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The Lie Must Be Maintained
Detective Caleb Rivera stood defiantly and from the second level window on Congress Street he could see the swirling lights that almost engulfed the darkness. He and his partner Rich Holts were on the midnight shift that seemed to never end. It was almost like Hell Night trapping them into a never ending loop of despair. Office phones were bleeping, the corridors filled with complaints, witnesses lying, eight shootings, eight deaths, and more trouble stacking up around the homeless on Railroad Avenue.
While Caleb thinks about how the summer bleeds the third shift dry, his partner is slapping away at the computer trying to figure which case to take. He could take the shooting gallery over on the eastside, or he could arrest transvestites on Main Street for selling their wares. Holts kept running different scenarios through his mind he wanted just the right one so his night could end swimmingly. He wanted to handle non-shooting crimes because he understood the protocol which dictated that regardless of the hour, the shift lieutenant was to return to the office to supervise the investigation of any police involved shooting.
Caleb watched his partner as he sat at a drawing table, and Holts pulled out a sheet of heavy paper and started making a chart. He listed all the non-shooting calls on one side and the shooting calls on the other side. He crossed out six possible long hour crimes and circled the quick ones. He chewed on the end of his pencil and smiled as he turned toward the doors.
“Got one,” he said.
Caleb frowned, thought about what his partner was doing for a minute, and then called dispatch. “It’s Rivera; we’re going to take the night club shooting. Holts and I are on the way.”
“Caleb, that’s going to be an all nighter,” he said. “I got things to do tomorrow.”
“A patrol officer was shot,” said Caleb. “We need to be there.”
Inside every major police department, the initial investigation of any officer involved shooting must begin as an attempt to make the incident look as clean and professional as possible. There was too much dirty going on and Caleb had to protect one of their own. In every department, the bias at heart of such an investigation should be seen as the only reasonable response to a public that had to believe that good cops always made good shootings and that bad shootings were only the consequences of bad cops. Even if there is a lie to be covered up, and time and again, that lie must be maintained.
Holts rubbed the back of his neck and said. “All right, if we have to do it for the sake of color, then let us go.”
For homicide detectives, a justified police shooting meant that there was no criminal intent behind the officer’s actions and at the same time deadly force was used genuinely because he thought his life or others around him were seriously being compromised.
“Caleb, are we really going to cover up for dirty cops if that’s what it takes?”
“No, we’re going to find out if the shootings were truly justified. We would also provide an altogether different answer or, more likely, no answer at all.”
“We cover up…”
“Let’s just get going,” Caleb ordered.
© 2014 Frank Atanacio