What Kind of Cop Wears Glasses?
I got a telephone call last week from my old NYPD radio car partner. We rode together back in the early 1980’s patrolling Manhattan’s Thirteenth Pct. I had realized it has been quite some time since we actually spoke to each other. But with the advent of text messages and e mail, and not actually hearing his voice for a while, Jimmy sounded the same.
It was like it was still 1982, that gruff deep voice highlighted his heavy and now anachronistic Brooklyn accent. Jimmy still had it all, even after moving to Florida. I imagine he still has his accompanying piercing deep blue eyes with that “Murder One” look which would stare down any skell into submission. Jimmy projected to the public that quintessential now nonexistent NYPD cop tough guy - strong, silent, and self-contained. “I take no shit from nobody,” he’d always say.
We spoke about the old times and we laughed about the midnight tour when we once responded to a routine noise complaint in a very nice apartment building on West 23rd Street. An small elderly Jewish couple had called 911. We could hear the noise of furniture being thrown around in the apartment directly above theirs.
The twist was, the person upstairs was their thirty year old son. He had stopped taking his medication and they wanted us to take him to the Hospital. We figured he was some small wimpy EDP (Emotionally Disturbed Person) Jewish guy and we’d just ride him over to Bellevue Hospital.
When we went upstairs, the door was open. I looked inside and saw a five foot five screaming three hundred pound man sporting a shaved head. His arms fit around a refrigerator and he was lifting it up and down pounding the floor. “We’re going to get killed,” I thought.
Then coming from behind me, in a loud and bellowing voice, the five foot eight Jimmy spoke. “Put that fuckin’ refrigerator down and get your ass out here!” Morris the EDP calmly complied and apologized for the noise. He was so fat, we had to use two sets of interlocking cuffs to transport him to the Psycho Ward at Bellevue.
Jimmy was not afraid of our bosses. On the street during police activity some of them would ask me, “can you tell your partner to put his hat on.” The NYPD was big on all cops wearing their five point police hats when outside the RMP. Jimmy didn’t like that requirement. He intentionally and habitually left his police hat in the RMP. But he’d eventually comply when I relayed the bosses messages.
Jimmy reluctantly performed this act of compliance while simultaneously giving the boss his long and hard “Murder One” stare. I think he intimidated most of the bosses. The other cops nicknamed us, and we were known on the police radio as “Lowlife.”
A few of the cool patrol bosses instinctively knew the deal. I didn’t really think about it until the Thirteenth Pct. spaghetti bender Integrity Control Lieutenant, employing his Guido ethnocentric vocabulary and body language asked me: “Not for nothin’ why don’t youse guys have any sergeants scratching your memo books?” (That procedure was used to document the sergeants are supervising us dumb cops by singing or “scratching” our memo books.)
So I asked our own cool squad sergeant, “Hey Red, what’s the deal? Why don’t you scratch our memo books?” He said: “You guys know your shit and I trust you, I got to keep tabs on those dip shit cops who are always fuckin’ up.” That was a great compliment coming from a veteran sergeant like Red. But it didn’t phase Jimmy one bit. He didn’t give a shit.
Jimmy and I would hear this one same question from some of the other cops. They would take each of us individually over to the side and ask: “How can you work with that guy?” Jimmy said that everyone thought I was crazy. Cops also told me that Jimmy was crazy, but dangerously so. He scared some of them. When justifiably necessary, Jimmy expertly put the Brutality into Police Brutality.
Once we had a rare serious conversation. I asked Jimmy if he’d shoot and kill a perp who killed me. I told him: “I’d definitely pop some asshole if they ever offed you.” Jimmy said he would not. I was shocked.
His attempt at being seriously insightful was his theory that my attitude comes from my Viet Nam War experience. After all, he knows I was “trained to kill without mercy.” And anyway, “My old man was a cop and he says cops just don’t do that shit,” I remember him seriously saying to me.
Changing the tenor of our discourse, I retorted, “Well I do, numb nutz, you just never killed anybody,” I said laughingly and continued on by questioning Jimmy’s heterosexuality. Inserting a derogatory name for a homosexual in my rant to top it off. (I seem to remember calling him a Rectal Ranger.) “You got no balls” I cajoled. “Like I said, you lack sensation in your testicles, Numb Nutz!” I added to incite our RMP tête-à-tête.
I was reared with no religious upbringing and obviously lack any moral compass when it came to killing those human beings who deserved it. I really couldn’t understand his reasoning, But I had my own insightful, but humorous theorem.
