Monday, September 12, 2011

Cops: The Feds Vs. Locals



“People,” Johansen said to the group, after she and Grant walked into the room. “This is the detective from Modesto I told you about, Grant Starr. Detective Starr, will you tell us what you know about the unsubs?”
Grant spent the next ten minutes telling a gaggle of agents and officers from local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies what he knew about Samuel Raimes, III, which wasn’t a lot, and what he suspected. 
“So,” someone in a fed shirt said, “you don’t have any evidence. Your case against this guy is all circumstantial.”
“No, we have some evidence,” Grant said. “Not on Raimes, but we have solid evidence on the woman, Mindy. We have her fingerprints and she was ID’ed by a witness. We think she was here this morning and killed the two dam operators. They were knifed, which is her MO.
“We also got some prints off a steel shed they put up in La Grange. One of them came back army, a guy who was discharged after getting caught with drugs. His and another set of prints were found on evidence at the house of the MID guy who got killed the same night the TID guy got killed. So we have that, too.”
“But against the guy, Raimes, you got nothing,” the fed said.
“Well, hell,” Grant said, a little pissed off at the fed. “At least I got something. What’d you bring to the party?”
“I just got here.”
“Well, until you have something, I suggest you shut the fuck up.”
“Hey…” The guy stood, and Grant took a step his way.
The noise level in the room ratcheted up: feds sat up and thrust their shoulders back, making their chairs creak; locals snickered and pivoted to look at the fed, who was ten inches shorter than Grant.
Johansen stood and said, “Guys, a pissing match isn’t going to help us find the unsubs.” Grant and the fed continued their stare-down. “This is a national tragedy, the worst thing since 9/11. Let’s try and keep our heads here.” She placed a hand on Grant’s chest, not pushing, touching.
This scene from THE MIGHTY T takes place at the New Don Pedro Dam in La Grange, California. The terrorist who calls himself John Lightfoot had just successfully attacked the O'Shaunessy Dam at Hetch Hetchy, causing a near-catastrophic flood. The feds have moved in and taken over the investigation.

Detectives Grant Starr and Ralph Bensen were at Don Pedro when the flood hit. Grant needed to call his chief but Don Pedro has no cell coverage, forcing him to ask to use a landline in a building Homeland Security has taken for their headquarters. He tries desperately to avoid Area Supervisor Barbara Johansen, knowing if she sees him he'll likely get sucked into Fed World and lose half the day.

Grant finds a phone and makes his call. He and Bensen are about to enjoy some free fed snacks, coffee and pastries, when Grant hears Johansen's voice calling him from somewhere down the hall. She asks him to brief a gaggle of cops and he gets sucked into Fed World, as he feared he would.

I'm not a cop, nor has anyone in my family, to my knowledge, ever been in law enforcement. What I know about how well federal cops get along with local cops I learned from TV and novels—so take this as fiction if you like. I imagine the locals don't like it when the feds march in and take over investigations; it's gotta be a pride thing.

I took advantage of this real, or imagined, animosity to create some conflict in my story. Stories without conflict are dull. I was pulling for Grant, of course; he shoulda punched the weasel fed in the nose!