Streets: Dirty Harry MacGowan, The Great Detective

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
Harold James MacGowan AKA “Harry,” AKA “The Great Detective,” with more than 25 years of service and 46 years of life on this earth, is a much revered man. Especially by himself. In the fantasies that run and rerun through his head he is “Dirty Harry MacGowan, the Enforcer,” and everywhere he goes he is accompanied by a deep throated narrator announcing his war on crime to a background of striking music. Read a little about this Great American Hero here.

Submitted: June 10, 2017

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Submitted: June 10, 2017



Harold James MacGowan AKA “Harry,” AKA “The Great Detective,” with more than 25 years of service and 46 years of life on this earth, is a much revered man.Especially by himself.In the fantasies that run and rerun through his head he is “Dirty Harry MacGowan, the Enforcer,” and everywhere he goes he is accompanied by a deep throated narrator announcing his war on crime to a background of striking music.  To those not familiar with him, he is someone who is going through life excessively occupied with the minute details of that life, wearing a prissy grimace on his face, who talks fast as if finishing one of his profound statements before someone can express a different perspective will make it true.  He is a man of simple tastes, and in addition to watching Clint Eastwood cops and robbers movies of the way things should be, he enjoys watching the California Angels spring training practices in Palm Springs, California, and is proud to have shaken the hand of that great American movie and television star Gene Autry.

Everyone knows he is a great man and God’s own gift to law enforcement and common sense, and, if they don’t, he will modestly inform them of those facts.  He is articulate and productive and there are few rivals to his talent for closing crime cases with no arrest. 

Many detectives currently assigned to the Detective Division, attribute their selection for assignment to an “elite and prestigious” detective position, as they are described by the editor of the local newspaper, his childhood chum, and their success in general, to his generous mentoring and shepherding.  Most of the men and women he has endorsed for these elite, prestigious and coveted positions can’t see how the rest of the world survives without him.

Others, less enchanted, can’t see how many of those men and women would have ever been assigned to the Detective Division on their own merit.

His authority and expertise in matters investigative and investigatory, and just about anything else of human concern, are unquestioned and certainly unchallenged.  He can recognize a worthless arrest and report, by someone else, depending on how much time it will take for a successful follow-up and arrest, almost instantly, and his profligate skill at detecting reasons to close investigations on sight is legendary among the hardworking men and women in blue who actually do police work.  

Police Officers who transgress against his holiness soon learn that loyalties run deep and strong in the visually tranquil world of the social and politically chosen few.  Their reports are subsequently rejected for no obvious reason or simply not approved, languishing for days in the Patrol Division Outbox and their chances of ever being assigned to one of the “prestigious and highly sought after Detective” positions are greatly diminished if not outright butchered.

One of his oft repeated adages is “Discipline is important for good organization.”

Today, he has the honorable duty of welcoming a rookie police officer to the union. Though the rookie doesn’t know it, this is an important day in his life.  This is the day that Dirty Harry MacGowan, background guitar music from a James Bond playing in his mind’s ear, will set him upon the path of righteous union brotherhood.

His exculpatory wisdom is celebrated amongst those prone to being abused by their supervisors petty offenses like sleeping on duty or going months, sometimes years, in uniformed patrol, without writing a single traffic ticket.  When welcoming new employees to the Union and Police Department, he immediately counsels them on the political and legal aspects of police officer safety.  “Number one,” he tells them conspiratorially, “union brothers and sisters and your union reps are your only friends.  The Chief of Police may have smiled broadly and shook your hand warmly when he hired you, but he is not your friend.  You cannot trust him.  He is a political animal.  He serves at the whim of the city manager and city council and he will fire you in a heartbeat if saving you threatens his pension.”

“Our job is to protect you, the police officer, so that you can do your job.  That is what you pay us for.  We cultivate close relations with various City Council members to take care of you.  It pays off.  For example, three different Chiefs have fired me three times and three different City Councils have re-instated me.”  

The rookie is incredulous.  “How do you get fired three times?”

Dirty Harry winks, “I’ll tell you about it someday.  The bottom line though is that the union can do things for you that no attorney can do.”

“Now,” he leans closer to the rookie and speaks more softly, his face grows more somber, “a lot of new officers think they can trust their sergeants, especially those with a military background, such as yourself, because that is the way things are done in the military.  But this isn’t the Marine Corps.  Those men, your sergeant and future sergeants, have careers to protect, just like the Chief of Police.  If it is a choice between you and his career, who do you think is going to lose?”  He nods tilts his head to the side, closes eyes briefly and points toward rookie, “Yeah, you.” 

He done his homework and holds an arrest report by the rookie.  This is going to be delicate.  The rookie has written an excellent report.  Well written, probable cause carefully explained, all the facts establishing the elements of the crime are laid out.  But he is confident.  No rookie is immutable.

Still speaking softly, but with a tad of pomposity, he points to the movie poster on the wall behind his desk, he hells the young rookie, “You know, back when I was working the streets, they used to call me Dirty Harry.”  He pauses, smiles a painful smile, “Trust me, I’ve been there and done that.” 

