room in June of 1986 shattered my life into a thousand tiny, jagged shards of glass. I have been trying to put those pieces back together ever since. But the pieces just won’t fit.




Here you will find a collection of my experiences on topics ranging from music and films to hiking and kayaking, cooking and camping to Law Enforcement and beyond. But the main component of this blog will be excerpts from my as yet unpublished memoir detailing my twenty year career with the Baltimore City Police Department. The previous post PROLOGUE, is the first such excerpt. There will be many more to follow.

In my time with the BPD, I worked as a Patrol Officer for four years, a Detective for eight, and finally as a Sergeant for the final eight years of my career. I handled calls for every kind of crime imaginable. I investigated both physical and sexual child abuse cases, rape cases, non-fatal shootings, aggravated assaults, burglaries, robberies and more. I can honestly say that I have dealt with every kind of crime that humans can perpetrate on one another, with the (thankful) exception of an active shooter in a school. I’ve also worked in every single district of the city of Baltimore at one point or another. That makes me one of a very select few people that can say they’ve worked every corner, every alley and every street of  the City The Bleeds.

I’ve done much more than that in my lifetime. I’ve played drums in a band, performed live, made friends, traveled, written short stories and more. And I will detail all of it in this Blog. So check back often and feel free to leave a comment on anything you read here. The motto here is INVESTIGATION CONTINUING… because life is a constant investigation. And that’s exactly what we will continue to do.




11 March 2001
Charlie Shift (4×12)
Approximately 1945 hours
3800 Block of Fear Avenue

“This is how I’ll go out tonight…
Dressed in blue, by the book tonight…”
(Live – T.B.D.)


Northwest Baltimore City in the early Spring.

The air is crisp and the streets are filthy. Well, that’s not exactly accurate. The streets themselves are fine… it’s the sidewalks, the yards and the alleys that are overflowing with detritus. You see, people in certain parts of Baltimore don’t concern themselves overly much with not littering. It’s not uncommon to see a man walking down the street eating a bag of UTZ potato chips. Barbecue. The small 1 1/2 ounce size. This same man will walk and eat, stopping to chat here and there with someone he knows, and when this man finishes with his bag of chips, down goes the bag right where he stands. This man won’t even crumple up the bag in his hand and toss it in a nearby trash can. That would require far too much effort. He will just drop it and walk on. You see, it’s all about conserving your energy in Baltimore. The Winters can be long, and the Summers grueling. Gotta save up. Like a hibernating bear – year-round conservation of energy. And so it is that on any given day, on nearly any given sidewalk, yard or alley in the City of Baltimore, you will find piles of empty UTZ potato chip bags. Barbecue. Fully expanded but empty… lying on the ground. Sometimes it’s Old Bay flavored. But mostly it’s Barbecue. And don’t even get me started on the used diapers.

For the purposes of the Police Department, Baltimore City is divided into nine Police Districts. Each District is divided into three or four Sectors depending on the size of the area that each District is responsible for. Each Sector is then divided further into Posts, each with a corresponding number that starts with the District identifier. The Sectors usually do not have more than six Posts. Each District is assigned said identifying number; 1 for Central, 2 for Southeast, 3 for Eastern, etc., and these numbers will never change. Each Sector also has a corresponding number, Sector’s 1, 2, 3 or in the case of the Southern and Central Districts, 4. To further add to this plethora of identifying digits, there are three shifts that Patrol Officers work: 12:00 AM until 8:00 AM (12X8 or “the midnight shift”), 8:00 AM until 4:00 PM (8X4 or “day work”), and 4:00 PM until 12:00 AM (4X12 or “night work”). Each of these shifts is assigned… guess what? No, not a number this time. Just for kicks we use letters for the Shifts. 12X8 shift is the “A” or Adam Shift, 8X4 shift is “B” or Boy Shift and 4X12 shift is “C” Charlie Shift. So, an Officer working the midnight shift in the Eastern District, Sector Two, Twenty-Two Post Car would identify himself on the radio as Three Adam Twenty-Two. Again, these divisions and numbers are only for the purposes of the Police Department; used as a means to identify Districts, Officers, crime trends and so forth. No one else in the city (save for possibly the Fire Department) seems to know where these dividing lines are. I always find it highly amusing when any one of the local television news stations sends some poor reporter out into the night to report from Northeast Baltimore… when in fact the reporter is standing smack in the very heart of the Eastern District.

