Hello from the foohills West of Las Vegas

I am a retired Lieutenant of Police from New York City. I retired in '84 after 20 years in harness working around the clock 24/7-365. Along the way I shed the wife and I am now batching it with my attack trained Chichuahua "Sgt. Rambo" and two felines. Believe me with 3 animals draped all over me in my leather recliner I am warm and secure like a bug in a rug. I recently sprang for about $1200 for a decent wood pellet smoker and all the accessories. I was tired of the table top Weber charcoal grill and I wanted to smoke my dinner.

The Camp Chef Woodwind PG24SG with a side kick was my choice. It had excellent ratings compared to the Traeger and others. I am very happy with my purchase as I just cooked up some pork ribs and they came out just fantastic. I am now going to mess with some brisket, jerky and of course more ribs. There is a learning curve to it and smoking meat when it is in the low 40's with windy conditions was a challenge.

I had to move the smoker from the back patio where it was exposed to the wind from 3 sides to the front patio where it was protected on 3 sides from the wind. This allowed some smoke to get inside the house but it all worked out OK in the end. Without the insulated blanket cover and in the wind it could not maintain the correct cooking temperatures and even went out. Protected from the worst of the wind and with a thick insulated cover it held the heat and performed perfectly . This is a well engineered and quality built product and I would recommend it to anyone who is serious about a decent smoker. I am looking forward to making some pastrami and corned beef on this device and I will experimenting with different rubs to achieve the taste I am looking for.

Any body got a decent recepie for smoked Tilapia?
Some background may be order: The following was letter I had sent to a young man who was soon to be discharged from the USMC. He was considering a career as a Police Officer. This letter was as true as I could recall and I hope he learned something from it. Real policing is nothing like what you see in the movies or on TV. It is a nasty gritty and unforgiving mode of life which has little satisfaction built in.

I am still a member of the Lieutenant's Benovelent Assocation although I retired from the Police Department on 10/2/84 a lot of years ago when I was still spry and viral @ 41 yrs. Most of my contemporaries are gone. All of them had to retire at the mandatory age of 63 and since I joined up 10/2/64 @ 21 they were older than me anyway.

On 10/1/84 the eve of our twentieth year on the job my Rookie Class of 10/64 gathered at a reunion that someone else organized. Of the 34 members of our original group only 12 were left kicking around.

Many had been injured on the job and retired out at 3/4 pay (no federal or local taxes on their pensions) More than a handful had eaten their guns, a few more had been caught with their hands in the cookie jar and been incarcerated for their misdeeds, quite a few fell into the bottle and were degenerate drunks and had passed on or were well on their way, most of us had either separated from or been divorced from our original wives. A few quit early on when they got a good taste of the job and they were not able to continue the self sacrifice necessary to remain a viable cop.

One lost it mentally and has been put away for the last 11 years. Of the remaining 12 I along with one other had made it to the rank of Lieutenant, 3 more made it to Sergeant, 3 more to Detective 3rd, one to Detective 2nd and the remainder were still just Patrolmen. None of the lowest ranking Patrolmen were still out on patrol on the streets. All of them had found some clerical or non enforcement gig within the huge organization but in 2019 all of them had to have retired or died.
For my twenty years of service I pretty much worked on a rotating shift schedule 24/7--365. These shifts are hammered into stone and any deviation from it was frowned upon. To be able to arrange for a day off a week ahead was difficult.

Weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, graduations, births, parties and even vacations were always usually only granted time off at the convenience of the Department and that could be rescinded at a moments notice. Over time all the friends and aquaintenances that you had prior to joining the Department kinda fell away over the years.

Once you became a cop you had to conform to Department Regulations and Procedures. This mean that you had to be armed at all times with a .38 Special revolver and use their lousy 158 GR LSWC Remington ammo. You also could not get drunk. You also no longer were allowed to engage in any arguments with another where it went beyond just words. You learned not to go to bars, were not allowed to gamble and cavorting with the ladies was severely restricted to single ladies w/o a significant other. You could not accumulate debts nor co-sign a loan for anybody. Involvement with politics was frowned upon and you never signed a petition for anything lest it come back and bite you on the ass.