I told Jimmy he was probably afflicted by some sort of Roman Catholic moral code. I continued to fuck with him by stating he was probably repeatedly sexually abused by Priests. In addition, I mentioned he cherishes those religiously homosexually deviant and perverse memories from his youth, especially when he now indulges in self abuse.
Of course, he responded by hitting me in my left upper arm leaving the usual bruise from his college ring and calling me a dumb spaghetti bender.
Tony was an older, sharp Thirteenth Pct. cop who was always on the slippery and oleaginous slope of integrity issues. He once said to us ”What’s up with you guys? All you do is laugh and make fun of the Captain” (The Captain was an old Small Dicked Irish Fuck or SDIF Irisher on the verge of senility.) I told Tony, “We’re just having a good time.”
We really enjoyed our time together in the Thirteenth Pct. My wife would scold us by saying, “You guys are having way too much fun!” The community loved us. We put the Community into Community Policing, but just not exactly as the big shots wanted it.
During our telephone conversation Jimmy reminded me of an uniquely “Lowlife” community policing incident.
We did not eat sandwiches in the dank and odorous 13th Pct. Station House Lounge like most of the other cops. We enjoyed dining out in the many quality restaurants of the Gramercy Park neighborhood. One beautiful New York City summer evening while on patrol, we received a dinner invitation from a restaurant owner to her extremely trendy eatery on Irving Place.
Jimmy and I were seated by said owner, Margaret. She was a beautiful British thirty year old woman. Margaret was a former live in girlfriend of a famous movie actor. Her brother was a cop in London working the Scotland Yard Metropolitan Police Anti-Terrorism detail.
Earlier that year, my wife and I visited her brother while on vacation in Europe. Colin took us on an insiders tour of Scotland Yard. He was the kind of cop like me and Jimmy.
At his request, I brought along a batch of NYPD blank report forms (Complaint Reports and Aided Cards, etc.) Colin filled the NYPD reports out and substituted London information on them. He then submitted the NYPD reports in lieu of his department’s similar reports through official channels at Scotland Yard as a joke. Our kind of cop, you know, one who does not always take this cop shit seriously.
Anyway, back at the restaurant, Jimmy and I were seated and awaiting our server. A snooty forty something year old, obviously liberal douche bag asshole broad and her younger metrosexual male companion entered the packed establishment. They were being escorted by Margaret to their reserved table. As the couple passed by our table, looking down her nose at us, this bitch dismissively and offensively loudly said, “Humf, New York’s Finest!” to her companion.
The beautiful blonde restauranteur immediately turned around. She pointed to the door and loudly informed this fag hag and her foppish companion her specific message so everyone present could hear: “Get the fuck out of my restaurant, How DARE you insult MY friends like that, GET THE FUCK OUT!!!!”
That’s the kind of relationship we had with people. We were always civil and did our job, until you fucked with us. Everyone in the Thirteenth Pct. liked and respected “Lowlife.”
One newly assigned, but cool Thirteenth Pct. sergeant called Jimmy: “The Mayor of Irving Place.”
The other cops experienced each of us separately when either I was off or Jimmy was off (taking a vacation day here and there.) One cop worked a complete set of midnight tours with Jimmy the week I took off when my daughter was born. This poor rookie cop kept most of the details of his experiences to himself. Among his tales of horror included this not so offensive episode (my opinion) he confided to me when he invariably asked, “How did you work with Jimmy?”
There was a suicide at the Beth Israel Hospital Psycho Ward. Some troubled guy hung himself with a sheet. They called the cops. Jimmy and the rookie responded. Jimmy walks in, (sans police hat) and silently stares at the DOA, waits about thirty seconds, holding his cigarette, (for dramatic effect) and finally announces with a dead pan face: “How many times have we told you not to leave these guys hanging around here like this?”
Now that’s Classic Lowlife, (though a bit modest for me.)
But Jimmy always remained Jimmy. “He never forgot where he came from.” A NYPD cop compliment for a good boss. He retired at the rank of Captain. Jimmy reached that rank through a series of competitive civil service exams in spite of Affirmative Action quotas and other artificial political bureaucratic barriers. Obtaining any rank higher than Captain required political machinations and “Jimmy don’t play that.”
The big bosses didn't like our Fuck You attitude. But, like we always agreed, “Fuck THEM where they breathe” and “Fuck THEM if they can’t take a joke.”
Jimmy is a really smart guy. Before becoming a cop he graduated from college Magna Cum Laude. He has a photographic memory. Just before retiring he began and eventually received an MBA (on a scholarship.) After he retired from the NYPD, he went on to work for the IRS. He’s the smartest cop I ever knew, both streetwise and academically. Now he’s thinking of going to Law School.
