KRISTEN SHERLOCK, 43 DIVISION DAYROOM. JULY 20, 2015
Three days after I had been stripped of my Sgt. Badge. I was sitting in the ready room awaiting reassignment after roll call and announcements. There I was, away from my usual squad. I knew no one. This could be a good thing as no one knew me and what I had just gone through. I had been lucky they didn’t out right fire me and send me to jail, but I was in professional purgatory just the same. There wasn’t enough evidence to say conclusively whether I had or had not been dealing the drugs they found in my Crown Royal. My captain, however, had no choice but to rescind my sergeant status and to demote me down to patrol officer for a period of no less than six months. I was back to issuing speeding tickets and jaywalk summons. I would have to work my way back up and re-earn the badge.
This pissed me off more than ever, as I had worked my ass off to get it and earn the respect of my fellow detectives. Someone on the vice squad had seen fit to put me in my place. I was determined to find out who the ass hat was and serve him his junk on a platter and force him to choke it down at gunpoint. No one throws me under the bus and gets away with it that easily. I had been decidedly screwed over. The person responsible should’ve at least bought me dinner before raping me professionally. Just thinking about it made me want to cry all over again.
The day I was called up in front of the Disciplinary Board my former partner was there to hold my hand as I gave my report of the events that had transpired. Chris testified in my defense, but the representative from internal affairs made it sound like Chris was just saying good things in order to get a piece of tail. My union rep ripped a few strips off his butt for that, and the panel ignored IA’s comments. Chris wanted to pummel his ass, but held back for my sake. I daresay if Chris ever runs into that guy again outside of work, he won’t be so lucky.
My former partner Chris was still behind me all the way. The other guys, not so much. They still believed the crap they been told. That I was dirty and as much as they couldn’t prove it, it stuck in everybody’s mind. In a way I was glad to be out of there. At least temporarily I would avoid the sneers and the trash talking behind my back.
As I sat awaiting roll call, I noticed another new recruit standing by the coffee machine. I thought of going over there to warn him against drinking that swill. Why not let him find out the hard way? The coffee here was only marginally better than it had been at 22 division. The donuts on the other hand, were as bad if not worse and could be used as hockey pucks for the NHL. Surely the Maple Leafs couldn’t do any worse.
The other police officer came and sat down beside me as it was the only chair left. He introduced himself. “The name’s Nigel Holmes, what’s yours?”
I wanted to laugh but held back. “Would you believe Kristen Sherlock?”
He gave a chuckle. “Ha! Imagine that Sherlock Holmes together again. Tell me sweetie, what’s a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?”
I groaned. First of all, that’s the most used and cheesiest line there is, you need new material. Secondly, I was transferred from the 22 division out here for six months. It’s a long story, so don’t get me started right now. I’m still a little bit raw over the whole transfer thing. What about you?”
“Well as you can tell by my accent, I’m not exactly from around here. I’ve been sent over here from Manchester, UK. Apparently I pissed off the powers that be enough to exile me from Mother England. Again, they’ve got me for six months so they may as well use me to the best of my ability. I thought I was coming over to join the detective squad, but I just learned that I could be riding in a patrol car. Chasing down speeders and the like. What fun is that?”
“Nice to meet you Holmes.” I shook his hand.
Just then the brass walked in to get the meeting started.
“Before we begin roll call, I have a few announcements. Joining us today are a new transfer from 22 division Constable Kristen Sherlock. Sherlock will be with us for the next six months. Joining her is Constable Nigel Holmes all the way from merry old England.
“Constable Holmes is here to learn how we do things in Canada. So let’s give him a warm welcome and show him how to do it up right.”
Capt. Taggart instructed the desk sergeant to call roll and issue car assignments. Holmes and I were called at the last. “I am putting Sherlock and Holmes together. Sherlock you’re driving until Mr. Holmes can get his Canadian license and learn to drive on the right side of the road.” Everyone laughed at this, but us.
My old captain, Mike Williams called me aside. “Sherlock, I’m sorry to stick you with the newbie but I’m quite confident that you can show him the ropes. Just wait here, Sherlock, Taggart and I need to talk to Sgt. Holmes for a few minutes. After that, I’ll have someone give you a tour of the precinct.”
I nodded in response as they retreated to a meeting room.
Captains Taggart and Williams sat down with Nigel Holmes.
Capt. Taggart spoke first, “You understand why you’re here, don’t you Constable Holmes?”