As a cop you were constantly tested by the public to see if they could curry favor with you by either performing a service (blow job) or allowing access or a gift (bribe) of some value. If you kept your pecker in your pants and ignored the graft and gifts and the like you were deemed a risk by your contemporaries who indulged in activities that allowed them to take home goodies at little or no cost. A lot of them felt that adhering to the severe rules was optional and silly.

I had an Uncle John who was a patrolmen in the 114th Precinct in Astoria, Queens. He was a WWII vet who had been shot down out of a B-17 Bomber over Berlin in 1944. He survived the parachute trip and was incarcerated by the Germans in a prison camp until the end of the war. He was a tall 6’2” Irishman and was accepted as a Patrolman in ’47. I can remember in the mid 50’s when Uncle John would arrive at our country property in High Falls, NY with the trunk of his 52 Pontiac full of fresh meat, milk, beer, booze, cigarettes and the like. He was taking full advantage of his position as a cop and was taking with both hands all the time. This largesse was repeated every time he arrived at the farm.

I on the other hand would not take anything and my partner Tom Keenan and I had a sector car in the 20th Precinct back in the late 60's. At that time there were 4 two man teams assigned to a sector car. This meant that the car was manned 24/7 365 by at least two of the members assigned. This car never cooled off. We had a '65 Plymounth Belvedere 4 door green/white/black with a 225 six cylinder motor, no p/s, no power brakes nor pwr/windows and most important no air conditioning at all. We lived in the car and we even had ants living in the car with us as 8 men produced a lot of crumbs and tidbits of food which attracted vermin. I really cannot describe the smell of that car other to say that it really stunk bad. All that sweat from 8 different men, remanants of past meals, spilled coffee, soda, milk. Then of course there was the back seat where we transported our prisoners, injured severely persons to a local hospital or from time to time a witness to a crime or a crime victim to search for a perp.

Back to Tom and I. As two straight arrows of the 8 we were distrusted by the other 6 guys because we would not go along with their rampant corruption. There were a few after hours clubs ran out of tenements which paid off the Sector Car and the Patrol Sergeant on a regular basis to operate illegally. We would not participate and we continued our normal enforcement which included ticketing double and triple parked cars and not allowing crap games on the corners etc. Then there was a Funeral Parlor on W. 79th Street that usually had double or triple parked cars in front of it. The owner was very happy to pay off the Patrol Sergeant and have free reign to park anywhere they wanted without getting any tickets.
Then there were a handful of Bodegas or small local convenience stores which were not supposed to be open to sell beer on Sundays. This was a controversial Blue Law and the standard rate to be allowed to operate was $4 for the Sector Car and $2 for the Patrol Sergeant. So as a normal Sergeant on patrol was responsible for the entire precinct and the precinct had about 50 bodegas he picked up an easy $100 on each Sunday day tour. Adjoining sectors knowing we would not partake came in and picked up the easy money after they asked us. Then they passed on the $2 stipend to the Sergeant. Of course the other guys took the bribes and our enforcement of the laws messed up their deal. The Patrol Sergeants who were on the take made sure to give us the shitty end of the stick whenever possible so whenever there was a very bad DOA that required a search of the body and the residence we got the job. Ditto for a psycho (today called a EDP) that required a fight to restrain and then transport to Bellevue Hosital,. If there was to be a roundup of bums we got the job along with their body lice and lovely odors de body which remained in the back seat after we hosed out the vomit, piss, shit and bloody muscus from the rear seat area. If there was a requirement for some officers to “fly” to another command for the tour we were sure to go.

