Book Excerpt: "Perspective" from S.W.A.T.: Blue Knights in Black Armor
Ed Note: Enjoy the following selection from the novel S.W.A.T.: Blue Knights in Black Armor by Lt. Dan Marcou, which is presented by permission of the author and his publisher. Dan will be writing articles and tips related to SWAT techniques and training for PoliceOne (his first article is slated to run in a couple of weeks. PoliceOne will continue to provide excerpts from this and other works — officer-authored fiction, autobiographies, analysis, etc. — from the ever-expanding PoliceOne library. If you missed the first two installments in this series of excerpts, check out the links below.
Chapter Ten: "Perspective"
It was a terrible turnout on a SWAT call-out. La Claire had a SWAT team that was part time, and that meant all members had another full time function on the department. There was never any guarantee how many would answer a page. Tonight was a Friday night at 6:30 PM. Try to find a friend to give away free basketball tickets to a game that starts at 7:00 PM and call them on Friday at 6:30 PM. You will not find too many takers because they will say, “It’s Friday night. I have plans.”
Compton would say on a call-out, “I’ll be thrilled with twelve; I’ll be happy with ten; I will get by with eight, and settle for six.” This night fit that mold. Compton paged and called, and then called again. Many were working. Some had just sat down in front of the television and had started sipping a beer. One team member had a pretty rock-solid alibi. He was at his brother’s wedding rehearsal dinner.
Compton was looking at six team members suited up in the classroom at the police department. He read off their names as if that would magically produce more, “Dooley.”
“Brockman... Brockman?... BROCKMAN!”
“Why didn’t you answer?” asked Compton.
“I was thinking that if you had to do a roll call with only six of us, maybe you didn’t notice me sitting here, and if I stayed real quiet I could get out while the gettin’ was good, ’cause I know what we are supposed to do tonight, and we sure as hell can’t do it with six,” said Brockman.
“Can’t is a four letter word. We used to do this without a SWAT team. We sure as hell didn’t form a team so that we could all come in after a page and tell people we can’t do what they called us in for.”
“What was I thinking? I just said ‘can’t’ to a marine. Sorry, Sergeant,” said Brockman.
“Tonight, I’ll forgive Stanley Brockman for one reason. You answered the page, Stanley.” Compton made a note on his sheet attached to his clipboard and then looked up, “Before we fill everyone in, is there any possibility we can get someone else?” asked Compton.
“Yes, sir,” answered McCarthy, “but he’s not SWAT.”
“Who?” asked Compton.
“Shepherd. I was in the weight room and saw him there. I explained we were short, and he got his uniform on and is standing by in the event that he could be used for something,” explained Dan.
“Tell him he will be rewarded for that enthusiasm with some overtime. Go get him.”
“Right away!” said McCarthy. He then stood up and hustled out the door of the class room and nearly knocked Shepherd over, as he was standing around the corner just outside the door.
“Now that you have Shepherd, I can go then,” said Brockman getting up and slowly heading toward the door in a mock tip toe motion.
“Sit your ass down, Brockman! I know your date tonight will still be waiting for you when you get home,” said Compton.
“Yeah, he’s got a date with the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition,” quipped Stammos.
“No, I saw him slipping out the back door of the Splendidly Sinful Sensations book store with the latest issue of Junk in the Trunk,” laughed Carpenter.
“Aw, fuck you guys,” whined Brockman.
The laughter was loud and made it sound as if there were more people in the room than there were. Brockman’s whine was the frosting on the cake. It made him sound like a fifth grader responding to ribbing by his buddies on the playground.
Dooley, noticing the whine, knew they had hit a chink in Stanley Brockman’s nearly impenetrable armor. Stanley had broken his own rule and let other cops know he was bothered. Dooley then chided, “I think we are on to something here. We struck a nerve.” Dooley started singing, “Brockman and Junk in the Trunk sitting in the tree... K-I-S-S-I-N-G,...” and then everyone laughed as Brockman put his head down and covered it with both arms.
After listening to the laughing, he fired a return volley, “I know you are, but what am I?” It did nothing to help his cause. Everyone was now laughing, including Brockman.
McCarthy brought Shepherd into the room, and they both sat down watching the laughter. McCarthy said, “Damn! What did we miss?”
Carpenter said wiping his eyes, “It wasn’t that funny, but it was. You had to be here.”
“Damn. I wished I would have been here.” McCarthy said to Shepherd.
“All right, you guys. Here’s what we have,” said Compton clicking the PowerPoint showing a U-shaped apartment complex that everyone recognized.