It is 2001 and I am currently assigned to the Northwest District, Sector One. I am a “floater”, which means that I have not yet been assigned a permanent Post Car. I mostly work Fourteen Post Car, and I am gunning for this to be my permanent Post. So, my identifying number for the purposes of reports and radio traffic, should I get that Post Car assignment, would be 614.

Whenever I work 614 Car, at some point during my shift, I park the patrol car on the corner of Reisterstown Road and Fear Avenue and get out to walk foot. There is a Chinese carry out food store on this corner that everyone knows is used by the area drug dealers to sell their wares. Directly behind this store is an area that is frequently used by junkies to shoot their heroin or smoke their crack that they just purchased from the dealers out front. This area consists of a vacant dwelling with a dilapidated staircase leading up to the second-floor deck of the vacant house. Beside this house is a series of other vacant dwellings that are also used by the area junkies for shelter from the elements and the Police. Junkies usually sit under the stairs and fire up their shit because the steps provide a modicum of shelter and they also make it hard for the Police to see them sitting there. Also at the bottom of the staircase is an old tree that provides some cover from the street. That is why when I am Fourteen Car, I actually get out of the car and walk foot in this area to check for junkies. The other reason is that the dealers that sell from inside the store will frequently hide their stash back behind those stairs.

I always start by driving East on Fear Avenue, slightly past the back area where the junkies hide, and then double back – hitting the area with the spotlight to check for anyone hiding there. This is both an Officer Safety issue that I have developed, and a quick way to scare any potential attackers into dropping whatever they might have.

So tonight, I do my usual U-Turn and hit the area with my light, however, as on most occasions, I see that no one is there. I park my car on Fear facing Reisterstown and advise the Dispatcher of the location that I would be on foot. Can’t hurt to search for a stash back here tonight. Might get lucky. The radio crackles back in my ear.

“Fourteen? Can you advise of the location again? I am unfamiliar with the Northwest”

“Ten – four.” I reply, realizing that she must be a Dispatcher from another District working with us tonight. “It’s the corner of Fear Avenue and Reisterstown. F-E-A-R.”

My immediate thought is: “Fear, as in… I have none.” But I chose not to air this silly opinion, realizing how cocky and irrelevant it would sound. Plus… it’s not one hundred percent true. I am always a bit on edge at night on the streets. Not scared, just on edge. It is a good way to be. Keeps me alert.

“Ten – four, I’ve got it now.” comes the reply.

While advising Dispatch of my location, I had been walking towards the back of the vacant dwelling with my flashlight in hand and checking the area around me. This part of Fear Avenue is only one block long and the only streetlights are at the opposite end from where I am standing. Therefore, the area in question was very dark. Almost immediately following this exchange with the Dispatcher, I round the tree at the foot of the stairs and come face to face with a rail-thin black female. She is standing there staring at me, wide eyed. Frozen. We both are. My heart jumps and I immediately go for my gun. I keep it holstered as I stammer:

“Show me your hands and sit the fuck down.”

I know I shouldn’t have cursed. She had not shown any aggression. But damn if she did not come out of nowhere! How the fuck had I not seen her? Furthermore, why the fuck had she stayed here when she saw my spotlight and heard me on the radio? My mind races back to my earlier thought: “Fear, as in… I have none.” Yeah right.

The woman does what I tell her and sits down on the step. Calming myself, I begin to look at the steps around her. And that’s when I see it: Sitting there on the step beside this rail-thin junkie are the following items:

A syringe with an orange cap on it – unused, a pink lighter – the see-through kind, a large bottle cap – probably from a forty ounce, and a small torn zip lock baggie containing white powder residue. This was her fix for the evening, and she hadn’t even fired it up yet. I hit her directly in the eyes with my flashlight; a tactic that people the world over absolutely HATE, and one I take no pleasure in using; and ask her what she is doing back here? She hesitates and starts to stand up.