These cars were not maintained very well. On the graveyard tours we would go up onto the West Side Highway and run 1845 (our unit) North and South up to the Washington Bridge to blow out the carbon in the engine. Most of the time these cars were idling or running at low speed. Once on the highway we would nail the gas and the car would stumble, stutter, backfire and miss pretty much for the first 4 miles toward the bridge. Once we were turned around and came back South the car ran a lot better, breathed easier, had some pep and ran smoothly for the remainder of the tour. One bitterly cold 12x8 tour the gas pedal became unattached to the throttle cable. You could not drive the car. We notified the Desk Lieutenant and he claimed not to have a spare car for us to use and we were to be assigned foot posts instead. This was a night from hell as the temp were about 15 degrees and the wind was blowing 45 mph plus on the West side of Manhattan in the 20th. One of our corrupt Patrol Sergeants was sure to constantly visit us on the frozen foot posts all night long if we did not fix the car. I had a pair of vice grips in the trunk of my car and I got it and attached it to the protruding throttle cable that was coming through the firewall under the dash. To the vice grips I attached a leather thong and the driver could now pull the thong and that would give gas to the engine. We got through the tour and it was with great pleasure that we removed the jury rigged device and handed over the disabled car to our relief crew of corrupted brothers in arms.

We got to the point were we took the RMP (Radio Motor Patrol) cars to a garage in our sector to have alignments for the tires, balance of the wheels, flats repaired, minor tune ups and regular steam cleanings of the interior to keep down the smells. We paid for these services from our pockets because the department would not take care of our RMP to our satisfaction nor requirements.

In early '68 I requested a transfer to the Communications Division through Lieutenant Eddie Shemet who used to be assigned to the 20th. I got the gig. Now I was off the street and the for the next 50 months I was no longer a distrusted associate cop etc. I fielded calls on the 911 phone system, dispatched RMP’s and Ambulances on the Radio System and finally ended up in the Teletype Room as an operator. The hours still sucked but my efforts were appreciated and we were a happy crew.

My old partner Tom Keenan found a gig on a steady foot post @ the new Lincoln Center with steady hours and he could have a family life again without working around the clock. He worked steady 4x12's with fixed days off and he was part of a 4 man team. He was able to avoid the nonsense of the Knapp commission of '72 as there really were not any opportunities to take bribes or the like when he got the reassignment in '68 after I went into Communications. He would remain there until he retired in ’86.

In the following year ’69 I took and passed the written exam for Sergeant and then started to attend classes at the City of New York Bernard Baruch College. By ’80 I graduated from Adelphi University with a BS in Management and Communications. Along the way I picked up an Associates Degreee in Police Science from the SUNY collage at Farmingdale, NY in '77. My promotion to Sergeant came in 3/72 and I was asked by the bosses in the Communications Division to remain but I had enough of that and I was assigned to the Mid Town North Precinct just above Times Square in Manhattan.

This was the old 18th Precinct which was just South of the 20th. However this time the streets were different. Shortly after I left the 20th the department got serious about eliminating the most blatent corruption and associated misdeeds. Those 6 other guys assigned to our old 1845 were all caught with their hands in the cookie jar and severely disciplined and most of the Sergeants were transferred or forced to retire. By the time I got promoted the Knapp Commission was in full swing and the department was beating the anti-corruption drums big time.

It worked for a while but by the mid 80’s crack cocaine had arrived on the scene and that upped the stakes to the stratosphere. In the 75th Precinct in Brooklyn a foot cop was offered a bribe to allow a local businessman to run a crack market on one of corners of his post. This officer had been in court earlier in the day and just had returned from court, had been assigned a meal period and thence to a foot post as there were no more RMP’s available. This bribe offered at 1300 hrs was substantial. The amount was $3500 for a partial tour of duty and a full $4,000 for a full 8 hour tour. All the foot cop had to do was to ignore the crack deals and stay at the other end of his post. The next day the cop was begging the roll call personnel for this foot post. This was happening all over the city. Cops were taking bribes again to ignore this new and potent form of narcotics and the department as usual was asleep at the switch.
In the meantime back to the 70’s where I was taken under the wing of a Lieutenant Operations Officer in the MTN Pct. He wanted a Sergeant to act as a steady Station House Supervisor working the Front Desk and also a Patrolman as a steady Station House Officer. The three of us were to be a team and work the same schedule. As a team we were in charge of the operations of the precinct for an 8 hour tour of duty. This was a great opportunity for me to get a leg up on the road to promotion to the rank of Lieutenant as my duties were normally performed by a Lieutenant in a normal precinct. However this was not a normal precinct. We were involved in an experimental super precinct along with the Mid Town South Precinct. Instead of the normal compliment of about 200 to 250 cops, 12 to 15 Sergeants and 4 Lieutenants and a Captain in Command we were supersized. In March of ’72 I along with another 54 brand new Sergeants was assigned to duty @ MTN. At the same time 550 Patrolmen and a handful of Police Women were also assigned.

