Tactical Alert

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"This is a Citywide Tactical Alert"

Central Station. Panic mode! Everybody is freaking out over that announcement from the chief. Lieutenant Neil, the Daywatch Watch Commander, told us the chief has already turned in his letter of resignation and he’s gone home! Holy shit! I still can’t believe he quit! Harper thinks he figured that he was damned if he did and damned if he didn’t, so he quit before everything exploded in his face. He may be right, but that doesn’t change the fact that we don’t have a chief and now nobody knows who’s in charge! Apparently, Chief Mooney didn’t bother to arrange for a successor. Only the Police Commission can appoint one, and since three of them are out of town right now, that ain’t going to happen. I can only imagine what things are like over at Police Headquarters. Jesus, it must look like an armored fortress right now! They’ve probably got the steel barrier screens pulled down over the front doors! I just saw Lieutenant Hagan pull into the parking lot and Harper said everybody else was already here, so it’s time to gear up and head south. That’s where all hell is going to break loose. It may not be the only place, but it’ll be first on the list.

Central Division? So far, not much is happening here, but that’s to be expected. After all, nobody really lives here unless you count the condos on the west side, and those are so expensive that they aren’t going to have any would-be rioters living in them. Those people are probably cowering under their beds right now. And the homeless don’t give a shit about what’s going on. They’ve got bigger problems to worry about. I got changed into my uniform so fast that I actually had to have Harper give me the once-over to make sure I didn’t forget anything. Everybody is running around here like chickens with their heads cut off. The only ones who aren’t are the ones packed into the break room and watching the news on TV. You’d think they’d just announced that a spaceship from Mars just landed by the way everybody’s hanging on each news bulletin. People are seriously freaked out around here, and they have a right to be! Who’s going to call for a full mobilization? Only the chief can do that, and we don’t have one anymore!

“Lynott! Harper! Where are we on this thing?”

The roar of Lieutenant Hagan! That tone of voice tells me we’re not the only ones in apocalypse mode!

“We’re all here, sir. Harper’s got our gear; as much as we could…creatively borrow. Sergeant Ivanell and Sergeant Hendrickson are in the break room watching the news. Sergeant Gellar is gearing up. Acevedo and Garcia are over at the garage getting the vehicles we set aside ready. They’ve already got the keys to all the cars. As long as they’re still fueled up, we’ll be ready to move out in five minutes.”

“This is why you’re going to make a great sergeant, Lynott. I’ll be right back. We roll in five minutes!”

Yeah, I’ll make sergeant when hell freezes over – which may have just happened! In the meantime, we’ve got a lot to do. We need everybody to stuff that gear into the cars and be ready to move out as soon as the lieutenant gets back.

“Harper, grab everybody and start moving that gear into our cars. I’m going to see what we know about the situation in the south end. The plan is still to go to Woodlawn first, unless one of the other divisions is a lot worse off.”

“Roger that. Every division is South Bureau has already reported incidents. People are going crazy out there! They’re screaming about how the police got away with murder again!”

Uh-huh. Did I call it or what?

“Is anything burning yet?”

“From what I saw on the news a minute ago, yes. They’ve got fires in Woodlawn and Lafayette Divisions. I don’t know about the rest of the divisions, but it won’t be long. I guess we don’t have to wonder anymore. We’re got a real riot on our hands!”

Yeah, talk about self-fulfilling prophecies! What the fuck are we supposed to do now? We’ve got no chief! Nobody’s going to want to make a decision until they consult with their lawyers, their image consultants, and ten different sociology professors! Who’s going to take command of this shit? Oh, this fucking sucks!

“We need to get out there. Go! Move it, Marine! And don’t forget a thing! That’s what you Marines say!”

“Actually, that’s the Army Rangers. But it’s good advice. I’ll see you at the cars.”

Time to find out from Lieutenant Neil what Central Division’s plans are. He’s pretty level-headed. He’s not going to want to have our people sitting on their asses, and he’s not going to pretend like it’s business as usual. There he is, on the phone. God only knows who he’s talking to.

“Lieutenant Neil? Are we…”

And he gives me the “hush up” wave that my mom pretty much patented when I was eight.

“Yeah! Because we’ve got a fucking TV in here and I’ve got eyes! They’ve got looting in Woodlawn and the stores along Calaveras Boulevard in Lafayette are already burning! Where the hell is the citywide tac alert? Are you fucking kidding me? Somebody needs to call the fucking alert! I can’t send my officers anywhere until they do!”

I see that’s one of those conversations where you don’t need to hear the other side to know what’s going on. He’s got to be on the phone with somebody from headquarters and they’re telling him that nobody’s calling the shots. This is exactly what I was afraid of!

“Oh, that’ll be a big help! Thanks a lot, Burt! Fuck you very much! Goodbye!”

I’m guessing that conversation didn’t go well. He looks downright exasperated. Hey, he’s in charge of Daywatch right now. Exasperated? I’m thinking that’s putting it mildly.

“What is it, Lynott? And what the hell are you doing here at this hour?”

“We’ve got an urban apocalypse on our hands, sir. I’m guessing it’s all hands on deck.”

“It should be, but nobody’s willing to give the order. That was the Chief’s Office. Or maybe I should say the Ex-Chief’s Office! That asshole had his shit packed up and ready to go the minute he stepped off of that podium! He’s in the wind! Nobody’s in charge!”

“You could call a tac alert for Central Division, sir. That would put Central Bureau on tac alert.”

“Negative! Orders from the sixth floor: no divisions are to do anything of the sort! We’re to wait for instructions. Someone over at Office of Operations is going to activate the Emergency Operations Center. Just what we need: a fucking Winnebago! So what the hell are you doing here? And did I just see Lieutenant Hagan a minute ago?”

“Yes, sir. We came in to help. What’s the status of the division?”

