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True Detective Stories

By Wyatt Earp | September 18, 2009

detective-shield1Remember all of the posts where I talk about idiot citizens and idiot cops? Well, this one involves a new category: Idiot supervisors.

Last night two rookie officers came into the division with an arrest. They are beat officers who came out of the last police academy class. Eager, but green.

Any hoo, the officers come in and say that they have an Assault on Police arrest. The officers don’t have any marks on them, but sometimes that’s not necessary is the thug punched them in the back or something. Being a super (average) detective, I asked the question:

“Okay, which one of you was assaulted?”

The response was one for the ages:

“Neither of us.”

Eh, what? How the frak do you have an assault on police arrest when no police were assaulted? I figured the cops said something that I didn’t hear, so I asked them again. Their response?

“Well, our corporal told us to charge him with assault on police.”

And then, my skull exploded all over my desk. For those not in the know, Philadelphia police corporals are operations room supervisors. They do not work the street, and many of them have not been on patrol for quite some time. In 15 years, I have had exactly two corporals that were worth their salt – one man and one woman. The rest? Useless like teat on a nun.

After pulling about 32 teeth, the officers’ story went as follows: They were on patrol when they came across some toad loitering on the corner. They told him to scram and he flipped them off. When they approached him, he started yelling and causing a scene. The officers decided to run him for wants, and the toad tried to grab the female officer’s asp. There was a brief struggle, and the toad was arrested and brought to the division. None of the officers were assaulted in any way.

So why, pray tell, did their corporal tell them to lock the toad up for assault on police?

“Because there was a threat of assault when the toad tried to grab the officer’s asp.”

KABOOM! Yet another ‘splodey head. I politely told the officers that they could charge the toad with Disorderly Conduct and be on their way. We would not charge the man for assault on police when there was no assault. Sorry, but I was not about to have their first-ever arrest send them to federal court.

A few hours passed by when we get a call from the officers’ sergeant. Another winner wants to put her two cents in. The sergeant is a recent promotee and she was no ball of fire when she was a patrol officer. I know, since she worked in the district next to mine. My 5-year old knows more about the PA Crimes Code than this broad. Naturally, she starts out on the wrong foot:

Female Sgt: “I want to know why you aren’t charging that guy with assault on police.”
Wyatt: “Because ma’am, there was no assault.”

Female Sgt: “What do you man there was no assault?”
Wyatt: “I mean, the officers both said they were not assaulted.”


Female Sgt: “Well, there was an intent to assault the officers, so that should be enough to charge.”
Wyatt: “Actually, no. For the assault, there has to be an assault. You know, a punch, a kick, spitting, etc. The officers told us that the man just tried to get the female officer’s asp.”


Female Sgt: “Well, that is assault!”
Wyatt: “Trying to grab the officer’s asp is an assault, sarge?”
Female Sgt: “YES! There was the threat of violence here.”
Wyatt: “Ma’am, that would be sufficient if this was robbery. It was not. I am not going to ask the officers to lie about the incident and say they were assaulted when they were not. The guy is already arrested for disorderly conduct. You got him. We don’t need to get greedy here.”

I guess that last comment was enough:

Female Sgt: “Put your supervisor on the phone.”

I did, gladly, because I knew my sergeant and lieutenant would back me up. They were sitting next to me during the conversation. After about five minutes of explaining . . . and explaining . . . and explaining, the female sergeant gave up. She probably saved herself and her officers a great deal of heartache down the road.

The moral of the story? Sometimes a disorderly conduct is just a disorderly conduct.

Topics: True Detective Stories | 11 Comments »

11 Responses to “True Detective Stories”

  1. CaptainAmerica Says:
    September 18th, 2009 at 4:32 pm

    I would have let him have the ASP then promptly drilled him full-of-lead-dead.
    Most likely while I ride the big red trucks and not the little white cars.

  2. Sully Says:
    September 18th, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    I’ll have a cigar in your honor tonight for that last bit.

  3. RT Says:
    September 18th, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    Thank you for being an honest, trustworthy and good detective/cop. I’m sure 99.9 percent of you are; however, you know someone might have gone along with things and caused the newly minted officers a lot of trouble down the road. :) Good job!

  4. Jim Says:
    September 18th, 2009 at 7:01 pm

    Would this have been different if the “p” were another “s”?

  5. Ingineer66 Says:
    September 18th, 2009 at 7:18 pm

    Sounds like the guy just needs a good beating.

  6. PhillipC Says:
    September 18th, 2009 at 8:12 pm

    That’s a really great story to hear. I hear so many that go the other way, where someone gets charged for resisting arrest despite video evidence of the person being cooperative.

    Since bad news is the primary thing reported, it’s sometimes hard to remember that most people are essentially decent and most cops honest. Thank you.

  7. Robin Says:
    September 19th, 2009 at 10:25 am

    Does Philly have a “no loitering” law? Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendall Holmes once said that the greatest right Americans have is the right to be left alone. Was this guy doing something illegal or was he just sitting, or standing, around trying to think or decide something? It sounds to me like the officers precipitated the “disorderly conduct”. If you aren’t breaking the law, the police should leave you alone.
    Respectfully, Robin

  8. Wyatt Earp Says:
    September 19th, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    Captain – One time some toad high on PCP tried to take my partner’s gun. I hit him so hard with my nightstick that it broke in two. He looked at me and smiled. We called an assist, and the toad spent a few days in the hospital for his trouble. It’s the only time in 15 years I ever hit someone with the baton.

    Sully – Sweet.

    RT – I get a lot of comments here that tell me what scumbags cops are, and how they should all die painful, fiery deaths. They never get published. That being said, some of these people don’t know me – or any cop – personally, and form their opinion after reading one blog post.

    In 15 years, I have had exactly one complaint issued against me, and that was from one lone psycho. IAB cleared me and apologized for the stress caused. Again, for you Eagles fans: ONE complaint in FIFTEEN years. So take that “corrupt cop” shit somewhere else.

    Jim – We joked with the female officer and said, “He grabbed your ass?” She laughed.

    Ingineer66 – And that’s the point. The officers weren’t assaulted and the only force used by the officers was that to effect the arrest. No marks on anyone involved.

    PhillipC – We almost always shoot down arrests that are even remotely questionable. We have that power as detectives. We shoot down some for two reasons:

    1. Because it’s the right thing to do.
    2. Because none of us want to go to federal court.

    Robin – There is a law on the books for Obstructing the Highway and Failure to Disperse. Both are summary offenses, and in a nutshell, it is explained that if an officer asks you to clear the corner, you do it. The post was long enough without this, but the guy was standing on one of the biggest drug corners in our division. The officers thought he was dealing, so they told him to scram. He refused, and that’s when they approached.

    They never searched him or patted him down at first. they just wanted to make sure he knew to clear the corner. That’s when he flipped the officers off, started yelling, and causing a scene. That is a textbook case of Disorderly Conduct, which he was eventually arrested for.

    Could we have charged the guy with Assault on Police and gotten away with it? Probably. But we don’t play those games. Not in my division.

  9. Loaded Dice in Vegas Says:
    September 19th, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    How did the Chicago Sergeant get to Philly?

  10. Robin Says:
    September 20th, 2009 at 10:35 am

    Thank you for explaining. I was wondering. Drive on, good sir.
    Respe`ctfully, Robin

  11. Wyatt Earp Says:
    September 20th, 2009 at 11:54 am

    LDIV – I know, right?

    Robin – You’re welcome.