"The Beat Goes On" by David Hunter

Editor's Note: PoliceOne.com welcomes novelist, writer and former sheriff’s detective David Hunter as a regular weekly columnist.

Hunter, a weekly columnist for a daily newspaper in Tennessee, is a medically-retired 14-year former detective who combines an ability to craft readable, compelling prose with a background that can only come from having been “on the job.”

In his first "The Beat Goes On" column, Hunter introduces himself you.

His next column scheduled for Dec. 11th, "Wyatt Earp would have been proud," focuses on holsters as he recalls the time he lost his service weapon in a struggle with a suspect.

Drop Me A Line

My name is David Hunter. I have been a professional writer most of my adult life. Since late in 1979, I have been a cop -- all the way down to the bone. My police nickname from the Knox County (Tennessee) Sheriff's Department was "Bear."

Formerly a political activist and union organizer, I became a reserve deputy sheriff in 1979 because I was writing an article on bounty hunting and at that time there was no gun carry permit in Tennessee. I became a very disinterested reserve officer so I could carry a pistol, because even as an amateur I knew that most bail-jumpers probably would not want to be captured.

As part of my reserve duties I had to ride in a cruiser 15 hours a month. My first night out, 10 minutes into the shift, my partner -- one Sgt. Fred Ludwig -- and I responded to a call involving a man with a gun who was beating his wife and child.

The man ran out of a house trailer into my arms when Fred pounded on the front door and I arrested him. It took me two years to hire on as a full-time officer but I became a cop the moment I closed the ratchets on that sniveling wife-beater's wrists. And I never regretted it for a second.

During my career I held virtually very type of job in my agency from jailer, to beverage control officer, from patrol officer to detective. I stopped counting my arrests when I got to 1,500. Early on, I learned and lived by the following creed: What's said between officers, stays between officers; and never, never change your story, even if they have pictures (or video footage).

In 1989, I sat down and wrote my first nonfiction book about cops and bad guys; it was called "The Moon Is Always Full." Hopefully some of you read that book or maybe even a couple of the other 11 that followed. Number 13 is due out next summer.

March 5th of 1990, while working as a detective, I had emergency triple coronary bypass surgery and my doctor told me to ask for a desk job. Knowing my family history of heart disease, I realized that my time on the streets was probably running out, so I requested a transfer back to patrol and supervised the DUI enforcement squad on permanent night shift until the arteries started closing again.

After having my coronary arteries ballooned out several times, I was declared disabled and had to leave the job July 1, 1993.

Now there are little metal devices called stents (that look like miniature Slinkys(r)) holding open a couple of the more obstinate arteries and I'm still around to annoy people who don't show enough respect for the cops who are still out there.

My official departure did not signal my last arrest. It was hard to remember that I was a civilian after 14 years of daily adrenaline rushes. My last hands-on arrest was a drunk driver who rolled his van and almost hit my car head-on one night in 1996, then tried to leave the scene without waiting for the police. Since then, I've stopped to assist on occasion and called for officers on my cell phone several times, but the drunk driver was the last arrest I handled personally -- and the last accusation of excessive force directed at me.

The title of this column, "The Beat Goes On," will also be the title of my next collection of nonfiction cop stories, now in progress. I have published a quarter of a million words of such stories in five different books. The first, of course, was "The Moon Is Always Full" and the most current is "The Archangel Caper: Tales of a Country Cop."

Never in all that time have I ever embarrassed a cop below the rank of chief of police and then only because he was trying to hang a real, working police officer out to dry.

In addition to writing books -- and now this PoliceOne.com column -- I also am a general interest columnist for one of the largest daily newspapers in Tennessee. If you read anything here that you like or have a story to pass along, drop me a line. Hearing from real cops is the next best thing to being there.

David Hunter's column, "The Beat Goes On," appears exclusively on the Internet at PoliceOne.com. For information on purchasing Hunter's latest novels, "A Whiff of Garlic," and "The Dancing Savior," or where to obtain Hunter's other works visit his Web page: hometown.aol.com/tnbard/index.html. You can contact David Hunter directly by writing him at P.O. Box 1124, Powell, Tenn. 37849. His e-mail address is bear33@policeone.com.

(C)Copyright 2000 PoliceOne.com. All rights reserved. The opinions expressed in this column are the writer's and not necessarily those of PoliceOne.com, it's parent company or advertisers.

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