“So far, pretty good. We’ve got protesters gathering over at Police Headquarters and City Hall. It’s going to be ugly. I’ve already sent almost everyone I’ve got over there. I’m running a skeleton crew.”

“Sir, we were planning to head straight for ground zero. We figure that’s where we can do the most good.”

“In what? They’ve already taken every car we’ve got!”

“Actually, they haven’t. We’ve got a ride down there. I don’t think you want to know any more than that, sir.”

“You’re right. I don’t. All right, I’m not going to ask what you’re up to because I don’t want to know. Just get down there. And for God’s sake, don’t try to log on as a unit! As soon as that EOC gets to wherever they’re going, they’re going to start pulling units in there and from what I’ve seen so far, we’ll never see those units again! I think the department is going to try to ride this thing out, at least until tomorrow morning. You know what that means.”

Yeah, it means we’re pretty much abandoning the city to its fate!

“Roger that, sir. Anything else?”

“Yeah! If anyone asks, you and your friends were never here! Off the record? You stay in the field and do whatever you can. Where are you going first?”

“Woodlawn, sir.”

“You know that place better than most of us. Is it going to be a problem for you going back there after what happened?”

Everybody in the division knows my story. They know I was kicked out of Woodlawn and sent here in exile. It’s not a secret.

“Sir, I think that’s the least of our worries right now.”

“Good call. Good luck down there. This is a bad one. It might even be the worst one we’ve ever faced. Watch your backs. Do whatever the hell Jack Hagan tells you to do. He’s seen this before. You haven’t.”

I’m guessing no one with less than eight hashmarks has seen this kind of shit before. If every generation gets a riot, then this is ours. I don’t feel lucky about it. It’s the kind of surprise you wish you could avoid. But we just had to be police officers!

“Roger that, sir. What about the specialized units? SEU? SWAT? K9? Where are they?”

“If they’re smart, they’re hiding out in a cave somewhere! And if you happen across that cave while you’re out there, ask them if they’ve got room for me!”

“Unlikely, sir. The command staff probably took all of the seats already.”

At least that got a chuckle out of him. I wasn’t entirely kidding. Those guys are all probably hiding out somewhere as we speak. Not in a cave, but somewhere. Probably not in Police Headquarters. That place might go up in flames by tonight.

“Permission to jump into the lion’s den, sir?”

“Permission granted. And Lynott? Be damned careful. All of you. It’s open season on the police right now.”

Yeah, that much, I got already.

“Roger that, sir. Good luck. To all of us. We’re going to need it.”

I just got the strangest feeling that I just said farewell to him forever. I don’t know why, but I do. Believe me, it doesn’t exactly sit well with me. I’ve got a massively shitty feeling about this whole thing. I’m afraid there might be some new pictures on the walls of the stations before this shit is over.

There’s Harper and Lieutenant Hagan. Time to get this show on the road. Notice how I said “show” and not “suicide mission.” That was me trying to be optimistic.

“Guys, Lieutenant Neil just gave us his blessing. Are we ready to go?”

“As ready as we’ll ever be, Dani. We’ve got seven riot shields, shotguns for each officer, eleven rifles, and an old tear gas gun that I managed to borrow from SWAT. We’ve only got twelve rounds for it, though. We’ve got a whole box of charged batteries for the radios, just in case. The bad news is, we couldn’t get any hard armor. Our regular vests are going to have to do.”

And in a riot, some of the assholes won’t hesitate to use rifles. Well, here’s hoping we don’t run across any of them. Or if we do, that we manage to shoot them first.

“We have to go with what we’ve got. If the cars are fueled up, then let’s go. Lieutenant, I think we should head straight for Woodlawn Station. We need to let them know we’ll be in their division and ready to help. Harper, make sure everybody switches over to Woodlawn frequency. I don’t want anybody yelling ‘help!’ and no one around us can hear it.”

“Already done. We also snagged a bunch of Taser darts and pepper gas canisters. Lieutenant? I think you should know, a couple of Daywatch guys were in the kit room tossing all kinds of gear into boxes. Why would they do that now? People are going to need that stuff, sir.”

Lieutenant Hagan looks almost disgusted. I have a feeling we’re not going to like what he has to say.

“They probably got word that the EOC is moving out. It’s the first step in a general mobilization: grab as much gear as you can from the nearby divisions and take it to the command post.”

OK, but why is that such a bad thing?

“Sir? What’s wrong with that?”

“Because only the Chief of Police can call for a mobilization and we don’t have one. That means they’re going to set up the CP somewhere and sit there waiting for the order.”

An order that might not come for days. Yeah, I can see why that’s a bad thing.

“Sir, with the chief probably halfway to Illinois right now, can’t somebody else give the order?”

“Yeah! All we need is someone who’s suicidal enough to call for a major show of force right after the city went nuts over perceived excessive force! Would you care to tell me who that might be, Lynott?”

“I wouldn’t touch that one with a stick, sir.”

“Neither will anyone on the command staff. Not unless they want to cut their own throat! And right now, most of them are too busy trying to figure out how to become the next chief! Whatever happens, once that CP is up and running, we stay the hell away from it! Is that understood?”

“Roger that, sir. We’ll make sure everybody knows. All right, let’s do this. Harper?”

“Saddle up, boys! We gotta…”

“You will cease that John Wayne impression or we leave you right here! Move out!”

“You never let me have any fun!”

Uh-huh! “Fun” is not a word I’d associate with what’s about to hit us. Not by a long shot. I just pray to God that we don’t get hit by any bullets, because there are going to be a lot of them flying around out there. That much, I’m absolutely sure of!

