Below River Rouge. One boat stands off while we finish with another group. Tanker cruises past toward the Canadian side.
Checking fishermen as the People Mover growls past the Joe...
First CO truck I've seen in such a setting.
"Let's take a walk out to the truck and talk about this."
Wait, wait, is that Joe Louis through the trees?
Wrestling is choreographed; hockey is not.
We don't have THAT move in hockey. Or her.
Arnold Palmer: Da Drink
Big family on the move.
Naturally, with all the time I've spent up north with COs in the more rural and less populated parts of the state; I got kidded a bit by the Detroit officers. You know:" Bet you don't see that in the U.P." And they were right. For example, here is the view from my 8th floor hotel window. You really can't see this in the U.P. or in northern Michigan, except for a trick shot you might arrange in Marquette.
See your licenses, gents?
The Fog comes in, the fog rolls out… Caesar’s in Windsor.
Sarge readies the boat.
From the Totally Random Department. Caddy with a carpet cover on the trunk. Speculate all you like. We did.
More Motown Randomicity. Doll in parking lot of boat ramp. Got no 'splanations on this one, either.
Precisely a week ago Friday, we were in Otsego County fishing for brook trout on the Black River. A week later, my gear is in Sgt. Art Green’s TAhoe and we are moving from fishing site to fishing site CO Lacelle Rabon, checking shore fishermen hauling in white (silver) bass, white perch and catfish, though some sought walleyes and were to be disappointed. This was my first time with officers in Detroit and it was a great learning experience. Totally professional officers, great teamwork and total focus on the job. The number of public contacts officers in District 9 (HQ: Southfield) make are astounding, but given the millions of population concentration, not so surprising.
Sgt. Green picked me up at the Holiday Inn Express on Washington Boulevard a little late. En route he’d had to detour around some sort of mass stoppage on I-75, and then a young woman had nearly clipped him, driving out of control, so he pulled her over. Suspended license. She was dressed in little slippers and a bikini bottom and not much else. She could not understand why she was being ticketed. The sergeant’s parting comment, “Put some clothes on.”
Our first stop was the fishing site at the end of the famous Alter Road. I tried to keep track, but it was difficult with so many stops and so many contacts with so many individuals. Alter Road, Mariner Park, Harding Street Creek, Bishop Park, Elizabeth Park, we worked our was eastward from just outside the Gross Pointes down to Trenton or thereabouts. Everywhere we went there were people, not as many as they would expect on a nicer day (no rain or squalls), but a lot. Besides tons of humanity, other factors make working the CO jobs complex in this are. Later, look for a photo with a map of all the courts officers need to be familiar with and in whose jurisdictions they issue citations year-round. Add to this that different parts of the Detroit River have different take and keep limits for various species, that Canadians have their own laws and so too does Ohio and the layers of complexity add up fast.
But it is what it is and the officers keep an even keel and professional demeanor. Citations are written for trespass, over-limits, and not having fishing licenses. Also some discussion of various equipment employed.
Sgt. Green started as a Detroit Police Department cop in the 80s, served as a security policeman in the USAF and later moved to the DNR. Both he and CO Rabon started their DPD careers, walking beats. Lacelle walked a midnight beat and said sergeants used to put matches on car door handles to make sure their officers were rattling and checking every vehicle door to make sure there had not been a break-in. They both said they were told when they began with DPD that a beat cop should never get wet from rain or snow, or hungry, or tired, that he should know all the places he needed to be or could go to to take care of his daily needs. They said right out of the gate they got two two-week furloughs yearly, one in summer, another in winter. Officer Rabon actually retired from the DPD in 1994, grew quickly bored, and joined DNR law enforcement in 1995.
Both men are native Detroiters and regaled me with city history, and DNR and police department stories, like a call comes in that a guy is peddling down Jefferson with a sturgeon draped over the handlebars, looking for a buyer, or someone is at the corner of such and such, selling fish to passersby.
Their favorite story was of the late Greektown Stella, an elderly woman who used to show up at the Wayne County Jail and DPD garage where she would spend most of her days. She used to shower in the garage.She spoke mostly Greek and used to yell at parked cars. She knew all the cops, hung her laundry in the area, and so on and when she died, it turned out she was extremely wealthy, though she looked homeless. Her actual name, sources indicate was Stella Paris. Apparently she was schizophrenic, but she wanted to be in Greektown, so the community sort of adopted her. They even got her an apartment, but she preferred the ways of the street. She wore a World War II nursing uniform and carried a billy club given to her by the DPD for her protection. She died earlier this year, loved by many, claimed by none that I can determine.
CO Rabon referred to NO TREPASSING signs as “decorations” because so few people heed them.
We were rained on throughout the day and as we moved along met up with others officers, as we all worked our way toward a particular central destination.
