If I Move – You’re Dead

Greetings once again dear readers to another police tale from my yesteryear.

It was a great undercover assignment that “TJ” and I would participate in after we were handpicked by our patrol captain due to our “pro-active” stats in arresting brigands, banditos, and bad guys.

The captain explained to us that we would be a “SET” team (police administrators love acronyms just like the military) . . . “Special Enforcement Team” are us, me (my handle was “mad dawg”) and “TJ”.

The operational concept was to check with the local parole agents and compile a list of current parolees (recalcitrants in my opinion) who resided in our fair city of Orange, California.  We would “target” these up-standing cretans who had a taste for violent crimes such as robberies, assaults with deadly weapons, etc. The rationale was that the majority of these “mopes” would return to their respective crimes of choice once out beyond the prison walls.

TJ and I just had to set up surreptitious surveillances on these individuals from the recessive human gene pool and bust them when we caught them before or during or after their felonious acts.

TJ and I just had to set up surreptitious surveillances on these individuals from the recessive human gene pool and bust them when we caught them before or during or after their felonious acts. To further accomplish our new detail TJ and I would get street “dirty” in our dress and personal hygiene and appearance.  We also had a deal with the local police towing service to acquire (almost on a daily basis) non-descript “junkers” that had to have working brakes and headlights.  These wrecks on wheels broke down on many a night.

TJ and I were very successful in our surveillances.  We sometimes each got our own “junker” car to perform very challenging two car mobile surveillances.  What fun! Our crooks took us on many a late night tour of the haunts of the malfeasants throughout Orange, Riverside and Los Angeles counties.

Our protocol was to 10-21 (telephone) our dispatcher after we set up on a suspect. Yes, one of us had to find a pay telephone (no such thing of a mobile) since our hand held police radios were most of the time out of range.  We let our police dispatcher know our location and have them notify the local police jurisdiction about us (our vehicle/s description) just in case we had to shout for help if our hair was on fire.  Part of our gear was a healthy supply of dimes.

On one particular night at about “O” dark thirty, TJ and I were in the same rent-a-dent and set up on a parolee who just loved doing late night stop & robs from 7-Elevens and Circle K’s.  This player had some associates in a light industrial area located on the wrong side of the tracks in the city of Santa Ana that had the dubious reputation of being a mini “Dodge City”.

TJ was riding the “shotgun” seat while I leaned back from behind the wheel as we both took turns with the binoculars on the target building waiting for our favorite parolee to emerge. I remember TJ almost done with a pound bag of sunflower seeds when suddenly both of our night visions were shattered with multiple streams of piercing white lights.

This was simultaneously followed by “You inside the car – hands up!” with the unmistakeable sound of multiple Remington 870 shotguns being racked home with double ought buck rounds.  I also heard some very colorable descriptions of what would happen to us if we didn’t comply.  (Not fit to repeat)

My immediate reaction at the time as TJ shouted “Oh shit!”, was to tell TJ that if I moved real quick that he would be dead – I then laughed. TJ shouted at me “You’ll be dead too!”  I saw the wisdom in his statement.  No more chuckles from mad dawg.

The Santa Ana boys in blue had both of us exit our ride and we both ate some asphalt face down.  We both had the not so sensual pleasure of being thoroughly patted down after we were put into metal bracelets with one too many clicks on our wrists – oweee! Needless to say, our shooting irons along with our stinking badges were recovered as both TJ and I enjoyed communion with the asphalt.

Quickly, we were uncuffed and dusted off with numerous apologies once our true stations in this life were revealed and verified. Our trusted police dispatcher had forgotten to notify the local constabulary of our presence in a timely fashion to our utter dismay and to her later chagrin.

TJ and I both got our “street creds” that night, thanks to the Santa Ana PD officers who said that we and our crook-mobile matched the one that had been identified in numerous armed robberies of 7-Elevens.

Go figure?

Until next time dear folks, that’s my story and I am sticking to it.  Love the ones who love you and even the ones who don’t.



Danny Pitocco
Danny Pitocco
RETIRED (as a Detective with the Snohomish County Sherriff’s Department, Washington State), Danny has over forty years of law enforcement experience across city, county, state and federal levels of government, including service as a Special Agent for the DEA, US Department of Justice. He’s a decorated law enforcement veteran, and recipient of the "Detective of the Year" award for Snohomish County, Danny is a certified composite artist and has testified as an expert witness in the field of narcotics and modus operandi of particular crimes in state and federal courts in California, and has given testimony before federal grand juries. Danny served four years of active duty in the US Marine Corps and loves Jesus as his personal savior.

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