It was a zoo and almost controllable at times. Patrolmen Bud Williams was my SHO and we commuted in together from Long Island. I cannot believe that I have forgotten the name of the Lieutenant all these years later. He was with us for about 9 months when he was promoted out and reassigned as a Captain. He would continue to become a full Inspector two ranks higher than Captain. A new Lieutenant came in and he turned out to be a drunk and lasted only a few months. Then we got a newly promoted Lieutenant who had been a Detective and Detective Sergeant since forever and had lost touch with street policing. We had to educate him up some and then he wandered off the reservation to the Detective Division again. In the meantime I attended an experimental program to teach Spanish to our folks and I went to school for 20 weeks full time to learn up Spanish. At the completion of my classes I was assigned to the 9th Precinct on the lower East Side of Manhattan. There I could utilize my new language skills and I thrived on the fast paced and very active teams that were assigned to the Fighting 9th Precinct. We had a lot of pride and we all worked together in a really shitty area. I took the written exam for Lieutenant whilst at the 9th and I passed.

After 2 ½ years in the 9th I was tired of the long commute from Massapequa in Nassau County to Manhattan. It really bothered me to be on the drive home @ 6;30 PM and still in NYC where I passed by a Police Sergeant who was 3 hours into his tour and having a sandwich break and I was still 30 mins from home. It was 45 tough miles from home to the Precinct and the worst trip was after a 0700x1530 tour of duty during the week. I was spending up to 3 ½ hours on the trip home on Friday evenings and an average of 3.5 hours a day on the road. I longed to be assigned to a border precinct closer to home. After about 15 years of service I finally was transferred at my request to the 113th Precinct on the border of Nassau County. Now my commute was only 45 minutes each way. However the assignment sucked. Everything was PC to the max. Unusual situations and heavy jobs that I routinely handled as a Sergeant in Manhattan were required to be handled by a Captain or above ranked officer. The cops there were the laziest bunch of goof offs I have ever seen. It was a primarily a residential area with a large black population of working class folks. Crime was low and the cops were lazy. It was boring to the max and I was not a happy camper but the commute held me there.
Finally my number came up and I was promoted to Lieutenant and assigned to the 83rd Precinct in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood. Ah this was more like the 9th. Tough high crime area with a highly diversified ethnic population with a lot of bad people and activities that required some serious policing. The commute now was over an hour but I enjoyed it more as it presented a challenge and I was working with real cops again not those Queens faggots. However I was chained to the Desk and I no longer would be allowed to out on the streets on patrol.

Just about then in ’81 the department in one of it’s fabulous diversions decided that the membership in the ranks should resemble the diverse population which inhabited the city of New York. Back in the early 70’s they lowered the entrance standards to encourage more minorities to join up. So they began to weight the results of the written exams for the rank of Patrolman and Policewoman to reflect the proper ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation and such down the line. Prior to this bastardization mostly white males did well on the exam and were accepted. A small number of blacks and Puerto Rican applicants also made the grade early on. However their number were small. The new policies elevated the written scores of our black people so an applicant who scored a 43% on the exam scored higher than a white male who scored 98% on the same test. A female also had her results scored above a white male. A female Puerto Rican/Black Lesbian hit the trifecta and was welcomed. Also the physical standards were lowered so now we got not only a buncha females of color and Spanish speaking but a lot of them were not even 5 feet tall. Also the requirements that an applicant be a licensed operator of a motor vehicle fell by the wayside. A lot of our new people never drove a car cuz they did not have one in their family. Now they were given the keys to an RMP which by this time had been upgraded with p/s, p/b, a/c and sometimes even power windows. I can even recall a Sergeants RMP with a 318 c.i. V-8 engine. Now I am now a Lieutenant in charge of the platoon during my 8 hours of duty and I have 12 sectors to man with 24 men and 12 RMP’s, I also usually have at least one Sergeant and he needs a driver and an RMP. So we are talking here about a minimum of 25 cops and one Sergeant along with a handful of clerical folks in the 3/21.0 or back room. I may or may not have a SHO and most times I don’t. Now all these folks who never drove a car are now driving NYCPD’s iron. There is a limited supply of cars to each precinct. We probably had 15 cars assigned to cover all the sectors 2 for Sergeants and one spare. The accident rate rose to over 450% within one year of the wonderful new programs to reflect the population within ranks.