On the freeway, headed for Woodlawn Division at warp speed. Seven sector cars, all in a row. We’ve got the five Midwatch Units, Lieutenant Hagan and Sergeant Ivanell in one car, and Sergeant Gellar and Sergeant Hendrickson in another. Harper called Officer Woodward and told him to meet us with as many guys from State Parole as he could muster. That means we’ll have at least fifteen officers. In a division under normal circumstances, that would be a lot. Under these circumstances, it’s a drop in the bucket. We’ve been listening to the radio and it’s going nuts out there. Fires are breaking out all over South Bureau and there are reports of looting damned near everywhere. The assholes didn’t waste any time going completely ape shit. We’ve heard officer needs help calls go out in Woodlawn, Lafayette, Wilmington, and Avalon Divisions. It’s all over the south end, and God only knows where else. By tonight, it could be all over the city for all we know. It’s bad. It’s definitely, definitely bad!

The EOC, or Emergency Operations Center, is over in Lafayette Division. Just as we predicted, it’s at 62nd Street and Vallon Avenue. In an hour or two, that place is going to be turned into an armed camp. The only question is, how long will it be before they form up into squads and get back out here to retake the south end divisions? My feeling is that if we don’t do it in a hurry, we’re going to lose any chance we have of getting ahead of this thing. And once that happens, then the affected areas are going to be totally on their own. People are going to get hurt. People are going to die. Buildings are going to burn. Stores are going to be looted. And there’ll be more property damage than anyone can imagine. The assholes will turn the south end into a fucking wasteland. We’ve got to do whatever we can to prevent that from happening.

Harper says some of the radio alerts we’ve been hearing suggest that the assholes are organized, as if they’ve prepared for something big. Fires are breaking out too fast and in too many places for it to be random chance, he says. I’m not going to argue with him. This is his area of expertise. It’s crazy, isn’t it? He’s got the least amount of time on the job out of anyone on the watch, but right now, he’s got more experience in urban warfare and civil disturbances than any of us. We’re going to be relying heavily on that, and on him. I realize this isn’t a war, but from what we’ve already seen and heard, it’s pretty damned close. And we’re headed into a division that most of our guys have never set foot in before. I know Woodlawn like the back of my hand – assuming it hasn’t changed much in the few years that I’ve been at Central Division – and Acevedo spent a shitload of time there during his stint in the Gang Unit, but that’s about it. None of the others did so much as a loan to Woodlawn Division. Goren did his probation in Avalon and Garcia did his in Lafayette, but that’s as close as they’ve come to Woodlawn. And Metro South Woodlawn Division is the most gang-infested and violent division in the city, year after year. Now it’s ground zero for a goddamned riot. When I told Lieutenant Neil that we were going into the lion’s den, I wasn’t exaggerating.

“Harper, take the next exit to Symington Avenue and head east. Then take MacArthur straight down south. Woodlawn Station is at 79th Street and MacArthur. The parking lot is on the east side of the station.”

“Their station is a lot smaller than Central’s, right?”

“Yeah, Woodlawn’s a dump. It was built before the Great Depression. They’ve been talking about replacing it for years. The women still have their locker room in a trailer in the back parking lot.”

“79th Street? That’s a pretty bad gang area, isn’t it?”

“Every inch of Woodlawn is a pretty bad gang area. You’re about to get a crash course in the city’s gangs. Central doesn’t have many gangs. Woodlawn’s full of them, and they’re not shy about taking shots at the police.”

“Roger that. What are the main targets down there? Besides us, I mean.”

“The station is definitely one. There’s also Emmet’s Surplus. It’s the biggest gun store in the south end. The place is a fortress and the employees all carry, but in this shit? The assholes will go for it. I’m sure of it.”

That place is probably going to turn into the Wild West. Emmet’s picks their employees carefully. Those guys are some tough motherfuckers who won’t hesitate to shoot if a bunch of assholes try to swarm the place, and they’ve got enough guns and ammunition in there to hold out for days. It could be a massacre. We need to get there and see if there’s any way to lock it down.

“What else have they got? Pharmacies? Clinics? Jewelry shops? Banks? Check cashing places?”

“It’s the ’hood, Harper. They’ve got all of those things and a lot of the businesses are pretty much cash-only. Every place in the division is a target. They’ve also got four major housing projects that the gangs control. If we have to go into any of them, there’s going to be some shooting. They’re out to get us now. It’s open season on the police.”

“Yeah, I heard Lieutenant Neil. Don’t worry, Dani. We’ll get through this. Remember: we’ve got the whole watch on our side.”

Fair enough, Harper. We’re the mighty Central Midwatch; slayers of dragons and giants and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Still, I wouldn’t mind having a tank and some close air support right now. Hey, I told you I play HALO and Call of Duty. I know a thing or two about urban combat. As much as any police officer-slash-gamer girl, anyway.

There’s Symington Avenue. I used to take this exit every day to go to work. I haven’t been back here since the day I cleaned out my locker under the watchful eye of a sergeant and a lieutenant. They wanted to make sure I didn’t trash the locker room before they kicked me out. I felt like a suspect the whole time. I told Lieutenant Neil that I didn’t have a problem coming back here, but right now, I’m not so sure. Shit! I need to put that out of my mind. I can’t worry about that crap right now. We’ve got a job to do and I need to focus. All right, we’re taking the off-ramp. Here we go! Time to get everyone in the right mindset!

“Sixteen Central to all units, stay sharp! We’re back in the badlands now!”

“Sixty-Six, roger that! Welcome home, Dani!”


“We’ve got this!”

“Right with you, Sixteen!”

Well, they all seem plenty confident. Good! We’re going to need that. Jesus Christ! Look at that! I see five…six…seven! Seven black clouds up ahead, all the way down the street! Those are fires! Big ones! And there are at least a dozen more to the south of us! It’s been what? Two hours? The whole fucking division went to total shit in two hours? I don’t believe it!

“It looks like we’re a little late to the party, Harper.”

