Puppy Defense

by Robert Haig


Street stories of retired Sergeant Robert M. Haig Detroit Police Department


Detroit has many criminals and there are different categories for all of them. We had to learn about every single one of them. One of my favorites would be the misdemeanor, repeat offender. They have learned to play the system, knowing well the manpower and prisoner housing issues the department is facing. Most criminals learn early on that if the police stop you and you're wanted for a felony charge, you go directly to jail. Now if you slip into the misdemeanor category, the officer can practice a little discretion. For me, the attitude of the suspect always was my number one factor when considering this discretion. Throw me a bad attitude and I'll give you a free ride. Tell me to do my job, and I'll oblige you. Either one, will guarantee you a trip to a Detroit dungeon. You will be treated to the very best: a concrete bed, or floor if you prefer complete with roaches, and your menu for the day includes a yummy breakfast of bologna on white bread with a cup of water. The lunch entrée will be bologna on white bread and water. Mmmm. For dinner, let's make it a trifecta: bologna on white bread. Criminal or not, this is not a good setting for anybody. Hence, staying out of jail is a priority. The misdemeanor repeat offender knows this all too well. They know you can possess a get-out-of-jail-free card if you know how to play the game. Always traveling with a child is the very best. Make it an infant, and it's even better. Open sores or festering wounds are a close second. Poor hygiene, combined with the smell of urine, wine and body odor, will pretty much get you a pass. A deep guttural, tuberculosis sounding cough, repeated over and over will have an officer covering his own mouth, and backing up. On this particular day, I was working a one-man car, and had effected a traffic stop at the Boulevard and Second. The vehicle, which was occupied by a lone male, had expired plates and a cracked windshield. As I walked to the driver's side window, the vehicle itself told me the driver did not have a license. I already was calculating the number of warrants for his arrest, when he leaned out the window, and informed me his license has been suspended for years. My discretion meter was bending toward jail. I asked him to step from the vehicle, at which time he added he was wanted on traffic warrants in several jurisdictions. My meter needle entered into the red, and I slipped my cuffs on him. He began to cry and plead as I led him to the patrol car. My short lecture was standard for traffic offenders. I advised him that when he got behind the wheel this morning and turned the key, he knew the risk he would be running. Don't drive, don't go to jail - it's rather simple when you think about it. The suspect now is seated in the back, pleading for mercy. I run his name through the system, and he is wanted on multiple misdemeanor warrants. His license has been suspended for the past six years. I look over my shoulder and inform him he is under arrest. His response was quick and without hesitation. "Officer, what about my puppies?" he asks. "Puppies? What puppies?" I stuttered. "The puppies in the backseat," he replied. "They are in the box." Scrambling, I asked if they were alive. "Of course they are alive," he whispered. He slid forward on the rear seat, pressing his face against the cage and told me to go check for myself. I slowly walked to his vehicle, and saw a cardboard box in the rear seat. I had heard no noise previously, and held hope he was lying. I flipped the top of the box open, and the puppy symphony began - there was yapping, yelping and whimpering as nine of the cutest puppies in the world attempted to scramble over the sides. I reached in to gently push them down as they nipped and scratched at my hand. I began to pick one up to cuddle... Wait a minute, I have a handcuffed criminal in my backseat. I quickly closed the box up and stomped back to my vehicle, mad that I had allowed myself to be overcome by the cuteness. "Why didn't you tell me about the puppies?" I asked. "I didn't know you were going to arrest me," he responded. I quickly uncuffed him. What in the hell was I going to do with a box of puppies? As he walked back to his car, I hollered to him. "I don't care if you have a baby elephant in the back, next time you are going to jail," I told him. "Sure, officer," he yelled back and waved. He pulled off, and I sat there, stunned for moment. He got me. Had he deliberately loaded those puppies up before he left the house? Then I started thinking maybe I shouldn't have said baby elephant. Baby elephants are pretty cute.

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