“1016 Henry Street,” said most of the team upon seeing the photo.
“The targets are 1016 Henry Street, Apartment 204, 206, and 208. We have to hit all three apartments at one time,” said Compton without emotion. He then paused and looked up as if he expected some type of reaction from the words he had just spoken.
“Yes, Stanley,” said Compton. He knew the hand would belong to Stanley Brockman.
“How can we hit three apartments at one time with six people?” asked Stanley.
“Tonight, I will be the officer in charge and the team leader. I do not want to dump this responsibility on anyone else. Considering the unique layout and the unique problem we have been given, I think it can be done with what we have,” said Compton, advancing the slide on the PowerPoint. It showed 1016 Henry from an aerial view, and he had three X’s marked, and two Y’s.
“The X’s are the apartments. They fronted on the second story landing. Here is the back side of the apartments. The complex is built on a hill, meaning the drop from the windows in the apartment is not conducive for escaping. If the occupants jump, they break their legs at the very least. Therefore, we can get by with using two on the perimeter. I have arranged for Detectives Brickson and Jefferson to handle the perimeter. When we advise we are 10-23 (on scene) and moving, Brickson and Jefferson will secure the perimeter.
Compton then shifted the slide and showed a spot a block away and looked out into the small crowd, “Shep! Do you know this spot?”
“Can you drive us to this spot and stop without making the tires squeal and the brakes squeak and avoid farting unless it’s a real squeaker?”
“Catch.” Sergeant Compton tossed the SWAT van keys across the room and Shepherd, a former All State Receiver for La Claire High, caught the keys one handed.
“We are looking for this man.” A stocky, angry looking black man in a Jamaican braid stared out at the small contingent of the La Claire Police Department SWAT Team. “He has only been in town for two weeks. His name is Jorge Castro. He goes by the street name ‘Fidel.’ He is from Chicago and is a member of the Latin Kings. He feels he is untouchable because he is the big fish in a little pond. He immediately moved his business into one apartment. He has his mother in another apartment and his girlfriend and their baby in another. He is renting 204, 206, and 208. You know the building layout. These three places are adjacent to each other and the landing over looks the lot. This is the bottom of the U and they are on the second floor.”
“I have three keys for three teams. Team one: McCarthy, Stammos, you are hitting 204. You are on the bottom of the stack, Stammos!” Compton tossed Stammos the key and he caught it one handed. “McCarthy! You have to breach with the key and then enter first with the MP5. I will stand by outside with Thunder-shock 2000 and use it if any of the keys do not work on any of the doors. I cannot use the breaching shotgun because there is a small child in one of the apartments and we do not know which one. I will back up any one of the entries that need my help. Carpenter!” He tossed the key to Carpenter.
Carpenter stood up and caught the key in two hands behind his back. “Show off,” said Brockman in a dead pan voice.
“Carpenter and Dooley, you will hit 206, and you will be in the middle of the stack. I will handle the breach if the key does not work. Brockman!”
“Catch those for me will you, Jim,” Brockman said looking at Jim, who stood up and caught the keys which were about to hit Brockman in the face. “Nice catch, kid. There will be a little something extra in your paycheck next month,” said Brockman, still dead pan.
“You two will hit 208, and you will be first in the stack,” said Compton, giving Brockman a noticeable glare.
“Sergeant, should we be hitting three apartments with seven guys?” asked Brockman.
“Should we have handled a riot with nine a few years back, Stanley, or should we have run?” asked Compton.
“We didn’t have enough sense to run,” answered Stanley.
Compton reached into his pocket and pulled out a penny. I’ll be damned. I had a penny in my pocket the night of the riot, and I have a penny in my pocket tonight. I was just shy of no cents then, and I barely have any cents tonight, so I say let’s do it!” said Compton with enthusiasm. No one knew that the penny was an Indian Head penny that Compton carried to war and every night of his shift for luck. He would not carry more change than that for he would have been concerned about noise on the move, but he never went to work without it.
Compton gave one more directive. “Choose your own weapons on the entry. Remember earlier when you were all laughing about Brockman and his girlfriend, Junk in the Trunk. McCarthy, what did that sound like outside?”
“It sounded like there was about twenty guys in here whooping it up,” said McCarthy, with Shepherd nodding his head in agreement.
“That’s what I want when the doors go open. Yell as loud as you can ‘Police! Search Warrant! Get down,’ over and over again. To anyone in any other apartments it will sound like an army. You got it? We can do this thing. We are the La Claire Police Department SWAT Team. We don’t know the meaning of ‘can’t.’ When cops dial 911, we respond! We make the impossible possible. Can we do this thing?” asked Compton, building a crescendo of enthusiasm with each statement.
