I’m excited to announce today is the official launch of Book I of the CRAZY 101 Trilogy. I’ll be adding new chapters every Wednesday and Sunday mornings at 8 a.m., PDT. The first installment in this serialized book is the prologue which provides some perspective of the era in which the story is set. Below is a short excerpt from the prologue, followed by a bit of background on the City of Phoenix and the Phoenix Police Department during the Summer of 1979.
It was a job listing. Cooper silently read the entry. His jaw tensed.
City of Phoenix
Police Communications Operator I
High school diploma OR GED required
Minimum age: 18 y.o.
$775.00 / month
“Communications Operator One? Well, shit, it’s really happening. They’re gonna replace us with civilians and pay them half as much. That’s it, then; there’s the budget cuts Maggie and that sonofabitch city council have been pushing through. And all those rumors that the commander insisted weren’t true are, in fact, true. That’s the big meeting they’re having today.”
“Civilians,” Boomer spat. “Motherfucking civilians. With no academy training. No patrol experience. They’re going to get officers killed, mark my words. And Mayor “Maggot” Hance will have blood on her hands. Fucking bitch.”
“And there go the majority of light-duty jobs for officers. We’re screwed. The department will force us into resigning and we can say goodbye to all our benefits and a big chunk of our pension.”
“That’s damn fucking right. As much as we all hate working the phones, it’s better than a pink slip.” Boomer stretched back in his chair and made a grand sweeping gesture toward the other officers in the phone room: “We may all be looking for new jobs.”
While CRAZY 101 is a work of fiction, its storyline closely parallels true events. Margaret Hance (not-so-affectionately called “Maggot” Hance by police officers), was indeed the mayor of Phoenix in 1979. She was the third woman ever to be elected as the mayor of a U.S. city. Hance was a staunch Republican whose eight years in office benefited the interests of business far more than they did the citizens of Phoenix. One could argue that Hance did more harm than good in preserving the integrity of the city. During her tenure as both a city council member and as mayor, she directed the destruction of many historic buildings and, in so doing, destroyed a good part of the city’s history and beauty.
Mayor Hance was well-known for her signature, oversized eyeglasses, and notoriously known for her penchant for alcohol. More than one Phoenix Police officer had the bad luck of pulling over a weaving, swerving, severely-impaired driver, only to step up to the driver’s side window and discover a drunken and cursing Mayor Hance behind the wheel. In those instances, she typically threatened to have the unfortunate officer fired while cussing up a blue streak. The saying, “swears like a drunken sailor,” definitely applied to the foul mouth of Mayor Margaret Hance.
In addition to Mayor Hance, the prologue to Book I: The Dungeon also accurately portrays the attitude of Phoenix police officers. The City’s decision to replace the sworn personnel who manned the Crime Stop phones with civilians was not well-received by the force, in spite of the fact that most hated being assigned to the Communications Bureau, a.ka., the dungeon. Officers were sent to the dungeon for only one of two reasons: 1) Light-duty assignment due to injury or health issues; or 2) Disciplinary action. Yes, that’s right, working the phones was a form of punishment for officers who’d royally screwed up while on the job or in their personal lives, screwed up so monumentally, in fact, that their punishment necessitated something far more regrettable than a mere oral or written reprimand.
Despite their hatred for working the phones, the majority of officers viewed the hiring of civilians, most of whom were young and female, as a direct threat to the officers’ job security. The news of their replacement on the phones generated rumors which begat fears which begat hysteria. The rumors ran as follows: there were only a limited number of light-duty details available and even fewer for officers who were re-assigned due to disciplinary action; with the loss of forty to fifty openings, the Department could force officers on light-duty to retire prematurely; officers facing disciplinary action, were there a lack of reassignment options, could result in their termination.
As it turned out, none of these fears came to fruition. But those unfounded fears persisted well after the civilians came on board, as did the palpable animosity the officers felt for them.
Another concern of the officers was the competency of the civilians, or rather, their incompetency. The civilians lacked academy training and patrol experience — deficiencies which, in the officers’ minds, were sure to lead to disaster. The officers vehemently believed that the City, in due time, would pay by way of lawsuits for its stupidity in replacing the officers — it was just a matter of time before an inept civilian Communications Operator I (a.ka., Com Op I) got someone killed, be it a citizen or an officer, or both. There’s plenty of irony to their concern as there were plenty of call-handling fuck-ups on the part of officers–officers who were notoriously bad typists, were often distracted by their chain-smoking, were lacking in professional phone etiquette, and who possessed a piss-poor regard for the general public. I still recall my first day of OTJ with my TO, Officer Harold Copeland, and the jaded advice he offered: “Just you wait. You’ll learn soon enough that the majority of citizens are complete morons.”
And this was the environment awaiting the first civilian Crime Stop operators: A choking fog of cigarette smoke, a migraine-inducing clamor, and open hostility from the male officers in the Communications Bureau, located in the basement of 620 West Washington, police headquarters.
The basement: No windows. No ventilation. No escape.
Welcome to the dungeon, ladies.