Anyway, getting back to our telephone conversation, Jimmy starts rattling off how we uniquely operated back in the day. I had forgotten all this shit, but now I recall most of it. Jimmy is right, I was crazy and probably still am, but now without a proper outlet.
While on patrol when it was quiet on the police radio, we’d discuss different things. Jimmy has now reminded me of the more interesting subjects we discussed.
On the subject of women, we were in the heart of Manhattan. Lovely looking women all over the place!(We discussed that constantly.) He remembers I devised acrostic poems or acronyms using the first letter system for our own confidentiality as well as efficiency.
This is just what the NYPD has historically done. (e.g. PSB is the official NYPD acronym for Patrol Services Bureau.) This was my contribution to our own Lowlife Lexicon. I developed our own code for women.
LLR: Lovely Looking Receptacle
OBG: Oldie But Goodie
SOTH: Slightly Over The Hill
WTO: Way Too Old
SSBS: Skanky, Skanky - But Sheik
Then when identified as such to be classified as:
Juice: Young and doable
Wine: Older but still doable
Vinegar: Too Old
When it came to Homosexuals and Lesbians:
BBC: Butch Broad City (women)
SOTB: Smuggler of the Bone (men)
When I think about it, poor Jimmy. Being exposed to my sick mind and absorbing it voluntarily. I guess it was entertaining. Like I said, we always had fun.
One evening Jimmy was on vacation and I rode with a rookie cop on a Four-by (Four PM by Twelve AM tour.) We had a call for a past burglary in an old sixth floor walk up apartment on East 18th Street between First and Second Avenues. As we were taking the report, we heard foot steps from the roof. The dispatcher radioed us relaying 911 received a call regarding a suspicious person on the roof right above us. It might be connected to the burglary we were investigating.
I led the way up to the roof. It was dark but some ambient light was shining west from the twenty story Stuyvesant Town apartment buildings east across First Avenue. I kicked open the door and immediately saw a figure facing east, highlighted by the ambient light. It was leaning against the four foot wall separating the attached flat roofed tenements. I yelled “Police - Don’t Move.” I took out my gun as the figure simultaneously rose from a crouched position into better light. As he (I now saw it was a male) was turning toward me coming out of the crouch he had a black object in his hand. I was just about to pull the trigger when I noticed his pants fall down to his ankles as his hands kept going up above his head while holding the black object: A pair of binoculars. I then noticed his manhood was full engorged. He was sans underwear and apparently seemed to be preparing to indulge in self abuse. After tossing (searching) him, we found a bottle of lotion by his side. He subsequently claimed the lotion was not his property.
This “Peeping Tom” almost go himself killed. He incredibility copped an attitude with me. I had to give him a bit of a physical adjustment (a swift kick in the ass) prior to sending him on his way. Luckily for him and especially me that was the first night I started to wear prescription eyeglasses. I might not have seen that black object clearly if not for my corrected vision. Imagine explaining that to the Grand Jury: I shot a guy DOA with his pants down and in a full state of arousal.
Jimmy reminds me of that roof episode during our recent telephone conversation. After more than thirty years, he now remembers coming back to work from vacation after that roof top incident.
Back then, Jimmy had heard about the roof top encounter from the rookie cop I worked with that evening, but let on to me like he hadn’t. We were starting a set of Midnight tours. Calculating to lay the groundwork for one of his pathetic attempts at humor, he saw me wearing glasses for the first time in the locker room. He jokingly mocked me and said “What Kind of Cop Wears Glasses?”
During this recent phone conversation, Jimmy relates that on this one particular set of midnight tours when I first donned my glasses, he remembers one specific time I was sitting in our RMP. It was around Four AM. Jimmy was standing outside smoking a Marlboro (I would not let him smoke in the RMP) and talking to some intox Bozo from New Jersey. We we're parked in front of “The Limelight,” a very popular nightspot housed in a vintage seventeenth century former church on Sixth Avenue.
I was finishing filling out the MV-104 for a traffic accident. The intox Bozo turned toward the RMP, caught my eye, and made some snide remark specifically directed at me. I heard it through the open window and was way to enervated by working midnights to get out of the RMP and smack him. I must have unknowingly delivered a classic Jimmy Murder One Stare, which I obviously had inherited from my partner. It just shut this Bozo down cold and he looked like he was going to shit himself right before Jimmy could smack him for me.
Jimmy finally told me on the telephone after all these years, that one night, that one incident with that one Bozo from New Jersey made him believe, with or without glasses, I was born to do this job.
And I believe Jimmy was as well. Luckily we got to do it together, patrolling Sector Edward Frank of the Thirteenth Pct. and having a ball!
Published 6/4/17: www.short-story.me