Rookie Cop Chapter 6

Copyright 1-4992347791-2017

In the mid 70’s, we worked four 10 hour shifts with three days off as Shreveport patrol officers. The senior officers enjoyed their off days off while we rookies drove their units in their beats across town. This evening I was in my old stomping grounds. I spent half my childhood in Cedar Grove before I joined the Marines in’ 69 at age 17. I had a fond affinity for this small, blue collar section of town. Cedar Grove had a long standing reputation of good, hard working people and men who loved to fight and were good at it.

Riding the adjoining beat of Spring Lake that night was a tall, blonde officer named Gary Alderman. He attended Woodlawn High School and was a standout basketball player. He was one class ahead of Joe Ferguson who then was the starting quarterback for the Buffalo Bills.  Joe was the NFL’s third round draft pick in ’73. In ’75 he was the national passing touchdown leader. That same year another Woodlawn grad, Terry Bradshaw, was enjoying his fifth season in the NFL as the starting quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers.  I too attended Woodlawn until I dropped out to join the Marines. Gary and I hired on S.P.D. the same day. We attended both police academies in the same class. He served three years in the Navy and was a Vietnam Vet.

Even though Gary and I had only been street cops a short time, we already made a name for ourselves. We were aggressive in busting floating dice games at local school breezeways and at the A.B. Palmer Park in the 7900 Block of Line Avenue. The Cedar Grove men we chased and arrested gave us the nicknames of Starsky & Hutch.

I was parked at a corner I would one day call my favorite intersection, Linwood and Hollywood. I finished an accident report in my unit parked outside a vacant gas station. A call of three suspicious men in the area of Kathy Lane and Sand Beach Boulevard was assigned to Gary and me. It was just after midnight. There was no traffic. I hurried to the area in search of the three suspects. Headquarters received a second call providing more information on the suspects. They were adult males, all wearing dark clothing and parked on Kathy Lane. They were now on foot and last seen walking behind a home where the owners were known to be out of town.

I increased my speed as I crossed Fern Avenue on Southfield. My tires screamed as I hung a hard right around the corner of Glen Cove. I quickly worked my way to Kathy Lane. I spotted three middle age men walking up to an empty Chevy Impala. I felt these were the suspects. I made my approach quickly and safely.  I cut my wheel so my car blocked the suspects from driving forward. I popped on my driver’s spotlight and skidded to a stop. I got out of my car with gun drawn. I ordered them to place their hands on the roof of the car. They were hesitant until I yelled for them to obey my command. Gary rolled up behind them from the opposite direction. He blocked the rear of the car.  He also lit them up with his lights. We approached slowly. Gary covered me as I patted down each of them for weapons. None of them carried a weapon. We relaxed a bit. In the bright light, we noticed all wore identical dark clothing. They had navy blue, long-sleeve pullover knit shirts, navy blue khaki pants and dark brown slip-on shoes with crepe soles.  Their matched clothing was no accident. They were up to something and we were about to find out.

I requested a detective unit at my location. The suspects attempted to talk their way out of being detained. When they spoke, I recognized Chicago accents. Detective Troy Morgan and Horace Gray were riding together that night and rolled up on the scene a few minutes later. With enough officers on the scene, I was able to step away and brief Troy.  I walked down the street to the address that notified S.P.D. of these men. The house was on the corner of Kathy Lane and Sand Beach. The owners confirmed they called. The man stated his daughter and her boyfriend were lying in the grass talking beneath a large oak tree in the front yard. The suspects’ car slowly drove past them and around the corner.  The car stopped four houses up the street and sat. Eventually three doors opened and the men got out. They walked along the sidewalk toward the teenage couple. Apparently they did not see the couple because the thick foliage of the oak blocked the light from the street lamp across the street. The teenage boy took over telling the story. The suspects walked across the yard taking a shortcut between the oak tree and the house. The witness saw the suspects walk east on Sand Beach to a neighbor’s house who they knew was out of town. The owner of that house was a prominent doctor.

I told Troy what I learned. We went to the doctor’s home. Along the right side of the house, we found an opened security gate. On the patio near the back door, we spotted a large, leather bag similar to what doctors once used when making house calls. We carefully unzipped it. Inside were numerous hand tools. In the bag were files, drills, hammers, pry bars covered by three sets of men’s leather gloves.  Troy called crime scene techs to our location. When the techs took possession of the tools, we returned to the suspects.

One by one Troy and Horace took the suspects aside and questioned them. I watched and learned. Troy gave Gary and me the details of his findings. He reported the car was a rental. One of the suspects stumbled and divulged they were staying at a Holiday Inn located in town.

It was time for Gary and me to be off duty. We needed to turn in our cars so graveyard officers could hit the streets. When we finished writing our report at the station, Gary and I were so excited we did not want to go home. We wanted to stay with the case and work with Troy and Horace. We found them in the detective office about to head to the Holiday Inn. They had secured a signed search warrant for the suspects personal car and their motel room.  We found their late model, black, Lincoln Town Car with Illinois tags parked in the back outside the motel room.

Troy went to the front desk of the hotel. The clerk gave him a master key. Horace found the keys to the car placed on top of the left rear tire of the Lincoln. Nothing was inside the car. We popped the trunk. It was loaded with hundreds of pounds of sterling silver, jewelry and rare coins.  Troy called crime scene techs to this location. We opened the door to the motel room. The three suspects were apparently bunking in the two queen-size beds. We discovered over $80,000 worth of other silver, coins, cash and diamonds. They even had a jeweler’s diamond remover.

The investigation determined the three suspects were linked with the Chicago mob and the New York Mob. All three had served hard time in prison for burglary. The mob funded their enterprise and fronted them cash. The suspects had a U.S. map in their room. They marked each city they visited starting in New York, through Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Monroe, LA as they followed Interstate 20. They clearly intended to work this route through Dallas all the way to El Paso, Texas.

We cleared over 20 heists across the country and convicted the three professional burglars in Caddo Parish Court. I enjoyed seeing them in the various stages of the court proceedings. These pros were busted in Shreveport by a couple of dang rookies with heavy southern accents. I observed their expressions and could easily read them. They were pissed a couple of dumb, southern hicktown Barney’s had busted them. It was fun sending them to Angola for 10 years.

The seeds were planted in our hearts to one day become an investigator. We would become as good as Troy and Horace. I am thankful they allowed us to tag along with them on our first big burglary case.

 

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