“Uh-uh… nope. Sit down”

She complies.

“Where’s the rest of it?”

She hesitates again… and finally reaches inside her bra with her right hand. As she does this, I instinctively go for my gun again. I keep it holstered as she slowly pulls out another syringe from within either her shirt pocket or from inside her bra. This one is not capped and from where I am standing, despite the poor lighting, I can see a smoky brown liquid floating inside the dirty chamber. Heroin. I got to her just before she stuck that needle in and sent the plunger home. This is going to ruin her night. As she pulls the syringe out, she speaks in a shaky voice:

“Officer, I am gonna be honest with you…” Her voice trails off, but I know where she is going with this.

“Is that your stuff?” I ask, pointing to the paraphernalia on the steps.

“Yeah.” She almost sounds defeated. “Are you gonna lock me up? Please don’t lock me up. Can’t I just shoot it into my mouth? Can’t you just let me go?”

This always happens. You catch ‘em and the bargaining starts.

As all this is going on, I have been listening to my radio with one ear, and her with the other. Six Charlie Thirteen – a big bear of a man we all call Chief – has some sort of domestic situation further down on Reisterstown and for a minute, the Dispatcher is unable to reach him on the radio.

“Six Charlie Thirteen?” No answer. “Six Charles Thirteen? Thirteen?” Still no answer.


Chief is in trouble and here I am fucking around with some junkie over one empty baggie and a syringe full of Heroin.


I know that if Chief doesn’t answer in the next five seconds, the Dispatcher is going to drop a Signal Thirteen on him. She should. Any good Dispatcher will know when their Officers are in trouble, and will waste no time in calling for nearby Officers to assist.


“Thirteen.” Chief’s voice, low but firm. Thank God.

“Thirteen, are you alright?”

“Ten four. I just need one more unit down here with me. Just one Ten – Eleven unit.”

A female voice breaks in: “Ninety – One in route.”

Chief is fine, the wagon is on its way to back him, and I start to let the radio trail off from my ear and refocus on the problem at hand. Junkie Girl’s nose is running as I hear her voice filtering back into my head.

“Please Officer…”

“Set the needle down, stand up and put your hands behind your back.”

She complies. Reluctantly. I cuff her hands behind her back, snapping the metal tenderly as I do. She is shaking. Starting to realize what is happening. I feel kind of bad, so in an effort to give her some comfort, I try not to cuff her too tight. She sits back down and I call for the wagon. Ninety-One advises that she is tied up with Chief and that she will be up to my location as soon as she can. I decide to bring Junkie Girl out to the street side curb instead of sitting back in this shit hole. (It smells like piss in every alley and vacant dwelling in the Northwest, but this one is particularly foul.) The Dispatcher asks if I am OK, and I advise that I am fine. Like I said, good Dispatchers always know. I request a Complaint Number for my arrest report and start to get Junkie Girl’s information for the toe tag. While we talk, she keeps asking if I could just please let her go. The whole time her nose and eyes are running profusely, and I start to feel quite bad for this woman. She tells me that heroin makes her bowels loose and her eyes and nose run when she doesn’t get her fix. It also makes her cold without it; shiver like a son of a bitch. She has three kids, no husband, no job. Her boyfriend got her hooked-on heroin and she needed that fix that I had just taken away from her. As she details her sad circumstances to me, I force myself to take notice of her. Kind of pretty. I mean, she doesn’t have that chewed up and spit out look that most of the junkies around here have. She might have been quite beautiful in her day. Before the monkey climbed on her back and took control of her every waking thought. She speaks in a soft voice and she genuinely seems harmless. I try to explain my side of the equation. How I never, ever take the cuffs off once I put them on. How I cannot simply look the other way for her. How no one put a gun to her head and made her take that first hit that got her hooked in the first place. I am halfway through my “I can’t let you go because I am a good cop and besides you might be working with IAD and what would I do with the drugs that you had if I did let you go” speech when Junkie Girl does the damnedest thing:

Right in the middle of my preaching to her, Junkie Girl slides her left hand from behind her back and wipes her nose with it!