“Well I was under the impression that I would be a detective here and learn new skills. Apparently that’s not the case.”
Capt. Williams continued where the other man left off. “Well that’s just it, Constable you been stripped of that title, at least for now. Once we feel that you’ve got a feel for the place and have proven yourself capable of doing the job without screwing up, you will be permitted to take the Sgt.’s exam with all the rest of the officers. We know about your infractions overseas. Your Chief Inspector sent a full report.”
Capt. Taggart spoke again, “You’re going to have to earn your stripes like everyone else does.”
Holmes put on his game face and replied. “Okay, fine, I can do that.” He was being respectful as he didn’t want to rattle any chains, at least not just yet. “Just what am I restricted to Captain?”
Capt. Williams stated, “You will do everything the other constables do – traffic control, issuing tickets and jaywalking infractions. You are to follow the lead of your partner. We’re teaming you up with Sherlock. She’s a good officer and will hopefully keep you in line.”
Holmes took the opportunity to lighten the situation. “What did she do to get stuck with the likes of me?”
The two Captains looked at each other and Williams responded, “It will be up to her to tell you what happened.”
“So she is doing penance for something.” Holmes thought aloud.
Taggart answered in irritated tone, “Like I said, Constable, it’s Sherlock story to tell you.”
Williams went there to take up the next topic. “If we find that you’re not keeping up, we have the choice to dismiss. Any serious infractions like brutality will not be tolerated.”
“We do recommend that you study, Canadian police procedures and get your driver’s license as soon as possible.” Capt. Taggart interjected.
Holmes nodded in agreement. Resigned to his fate, he said, “Okay, sounds good.”
Taggart added. “If you have any questions, simply ask Sherlock or myself. More than half happy to have you on board. Don’t think of this as a punishment, but as a learning experience. You’ll get along a lot better if you leave the chip on your shoulder at the door when you come in here. Play ball and we will all get along fine.”
Holmes nodded and shook the men’s hands. “Thanks for the opportunity to redeem myself, Sirs. They could’ve just cut me off at the knees and let me sink over there.”
Williams chuckled. “Well any cock-ups as you guys would say over there. We will put you on the first flight back, and they can deal with you. Now let’s go give you and Sherlock a tour of the place and get you a squad car.”
After Holmes and I had the tour and got our car assignment, I showed him how to work the radio. Then we inspected the contents of the trunk for emergency supplies and Kevlar vests.
“Why do we need vests if we’re only going to be giving out tickets and such?”
I spoke up. “Well, sometimes we have to participate in crowd control. The fine people of Toronto love to protest things. On occasion they get a little bit uppity and we have to step in and make some arrests. The Kevlar vests are more for our protection. If something serious happens, they usually call the SWAT team to step in. This also happens if there’s a homicide or a robbery. We may have to do crowd control then as well.”
“I was very surprised that they gave me a service revolver. Until a few years ago, our patrolmen weren’t allowed to use them except for in special circumstances. Now the criminals are beefing up their game, so we’re allowed to carry guns and Tasers to keep them under control.”
“There is a huge brouhaha over here about the use of Tasers. Out West a cop went postal on a guy at an airport and killed him. They tend to go a bit gung ho and kill people, albeit by accident. There is a huge debate over whether we should have them. Some officers have a shoot first, ask questions later mentality. A few years ago a passenger on a streetcar was shot nine times and killed. The officers in question were pretty much under fire for that incident. The boy had mental health issues and he was only 18. We’re being educated a lot better now, on how to deal with people in that situation.”
Holmes nodded. “Do you ever have the occasion where the military needs to be brought in?”
“Yes, few years ago for the G 20 Summit. There was a huge protest and a lot of arrests were made. It was more than our police force could really handle. We called in reinforcements for that. Then there was that big shooting on Parliament Hill in Ottawa last year and the military needed to be called in for that too. The biggest joke in Canada is that a few years ago the snow was so bad that we had to call in the military to clean up after a huge storm. We have never heard the end of it since then. Speaking of winter, I highly recommend that you go out and buy a thick Parka and warm boots. On occasion, it does tend to get a tad chilly around here, however is still not as cold as the Midwest. It’s not abnormal for Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta to get temperatures of -40 Celsius. Personally I would refuse to come out of my house, if it got that cold. I cringe at -30 Celsius but the worst thing is when you get the wind chill factor added into that. I’m just warning you that winters are not kind.”
“I hear summers are just as bad the other way around.”