“It looks like Falluja after the air strike! Holy shit! Are you seeing this?”

“I see it. And it’s going to get worse.”

“Ten Central to Central Midwatch, stay in the far right lane. I don’t want anybody near the sidewalk. All units, activate your lightbars and sirens. We’re proceeding to the station code three. I’m hoping there’s less chance we’ll get shot at that way.”

That’s good thinking. If we stop for a traffic light somewhere along here, some idiot is likely to take a potshot at us. Hitting the lightbar and siren!

“Hit it, Harper!”

“Hang on!”

Damn! Would you look at that! The gas station up ahead on the right: I see two guys guarding the place with shotguns! They’re just standing in the lot in broad daylight, cradling their guns for everyone to see! Yeah, it’s definitely started!

“Dani! Check it out! On the building at ten o’clock!”

Holy sixties flashback, Batman! They’ve painted across the building “Black Owned! Don’t Burn Us!” I’ve seen graffiti like that in books about the riots in ’68. Two hours! It’s been two hours since the chief bailed and people went ape shit and they’re already painting shit like that on the buildings? I never thought it would deteriorate this fast!

“Remind me to take a picture of that before we leave.”

“I think we’re going to be taking a lot of pictures today. All of us. We’re walking through history, Dani. We’re watching it being made right before our eyes.”

Harper the history buff! This is history I can definitely do without!

“Remind me to cancel the History Channel when we get home.”

“Never! Love me, love my hobbies!”

Fair enough. He puts up with my Red Sox insanity. He doesn’t even make fun of them anymore when they lose.

“Dani, look out! On the right!”

What? Son of a bitch! That asshole just threw a brick at our car! Jesus, it must’ve put a dent the size of a trash can lid in it!

“Stop the car!”

“Forget it! He’s not worth it! We need to get to the station!”

He’s right. I hate it, but he’s right. That won’t be the last one. And if that’s the worst that happens to us before this shit it over, I’ll count my blessings.

“Sixteen Central to all units, we just had some asshole throw a brick at our car. Watch out for anyone doing the same.”

I can see people running in the street. Looters, probably. Fucking assholes! They think this is a free-for-all! Fuck! How can anybody think they have a right to go crazy and steal everything that isn’t nailed down? What the hell is wrong with them?

“MacArthur’s just up ahead. Turn right. And watch out for assholes with bricks!”

“Come on, Dani. How many times has that happened in Central Division?”

About two thousand! But those are homeless psychos of the fraternal order of the tinfoil hat crowd! At least they have a legitimate excuse!

“Take a look, Dani. It’s even worse south of here! Check out those fires!”

I see them. Jesus, where’s the fire department? Probably holed up in their fire stations. We never found out whether the fire department had any orders or contingency plans in effect. If they didn’t, then they could be waiting for some word from the police department regarding whether they should respond. Yeah, good luck with that, guys! Ten bucks says nobody at headquarters is answering the phone!

“Dani, we’ve got barricades in the street up ahead! Is that 79th Street?”

“Yeah, it is. I guess our guys decided to block the road to the station. Smart. It should keep the assholes from doing a drive-by on the place.”

“Are you kidding? Those sandwich signs aren’t going to stop someone if they’re determined to get through. They’ll need a bulldozer or something like it.”

“I’m guessing those aren’t in the city’s budget. Is there anybody standing guard over there?”

“I see one officer over on the sidewalk. Did they really station one guy out there?”

“They can’t possibly be that crazy. Pull over and let’s talk to that officer.”

No one could be that stupid! One guy? In a goddamned riot? Something’s wrong. His partner must’ve had to take a piss. We’re about to find out. He’s young, no stripes on his sleeve. He’s either a PII or a PI. A PI? God, if they stuck a boot out here by himself, then I’m going to strangle whoever gave him that order!

“Hey! What are you doing out here all by yourself?”

“I’ve been asking myself the same thing, ma’am. Who are you?”

Jesus, he called me “ma’am!” He’s a boot! And they stuck him out here alone!

“I’m Dani Lynott. This is Ryan Harper. The rest of those units are with us. We’re Central Midwatch.”

“Ma’am? What are you doing way down here? Midwatch? At this hour?”

“We came down here as soon as all hell broke loose. What are you doing here? Don’t you see those fires?”

“Yes, ma’am. I’ve been counting them. The last three started about ten minutes ago. Sergeant Satterfield ordered me to set up those signs and stay here. I’m not supposed to let anyone but authorized police personnel in.”

“And you’re supposed to stop them with what? That nine millimeter? All by yourself?”

“Ma’am, I just got out of the academy a month ago. I do what I’m told.”

I see Lieutenant Hagan walking up to us. Jesus, they sent this guy out here to do an impossible job! But the minute I heard him say Sergeant Satterfield, I knew it was true. I know Satterfield. Everyone in Woodlawn Division does. He’s an asshole of the first order. Everyone hates him, and with good reason. He holds the unofficial record in Woodlawn for burning police officers. That got him the nickname Mack the Knife because he’ll stick a knife in your back at the drop of a hat. Well, let’s see what Lieutenant Hagan has to say about this.

“Sir, this is…what’s your name?”

“Russell Titus, ma’am.”

“This is Russell Titus, sir. Mack the Knife sent him out here to get killed. Alone.”

“I heard, Lynott. Listen up, Officer Titus. You are to return to the station code three and a half! And if you see that idiot Satterfield, you tell him that Lieutenant Jack Hagan is in his division and that if I see him, I’m going to be scraping his brains off of my fucking boot! Is that understood, Officer Titus?”

“Yes, sir!”

“You will not commit suicide without my written permission! And standing out here with nothing but a sidearm is tantamount to suicide! Now, get your ass back to the station and stand by to be deployed with a squad! We’re taking this division back!”