There is a momentary pause as we both realize what just happened. Staring at me wide eyed, realizing that I had witnessed her near escape from the handcuffs, she timidly places her hand behind her back and slides it right back into the cuff.

“How the fuck did you get your hand out of that cuff?”

“You was being nice Officer, and you didn’t cuff me that tight. I got small wrists you know.”

Damn right she did. I laughed until the wagon finally arrived, and as I placed Junkie Girl inside for her short trip to Central Booking, I thought to myself:

“This is a scene straight out of a movie.”

Or a book.




 “Now I’m not looking for absolution…
Or forgiveness for the things I do…
But before you come to any conclusion…
Try walking in my shoes.”
(Depeche Mode – WALKING IN MY SHOES)


This is not THE WIRE.  This is not HOMICIDE: A YEAR ON THE KILLING STREETS.  I am no David Simon and I do not claim to be.  I have never investigated a homicide as a Detective, nor have I ever listened to a wire tap.  I am not a drug Cop, nor am I an undercover Cop.  What I am is a retired Sergeant with the Baltimore City Police Department.  I was hired on 5 August 1999 and retired exactly twenty years later, on 1 September 2019. My Academy Class; Class 99-04; began at the Baltimore City Police Academy located on Guilford Avenue on 20 August 1999.  When I was hired, I was assigned the Sequence Number G471.  There are nine hundred ninety-nine people hired for each letter of the alphabet, starting with the letter “A”, and when I came on, the Department was up the letter “G.”  I have no idea how many people were hired before the Department began using Sequence Numbers, but I know some were.  There is only one person ever assigned to each Sequence Number, therefore, there is only one G471 that has ever worked for the Baltimore City Police Department… me.  G471 would be my identification number within the Department throughout my career.  I graduated on 11 February 2000 and hit the streets assigned to the Northwest District as a uniformed patrol officer on 14 February 2000.  I was assigned badge number 3796.  I would hold this badge number until 5 June 2003 when I became a Detective.  My new badge number at that time became 796… a lucky coincidence.

When I began writing this book, it started out as sort of a journal; a way of keeping track of the good times and good work that I was a part of during my time with the Baltimore City Police Department.  It was meant solely for the purposes of chronicling my efforts and my life for my children and grandchildren and future generations.  I wanted them to know who I was.  I quickly realized however, that in order to keep in line with the idea that I would cover only the good times, I would need to skip a lot of what I experienced.  For starters, I would have to leave out any reference to the entire time I spent in the Academy as it was a mind numbing, monumentally stressful experience for me.  Not because of the work load – which there was not much of – and not because of the length of time spent there – roughly six months – but because of the deep sense that most of the people I interacted with were undeserving of the honor of wearing a badge to begin with; coupled with the fact that the Department itself seemed to be highly political and largely lacking any sort of direction.  I am not a political being.  I hate playing those kinds of games.

I should have known when I started in the Academy that the things that I saw that frustrated and enraged me would become even more common place as I continued through my career.  If I were smarter, I would have walked away on the very first day.  Looking back, I am glad that I didn’t.  But believe me, there were times I was tempted…

The idea of this book being a chronicle of only the good times was slowly replaced with the hard realization that there were few of those times to write about.  I soon began to understand that the true nature of this book – and in fact the real reason for writing it – was to remind those that would take the time to read it, and to remind myself as I wrote it, that one man can make a difference.  Despite the overwhelming odds that the citizens and Officers of Baltimore face, with the right convictions and strength of character, one man can affect change. Despite the fact that most of the men and women in power within the city, it’s Police Department and its government, really do not want things in this city to change.  I needed to remind myself that I have helped people.  I also needed to chronicle the stress and pain caused by years of working in an environment that saps the very best out of a man… and leaves him at the end of the day asking himself: “Why am I still doing this? Who gives a fuck about what I do?” Most days the feeling exists that the citizens of this City don’t and certainly not the upper echelon of this Department.  And yet I still held onto hope and the idea that every man must make the most out of what he is given.