 “At first glance, you’d think this was a well written report.”  A kindly Uncle administering to a temporarily fallen nephew for whom there is still hope.  “But these are the problems.  First, the DA doesn’t want to prosecute these things.  Depending on the jury, and you can’t trust juries—you know what they call juries, twelve rocks in a box—you might get a conviction, but you’ll never get a good sentence.  So, it is a waste of time for him to issue it. It is a waste of court time too, so the Judges don’t like them.  Second, it is going to require a follow up.  Some detective is going to have to go out and contact each and every witness to verify everything you’ve written down and that each of them is willing to testify in court.  You know our detectives don’t have time for any of that.  And then, did you really have time to write this?  Or, did it take you away from other more important matters?”  “These things create extra work for the folks in records, too, not to mention the Regional Crime System clerks who have to record them in the crime data system.”

The rookie is confused, “But, this guy committed a crime.  He used his wife as a punching bag, more than once, and broke her nose and probably a few ribs. Her face looked like “Mrs. Potato.” In the academy they said that the current law mandates that we take him into custody.  How do you get around that?”

A true prince of a man, the Great Detective is not unsympathetic, that is something your Field Training Officer will have to show you.  I’m just saying that the DA doesn’t like to see them because they don’t go anywhere and they increase an already heavy workload.

“Look, you gotta do what your Sergeant says, and, I know a lot of these guys are just bullies in blue, I’m just telling you what the District Attorney and the judges think about it.  If you need advice on dealing with your Sergeant, talk to John Gompers.”  He pauses, “This is not an easy profession to succeed in.  We have to stick together to survive the careerists.  You’re smart and it shows.  Do you want to be a detective someday?  Do you?”

The rookie says, “I don’t know.”

“Of course you know.  You want to be a Detective, but we all have to work together for you to do that.  We’re a team.  You, the union that protects you, and me.  Trust me.”

“No, I just don’t know.  I’ve never been welcomed like this anywhere.  I can’t believe that the Chief or Sergeants are as bad as you portray them or that this organization is that cutthroat.  What you’re saying is just hard to believe.  I can’t see how any agency like that could be effective and if a Chief doesn’t have some trust of his officers, he certainly can’t effectively run his department.”  He shakes his head, “This whole thing is just,” he pauses, “unbelievable.”

The welcoming isn’t going as planned.  The Great Detective, God’s Gift to Law Enforcement, Dirty Harry MacGowan, The Enforcer, is frustrated.  This rookie simply isn’t getting the message.  Who is he to question Dirty Harry’s wisdom?  To suggest that he is undermining the Chief’s ability to run the police department?  To effectively provide for the public safety?

And now, this newbie is questioning the value of union membership? 

“Here in California, the union can force you to pay dues to the union, even if you aren’t a member.  We don’t want to do that and so far we’ve been able to raise enough money through membership dues to do our job without that.  Keep that in mind.”

The rookie nods his head in agreement.  “We studied that in college.”

The Great Detective grimaces noticeably.  After high school, he had enrolled in the local community college in criminal justice courses but hadn’t completed the degree and hadn’t completed a four year degree because it involved a forty minute commute to the state college.  Besides, regardless of what the politicians thought, police officers didn’t need college.  One of the great disappointments of his career was the fact that, in addition to a written exam, the city was increasingly making college studies a requirement for promotions. They also granted additional hiring qualifications points to military veterans.  He and others in the union leadership felt that this was unfair.  The city shouldn’t be allowed to discriminate in favor of veterans or those with college degrees against others who had chosen to develop their lives in other directions. This was simply unfair.

This kid not only served in the war, he also went to college.

This welcome has gotten out of hand.

The background music in Dirty Harry’s mind’s ear abruptly ends.  The welcome moment is over and the FTO* escorts the rookie from the Detective Division.

Jimmy Johnson, the Detective sitting at the desk adjoining Harry’s, chuckles, “I don’t think that man is that impressed with you, Harry.”

“Yeah, well, he’ll come around.”  Dirty Harry’s theme song is once again playing in his mind’s ear.

The next day, the Watch Commander’s inbox was filled with crime and arrest reports by the rookie.  Each is accompanied by a yellow sticky note explaining why that particular report is one of the worst ever read by the commenting Detective and sharply critical of the approving supervisor and FTO.

After the briefing, the Watch Commander calls the rookie’s FTO and Sector Sergeant into the office and divides the rejected reports among them.  “I guess MacGowan’s little welcome session didn’t go expected.”

“No.  I don’t think it ended the way Dirty Harry MacGowan had hoped.”  The FTO’s uniform is crisp, his shoes and leather gear and badge are polished to a high gloss. 

The three officers smirk at the mention of “Dirty Harry.”  The Watch Commander tosses the yellow sticky note from one in the circular file and tosses the report itself into the approved box. 

“Into every life a little rain must fall.”


*Field Training Officer



© Copyright 2020 Eddie C Morton. All rights reserved.

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