The entire team got pumped and responded, “Yeah, let’s do it!” Compton rubbed the penny as he put it back into the pocket. They came together and said their prayer, maybe even more fervently than ever.
Compton put his hand on the others’ and prayed, “Whether we are five or ten, we are all good men, and we can count on each other to come back again, and one more thing, good God,” Compton paused. Then, as one, they all ended the prayer and quietly said, “Amen.” Compton stood up and looked each one of them in the eye and then proclaimed, “Let’s roll!”
The team stood by at a pre-arranged location waiting for word on the location of the target. Brickson and Jefferson had arranged a buy, hoping to target which apartment Fidel was in. Fidel did not want the buyer to come to his apartment. He arranged to make the sale in the Kmart parking lot and then apparently became wary about the sale.
“The informant says he’s spooked. Fidel called the informant and said forget about it. The informant said Fidel is heading back to the apartment. He should be there in three minutes at the most. We are going to break off and set up for the entry if you can hit the target in three minutes?” Brickson said ending with a question.
“10-4. The team is 10-76 (en route) and should be moving in two and one half minutes if that is what you want,” said Compton, motioning for Shepherd to drive.
“That’s what we want. We will head to our positions and be there by the time you are. We are dressed in raid jackets. 10-4?”
“10-4,” said Compton. “Do you know Brickson and Jefferson?” Compton asked the newest officer.
“White cop and black cop,” said Shep.
“You got it. Brickson and Jefferson will be at their perimeter positions and wearing their raid jackets. Should not miss them unless there are shots fired and then miss them! OK?” suggested Sergeant Compton.
As the van rolled to a stop, everyone silently exited the van. “SWAT is 10-23 (on scene),” said Compton quietly on the radio.
“10-4, SWAT,” responded dispatch also quietly.
Shepherd watched the team fall into their stack as previously ordered by Compton, and each man put a thumbs up as they lined up. When all were in line, Compton tapped Stammos, who tapped McCarthy, who tapped Dooley, who tapped Carpenter, who tapped Hartley, who tapped Brockman, and Brockman took a breath in through his nose and let it out through his mouth and then moved. They all moved as one. They rolled toward the three apartment doors as usual, into the unknown.
All three teams reached the doors without detection. The keys were quietly inserted simultaneously and worked on all three doors. There were no dead bolts and the doors swung open silently, and then the silence was broken by what sounded like the shouts of one hundred SWAT officers, “Police! Search Warrant! Get Down, Down, Down, Down!”
When McCarthy blew through the door he could see Fidel across the room on a couch. He was on the phone working a deal, and he dropped the phone. His eyes grew big and McCarthy shouted, “Get down on the floor! Do it now!”
Fidel started to the floor and then clearly had second thoughts. Fidel then put up his hands with his palms open and facing McCarthy.
“Police! Get Down! Do it now!” shouted McCarthy, but he had seen this before. His partner had been shot by a man that had performed this very act. McCarthy was ready for it this time. He stood his ground. He scanned for weapons and there were none.
Fidel moved closer and closer and closer, “Be careful, man. Don’t shoot,” pleaded Fidel in phony caution as he stepped within reach of his goal, which was the MP5.
“Bad guys better be careful,” McCarthy thought out loud, and as Fidel started to close his palms around the MP5. McCarthy’s thumb slipped to the safety and engaged the safety. He then slung his weapon tight to his body, brought his knee of his right leg up and thrust his right foot full power into the lower abdomen of Fidel, who walked right into the kick. “Down!” shouted McCarthy has he kicked Fidel hard in the guts, trying to shove Fidel’s intestines out through his spinal column.
“Ooooffff” was the noise the air spit out along with a little bit of lunch that vomited out of Fidel’s lungs and guts.
Fidel did not go down though. He spun off the kick like McCarthy had hit the sweet spot on a cue ball. Fidel bounced off the far wall and then spun instinctively to the bathroom, but he was caught around the waist by McCarthy, who kept the momentum of the spin going until Fidel was spun right into the carpet. “Down! Stay down. Stop resisting. You are under arrest!” ordered McCarthy and Stammos, who by this time had cleared the bathroom and two bedrooms and now had joined McCarthy. Both slung their weapons and handcuffed the two wrists of the dealer. “Clear 204!” said McCarthy, a little breathless.
“Clear 206!” said Carpenter.
“Clear 208,” said Brockman after a pause. His dead pan voice had returned. There had been no one in 208. His dreams had come true. It went well and there was no problem. Now Stanley found himself terribly disappointed.
