The Posture of Innocence, day 29.5

in writing •  3 months ago  (edited)

While Mr. Varick and Mr. Turner of the Lofton County Free Voice are shining the "Red Light" on some contrary folks in the office of the governor of Virginia, young reporter Grant Johnson gets a challenging assignment and is on the scene when Captain Lee and Commissioner Scott start laying down the law FOR REAL...

To get totally caught up on The Posture of Innocence, here are the prologue, day 1, day 2, day 3, day 3.5, day 4, day 4.5, day 5, day 5.5, day 6, day 7, day 7.5, day 8, day 9, day 9.5, day 10, day 10.5, day 11, day 11.5, day 12, day 12.5, day 13, day 13.5, day 14, day 15, day 16, day 16.5, day 17, day 18, day 19, day 19.5, day 20, day 20.5, day 21, day 22, day 22.5, day 23, day 23.5, day 24, day 24.5, day 25, day 25.5, day 26, day 26.5, day 27, day 27.5, day 28, day 28.5, and day 29!

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Back in Big Loft, a young reporter from the Lofton County Free Voice had been dispatched to take care of one task: “Follow Captain Lee. See what he does. Observe. Do not approach.” So, when Captain Lee and three members of his division came out of headquarters, Grant Johnson kept working on his bicycle until he saw what car the captain had gotten into, and then followed, at a discreet distance, on his bicycle, as the captain and his men snatched up seven top men in Internal Affairs.

Young Mr. Johnson made video of each arrest and also took a bunch of photos. He also noted the time: Captain Lee moved fast, so fast that he wasn't giving time for any arrested person to notify anybody else – he had his men pack the arrested and handcuffed parties into the backs of the three unmarked cars, so nobody had time to call anybody else, and nobody arrived at the station in front of another. Seven arrests in two hours; not bad. One was a great strong man, and, in a rage, broke his cuffs on his way into the station and started swinging. That was a mistake. Captain Lee flipped him over like a pancake and slammed his full weight down on him.

“Like he was an unarmed Black man,” Mr. Johnson commented to his editor, Mr. Porter.

“One thing about Henry Fitzhugh Lee,” said Mr. Porter, “is that he doesn't care who you are. You play with him, you pay. His cousin in Tinyville, Captain Hamilton – same thing. They understand the proper use of violence against violent evildoers – they don't really go for letting people who have proven their uselessness to all good pursuits having a second chance.”

“We could afford to learn just a little of that.”

“We know it. Who came out of the Gilligan House Burning?”

“Right. We need to hold on to it.”

“Right.”

In the meantime, Commissioner Scott went out to the Blue Ridge Station, and interviewed all eight officers involved in the incident after viewing all the video of the incident. He fired the initial two outright – “because you lied to me, wantonly, defiantly, like I'm as stupid as you think every but you is. Have fun suing – the news media already has all the video that shows you are lying.” The other six he placed on administrative leave.

The commissioner and Captain Ghent next had a conversation:

“We are understaffed now, sir, considerably,” said Captain Ghent.

“Offer a bunch of overtime – talk with HR, max out that overtime,” Commissioner Scott answered. “I've got calls out to practically every police academy in the country, but there's no way for me to get the men necessary to fill the gap this year. New problem: we aren't going to have any money next year for new hires if this blows up, so we have to retain and retrain those worth keeping. Max out the overtime, Captain. Get all the available money into the hands of your best officers now. We're not going to have it this good again for a long, long time.”

Indeed, that was the word Commissioner Scott had put out to HR: since the gaps in staffing were widening, pay out the budget every way possible to retain and reward officers and staff who were doing the right thing. Overtime? Yes. Holiday bonuses? Yes. Commissioner Scott was applying Captain Hamilton's Tinyville rules: fire the bad actors quickly, get the rest paid well and buckle down with greater efficiency. Of course, Big Loft was 65 times more populous than Tinyville and its police department 200 times larger (only two men in Tinyville); it was a rough adjustment. But, it was the only way for the moment.

Commissioner Scott was driving back to headquarters when Mrs. Thornton put Captain Lee's call through.

“Already?” Commissioner Scott said.

“Yes, sir,” said the calm, cold captain. “I would have called sooner, but Captain Franklin broke his cuffs, and gave us a bit of a time subduing him.”

“Great big man – that's why I said, take three officers with you,” the commissioner said. “I probably don't even want to know what you did to him.”

“Not particularly, sir.”

“Never mind, then. Let's talk about some information I have for you instead. Has Ms. Thornton apprised you of the situation at the Blue Ridge station?”

“She has. What horrendous timing.”

“Yes, but you already understand the concept of things being providential. The person who called in on those Black students for 'drawing while Black' is one of the people implicated in our grab last night, if the addresses square up.”

“Oh? How interesting!”

“Indeed. It gets more interesting when you consider that since these folks do not know yet that we have all their favorite lackeys in hand, they would not suspect an officer going over to see one of them to get their side of the story about why they called the police on those scary, scary Black students. I should think, given the status of the neighborhood, it ought to be at least a captain.”

“The august name and face of Lee, with a Slocum-Lofton maternal heritage, probably will help too,” Captain Lee said.

“Doubtless, Captain, doubtless. I'm five minutes from headquarters; let's swiftly compare notes, and then you make the calls and have at it. Who is your most observant lieutenant?”

“Longstreet, but he is tired. Jackson is good also, and fresh.”

“Take him.”

“Yes, sir.”

Back to the office: Commissioner Scott had panicked people from the officers' union and the city lined up to see him. Mrs. Thornton had them all in coffee, chocolate, pastries, etc ... as calm as they could be while, two floors down, a man sat in his office and worked his way nearer to the heart of an even more explosive issue, and two more floors down, eight high and mighty men sat in their cells, each broken and wrung out of secrets that would rock Lofton County and its neighbor Roanoke County to its core. In all the conversations, nobody but young reporter Grant Johnson noticed Captain Lee and Lieutenant Jackson slipping out a little later, and literally driving into the heart of the conspiracy being revealed.

Day 30 is up

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