Cop Tales: A Failure to Communicate

By Brian Smith
Special to the Sun


There are many aspects to working undercover narcotics investigations, but “hand-to-hand” drug buys are certainly one of the most unpredictable situations that occur.

One summer afternoon my partner, who we called “Mr. D”, set up a hand-to-hand buy of heroin outside a local market with hopes of continuing the investigation to a large distribution network. Another undercover officer and I parked near the intersection of 8th and T Street to watch Mr. D while he stood alone outside the market waiting for the suspect. We waited about an hour and no one showed up, so we were about to cancel the operation. Then a man walked up to the passenger side of the car where I was sitting, smiled at me, and stuck out his tongue. He had what appeared to be a bindle of heroin on his tongue.

My partner and I were scrambling around in the car trying to hide guns, radios, and other cop equipment from the suspect as he stood outside the vehicle. I immediately exited the car, made a proper introduction, and subsequently arrested the man for possession of a controlled substance. The whole time I was thinking, “Wow, I am so talented that the suspects come to me with no effort on my part at all!”

We then drove past the market to signal to Mr. D that we didn’t need him and we were clearing the area. All of a sudden, Mr. D started yelling obscenities at us and jumping up and down because we made the arrest without him. It seems his suspect confused 8th and P with 8th and T. Mr. D was already unhappy with us, but he definitely didn’t appreciate my talent or his new name, “The Great Communicator”. -CF

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