Valley Of Shadows – Snippet 08
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Officially named the City of New York Police Department, the NYPD was the largest municipal police force in the United States. The actual number of employees exceeded fifty thousand, though perhaps only two thirds of that number were sworn officers. Organized into more than a hundred precincts, it served all five boroughs of the City and included the waterways that had originally made New York a port hub long before banking, marketing or fashion began to contend as the driving heart of the city. Most precincts were referred to by the rank and file cops by their number–thus the Fifty-First Precinct became the “Five-One.” However, no precinct was more prestigious or had greater visibility to the police brass than the one that housed the headquarters and spanned downtown Manhattan from Battery Park to the Brooklyn Bridge and west to Greenwich.
Rafe Dominguez ran “One” with a quiet authority and a certain elegance that belied his origins as a patrol officer in Flushing. You didn’t survive years of grinding work “in the trenches” if you stuck to the rules of the Marquess of Queensbury. One of his arrests had culminated in a court case downtown, and Dominguez had seen another side of policing. While most cops eschewed proximity to the flagpole, the wiry cop was inherently drawn to a different world, where power lay closer to the surface, within reach of someone who could bring street smarts into play, and still “clean up” right.
Street smarts Dominguez had in plenty, and from that point forward he had shaped his ambition with an eye to becoming a Precinct commander, then an Inspector and ultimately the Chief of Department, if not in NYC then in another large metro area. His determination never wavered. His peers, who had hung the handle “Ding” on him, ribbed him when he spent extra time studying. They quieted a bit when he passed the exam for sergeant with the highest score ever recorded.
One malcontent cop who thought Ding was aiming a little too high talked behind his back, attempting to tarnish Dominguez’s halo with lurid tales of his ruthless treatment of arrestees. As special treat, he described a lucky punch from a gang banger that had connected, briefly ringing Dominguez’s bell, and started calling him “Ding Dong.” Ding restrained his first impulse, which was to collapse the greasy vice detective’s trachea on the spot. He smiled a bit thinking about watching the loud mouth’s face turn purple as he choked to death. Using that smile, he just nodded and grinned for the audience of chuckling detectives, Good one, you got me! Big grin. Big.
Not even six months later that cop was fighting a losing battle against Internal Affairs charges for extorting “personal favors” from suspects in a prostitution bust–one that had gone down in Dominguez’s last precinct.
Purest coincidence. Check.
Don’t cross Ding.
When he dug in and completed a night school bachelor’s degree in Criminology, no one raised an eyebrow. His carefully selected wife, the daughter of a deputy commissioner, coached him on protocol among the higher ups. Approving nods were registered as the new “comer” made all the right moves. He carefully didn’t try to parlay his minority status into advantage, which appealed to the mostly white NYPD leadership even more. When he sat his lieutenant exam with results like unto the earlier tests, there was respectful applause.
In short, he was utterly committed. His hard work, insider horse trading and strategic moves shaped the arc of his career steeply upwards. A chance to relax was a rare commodity.
Saturday was typically a quiet time for a Manhattan cop, even a precinct captain. Nearing the top of his profession, Rafe Dominguez could actually get up at a reasonable hour and enjoy his coffee with his family before heading out the door for Rafe Jr’s Little League. Commanding the prestigious First Precinct was the highlight of his career to date and he understood that one didn’t risk the work invested to achieve that career merely in order to satisfy a passing urge.
Which was why he didn’t quite snarl into his personal cell phone when he answered it at 10:30 am that morning. You never knew if the commissioner was checking up on his star players.
“Captain, this is Tom Smith at Bank of the Americas.” Smith’s tone was polite, but firm. “I am very sorry to disturb you on a weekend. Believe me, I really wouldn’t waste your time unless it was an emerging issue. One that you are going to want to know about.”