“Every man dies.  Not every man really lives.”

I want this book to be as inspiring and meaningful to others as the movie which I have just quoted is for me.  I look to that film for inspiration and guidance whenever I feel like giving up.  I consider it to be my favorite film of all time, and not just because my ancestors were Scottish.

So, I finally gave in to the fact that to do this book justice; and in fact to do my career justice; I had to tell it all.  The good and the bad.  And to hell with those that would have a problem with it.  I also began to accept that in order for the reader to truly understand where I am coming from, I would have to chronicle a little bit of where I came from.  So, this book will also include passages about my past, how it affected me, and how I pushed through the pain to find my true calling.  At times I admit I have felt that this Department sucks.  And so have many of the people that are employed by it.  But never the job.  The job is everything.  (Well, not nearly everything, but when compared to the Department, there is a clear distinction between the two.)  I still find a strong sense of pride behind my badge.  I think that comes from a strong work ethic despite the setbacks.  It comes from pride.  It comes from hope.

In my time with the Department, I suffered many indignities and saw many injustices brought upon other members.  Much unfairness has been leveled upon many.  We’re not talking Serpico type stuff here, but wrong is wrong.  And yet, I continued to get up each day and I ventured into the city in order to try and help.  To try and make a difference.  When I got frustrated, I thought of a quote I once read.  It is a quote from Edmund Burke:

“The only thing necessary for evil to triumph in this world is for good men to do nothing.” 

I am a good man, and the BPD is a good Department.  I needed to do something meaningful with my life.  Something selfless.  Regardless of whether I ever envisioned this life or not… this was my destiny.  Being a cop was and is my purpose.  And “finding one’s purpose is a very profound thing”.  So, this is the story of some of what I have said and done.  Every word of it is true.  I lived it all.  I did it all.  I have tried to leave nothing out.  Of course, I can’t write everything that happened… I worked there for twenty years.  But the most important events are chronicled here.  You will, however, find very few stories about graft, theft, bribery or any other form of violation of the public trust.  Not because those things do not exist within the Baltimore City Police Department, but because I never participated in any of these types of activities and because – with the exception of one incident that I will chronicle – I had no first-hand knowledge that these incidents transpired.  I mean it. I have never stolen anything while employed with the Department.  Not money – which I frequently seized from drug dealers – nor drugs, which I seized even more of.   I have never taken or even been offered a bribe.  I have never filed a false report, nor have I made an unlawful arrest.  I can even state without equivocation that I have never personally known any cop who has done any of these things… except one.  And again, that will be told later in this book.  Believe me when I tell you, I am quite sure that these things went on everyday in the Department, it’s just that I never associated with anyone who behaved in that fashion. I don’t know why these individuals never entered my life; I can only speculate that they somehow sensed that I was not cut from the same cloth as they.  When I would lock up a drug dealer, and he would have hundreds of dollars in cash wadded up in his pocket, there was never a moments temptation to take any of it.   Of course, I seized the cash and submitted it to our Evidence Control Unit (ECU), but I never skimmed one dollar from anyone.  It just never seemed worth the risk of losing my job and possibly going to prison for a couple of bills.  I never understood why good cops with decent salaries ever crossed that line, and I doubt I ever will.  It just wasn’t worth it to me.

For this book, I have chosen to leave out my entire Academy experience because the core of the job occurs after the Academy.  Usually what is learned there is discarded once you hit the streets anyway, and any good cop will tell you that.  But as for the rest… fair game.  If something occurred and I was wrong, I wrote about it.  When others were wrong, I wrote that.  I have changed some of the names in order to avoid any conflicts with fellow Officers. But my mistakes are my own.  I admit them.  I think you will see that very few others in this book can claim the same thing. I truly hope this book shows that one man can do good despite the fact that so many would try to hold him down.

This is my story.  This is the story of Sequence Number G471.  There has only been only one G471, and there will only ever be one G471… me.