I remember getting the call at home. The Lieutenant said, in his Irish brogue: “Jesus, Joseph and Mary, What’s this job coming to, Frankie, you got made!” That’s copspeak for promoted. It came over the FINEST teletype at my command. I was instructed to report to One Police Plaza (NYPD HEADQUARTERS), better known by cops as “The Puzzle Palace” at 0800 hours the next day to be sworn in.
Yesterday I couldn’t even spell sergeant....Today I am one!
I was now going to be an NYPD Sergeant.
Thanks, Mayor Koch!
My wife Nancy would always say (we were married for five years when I left my teaching position in academia for the NYPD) “I still can’t believe you’re a cop.” She called my uniform a “police costume.”
“You have too much fun when you go to work!” Nancy always lectured me. “Now you’re in a position of responsibility, let’s see how you like that!” Admonished Mrs. “I Work on Wall Street.”
I’d like it, and still have fun.
There were these two Puerto Rican cops, partners known on the police radio as “The Mexicans” (Joe and John.) Maybe it’s because they both had big mustaches? They were always spit shined with freshly pressed creased uniforms and Puerto Rican flag lapels.
Muy Hermoso! (very handsome) en Español
Their RMP (police car) shined!
The Mexicans would ride around with their thick Patrol Guides, studying for the sergeants test and asking inane and esoteric questions about cop shit from said guide. “Where is the Aided and Accident Index listed on the inventory.....” They would ask this bullshit when we all hung out in Union Square Park during a lull in the action.
”Who gives a shit?” I would say.
Civil Service promotions are a big thing with some people.
The Mexicans would condescending look down their mustaches at us and with a haughty voice say through their shinny RMP’s window,“We’re gonna be your boss.” Me and Jimmy would just laugh and say something like: “Only on Taco Tuesdays.”
I remember when the promotion list first came down last year. Some cops get really jealous of those cops who make the list.
P.S. - When the list finally came out, I’m on it, The Mexicans are not. The next time I see them, I laughingly say, “I guess white males were meant to lead.”
Towards the end of 1985, there was a severe shortage of sergeants in the NYPD. That’s because some liberal douche bag judge held up all promotions for over two years. The frequency of lawsuits that held up promotion lists was increasing as was the time for their resolution.
This lawsuit claimed that not enough blacks, hispanics or women passed the test (so what else is new?) Mayor Koch decided to promote those on the list anyway, he found a loophole.
We were “provisional” sergeants. All cops on the promotion list got “made.”
The NYPD was in a bind. The judge says they desperately needed to promote more cops to supervise cops like me. So now they have to promote cops like me to supervise cops like me. The cops the judge wants to promote to supervise cops like me can’t pass the promotion test. So they’re stuck promoting cops like me to supervise the cops they really want to promote to supervise cops like me.
Here’s the rub. The NYPD traditionally trains all cops before they promote to the next rank, so they promote as many as they can train at one time. Cops don’t get promoted until completing the training. But I got promoted immediately.
Why? Am I that special? I really don’t think so, and neither does the NYPD.
The Police Academy could not possibly train all 600 newly promoted sergeants at once. What’s a police department to do?
The NYPD decided to split the 600 newly promoted sergeants into three groups. Two groups got the four week training. One at 8am to 4pm, the second at 4pm to 12am. The third group (that’s me) went directly to new commands, without any training.
My new command was the Ninth Pct. (Alphabet City on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.)
The Ninth Pct. cops were still deservedly living off their notorious 1970s’ history: The Black Liberation Army cop assassinations, confrontations with the Hippies in Tompkins Square Park and The Hells Angels on East Second Street, to name just a few. The cops there were the self proclaimed “Fightin’ Ninth” aka “The Shit House.”
I went right into the supervisors rotation. Two days ago I was a cop, now I’m a Desk Officer/Patrol Supervisor. No time to adjust the crossover of responsibility. Last week I was responsible for my partner. This week I’m responsible for fifty cops. Probably as crazy as me in RMPs with guns, arresting people and everything.
Not to mention the administrative responsibility bullshit including, but not limited to the verifying of arrests, vouchering of property (including vast amounts of cash and illegal drugs,) safeguarding illegal firearms, maintaining the safety of prisoners and answering to my Commanding Officer on up to the Chief of Patrol.
Nothing really changes for me. Now, it’s my ass on the line. But then again, fun is fun.
Just before my first tour, I ran into an old grumpy Ninth Pct. Sergeant I knew, Jimmy McVey. He was going off duty from the 4 x 12 and I was coming in for the midnight. He had about 35 years on the job.
Sgt. McVey took this cop shit very seriously.
“You know, I was a cop for 19 years before I got made sergeant, back in the old days”, Sgt. McVey growled at me. “Look at you, 6 years on the job, and you got made already!” He waved his hand up in the air at me in disgust.
I smiled and said: “Jimmy, look at it this way, years ago it took 10 hours to fly from New York to California, now it only takes four hours.” I just stood there silent and continued to smile, knowing my smart ass illogical logic would piss him off.
