Weir On Human
I’ve known a lot of politicians in my life, from New York City, to Long Island, to Denton County, Texas. During my 20 years as a cop in the Big Apple I had to deal with the politics within and without the department. It might be a union leader whom I opposed because he was taking us down the wrong path, an incompetent lieutenant with a bad habit of blaming his foul-ups on his subordinates, or a habitual drunk-driving State Assemblyman living in my patrol area who thought he was invulnerable because of his “connections.” I never had any respect for people who abused their official positions. I had heard about that Assemblyman from a few of the other cops in my precinct. Essentially, they told me to give the guy a pass if I ever happened to witness his inebriated traffic infractions.
Although I was a rookie cop with a lot to learn about the “rules” of preferential treatment toward those with clout, I grew up on the lower east side of Manhattan, raised by a tough mom who taught me to never back down in the face of adversity. Now, I was a cop in Brooklyn and I was getting an education about the pecking order of that system commonly known as “justice.” Well, as fate would have it, one night I had occasion to cross paths with the obnoxious state representative. My partner and I saw a black Cadillac with its lights off as it moved erratically along Bedford Avenue.
I put the roof lights on and noticed the thick-necked driver casually eye the rotating beams in his rearview mirror. He continued driving for about a half mile until I gave a quick blast on the siren. Even then he drove a few more blocks before pulling over. As I exited my vehicle, his door opened and he swung one leg out, followed by a short struggle to plant the other one on the pavement. He proceeded to lift himself out of the vehicle, stumbling slightly as he reached for balance against the door frame. As I approached him with flashlight glowing, his eyes were so bloodshot it was hard to see any white around the pupils.
With such an obvious demonstration of drunken driving I was expecting a mournful mea culpa from the hulking figure, dressed in a rumpled suit and tie. Instead, the scowl on his ruddy face could have been perceived as an imminent attack. “Please get back in your car sir and let me see some identification,” I said. “Hey, didn’t you see my plate?” he barked, referring to the New York State Assembly insignia attached to his license plate. “Sir, are you going to show me some ID?” I replied. He backed up slightly, still leaning against the car to keep from falling. Then, he looked toward my partner who was standing next to our vehicle with the roof lights still on. “Don’t you guys know who I am?” he demanded, slurring his words.
Realizing I was getting nowhere with this reprobate, I walked past him, reached into his car, shut the engine and took the keys. “What da f**k ya think you’re doin’?”he shouted, grabbing my arm to get his keys. Now, as they say, the die had been cast! That bum didn’t think it was possible for a mere cop to challenge his majestic authority. What followed was not pretty, but necessary. Suffice to say that his suit was even more rumpled by the time I put cuffs on him and got him into the station house. It turned out that it was his first DWI arrest, undoubtedly because he had always intimidated his way out of such situations.
Nevertheless, as a first time offender (as far as the law was concerned) he, with the help of a lawyer friend of his, pleaded to reckless driving or some other lesser offense and simply paid a fine. I however, found myself with a schedule change and some very demeaning beats to walk during Midnight to 8am tours. In addition, a sergeant was assigned to give me extra supervision as I walked those ice-cold winter streets for the duration of my “punishment.” Again, this is why I’ve always detested people who abuse their positions of power. By the way, thanks to a friend of mine who worked for a local newspaper, his arrest did not go unnoticed by his constituents; he lost his bid for reelection. That state rep was convinced that he was above the law, but, the voters quickly disabused him of that notion.
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Bob Weir is a veteran of 20 years with the New York Police Dept. (NYPD), ten of which were performed in plainclothes undercover assignments. Bob began a writing career about 16 years ago and had his first book published in 1999. He also became a syndicated columnist under the title “Weir Only Human.”