This is the city. Houston, Texas. There are over one million stories in the city, and this is one of them. My name is Murphy, and I was working the night watch out of the patrol division of the Harris County Sheriff Department. My partner’s name is *John Smith. The year is 1972.
We had been dispatched to a “suspicious car” call around Interstate 10 west, and Highway 6, in the far western part of Harris County. The vehicle was not located so I cleared the call with the dispatcher as “GOA” – (police jargon for ‘gone on arrival’). Then we were dispatched to another call several miles away.
John was driving our unmarked patrol car as we headed back toward the city on interstate 10. Just as we crossed into the city limits of Houston, on the crest of a hill, the Houston Police Department had set up one of those new radar units on a tripod on the side of the freeway. As we passed I noted that our speed was over eighty. John said to me, “Well, partner, I guess they are going to come after us.” He was correct. I looked in the rear view mirror and saw a patrol car, lights flashing, gaining ground.
We pulled over for the city officer who approached the driver side of our patrol car. I could not help but notice how young he looked. Peering in the rear view mirror, I could see an older officer still in the car. His training officer, perhaps?
Even though our police radio was chattering incessantly, and we were both in full uniform, the young police officer peered into our vehicle and inquired, “Who do you guys work for?” John pointed toward his shoulder patch and replied, “We work for Buster Kern, Sheriff of Harris County.” Unfazed, the young officer then asked, “Who owns this car?” Again, John pointed to his shoulder patch which clearly read “Deputy Sheriff, Harris County, Texas.”
*Name changed to protect the guilty.
“Well, nevertheless, you were speeding over eighty miles per hour per the radar unit back there”, the young officer pronounced. “I need to see your drivers’ license, Sir”, he ordered. “And may I ask why?”, John shot back. “Well, obviously I am going to write you a speeding ticket”, he replied. Seemingly this young officer had never heard of “Professional Courtesy” before.
Unfazed, John responded, “Well, if you are going to write me a speeding ticket, then I demand to see your drivers license”, as he reached for his ticket book. “Just what do you mean?”, responded the young officer as he took a step back. “It’s simple, buddy. If I was speeding, then you were speeding, also. So you are getting a speeding ticket from me. Now, give me your driver’s license.”
I suspect that he was not taught at the academy exactly what to do in a situation like this. He blurted out, “Stay here! I will be right back!” as he walked back to his patrol car. I watched in the rear view and saw that he was discussing his dilemma with the older officer, who seemed to be smiling.
In a few minutes, the young cop came back and handed John his drivers license, with only a “You can go now.” John grinned at me as he put his ticket book back in his brief case and said, “Works every time!”
“THE DUELING COPS”
BY: NEAL MURPHY
PO BOX 511
107 Hemlock Street
San Augustine, Texas 75972