Many a night I had to put out foot patrols because almost all of the cars had been wrecked.

Then of course the lowered standards involving the writing of reports and the like caused me blinding headaches. Most all now printed as cursive style of writing was no longer taught in school and there were only few brain surgeons writing clean, concise and understandable reports. Almost all of them had joined the department prior to ’69. I depended on my Sergeants to clean up and sign off on these reports long before I got to inspect them. However they also by this time had lowered the standards for the rank of Sergeant again to reflect the populations of the ghetto and a lot of them could not write a coherent sentence and struggled to read through a paragraph.

So I was getting shitty reports, demolished RMP’s and buncha dopy and short cops who could not drive nor write a decent report. After 3 years of this shit as a Lieutenant I retired at age 41 and took my 50% pension because now the path to Captain was now again going to have to fit through the ethnicity filters and my chances were dim at best if all the ethnics got their scored bumped up as was the case of new applicants and promotions to Sergeant and Lieutenant I did not have a hope in hell.

I found myself alone as a dinasour supervising a ship of fools and I was responsible for their work. My pension was at risk during my 20 years of service. I was on vacation in Mystic Ct in ’82 and during my 14 day vacation one of my Sergeants went off the reservation and got involved in the theft of some bearer bonds from the residence of a DOA. He got caught and went to jail. They came after me for improper supervision and fined me 10 days vacation.

For the next 35 years I worked at jobs that I selected and left them when I wanted to. I was now a full fledged citizen and if I wanted to punch someone in the nose I could without having to answer to the management of the NYCPD. I could sign a petition, run for office, have a girlfriend or even get tipsy if I wanted to. I could bet, borrow and co-sign all the way to bankruptcy if I wanted to. I was finally free………….
Now I am paying for smoking since age 15 with COPD and the normal aches and pains of our generation. All the running around like Tarzan without a shirt in the past summers have caused me visit my Dermatoloagist every 3 months to have growths cut or burned off with Nitrogen gas. I just turned 77 on 1/25 and my time on this planet will be shortened some I am sure. So now I live in a rented house with my beloved Sgt. Rambo (Chichuahua), Sir George (part Siamese feline) and Tinkerbell (orange tabby feline) and we spend every Sunday with my ex wife who lives nearby. We are better friends now than we ever were prior and we respect and adore each other but no hanky panky (she cut me off in ’04).

I bought a new Wood Pellet Smoker last week and my first effort with it was very promising. I smoked a rack of porkribs to perfection and they tasted fantastic. I am looking forward to smoking brisket, jerky and bacon along with fish and the like. It was expensive but it is a fine device and gets the job done in a fine fashion with little supervision. I need to find a butcher who will sell me some sow belly so I can make my own smoked bacon. Pastrami and Corned Beef also come from brisket and I love both of those meats. Smoked salmon and tilapia and other seafood will also be devoured.

There will come a day when my ex will visit me for Sunday dinner and my residence will be clean, tidy and well maintained (of course never to her standards) the cooking will have been done by me and the drinks will be enjoyed along with decent food.

With all this activity I no longer have the time nor the inclination to be depressed or morose. All I hafta do is now stay on top of the dirt……..wish me luck.