Dominguez knew Smith. He kept tabs on all the major players in his precinct. His principal connections to the multi-trillion-dollar banks that were in his precinct were through their various heads of security. A little quid pro quo here and there kept valuable bank employees from having arrest records, while the occasional bad apple was tossed over the transom for the police to publicly charge in high-profile fraud and drug cases. Everyone benefited.
Mrs. Dominguez also enjoyed the mysteriously inexpensive tickets to popular Broadway shows, and advance invitations to sample sales at Michael Kohrs.
“Emerging issue” was usually a code word for some serious banking faux pas, such as a senior bank officer getting caught with a dead hooker or a live boy. Neither of which was going to be a good enough justification for calling his personal cell on a Saturday, banking influence be damned.
“Tom, I’m happy to pass you to the duty officer at the pre–”
Ding’s voice didn’t betray his annoyance, but Smith didn’t need to hear it to know that it was there. His tone was brisk and all business.
“Captain, I’m in receipt of nonpublic information that you need,” the banker cut in smoothly. “First reports are going to start hitting cable news right about now. I anticipate that you’re going to be getting a call very soon about an announcement from the Centers for Disease Control regarding a new virus. They aren’t going to tell you how bad it is yet. I most strongly recommend that you find a way to protect your officers from what are going to appear to be EDPs who are going to be incoherent, aggressive and try to bite them.”
Emotionally Disturbed Persons, or EDPs in law enforcement-speak, were the most common of the calls that the NYPD dealt with. Ranging from a depressed trader considering a long fall via a short step off a tall building to the classic paranoid meth user, EDPs came in many flavors, few of which were the sort of dangerous that warranted a weekend interruption.
“Tom, I appreciate the heads up, but–wait.” Dominguez registered the words. “Did you say ‘bite them’?
When bankers talked about disclosing “nonpublic” information, they were telling you that they were committing career suicide. It was very nearly an automatic SEC investigation and license suspension. Bankers never gave that kind of information away.
Not unless they were a lot more concerned about something else besides their careers and their money.
All that bankers cared about were their careers and their money.
“Bite them,” Smith replied. “Like a dog. Exactly like a rabid dog. The pathogen can be spread by vapor droplets, aerosolized blood and may even be airborne. Looks like a flu. Highly lethal. And it comes in two stages–after the flu symptoms, EDPs start stripping, fighting and attacking anyone they see.”
Ding stood, knocking his hip against the kitchen table sharply enough that his wife looked up in equal parts reproof and alarm.
“That sounds a lot like–”
“Yeah. I know,” Tom said. “I know the word you’re going to use. I think that if you move quickly, you can brief your officers and start getting some Kevlar gloves and spray shields before they run out. And they are going to run out. I’m already stocked and now I’m buying all the extras that I can.”
“Are you sure about this, Tom?” the captain worried. “It seems over the top. It’s not even good enough to be a bad joke. Remember when synthetic Cathinone was all the rage?”
Dominguez recalled the initial impact of cheap designer meth substitutes which createdâ€¦memorable overdose symptoms. A few high-profile “bath salts” cases had been caught on film, capturing the overdose victims practicing cannibalism.
Dominguez could hear Smith clear his throat.
One of police captain’s former cop friends had gone civilian and ran the physical security side for BotA under Smith, so Dominguez had heard a few stories and knew Smith’s professional bona fides. Clearing his throat was the equivalent of the former spec ops troop yelling at the top of his lungs in order to get attention. And he was sharing nonpublic dataâ€¦
Smith’s intel on the precinct captain was as good as Dominguez’s on his opposite numbers in the banks.
“Ding, I tell you three times.” He deliberately used Dominguez’s handle in order to make his point. “This is legit. Were I in your shoes I would get it to your boss ASAP, but I would appreciate it if you didn’t attribute the source. The faster you move on this the better. Everything I’m seeing suggests that it’s going to be big.”
“You got it.” Dominguez added it up. “And Tom?”
“Thanks for the heads up.”
“Scratch my back sometime, Captain.”