Suddenly, he seems a little hesitant. Scared out of his mind, but hesitant.

“Uh, sir? Lieutenant…Hagan, you said? Sir, I don’t…didn’t anyone tell you, sir?”

“Tell me what?”

“Uh, sir? There’s nobody…there are no squads, sir. Everybody got orders to report to the command post about fifteen minutes ago. I saw what looked like every unit in the division headed west. I don’t know if anybody’s left in the station, sir.”

What? Every unit in the division? They stripped the entire fucking division? Did I just hear him right? Even Lieutenant Hagan can’t believe it! Look at him!

“Son, did I just hear you say there are no units left in this division?”

“Yes, sir. It was an all units order. No exceptions. That’s what they said, sir: no exceptions. Everyone was supposed to go to the CP. Sergeant Satterfield made sure it was carried out. He was the one who led them all over there, sir.”

“So what the hell are you doing out here?”

“They left me here, sir. I’ve only been here for one DP. Nobody really knows me. I guess they kind of forgot about me, sir.”

“Where’s your FTO?”

“On a sick day, sir. He had to go to the dentist. He was supposed to show up at around ten, but after what happened…I don’t think he’s coming in today, sir.”

Jesus Christ! His Field Training Officer bailed on him! In the middle of a fucking riot! Goddamned Daywatch drone! They’re everywhere!

“All right, Officer Titus. This is what you’re going to do: you’re going to get in the car with Officers Lynott and Harper. We’re going to your station and we’re going to assess the situation. If I don’t find some officers ready to gear up and move out to retake this fucking division, I’m going to kill the first person I can reach, so you stay far out of reach. Is that understood?”

“Yes, sir! Absolutely, sir!”

He’s not kidding, and Officer Titus knows it! I still can’t believe they stripped the division! Who the hell is out on the street? And is it just Woodlawn? Did they strip the other divisions, too? Christ almighty! Every time I think things couldn’t get worse, they do!

“Get in here, Titus. Until the lieutenant says otherwise, you’re with us.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“And stop calling me ‘ma’am!’ I’m not your FTO and you’re not in the academy anymore. I’m Officer Lynott or Dani. This is Ryan Harper. Don’t call him ‘sir.’ It might go to his head.”

“Yes, ma’am. I mean Officer Lynott.”

He’s looking at me funny. I realize Lieutenant Hagan just scared the living shit out of him, but why is he…

“Officer Lynott? Can I ask you something? I don’t mean to…it’s just…you used to work here, didn’t you?”

Oh, here we go! My reputation strikes again!

“Yes. And before you ask anything else, the answer is yes: I’m that Officer Lynott. I was there during the Reid shooting. I didn’t shoot him, though.”

“I know. That was Officer Whaley. I’ve heard Sergeant Satterfield talk about you. He doesn’t…he’s not very fond of you, ma’am.”

“Good! He’s a fucking asshole and everybody knows it! Your best bet is to stay as far away from him as possible! You know they call him Mack the Knife, right? It’s because he’s a backstabbing son of a bitch!”

“Yeah, I’ve heard that one. And you’re right: nobody seems to like him very much.”

“With good reason. Now, are you sure there’s nobody left in the division?”

“Maybe a stray unit or two? A lot of people were pretty angry with the order. Sergeant Satterfield sent a message to each unit and crossed them off of the roster when they responded. He led most of them out of here in a caravan, kind of like this one.”

“Yeah, but he was running away from the shit storm. We’re running into it.”

“Roger that, ma’am.”

“You’re doing it again. I told you…”

“I’m sorry. Force of habit. Most of the FTOs around here don’t like it unless you call them ‘sir’ or ‘ma’am.’ I’ll try not to do it again.”

Yeah, they’ve got a few real salty dogs in Woodlawn. Five years on the job and they think they’re God’s gift to law enforcement. All right, there’s the station. Damn, he wasn’t kidding! It looks almost deserted! I don’t see a single sector car in the lot!

“They took all the cars, too?”

“The order from the CP said they needed them. All rifles and shotguns, too. They cleaned us out. The same with the other South Bureau divisions. I don’t think there are ten units left in South Bureau. You guys might be the only ones patrolling the streets in Woodlawn.”

Yeah, I’m becoming aware of that. I don’t believe this shit! Setting up the CP is one thing. Stripping every South Bureau division of their patrol units? That’s insane!

“All units, all frequencies, this is a citywide tactical alert broadcast. The entire city is on tactical alert. Repeat: the entire city is on tactical alert. The Emergency Operations Center is now in effect. Field command is at the Emergency Operations Center Command Post located at 62nd Street and Vallon Avenue. All South Bureau and Central Bureau units shall report immediately to the command post and await further orders. All other bureaus shall stand by for orders to report to the Emergency Operations Center Command Post. All units, all frequencies, this is a citywide tactical alert broadcast. The entire city is now on tactical alert.”

So there it is: a citywide tactical alert is now in effect. That’s the first step toward a full mobilization of the department, which hasn’t happened since long before I joined up. Harper was right: we’re watching history in the making. I wonder if everyone feels this sick when they watch history in the making?

Woodlawn Station. My old stomping grounds. It feels weird being back here. It hasn’t changed one bit. Everything is exactly as I remember it. Everything but the people, that is. There aren’t any! This place is fucking deserted! I never saw it this empty in my life! Officer Titus wasn’t kidding: this place is a fucking ghost town! There’s nobody in the hallways. Not a soul. The only activity is in the Watch Commander’s Office. Well, let’s see what we can see. I don’t recognize the lieutenant sitting in the Watch Commander’s chair. I guess he wasn’t here back when I was here. He looks completely frazzled. Hey, if you were in charge and somebody stripped your division clean in the middle of a riot, how would you feel? He’s got to be going out of his mind right now. And there goes Lieutenant Hagan and Sergeant Gellar into his office. I can’t tell if he looks shocked or relieved. I’m just going to stand in the doorway and listen.

