Winning Their Hearts & Minds and “Off With Their Heads!”

GUMSHOE-DANNY-PITOCCO[su_dropcap style=”flat”]W[/su_dropcap]ELCOME BACK dear readers to another tale. When my wife and I along with our three year old son finally decided to bid Southern California adieu in 1995; I was fortunate to be hired by the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office as a patrol deputy.

We made this decision so that our son would get out of the urban environment and so he could experience real forests, mountains, lakes, etc., that the great Pacific Northwest has to offer.

Snohomish County is about 200 square miles and it has about 800,000 residents. It is located about a thirty-five minute drive southbound to Seattle and about an hour and half drive northbound to the Canadian border (Aye?).

We found a beautiful home up near the mountains (adjacent to a National Forest) that came with eight acres and a river just about 300 yards from our back patio. Us former Californians were living the quintessential Pacific Northwest life don’t you know.

One thing nice about being an experienced cop is that you can mostly take your skill set most other police agencies anywhere in the good old US of A and be hired. The only downside is that you have to start all over again (making your bones in police jargon) working patrol and normally the graveyard shift while you endure your one-year probationary period. Did I also mention that the deputies I worked with were not even born when I first became a cop? (I had no work on being very humble and just let my experience speak for itself!)

Ok now, I think you folks get the picture. Needless to say (but I am saying it anyway) I was very happy and content being back on the streets working in a mix of urban and rural assigned beats. I would also use my frame of reference of working as a copper in the barrios of Santa Ana, California and always wishing I could experience a more friendly police atmosphere – (and with thanks to God) I found it! Eureka!

Like I had stated earlier in this missive, I had to let my experience shine through and it did. I was just with the sheriff’s office about two months when I received a phone call from the patrol Captain. Up to that time I was being bounced around to assigned beats all over the county (graveyards shifts) since I was the new guy with no seniority and filling-in for other deputies on vacation; calling in sick or assigned to mandatory training.

GumshoeWell Captain Oberg (a former Marine just like me) asked me if I would like to take over as the contract deputy for the City of Gold bar. He further explained to that small cities who don’t actually have a police department still get police services from the sheriff’s office, but if they wanted a designated to call their own, the city contracts for a deputy or two or three.

My only question to the Captain was “do they pay for graveyard deputy” – he said “no” and I immediately said “yes”. I would be permanently assigned as the swing-shift deputy (3:00 pm to 11:00 pm) with Fridays and Saturdays off). This was a good deal in my book.

Did I mention dear readers that the sheriff’s office actually assigns the deputies their own cars (units) that they take home? Well they do and this not only eliminates a gas bill but your shift will normally start from your residential driveway and end there too. Oh happy day, since the cut in pay that I took from the mean streets of Santa Ana to the county of Snohomish was considerable.

Now for a little background information on the city of Gold Bar: it is situated on the Westside of the Cascades and is just a little over one square mile. The population is a tad under 2000 and the city was incorporated back in the late 1800’s that sprang from a prospector’s camp. It sits along Highway 2 that takes locals and tourists to ski areas as well as to white water rafting sojourns.

Good old Gumshoe became known as “Deputy Danny”. I actually shocked the residents by getting out of my police car and walking around “greeting and meeting” them and providing them with my business card. In all appearances I was “Andy of Mayberry” with no Barney Fife for back up. On some occasions I had to be “Buford Pusser as in “Walking Tall” – since I had no back-up, I was the lone sheriff in town. I loved it!

My strategy of learning the town, its folks, and especially its near-thee-wells was to ask around. Once I composed a list of the names and abodes of these local dirt bags, I proceeded to track them down.

I would politely knock at their front doors and state, “Hello, my name is Deputy Danny and I am new here in town.” I would then present them with my business card and further state, “ I have been advised that you might just be an Alfa Hotel (police talk for Ass H*%#) but as of right now you and I have a clean slate. However, if it becomes evident to me that you are an Alfa Hotel, you will have three choices, clean up your act, move or else be use to being arrested and spending a lot of your time in the county jail.

Okay now, I am slowly winning the hearts and minds of the town folks and even the grudging respect of the criminal element. For some reason they had spread the rumor that I was up from Los Angeles and that I was somewhat mentally unstable. (???) They were always put off balance when I would unexpectedly show up at their houses just to say hello or pull up along side of them when they were on the street just to take their pictures or pull them over while they drove for all of those minor vehicle “fix-it” violations.

I also established day-to-day contacts with the owners and operators of all of the local businesses that service the traffic on Highway 2.  Bar checks, business checks, restaurant checks, you name it; they all knew me as “Their Deputy Danny”. There came a point when whatever had happened in town (criminally, not to mention the gossip), I would know about it by the next patrol shift. Now this folks in real-to-life community oriented policing.

One winter evening (just prior to my shift ending at 11:00 pm) I made it a point to visit the local gas station/convenience store that was owned by a Pakistan descent man named “Dear Pac” and run by his nephew “Beto” (Bee Two). They both had worked in Los Angeles until they decided to move to God’s country after having several bad experiences with mis-guided youths known as street gangs (Bloods, Crips, MS13, etc.)

As I pulled my police unit into the lot of the business, I immediately recognized one of my known “Alfa Hotels” who was involved in the drug-trade as well as fencing stolen property and other nefarious activities. This “AH” was with someone who I had not had the privilege of making his acquaintance.

I got out of my unit and I snapped their pictures for later ID purposes since “birds of feather . . .etc”.

I guess my actions somehow infuriated these malcontents in that they started to utter expletives that instructed me to do something physical to myself that was impossible (you can use your imagination folks). They also started to “posture”. Police jargon for getting ready to physically assault good-old-easy-going-fun-loving Deputy Danny.

I got to confess kind readers; there is a part of me (not-entirely Christian mind you) that still savors a good-old-knock-down tussle with knuckleheads! I just took off my prescription glasses and I pulled out my tried and true PR-24 baton.

Now for the background set. During these two knuckleheads facing me and working up their false courage to fight, my good friend “Beto” heard their loud voices and he came out of his convenience store.

As both of these yahoos continued in their verbal assaults, “Beto” stood directly behind them (within an arm’s length or so) and he kept his eyes met my eyes (without my glasses).

“Beto” just smiled and he brought up to his face a very large butcher knife and he made the sideway motion to his own throat and then with his free hand pointed at the two idiots. “Beto” then just nodded his head up and down to communicate to me to give him the returned “nod” so that he could just go ahead and cut their respective (hairy and tattooed) throats.

I just smiled and started to laugh that was much to the chagrin of the two stooges who were totally unaware of the fact that I held their respective (wasted) lives in just an affirmative nod of my head.

(Funny my attached head would determine their unattached heads?)

I just very quickly shook my head from side-to-side in which “Beto” backed away from these two unsuspecting suspects (victims). To be real honest kind readers, the thought of two headless morons did appeal to me; but I would have to be the one writing the report to make sure that “Beto” would not have to be arrested afterwards.

Apparently, these two nitwits finally exhausted their taunts and shied away when I advanced towards them with my PR-24 in a very ready and intimidating position. I was satisfied that I got my picture and then I entered the business with my hero “Beto” and we shard respective pint cartons of non-fat milk.

Well, there you have it my kind readers, a true-to-life instant of real community policing at its best from that small little prospector’s camp “Gold Bar” and their Deputy Danny.

Love your loved ones till next time.


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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  1. This was a great story all the way through but what I love the most is the part where “Beto” defends and supports you to the extent of real support – not running into his store and locking the door, leaving you out there to fend for yourself. Too cool, Deputy Danny.