Yes,” I told him. “We do have the humid summers here as well. This summer hasn’t been too bad, but last summer was brutal, depending on your tolerance that is. I would go out and invest in a fan or a portable air conditioner for your apartment.”
“Well Sherlock, thanks for the heads up about the weather we seem to have gotten that topic covered.”
At this point we were patrolling the streets. The dispatcher called about a shooting up at Tuxedo Court. They needed all units present for crowd control until the detectives arrived. I spoke into my shoulder receiver, “En route to the scene now.”
I turned on the siren and sped toward Markham and Ellesmere. I said to Holmes. “This is your lucky day pal. We’re heading right into gang country! Just tell yourself it’s not a good day to die and put on your Kevlar vest. Don’t use your firearm unless you have to, but have your night stick handy. Oh yeah, and if you’re inclined to pray to whatever deity, I would do that. Things tend to get messy up here. Just follow my lead and you’ll do fine.”
We arrived at the scene where chaos was ensuing. We donned our vests, face guards and checked our weapons. I turned to Holmes and said. “Remember we’re here for crowd control, but don’t be afraid to wrap knuckles and kick butt if they get ornery. Avoid using your gun unless you feel you need to defend yourself.”
Holmes nodded and thought out loud, “Why are there so many wogs in one place?”
“First of all, what’s a wog?” I asked him looking puzzled.
“All the darkies, the blacks?”
“Oh God, don’t say that. You want to get us lynched? That’s not politically correct! Do we need to give you lessons?”
“Apparently so, but I guess now is not the time for it.”
He followed me into the fray, as I told the people to move back or go into their homes for the sake of safety. “If you don’t live here at all,” I said to the people, “I suggest you leave. Don’t make me call in reinforcements.”
One guy yelled that me, “You stupid pig bitch, get out of here! You cause more trouble than we do. We can manage ourselves!”
Using my knowledge from my days as a detective, I got in his face. “Look here Sir! When I tell you to move back or move out. It’s not merely a suggestion. It’s an order! Got that? Now before I have to arrest you for obstruction of justice, Move. Away. Now!”
Holmes had disappeared while I was giving the guy what for. The man had backed off as I instructed, so I went looking for my partner, and found him in the middle of the ruckus asking questions of what exactly was going on.
“Holmes! ” I yelled! “Get the hell out of there! Were only supposed to be controlling the crowd not interrogating them. Stand down now!”
“Have you lost the plot Sherlock? Isn’t it the best way to find out who shouldn’t be here, to ask questions?”
I had to admit he was right. However, that was not police procedure or what we are called to do. “I know you must do things over there a bit differently, but here when we are asked to control the crowd, we control the crowd, that’s it.”
By that time the detectives had arrived and the officers had subdued the crowd somewhat. I introduced myself to Detective Butcher and explained the situation to him. “There’s an officer over there protecting the dead bodies. There seem to be about three of them.”
He thanked me and then looked at Holmes. “And who might you be?” Holmes gave him his name. Then he looked at both of us. “Sherlock and Holmes. You two are joking right?”
I shook my head. “No unfortunately we’re not.”
Detective Butcher shook his head and chuckled a bit. “Someone at your division has a sense of humor putting you two together. Holmes, you come with me. Sherlock, you go through the crowd and ask who lives here. Anyone not living at this building is to leave immediately or be arrested. Holmes since you like asking questions so much. You can ask some of the witnesses what they saw and take good notes.”
Butcher and Holmes and the other detective interviewed the witnesses while I culled out the extraneous onlookers. No one else got in my face and folks left the premises soon after I determined they were not needed. The forensics team arrived to examine the bodies and the crime scene. What seemed like hours later, we finally got out of there and went back to the precinct to file our reports for the day. As I was about to leave for the day, Capt. Taggart called me into his office. Holmes was nowhere to be seen.
Taggart motioned me to sit down. “So how was your first day with the new guy?”
“It went well at first. Then we were called to a scene up at Tuxedo Court where there was a triple murder. A bunch of gangbangers had shot their guns off at each other. Holmes and I were supposed to be controlling the crowd, but he got into it and started interrogating the witnesses.”
“Sherlock, don’t let him out of your sight, he’s got this penchant for going off half-cocked and getting into trouble. That’s why he’s over here. I’ve been told that you are to keep an eye on him and keep him in line… Or else!”
By the look on Taggart’s face, I didn’t have to wonder what the or else meant. If I read him correctly, it meant my job was on the line.