“Lieutenant, I’m Jack Hagan. Central Division. I’m here with our Midwatch to help you out. What the hell is going on around here? Where are your people?”

“Mike Oliver, Woodlawn Watch Commander. What are you people doing down here, Lieutenant? Central’s a long way from here.”

“You didn’t answer my question. Where are your people? We didn’t see a single unit in the field on the way over here.”

“They’re gone. Taken to the CP over in Lafayette Division. All South Bureau divisions got orders to send their people over there immediately; no exceptions. One of my sergeants took it upon himself to make sure everyone around here complied with the order. It wasn’t my idea.”

“I’m guessing it was that jackass Satterfield. Yeah, I know about him. So how many units do you have left in the division?”

“Two. I’ve got two units that didn’t respond to Satterfield’s calls. They might still be out there, or they might be at the CP. They’re not responding to the radio and I don’t have anyone to go look for them. A couple of our detectives are gearing up to go out to their last known locations. Seventy-Five Woodlawn was on an ambulance death investigation. Twenty-Three Woodlawn was sitting on an abandoned stolen car. I can’t even get an air unit to do a flyover. They’re all tied up.”

Is he shitting me? He’s got two units unaccounted for in this shit? Christ, they could be lying in the street somewhere, bleeding to death!

“Sir, get us their locations and we can go see if they’re still there. Harper and I can take a unit with us and the other three can go to the second location.”

“Good idea. Lieutenant Oliver, I’ve got five patrol units plus myself and three sergeants. We’re staying right here. We’re not going to that goddamned CP under any circumstances.”

“I appreciate that, but this division is in chaos. I don’t know how much good you and your people can do out there. The CP said they’d send a sergeant to assess the situation over here, but that was an hour ago and I haven’t seen him.”

Uh, I think I found your sergeant, sir! Coming in the back door right now. Holy shit! Look at him! He looks like he got hit by a tornado! What the fuck happened?

“Sir, I think that’s your sergeant over there. He doesn’t look too good, sir.”

Damn! Our two lieutenants look like they just saw a freak show! Hey, it’s not often you see a sergeant looking like that! Hell, you don’t often see patrol officers looking like that! And now he’s looking at me. What? You never saw a female police officer before?
“Who the hell are you, Officer?”

“Dani Lynott, sir. And you are?”

“Sergeant DiCamillo! Where’s your Watch Commander?”

He must really be out of it! The Watch Commander is sitting five feet in front of me!

“Right there, sir. Are you the one they sent to assess the situation in the division?”

“Yeah! Lucky fucking me! Are you the Watch Commander, Lieutenant? I just came from the CP! My assessment is your fucking division has gone to complete shit! My car looks like twenty assholes took a bunch of baseball bats to it! I got shot at twice! Where the hell are your cops? I didn’t see one goddamned unit out there!”

He said he came from the command post, so he should know about the order. That tells me things are every bit as chaotic there as they are over here. That’s not good.

“I’m Mike Oliver, Woodlawn Daywatch Watch Commander. What do you mean, where are my cops? You people took them all! When am I getting them back?”

“You’re not! There’s nobody over there in charge! Everybody’s standing around with their goddamned thumbs up their asses! Nobody’s calling the shots! They’ve got over a hundred officers standing around, drinking coffee and yakking on their cellphones! And we’ve got more on the way! No one’s getting out of there until someone decides to take command!”

“Sergeant, I can’t run a division without cops! What the hell am I supposed to do until someone decides to make a decision and send my officers back here?”

“Batten down the hatches and pray! There are people out there talking about burning this place to the ground! Drop the security barriers, bolt the doors, shut off the lights and hope to God those dickheads can’t read an address!”

Is he serious? I think he is! Wait a minute! Where the hell is he going?

“Sir? Where are you going? Aren’t you going back to the CP?”

“Fuck that! I’m not going out there again! I’m staying right here unless they set fire to the place! Where’s your goddamned cot room?”

“Uh, out back in trailer number three. We don’t have an upstairs one, sir. It kind of got condemned a few hundred years ago.”

“This is some fucking division you’ve got! Jesus Christ! How do you people live like this?”

“One day at a time, sir.”

What else could I tell him? Besides, I don’t think I’ll ever see him again. I think he’s going to put in his paperwork as soon as this riot is over. He probably won’t be the only one. Let’s see what Lieutenant Hagan has to say. I get the distinct feeling that he just became the de facto commanding officer of Woodlawn Division.

“Lieutenant Oliver, we’re going after your people. Bring up their last known locations and everything about the calls they were on. Lynott, you and Harper take Rosen and Ruiz with you. I’ll send Sergeant Hendrickson and Sergeant Gellar along with you. The rest will come with me. We move out in one minute. Understood?”

“Roger that, sir. What about Officer Titus? Do we leave him here?”

“To do what? Answer the phones? Until we find a partner for him, he goes with you two. Make sure he doesn’t get shot. Understood?”

“Roger that, sir.”

“Lieutenant Oliver? Unless and until we get some of your units back here, I suggest you take that sergeant’s advice and turn this place into a fortress. Tell your detectives to gather whatever weapons are left in this place and get ready to make a stand of it. The whole city’s on tac alert now, so nobody goes home unless they’re bleeding from at least two places! That is all! Move out, Lynott!”

And that, boys and girls, is how you assume command! All right, it says Seventy-Five was on an ambulance death investigation at an apartment complex at 89th and Templeton. Yeah, I remember that place. It’s an asshole place. Blocktown territory. They’re a major Crip gang, and violent as all hell. Half of their leaders are in prison for murder. We could really use Officer Woodward on that one. That place is loaded with parolees.