“Where’s Fidel?” asked Brickson.
“He’s 10-95 (in custody) in 204,” responded McCarthy through the head mic.
“10-4,” answered Brickson as he walked through the door.
“Fidel. Que pasa, mi amigo,” said Brickson.
“Fuck you,” answered Fidel.
“We’ll see in a little bit here who’s fucked,” snorted Brickson with a laugh as he winked at McCarthy. “Are there any additional charges, McCarthy?”
“I will have a charge of resisting arrest, Brick. He fought pretty hard to get away, and then when that didn’t work, he gave it the college try, attempting to get into the bathroom. I’d check the bathroom first,” answered McCarthy. “There was a little drama when we met, but Fidel and I are getting along just fine right now,” said McCarthy, slipping a pillow under Fidel’s head after searching it.
Fidel looked puzzled by the act of kindness. Then he laid his head down on the pillow but kept an eye on McCarthy.
“Fidel are you hurt?” asked McCarthy.
“You kicked me pretty hard, but I can take it. No fucking cop going to hurt me. I’m only here, ’cause I lost my balance. Otherwise, I’d be kickin’ yo mofuckin’ ass right now,” carped Fidel.
“Well, it was your job to get away and my job to arrest you. I don’t think it was personal for you, and I can tell you it was not personal for me. The name is Dan or McCarthy, whatever you prefer. Can I call you Fidel?” asked McCarthy.
“Yeah... I s’pose,” said Fidel.
“McCarthy!” said Brickson. “Bingo!”
McCarthy looked up. Brickson was holding a freshly cooked ball of crack cocaine rock the size of a sixteen inch kitten-ball. “With intent to deliver I guess,” said McCarthy.
“I guess?” Then Brickson went to the doorway of the apartment and called to Jefferson, “Jefferson.” He paused and then apparently when Jefferson was looking, he held up the huge ball of freshly cooked crack cocaine, “Check it out!”
“Whoa baby, Brick!” said Jefferson as he met Brickson in the doorway of the apartment. Jefferson was a muscular African American detective who was also on the SWAT team. This was his investigation, so he was in plain clothes. They both wore their brightly lettered POLICE raid jackets. “Do you want to talk to him?”
“Yeah. We don’t need him to talk, but we’ll see if he wants to help himself out of this big hole he dug himself into,” said Jefferson half talking to Brickson and half talking to Fidel. McCarthy had searched Fidel and helped him to his feet.
Jefferson took Fidel out of the apartment and down to the station. Brickson stayed to complete the search of the apartment.
“McCarthy. See me in 206,” requested Compton over the radio
McCarthy left Dooley with Brickson in 204 and entered 206. Two females were handcuffed on opposite sides of the room. Each was seated in kitchen straight-back chairs while Carpenter was searching the couch. There was a small boy with big brown eyes and curly black hair in a black sweat suit with the Batman emblem on his chest. His black sweat pants had two stripes on each leg. The boy looked frightened.
“McCarthy. Take care of the boy. He’s little afraid,” said Compton.
“What’s his name, ma’am.” McCarthy asked the young lady, who was the mother of Fidel’s child. She was a beautiful young Hispanic lady with no bra. Her brown nipples protruded through her pink tank top with a fear induced rigidity. She had a very short blue jean skirt and spiked heels. She was dressed like a working girl.
Fidel pimped her out to his best customers. His best customers were anyone who could afford the $2000 for the “best experience in fucking ever. It will give meaning to your life,” he would say. He would never bring it up unless someone showed interest and potentially had the cash to afford her. He made more money pimping her then all the robberies and burglaries he ever committed. It was easier. He used to have to pound on a safe all night to get it to give it up the $2000 it contained. He would only have to threaten to slap Louisa, and she opened up immediately giving up her treasures to all takers.
“Monty... his name is Monty,” answered Louisa tentatively.
“Monty. Do you like Batman?” asked McCarthy pointing at the bat symbol.
Monty drew his head down and both his hands up to his mouth. He still looked at McCarthy cautiously.
McCarthy pulled out his pen and notebook. He always carried a pen and notebook even on SWAT calls. He began to quickly scribble something as he talked. “You know, Batman is a police man. He works in Gotham City, and he wears a black uniform just like SWAT. He carries all kinds of special equipment just like SWAT. Instead of a badge, he wears this symbol.” McCarthy paused to tap the symbol on Monty’s sweat shirt. McCarthy ripped out the page from his notebook. It was Batman. Not a cheesy reproduction, but Batman!