The day’s patrol included Wayne County COs Green and Rabon (the elder statesman); Oakland County COs Ben Shively and Brandon Kieft; Macomb County’s COs Kris Kiel and Todd Szyska; and Monroe County COs Mark Ennett, Danny Walzak, and Jon Sklba, the youngest and newest member of the multi-county team.
Midday the sergeant conducted an area meeting for his officers and then it was back on work. At one downriver park the COs related the story of an officer who once jumped into a civilian’s boat as he came into the ramp, and yelled, “Follow that boat!” as a anglers with a boatload of illicit fish saw the COs and headed back into the river to dump them.
We walked a lot.
Saturday began at 0845 and once again ten minutes later we were to the east and checking licenses and a gentleman claimed he left his at home. A call to Lansing to the Retails Sales System showed this not to be true and the man gave a false ID, so he was escorted to the truck, obviously nervous. Sgt Green said to him, “Look, I need your real name and identity, otherwise we’re going to take a ride to 1300 Beaubien. The man actually stepped back. He did not want to make that ride, which is the address for the HQ for the Detroit Police Department. Came out finally that he had no license and didn’t want to be ID’s for fearing he would lose his job. All he had to do was tell the truth and the officers probably would have given him a verbal warning, told him to stop fishing and asked him to go get a license right then. But he lied. This is normal behavior for DNR contacts, in the UP and on the Detroit Riverfront.
As we checked shore fishermen behind Joe Louis Arena we saw a lot of boats out front, probably looking for walleye, so we headed to Milliken State Park where a DNR boat is kept and Sgt. Green prepped it and off into the river we went, just as a heavy fog descended on the river. It lasted about 30-40 minutes as we went from boat to boat, checking fishing licenses, fish buckets, fire extinguishers, PFDs, boat registrations, etc. Then we roared down to River Rouge and made some contacts near the US Steel plant where there are water outflows that attract fish year-round. Just about every boat we stopped had some sort of problem, but the officers offerred more warnings than wrote tickets. For the most part everything remained copacetic, although one fisherman with an expired registration roared away in a fit after getting his ticket. So it goes.
At the Joe there were 9 or 10 gaudy 18-wheelers unloading WWE gear for a sunday show to be called “Over the Limit.” Wrestling itself is over the limit in my view, but I’m just one opinion. Millions disagree. Nevertheless I took some great enjoyment in the visual aspects of the wrestling trucks.
In fact both days were visually interesting and I’ve tried to capture the sense of it. After ten years of bouncing around with COs on two-tracks, it was very different to be doing resource protection in a major urban setting. The thing is, the job is pretty uniform in terms of informing the public, protecting the resource and each other, and backing up other police agencies.
Moving east Saturday midday we came across an EMS truck, lights going, sitting in a center lane, nobody in the front, so we stopped to make sure they were okay. They had come across a gent who had had a diabetic attack and was parked in the middle of the street, not moving. So they moved him into the EMS truck and moved the man’s van to a lot across the street. And after glucose treatment to get his blood sugars up the man was demanding to go home instead of to a the emergency room. The EMS guys thanked the COs for checking and we moved on.
Out across from the St. Clair Shores Coast Guard station we saw a guy catch a smallmouth bass as we drove up (season there not on till mid-June. The guy threw the fish back, broke down his rod and tried to peddle his bicycle off the pier, but the officers stopped him. Yes he has license but he left it at home. Computer shows he hasn’t bought license in two years. He sits somberly, says thank you when the ticket is handed to him. We stopped for lunch at Fishbones (turkey burger is unreal) and we drank Arnold Palmers, half fresh lemonade and half freshly made iced tea. Wonderful drink!
Off a spot they call Nine Mile we saw a family of geese with either 18 or 19 goslings, the most any of us have ever seen. And finally,the animal count for the trip:41 deer, 1 great blue heron, 3 woodchucks, 1 muskrat,4 dead deer, 8 sand hill cranes and 2 turkeys. Many of the deer were in Wayne County. Great time. Over.
These are all the courts Detroit COs have to contend with and each has its own rules.
Leaving a checkpoint. From left: CO Shively, Kieft, Szyska, Kiel.
Sergeant Green checking suspicious line in a side channel.
CO Lacelle Rabon. Lacelle is 63 (going on 40) and may give us hope for Grady Service's potential longevity.
The Sarge "chats up" the public.
Comparing Notes, Officers from Left: Kiel, Green, and Shively.
"Okay, let us get this straight, but you have nearly 75 fish for two people, but your buddy's kid is also with you and he went to McDonald's with a friend and he ought to be back anytime? Are you SURE?"
CO Kiel counting fish. I did not one time witness a citizen accurately indicating the number of fish they had unless it was only two or three in the bucket.
Tactical Planning: From left, Officers Rabon, Szyska, Shively, Ennett.
Standing in truck bed is CO Jon Sklba, showing the take he and Officers Walzak and Ennett took that morning before we joined up -- hundreds of fish over the limit of 25 per person. From left, Sklba, Kieft (back to camera), Kiel, Walzak, Green.