“Harper, call Officer Woodward and find out his ETA to the station. We’re going to need his help.”

“I don’t have to. He just pulled into the lot. Just one car. I guess he couldn’t get anyone to go with him.”

More like they got orders to stay put and he said fuck that shit! Well, good for him.

“Get him in here. We’re going into Blocktown territory and those guys are major assholes. Lots of parolees. That’s his specialty.”

Here he comes now, looking like he’s ready for the apocalypse. Tactical armor under his raid jacket, a short-barreled tactical shotgun, and what looks like enough ammunition to storm every beach at Normandy. Good! One look at him should make half of the idiots in this division drop their weapons and run!

“Officer Woodward! Good to see you. I see you came prepared.”

“I’ve been watching the news reports. This is a lot worse than I expected. I figured I’d better load heavy, just in case.”

“Good thinking. Look, we have to go look for a missing patrol unit in the Catamaran Apartments. Do you know the place?”

“Hell, yeah! That’s Blocktown territory! I know those assholes too well!”

“I’m hoping they’ll take one look at you and run for their lives, but if they don’t…”

“Then those motherfuckers are going to catch some lead! I’m not going to fuck around with those assholes! Not today!”

That’s exactly what I was hoping he’d say. That place is pretty big. Not as big as the local housing projects, but big enough that we’d be outnumbered ten to one if the idiots in there decided to make a fight of it.

“Ruiz and Rosen are going with us. Sergeant Hendrickson and Sergeant Gellar, too. You can ride in our car. Let’s go, everyone! We’ve got to find these guys!”

And I’m praying that they’re sitting in some dingy apartment with a rotting corpse, just waiting for the coroner to show up and claim the body. Because if they’re not, then they’re in serious trouble. They haven’t responded to the radio and they’re in the middle of a riot zone. They could be dead by now. I’m trying not to think about that.

The Catamaran Apartments. Typical: the place is at least thirty miles from the ocean, but they call it by some nautical name. Somehow I don’t think the residents are being fooled. This place is a typical Woodlawn apartment complex: run-down, crime-ridden, and criminally overpriced. When I first became a police officer and saw the run-down apartments in the city, I thought they probably charged two hundred bucks a month for them. Imagine my surprise when I found that they cost as much as a nice one in Salem. I don’t know how the landlords get away with it, but they do. If you saw a place like this in Salem, the building inspectors would be all over it and the owners would be up to their asses in fines. But this is the ’hood. The powers that be don’t seem to give a shit about what happens here. I’m sure it’s not peculiar to this city. It probably happens everywhere.

Blocktown turned this place into a major dope spot. They rule the place through fear, intimidation, and occasionally murder. When I was here, no one would talk to the police. There could be ten bodies lying in the courtyard and they still wouldn’t talk to us. That should give you an idea of how bad it is around here. Still, the homeless in Central Division would kill for a room in here. We live in a weird world. I can’t explain it. It is what it is.

“All right, everyone! Listen up! We’re looking for Seventy-Five Woodlawn on an ambulance death investigation. If anything goes to shit, radio in that you’re at the Catamaran Apartments. Everyone in the division knows it, so they’ll come running straight over here.”

“Uh, Dani? There’s nobody left in the division to respond.”

Gee, thanks for reminding me, Harper! Way to boost morale!

“All right, then we’re on our own. I don’t see a sector car out here, so they’re probably not in there anymore. Still, we have to check it out. The call said they were in apartment…”

Oh, shit! Gunshots! Right up the street! Behind that tire shop!

“Everybody take cover! Now! Behind the cars!”

“Dani, get down! Sixteen Central on Woodlawn frequency! Shots fired! The building just north of the Catamaran Apartments! It sounded like a shotgun blast! Any unit available, respond from the south!”

Nice going, Harper! You were listening to me! We’ve got to get over there! I don’t see anybody in the parking lot. Shit! Who the hell is shooting? And who the hell are they shooting at? Let’s move! Covering formation! Across the street! Go! Fuck! More shots! Somebody back there has a fucking cannon!

“Harper, I’m going to take a quick peek around the corner. Cover me! And if you see someone with a gun…”

“Don’t worry! I’ve got you! Ready…go!

Stay down! Just take a look and…oh, my God! It’s a sector car! We found them! And that car is full of bullet holes! There’s an officer with a shotgun shooting north up the alley!

“It’s the Woodlawn unit! They’re under fire!”

“Roger that, Dani! Titus! You’re with us! Ruiz! You guys go around that tire shop and try to draw a bead on the shooters! Go!

“Harper, I only saw one officer! I didn’t see the other one!”

“Don’t worry! We’ll find him! Ready…go! Hug the wall!”

Run! Hurry! Get up there! Take cover behind the dumpster! Run! Yes! Made it! Who the hell is shooting at them? Oh, shit! I see them! Four guys just up ahead, behind that truck!

“Sixteen to Ruiz! Four male black suspects behind the silver pickup just north of the tire shop! Armed with handguns!”

“Roger that! We’re going to take a position just north of the next building and we’ll get them in a crossfire! Give us about fifteen seconds!”

Harper’s got the shotgun. I should’ve taken the other one with me. Stupid! I won’t make that mistake again! All right, go to the sidearm! Come on, assholes! Stick your heads out! You guys are fucking dead meat! There! One of them popped up! He’s going to fire! Shoot! Fuck! Missed! Now the rest of them are up! Fire! Yes! Got one! The first guy…oh, shit! The Woodlawn cop got him! Right in the chest! He’s fucking history!

“Drop your fucking weapons! All of you! Drop them or you’re fucking dead!”

There! There’s Ruiz! And there goes Officer Woodward! Jesus! He just blew the living shit out of the back of that truck!

“State Parole! Drop that motherfucking gun, asshole! I’ll blow your little piece of shit ass right off! Drop it!”

