Traffic on 95 North was not in my favor, but with a little luck and healthy disregard for the rules of the road, I figure I can just make roll call. Normally I kinda hate being late, especially to a meeting where I can’t get in un-noticed. Even though Lt Giancarlo’s text said to report directly to him, (…at least I think that’s what it meant!), I’m still an everyday patrol cop and that means be in the Squad Room 7:00 am sharp and listen to Sgt Flerherty tell all of us how to do our jobs safely and how it’s our duty to the citizens of the city of Providence and blah, blah.
I glanced at my phone and the text still showed: ‘Come in… G’ I started to grin, goddamn! this just might be my shot at trading in my same olds for some real police work! Just gots to get to the station, and make that transition.
The Providence Police Department is located directly over the Providence Fire Station. Combining essential city services into one location seemed like a great idea in the late 1950s, when the biggest public safety issues were: a) the next hurricane and b) keeping up with the dead gangster calls from Federal Hill. Square grey granite, the front of the building had an unlikely splash of red from the four overhead doors for the various trucks and fire engines. The police department was on the 2nd and 3rd floors. The Squad Room was on the 2nd floor, a 12 x 14 (probably big enough for the entire Department when the place was built) room furnished in ‘Elementary Modern’ school desks, (the kind with the solid plastic desk top that looked kinda like an apostrophe? )… now that I think about it, the room looks like most 1950s classrooms, right down to the greenish floor tile. Every day, before each shift, special assignments, notes, new APBs and general schedule bullshit was announced, gripes were solicited and we were all sent out on the street. I’ve only been on the force 3 years, but my least favorite part of the job was these daily meetings, mostly because the old veteran cops, who for the most part thrived on the shift meeting, it gave ’em a chance to be ‘wise old timers’… always plenty of advice for rookies, which to them was anyone who joined the force after Carter was President. Sgt Flerherty seemed to encourage this, sort of a ‘bad cop, worse cop‘ approach to management. He’d stand at the front of the room and listen to some of the most arrant nonsense come from these guys and would only interrupt if it looked like someone was getting pissed off enough to start something, then he’d say, ‘gentlemen!! save that shit for the street!’ At least until the ladies started to show up in uniform. Then even he had to change. And, while most cops hate change, a career Shift Supervisor like Flerherty abhorred change. He knew that women are totally suited to police work… in administration or, if especially gifted, maybe back-up Dispatcher. Beat cop? With a gun? On patrol? no, no and ‘faith ‘n begorra’ no!! Story has it that it was a young cop on the rise back in the late 80s who managed to help Flerherty to accept modern police work. That kind of help is as likely to breed resentment as it is gratitude.
“Campbell! it says here that you’re off today’s roster, you’ve been re-assigned to Lt Giancarlo up in the Detective Division.” Sgt. Flerherty seemed more put out by the change to his patrol schedule than anything else. He ran the pre-shift meetings like a male nun, eyes glinting behind wire-rimmed glasses, looking for any deviation from ‘the right way to start a shift’.
“Your uniform looks like you slept in it! I’ll not be having any of my men disgracing the uniform, so get yourself a little more presentable before you go up to see them plainclothes,” the scorn in his voice when saying ‘plainclothes‘, spoke volumes about the career that Flerherty had worked to achieve. ‘The real cops,‘ as he always concluded the pre-shift meetings, ‘…are them out there not hiding behind fancy clothes and un-marked cars. Get out there and do your duty.‘
Flerherty made a check mark on his clipboard and without another word, started passing out the day’s shift assignments. The laughing started at the back of the squad room, where the old timers always sat. I figured I had just enough time to change back to my civies and be only moderately late, so I ignored them. As I walked up to the front of the room, Henries leaned over and whispered to his partner, Jacobson, “What do they call a 3 year patrol cop in plainclothes?” I stopped, the muscles tightening in my shoulders, which for me is never a good sign unless I’m about to subdue a prisoner or bust up a bar fight. As I started to turn, I felt a hand grab my right wrist. Jackie Carleone, a 7 year veteran, and my training supervisor when I started, looked up and shook her head. I smiled at her and continued up to the front of the room, past Flerherty, who was so engrossed in something on his podium that he didn’t look up. As I got to the door, I looked back, flipped off the back of the room, in the general direction of Henries and Jacobson. Jackie was studying something on the desk in front of her, the movement of her shoulders the only give-away to her laughter.
A quick change into my comfortable dress clothes and I was heading up the staircase to the 3rd floor.
“Where the fuck have you been?!” the voice came out of an open office door at the far end of the room. From where I stood, I could see the open work space with the standard green metal desks, made even older looking by the computer monitors on each of the six desks, four of which were occupied. The Chief of Detective’s office was clearly marked by the wall of frosted glass windows that divided his office from the rest of the room. It’s occupant, Lt Robert Giancarlo didn’t bother getting up from his desk, “My note to your Sargent said to send you up here as soon as you got in!”
“Sorry, I stopped to change out of my uniform” I projected my voice so he’d hear me in the his office, but was more interested in the 4 Detectives at their desks in the main office area. Not sleeping for 24 hours tended to simulate my throw-shit-at-people reflex and so, I figured a little of the humble-new-guy apology might not be such a bad thing. But no one seemed interested and so I kept walking past them and into the private office of Lt Robert Giancarlo, Head of the Providence Police Department Detective Division.