The Cop Who Plays By All The Rules
The night pecked spotty rain against Officer Jack “Bulletproof” Bulletproof’s patrol-car windshield. Through the dappled glass, a Jeep sat idling on the highway shoulder, its blinker still flashing at the black cornfield beyond. In the seat next to Bulletproof, Officer Daytona Follies frowned at the cruiser’s computer. “Looks bad, Jack,” she said, glancing up at the Jeep. “One prior, time served, for petty theft. Could be a runner.”
Bulletproof eased his door handle open, taking in the situation. “Let’s proceed,” he finally said. “With caution.”
Follies nodded. Affixing his cap smartly, Bulletproof stepped out into the sprinkling night, his flashlight tracing a line through the Jeep’s side windows, illuminating a mound of blankets, a couple fast-food bags, a book. When the light reached the driver, Bulletproof tensed — the man was a scarecrow, folded behind the wheel like a coat hanger in a shoebox, his limbs lean and ropy. Still, best to take it by the book. “License and registration,” Bulletproof said, and the man complied.
The license told them nothing they didn’t know, and the tags were in order. Bulletproof handed the cards back to the driver (one Wenslow Ramplewaithe of 418 Oakwood), who squinted in the glare of Bulletproof’s Maglite. “Do you know why I pulled you over?” Bulletproof asked, careful not to let his tone betray any irritation. The man was a human being, after all, and it wasn’t his fault it had been a long shift for the cops.
“Dunno,” Ramplewaithe mumbled. Then his eyes lit — “Oh, if it’s that headlight, I’ve got a fix-it ticket already. I’m planning on getting it sorted tomorrow morning first thing.”
“You were going twenty-five miles per hour,” Bulletproof said. “On the highway.”
“The rain makes me nervous,” Ramplewaithe said, as Bulletproof watched a bead of sweat roll down his jawbone and disappear into his collar.
Bulletproof narrowed his eyes. “Step out of the car, please,” he said, as nicely as he could.
Ramplewaithe’s gaze darted from Bulletproof to Follies, standing by the passenger’s door with a hand on her gun, and back. Bulletproof could almost see the man’s brain tick through his possible options, and settle on the only logical one. He pried himself out of the Jeep.
Follies rounded the front of the car and leaned close to Bulletproof. “I don’t like this, Jack,” she murmured. “I say we take him downtown.”
“He hasn’t done anything,” Bulletproof whispered back. “He’s innocent until proven guilty.”
Follies spat on the ground. “He’s nervous,” she sneered. “Something’s up. I say we torture him. He must have done something.”
“Now, now,” Bulletproof said. “Let’s see where this goes.”
Ramplewaithe took off running, headed for the inky darkness of the cornfield.
“I got him, Jack!” Follies shouted, bolting after the man and whipping her Taser from its holster. “He’s coming down!”
“No!” Bulletproof called out, lunging into a sprint and grabbing Follies’ extended arm. The Taser fired into the ground, its prongs bouncing harmlessly against asphalt. Bulletproof reached the edge of the road as Ramplewaithe began sliding down the incline toward the field.
“Jack, are you crazy?” Follies cried, running up behind Bulletproof while struggling to fit another cartridge into her Taser. “I had him!”
“He wasn’t threatening lethal force,” Bulletproof said, squinting at the retreating form, gauging the distance. He plucked his baton from his belt and weighed it gently in his hand. “At his body weight, the shock might have killed him.”
“Well, if you’re not going to shoot him, you might as well run after him!” Follies shrieked, sliding partway down the incline, stumbling for her footing on the muddy slope. Bulletproof cocked his head into the wind.
Ramplewaithe reached the bottom of the slope, only a few short yards from the swaying, shadowed cornstalks. Bulletproof counted to three, hurled the baton, and pegged Ramplewaithe right between the shoulder blades. The man crumpled like a bag of baseball bats.
Follies slid to a stop. “Nice shot,” she said, and whistled appreciatively.
“The Department mandates we attend elective extracurricular training seminars twice a month,” Bulletproof shrugged. “I’ve been to the Baton Hurling one thirty times. It’s my favorite.”
Follies reached Ramplewaithe and turned the man onto his back. “Now listen here, you lowlife,” she growled. “Do we need to get rough here? I can dance all night.”
“Go to heck, copper,” Ramplewaithe spat.
“No! Ramplewaithe!” Bulletproof shouted, making his way down the slippery incline. “You have the right to remain silent! Anything you say may be used against you in a court of law! You have the right to an attorney! If you cannot afford one, one will be provided!”
Ramplewaithe parted his cracked lips to curse, then closed them again. “You’re right,” he breathed. “It’s over. Lissen. In the Jeep. Behind the back seat. Fifteen, thirty-two, ten.”
“Jack!” Follies cried. “Jeep! Back seat!”
“I’m not leaving your sight until he’s handcuffed,” Bulletproof said, reaching the bottom of the slope, picking up his baton and sliding it back into his belt. Ramplewaithe offered up no resistance, considering how easily he could be overpowered by the both of them.
They dragged the cuffed Ramplewaithe back and set him stiffly into the patrol car, Bulletproof directing the man’s head safely past the doorframe. The perp contained, they turned to the Jeep.
Behind the back seat, beneath all the blankets, was a safe. “Fifteen, thirty-two, ten,” Follies said. Bulletproof quickly turned the dial.
Inside was little Sarah Waterbury, reported missing the day before and the subject of a statewide Amber Alert. Gasping for air, she tumbled into the Jeep’s cargo compartment on hands and knees. Follies scooped up the girl, who seemed to be all right, save for a scare.
“If I’d Tased him, and he’d died or passed out — I don’t know what we would have done, Jack,” Follies said sheepishly. “This little girl could have died in there.”
“Ah, ah — save it for the statement,” Bulletproof smiled, reaching for his radio to call in the paramedics. “We’ll be up all night doing paperwork for this one.”