Sgt. McVey shook his head in bewilderment, grabbed his coat and stormed out of the locker room, mumbling and grunting “This job is going to shit.” He headed out to meet his pals at the cop bar on Second Avenue to liquidly solidify and continue his buzz.
The nasty, shanty, donkey Irish drunk that he is.
That weekend midnight tour was jumping with the usual shit when things finally slowed down at around 3am. Soon after, a young, obnoxious and intoxicated male and female of the Caucasian persuasion (probably of Italian American descent) from New Jersey staggered into the station house.
These spaghetti benders were complaining about the two cops who gave the male a summons. The male was urinating on a sidewalk garden planted by local residents to beautify the neighborhood.
As they finished telling their story, the two cops who issued the summons walked in for their meal period. I asked these bozos from New Jersey: “Is that them?”
The male turned red and stared momentarily at the two cops and screamed, “Fuckin’ YES, that’s them, Fascist pigs.” As this asshole was pointing his finger he reminded me of Emile Zola’s J'accuse!
The intoxicated female shook her head in agreement tightly grasping her boyfriends arm to prevent from falling flat on her face while trying to point as well. She remained speechless. I hoped she wasn’t ready to regurgitate all the alcohol she had consumed.
If these two bozos tried to get away with something like this in a New Jersey State Trooper barracks, Fugitaboutit! The next stop for them: Hackensack Medical Center Emergency Room.
But this is New York City. NYPD is the most restrained police department in the entire United States of America (including the territories of Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and the Northern Mariana Islands.) Even probably the world!
Hooray for us!
The two cops just stood there. I composed myself (not to laugh) and yelled... “That’s it, I’ve had it with you two guys, turn in your guns...YOU’RE FIRED...go upstairs and get out of your uniforms!”
The cops immediately took my cue and sauntered off looking dejected. They were holding back their laughter and surrendered their guns to me. The cuchodroules from New Jersey got their second wind, righteously and proudly exited the station house. Thankfully without leaving any signs of regurgitation.
Customer satisfaction is number one at the Ninth Pct. and I aim to please!
Within minutes, two other cops brought in a robbery suspect.
This youngster was caught in the act on East Houston Street. His victim was being checked out at the Bellevue Hospital Emergency Room. Thankfully it was nothing serious, just a few bumps from being knocked to the sidewalk and kicked by this mutt.
When the arresting officers presented the youth at the desk, I asked him “How old are you?” (To determine his status for questioning as a youthful offender.) His response was “You mean right now?” I said, “Yes, right now, Einstein!’ After a few seconds, his thoughtful retort was: “My name Miflbe Washington,” (then he said, punctuated with a elongated shhhhhhhhhhit) “I ain’t no Einstein, I ain’t even Jewish neither!”
Miflbe Washington was just another product of the New York City Board of Education destined to matriculate at the New York City Department of Correction’s Riker’s Island Detention Center. There he will meet old friends and make new friends as well.
Luckily for Miflbe, I finally determined he was young enough to be questioned and classified as a Youthful Offender.
He’ll be off to Spofford in the Bronx, a detention facility for Youthful Offenders. Miflbe’s probably been there before. Miflbe has not yet experienced the “system” for adults, but I’m sure he will be well prepared and fit right in.
In the not so distant future, when they reach the statutory age and commit an appropriate crime; Miflbe and his friends will probably spend some extended time at an upstate campus of the New York State Department of Corrections.
Kind of like going on to graduate school.
Next: An angel dusted prisoner earlier arrested in Tompkins Square Park awaiting transport to Central Booking started violently banging his head against the hard 100 year old plaster walls in the cells.
These dusted people feel no pain.
I notified EMS to respond forthwith over the radio. Charlie, (an old Ninth Pct. cop on station house security) and I grabbed an old leftover riot helmet and struggled to put it on Dusty. Another cop came in and we spread eagle cuffed Dusty to the cell bars so he couldn’t use his arms or legs to hurt himself.
EMS showed up and removed him in a body bag (for his protection) to the Bellevue Hospital Psych Ward.
After all the commotion, an innocent rookie cop asked Charlie: “What made Dusty go so crazy?” Charlie, in deep thought for a few seconds, pensively answered: “Maybe he just wanted to steal our helmet.” Charlie then took a sip of his coffee, yawned, and sat down like nothing happened.
You know, a cop like Charlie has seen it all.
My next tour I was designated Patrol Supervisor. I would be out with the cops on patrol. But that’s another story. As the early morning dawn came it was time for me to go home.
On the way to my my car, I ran into Jimmy McVey coming out of the Cop Bar. He was shielding his eyes from the morning sun. Jimmy did the entire tour at the bar with his pals, drinking and most likely telling war stories.
“Hey, Frankie Boy” he jovially said, “how’s about a drink?”
“Yea, sure Jimmy, one for the road” I smilingly said as Jimmy slapped my shoulder.
I guess I was now getting inducted into the Ninth Pct. Sergeant’s club.