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


On Scene

Two minutes later Duncan turned onto Old Fort, and muttered, “What the . . .?”

Sanchez was already there.  His patrol car, driver’s door ajar and lights still flashing, was sitting high on the curb in front of Potter’s house, but Sanchez himself was nowhere in sight.  Duncan caught a whiff of burned rubber and frowned.  Just then Rogers rounded the corner, and Duncan quickly radioed dispatch that all three officers were on scene.  He and Rogers piled out of their units just in time to hear Potter yell from inside the house, “I’m gonna blow your &%*$ off, you dago wop cop!”  Spurred on, the officers charged up the walkway and blew through the front door.  Stumbling into a trashed living room, they found Sanchez fighting desperately to find the handle on a drunk and angry Potter.  Potter’s wife, having started the whole fire drill with her 911 call, had since reconsidered her loyalties, and was beating on Sanchez’ back with a Christmas present.  Without further ado, Rogers grabbed for the woman, and Duncan jumped over an upended Christmas tree to assist Sanchez.

Potter was grabbing at Sanchez’ gun in its holster.  Sanchez, figuring the suspect’s intent, had a death grip on Potter’s arm so he couldn’t reach it.  Potter, in turn, had Sanchez in a vise with his other arm.  After several unsuccessful tries to pull the drunk away from his partner, Duncan grunted, “Enough of this . . .!” and wrapped an arm around Potter’s neck.  The more Potter fought, the more Duncan tightened down, like a boa constrictor.  And, just as Duncan hoped, Potter forgot all about Sanchez’ gun and instead took a growing interest in his own state of affairs.  He reached up to pull Duncan’s arm away.  It didn’t work.

“Good night, Gracie, and Merry Christmas . . .” Mike whispered into Potter’s ear, as the man relaxed and drifted off into a brief alcoholic nap.  Easing him to the floor with George’s help, Mike rolled him over, and his partner cuffed him just as he woke up, now too disoriented to struggle further.  Sanchez leaned against the wall and took a moment to catch his breath, and then looked at the subdued suspect.  “If you’re gonna insult me, ‘mano, at least do it sober.  You gotta be a point two zero at least.”

Duncan, also recovering his breath, cast a critical eye at Sanchez.  “You caught ‘em, you clean ‘em, amigo.” Sanchez sighed and got on the radio, “1 John 3, 10-15 with a male subject, mileage ...”

Cops, Coffee, and Compassion

A couple of hours later Duncan was sitting in his favorite booth at his favorite coffee shop, The Happy Days Diner, writing reports, when the bell over the front door rang.   In walked Sanchez with his typical cocky smile.

“Hey, Clarence, mind if I join you in this dive?” Duncan didn’t look up from his paperwork.  “I don’t mind if you don’t mind, Jorge.” Sanchez sat down.  “Loved the choke you put on Potter.” “It wasn’t a choke – I never touched his windpipe.” Duncan took a gulp of his coffee, “It was a carotid restraint – properly administered.  That’s the problem with you young people today.  You don’t know upper body control holds.  You rookies just stand back and tee off on folks and criticize real cops who do it right.”

“Still, your move was not exactly policy – not that I care.”

“Wrong again, lawyer boy.  I protected you, and me, and him, from a deadly force situation.  Or would you prefer I let him perform what in your case would have been minor surgery on your precious parts with your own gun?  Or maybe I should have stood back and hosed you both with pepper spray or beat you both with my stick?  And speaking of policy, you should do some homework yourself, Ace.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“You don’t want to know.”

“You got something on your chest – get it off.  I don’t need the evil eye.”

  • Enhance your experience.

    Thank you for your regular readership of and visits to Officer.com. To continue viewing content on this site, please take a few moments to fill out the form below and register on this website.

    Registration is required to help ensure your access to featured content, and to maintain control of access to content that may be sensitive in nature to law enforcement.