He tossed the gun! He did it! The other guy’s doing the same! Thank God! But we’re not out of this shit yet!

“Face down on the ground! Both of you! Right now! On the ground!”

They’re doing it. But we’ve still got one asshole who might still be able to fight! We need to make sure he’s out of the picture!

“Harper, go over to the unit with that officer! Titus! With me! We need to secure the other one! Ruiz! We’re going to cuff the other two! Watch those guys!”

“You got it, Dani! Hey, muchachos! If either one of you moves, you die right there! Just like your fucking friend!”

Moving up! Nice and slow! That one guy is dead for sure! I saw that shot tear his chest apart! But what about the guy I shot? There! There he is! He’s hit, but he’s still alive! And he’s still got his fucking gun!

“Drop it! Drop it or you’re fucking dead! Last chance!”

He tossed it! Thank you! Now we’ve got to cuff his ass! I don’t want him changing his mind and reaching for that thing!

“Titus, cover me! I’m going to cuff him!”

He’s hit high in the shoulder. That’s a painful hit. God only knows where the bullet went. It could be deep in his chest. All right, move in and cuff him!

“Don’t move, moron! You guys are under arrest! Attempted murder of a police officer!”

“Fuck you, bitch! You fucking shot me!”

“I’ll do it again if you don’t stop squirming around! Give me your hand!”

One and…two! He’s cuffed! Search him for another weapon. Nothing. What about the other guy? No, he’s definitely dead. I can see it from here. That shotgun blast probably turned his heart into Swiss cheese!

“Congratulations, asshole! Your friend’s dead! Felony murder rule! On your feet!”

“I can’t! I need a doctor! Get me a motherfuckin’ doctor!”

“In case you hadn’t heard, there’s a riot going on! No EMS units are coming! We’ll see if we can get you one at the station. Ruiz! Rosen! How’s it going over there?”

“Both cuffed! We put out a code four!”

Great! Just fucking great! We’ve got a goddamned officer-involved shooting! I’m back in Woodlawn for half an hour and I’m in an OIS! I don’t fucking believe it!

“Sarge! Sergeant Gellar!”

Where the hell is he? And where is Sergeant Hendrickson?

“Dani! Over here! Officer down!”

What? That’s Harper! Oh, my God! There’s the other Woodlawn officer! She’s been shot!

“Harper! How bad is she?”

“Bad! Shot in the neck! We need EMS right now!”

Jesus, she looks like a boot! She can’t be more than twenty-three! She’s in bad shape!

“Titus, get back to our car and get the first-aid kit! Hurry! Move!”

Please, God! Let EMS still be up and running!

“Sixteen Central transmitting on Woodlawn frequency! Officer down! Officer shot! We need EMS at our location! The alley just north of the Catamaran Apartments! 7601 South Harrison Avenue!”

“Sixteen Central, roger. Sixteen Central, confirm you are in Woodlawn Division?”

“Yes, we’re in Woodlawn Division! Nobody else is, but we are and we’ve got a Woodlawn officer down! Shot in the neck! Conscious and breathing! We’ve also got a suspect with a gunshot wound to the shoulder! Get us an ambulance right fucking now!”

“Sixteen Central, roger. Sixteen Central, you are ordered to report to the command post code two-high. Confirm you are en route.”

Is she fucking shitting me? I just told her we have an officer down and an asshole with my bullet in his shoulder! And she expects us to drop everything and go to the fucking CP?

“Dispatch, are you out of your goddamned mind? We’ve got an officer with a bullet in her neck! We’re not going anywhere! Now you get that ambulance here in five seconds or I’m going to come up there and rip out your fucking clit! Confirm that!

What the…Sergeant Gellar! What the fuck are you doing? That’s my radio! Give it back!


“I think you need to take a break, Lynott. I’ll deal with the dispatcher. I don’t think she’s going to want to talk to you again.”

“I’m sorry, Sarge. I just couldn’t believe…”

“Neither could I. I’ll deal with it. You and Titus help Officer Taylor with his partner.”

“Is that officer a boot, sir?”

“Two months out of the academy. Go help her out. We may be here a while. If EMS doesn’t show up in a couple of minutes, we’re going to have to transport her to the hospital. You know this division. What’s the closest one?”

“Uh…we’re on Harrison? Tarenton. It’s about ten blocks from here. North of us.”

“Al right, you get ready to get her over there if we have to make that call. Don’t worry about that asshole you dropped. The rule book is temporarily suspended for the duration of the riot. We’ll notify Lieutenant Oliver that he’s got an OIS. We’ll take a bunch of pictures of the scene and the Shooting Team will have to work with that. We’re not pulling anyone from the field unless we absolutely have to. We already discussed this with Captain Mayones. Just stay in the game, Lynott. I need everyone to focus.”

Yeah, easier said than done! I don’t believe this shit! I’m back in Woodlawn and I just shot some idiot, I’ve got an officer shot and we don’t even know if we can get an ambulance over here, and I’ve got a crazy RTO who seems to be more concerned about us going to the goddamned command post than about the officer who got shot in the neck! How am I supposed to focus when I’m living in fucking Crackerbox Palace?

“Officer Lynott! I got the first-aid kit! What do we do?”

Officer Titus. Well, he seems to be handling this insanity a lot better than I am. Remind me to write something good in his probationer’s book.

“Grab the pressure bandage and help Harper with the bleeding. Do you know that girl?”

“I know her. Ronnie Kimball. She was one month ahead of me in the academy. Is she going to make it?”

“She made it this far. She’s got a good chance. Go help Harper.”

I hear a siren. It’s not a police siren. It’s a fire department siren. Thank God! I see Titus is jumping right in to help. Pretty impressive for a guy with one month out of the academy. Welcome to the lion’s den, Officer Titus. And this is only the beginning.

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