“Mommy, Mommy, Batman!” Monty erupted and ran over to Louisa and showed her the drawing. Louisa was squirming, twisting her $2000-a-tap money maker in the upright chair.
McCarthy walked over to Compton and whispered to Compton as Louisa’s attention was drawn to the Batman picture. “She’s got it crotched.”
“I’ll call over a female officer to conduct the search. Are you sure?” asked Compton.
“Absolutely, she’s squirming like a worm in a driveway after a spring rain. I saw it,” said McCarthy.
McCarthy then did a few more drawings for Monty. After growing bored with the his new friend, Monty turned to his mother and whimpered, “Mommy, I’m hungry.”
“You’re hungry?” asked McCarthy.
“Yeah, my tummy says,” answered Monty.
“When did he last eat?” asked McCarthy.
“We were just going to order a pizza when you guys decided to drop in. You should have called first. We could have ordered a couple more for you and had a party,” Louisa worked another wiggle into a feigned sexually suggestive movement of her hips. McCarthy knew. Louisa did not know he knew she had “crotched” her “stash.”
McCarthy checked and could find little in the house to eat. He did find some bite sized Oreo’s in a bag. “Is this OK for now?” he asked Louisa.
“That’s what he was eating when you guys… stopped by,” said Grandma.
Monty then climbed up on McCarthy’s lap while he drew. Every few minutes he tossed in a bite-sized Oreo, and he would use that opportunity to look McCarthy in the eyes and smile, showing he was very happy once again with his new friend.
Then Monty took hold of the television controls. He could not have been older than four, but he maneuvered the controls like a jet fighter pilot putting an F-16 through its paces. In no time he found the channel he wanted. It was the Kidz Music Channel. It was rock music for kids. Then it happened. Perspective! Every once in a while, a cop can obtain clear perspective and see the future. He can see that a guy dressed in dark clothes ducking into an alley is about to commit a burglary. He can see a look on a man’s face and see he is about to smack his wife. Clear unobstructed perspective looking straight into the future. He can see some perp looking left and then looking right while he’s digging for his wallet, and as the suspect goes into a lean, the cop knows he is going to make a run for it.
The Kidz Music Channel DJ announced, “Listeners, here is a classic little ditty by CCR called Down on the Corner. Let’s see you kids dance.” Monty did not have to be asked twice.
Monty dropped the controls and tucked his bag of bite-sized Oreos under his arm. He jumped off McCarthy’s lap and dance he did. John Fogerty sang his heart out for Monty, “Out on the corner… Out in the street… Willy and the poke boys are playing… Seeing the nickels at their feet...”
Monty danced and twirled like a pro. He did not dance like a four year old. He danced like a young Michael Jackson, before he got all weird. Then Monty did a step that he must have invented because McCarthy had never seen it before. He planted one foot and the other lifted and shot back down as he spun round and round and round with the planted foot planted and pivoting while the other shot up and down and up and down, and Monty just kept smiling and spinning, smiling and spinning.
Pretty soon McCarthy and Compton could not help but clap to the music and the Monty Show. Grandma and Louisa were now rocking back and forth and forward and back chanting rhythmically, “Go, Monty. It’s your birthday. Go, Monty. It’s your birthday. Go, Monty. It’s your birthday,” and then it struck McCarthy like a linebacker playing in his first Super Bowl.
Perspective! “My God!” thought McCarthy as he stopped clapping and watched the little Michael Jackson spin and kick and eat Oreos without missing a beat. “Grandma’s handcuffed in the chair; she knows her daughter is a crack whore and her son-in-law is a major drug dealer. Momma is handcuffed in the chair rocking back and forth while she tries to camouflage a wiggle in now and then to force the crack rocks back up into her vagina, because that’s where she keeps her own personal stash. Dad is down at the station rolling over on the people he bought his dope from. Monty? He’s dancing and eating Oreos while his daddy is undoubtedly on his way to prison. A SWAT team is searching his home finding crack cocaine, weapons, and sex toys for his mother’s lucrative business as a prostitute. Yes sir, Monty is dancing like nothing unusual is taking place in front of his young eyes. This is a regular Friday night in the life of Monty.
There it is, perfect perspective so unflinchingly clear that Dan McCarthy could see into the future. Fourteen years from now a SWAT team will be breaking down a door to arrest a criminal. Monty will be that criminal. McCarthy sadly saw Monty’s future. He thought, “In about fourteen or maybe fifteen years, Monty will be the criminal lying handcuffed on the floor,” after achieving a moment of perfect perspective.