It's A Wonderful (Cop's) Life

A Christmas story (with apologies to Frank Capra) by Chaplain Steve Lee, Founder of POM. Prologue & Post-Script (and some editing) by Chaplain Frank Ruffatto, Executive Director of POM

A Christmas story (with apologies to Frank Capra) by Chaplain Steve Lee, Founder of POM.  Prologue & Post-Script (and some editing) by Chaplain Frank Ruffatto, Executive Director of POM


A young George Sanchez, worn down by family obligations and a sense of responsibility toward his community, feels confined in the driver’s seat of his patrol car. He wonders where the dreams and possibilities he so enthusiastically clung to coming out of the academy went. Unknown to George, the old salt Senior Corporal on his squad has been looking out and praying for him. Michael Clarence Duncan had ‘been-there-done-that’ in all the right and wrong ways. He wanted George to not only survive in this most noble vocation but to thrive. And more, he knew the One who was the ultimate Peace Officer who said, “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

The Squad Room         

Officer Michael Clarence Duncan shook his head.  “What goes around, comes around,” he groused good-naturedly.  “That’ll teach me to mess with the Maestro.  That kid is good - reminds me of me.”  With that thought, his smile darkened into something else.         

George Sanchez, a.k.a. “The Maestro,” had only been on the department three years, but he already had a reputation.  He loved to one up his District Four co-workers, both on and off the street.  Like a modern Nathan Bedford Forrest in blue, he always tried to “git thar fustest with the mostest.”  It didn’t matter if it was a call or a choir practice; he always seemed to be first on-scene and first in the thick of it.  He was also a remorseless practical joker.  He never surrendered.  The only thing that kept his partners from routinely stuffing him into the nearest dumpster was their eye watering laughter at his wonderfully inappropriate humor - and their fear of what they might find in their vehicles or lockers.

Duncan had a habit of calling Sanchez by various nicknames, and Sanchez had just retaliated at briefing by calling him Clarence.  The Clarence moniker was the rewarding result, Mike was sure, of an improper records check on his name.  Duncan hated his middle name worse than his “Dunk ‘Em” handle, and had managed to keep it under wraps until the Maestro posted it on a billboard for all to mock.  “Thank you, Uncle Clarence, for being Mom’s favorite,” he reflected ironically.

The Call

As Duncan headed to his cruiser, the radio on his hip crackled. “1 John 4.” ... “4, go ahead.” ... “911 hang-up.  10302 Old Fort Road.  Sounded like a drunk adult male and female yelling.  Address history advises you know the subjects.  Respond priority, John 5  to back – units copy?” ... “4 copies.” ... “5 copies.”

“Merry Christmas to you too,” Duncan added silently.  “Deck the halls with boughs of folly.”  As he U-turned his squad and gunned it up a side street shortcut, he ran a quick records check in his head and came up with a hit.  “Potter’s place,” he grumped.  “Exchanging presents with his wife, no doubt.”  Potter was big, strong, and dangerous when drunk.  Never mind that it was Christmas Eve.

Duncan picked up the mike again. “4, 5, go to ‘b-mode.’” Dean Rogers’ voice came back on the car-to-car mode.  “Go ahead.” “Remember this one?” Yeah, Mike, I know.  12 gauge in the closet.  .44 mag under the mattress – who knows what all.  We oughtta have Judge Markham handle the next call with Potter, since they’re such good friends and our courtroom Santa Klutz keeps giving him his guns back.  What say, Kimosabe?” Duncan acknowledged by keying his mike twice, and then added, “Just watch your tail feathers, Tonto.”  After years of working together, he and Rogers could read each other’s minds.

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