Cop, Agent, Author, Speaker
On my first day of patrol after graduating from the police academy, I got dressed in my freshly pressed uniform at home. I did not know what to expect when I reported to my sub-station in the Washington DC suburb, Fairfax County. Would I even have a locker, or would the new rookie be relegated to the bathroom stall?
Barely out of college, with little money, my ten-year old used car was beaten up just enough to look like an unmarked anti-crime car. Dark and rainy, I drove slowly on the highway, half out of driver prudence, half out of a mind distracted by what was to come. On my left, I noticed a car speeding up. As the car passed me, I noticed the woman passenger look at me – mostly my uniform and then quickly turn to the male driver. I saw her mouth out the words, “It’s a cop, slow down.” Their brakes light went on. I had to laugh. If they only knew that I was much more nervous than they. That proved a great day. I made my first arrest. I wore that uniform proudly. Yes, I had arrived.
After two years of patrol, despite liking my squad-mates and having made some exciting arrests, I was ready to try something new. When an opening came to be the first full-time hostage negotiator on the Special Weapons and Tactics Team, I jumped on it. I went to the interview with no knowledge of hostage negotiations. I was selected and received a promotion to senior officer and got one stripe on my sleeve.
When we were not SWATing, we were in plain clothes, doing anti-crime work. Even those cars were newer and in better shape than the car I drove on my first day. Shortly after being assigned to this team, I was thrust into the spotlight when I negotiated the take-over of what was unofficially known as the “Libyan Embassy.” My last arrest with this team was that of a serial rapist, who had eluded a long and intense manhunt. From the evidence we found at the time, we knew we had just stopped another rape, though we later had to question some of the decisions we made. The complexities and emotions of that investigation inspired the backdrop of my crime novel, Midnight Sin.
I was enjoying that assignment and all the members of my team, but after one year, I found myself leaving the police department on to my next challenge - heading off to the FBI. My mindset was never satisfied once a challenge was faced. Young and ambitious, the FBI seemed like the next logical step in my career. On my last day my captain sat me down for a final discussion. He offered me assurances of a great career in the police department, but acknowledged that he did not expect to change my mind. He told me that one day I would learn to “stop and smell the roses.” Now retired, I understand his message, but I have not stopped looking for the next mountain to climb.