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When you’re a cop in a dirty inner city on the midnight tour, there is not much to do except put miles on the car and hope you don’t have to get out.  It was around Valentine’s Day and on this Tuesday night it was so cold that it hurt.  Rolling through the empty streets, listening to classic rock.

At a red light, a bundled up, toothless hooker approached the unit.  I direct her the passenger side window because I’m certain her breath would smell like King Kong’s ass.  I recognize her from the block so I roll down the window halfway; freezing air rushes into the car.  She says ‘look, you’ve always been cool.  Daisy needs a rest.  She’s gonna die.  Ya gotta help her.’  The helpful hooker points to an abandoned building on the corner and says Daisy is passed out in there.    I don’t think I’m being set up, so I tell her I’ll take a look.  Plus, if Daisy is in there and I don’t do anything, the Captain will have my ass.

I enter through the broken back door.  Every window is broken and the bitter wind is whipping through.   I begin to pick my way through the mine field of broken furniture, cat piss, old newspapers, syringes, empty heroin packets, broken plaster, soiled condoms, old clothes, feces and a broken toilet bowl.  It’s a two story house so I make my way to the second floor, where the bedrooms are. 

In between the bedrooms is the bathroom.  The walls and mirror are broken and there is ankle high debris all over the floor.   I take one step in and look in the bathtub.  Her skin was so white, it looked like the porcelain of the bathtub.  She is wearing a wife beater t-shirt and cut off denim shorts.  When I touch her thigh, it is as hard as the bathtub.  The needle still stuck in her arm leaves little doubt about why she is unconscious.   I’m sure she has strolled her last avenue.  But when I take her pulse, I realize she is still alive.  I put my jacket over her, call an ambulance and try to wake her.

When the ambulance gets there all they say is ‘how da fuck did you find this one?’  Based on her body temperature they estimate she has about another half hour to live.   They revive her with Narcan.  We have saved her life. 

And boy, is she pissed off about that.

‘You assholes.  That was such a warm dream.  You brought me back to this cold world?  Get the fuck away from me.’

‘Look, Daisy, it’s my fault.  You got no beef with these guys.  Just go with them to the hospital, get well and be mad at me next time we see each other.’   

‘Fuck you, I’m not going anywhere with nobody.  Bye assholes’

‘Daisy, you leave, you will die tonight.’

‘Fuck you, I don’t gotta to go nowhere with nobody.  Get out of my way.’  She wants to leave and she is raising a stink.

She’s right.  She is under no legal obligation to go to the hospital.  The heroin is in her system so she can’t be arrested for that.  She is free to walk away into the night, fall back to sleep and die.

But, not tonight Daisy. 

‘You are under arrest.’

‘Arrest for what?’

‘Possession of crack’

‘I don’t got any crack!! I ain’t no crack head!  I shoot dope.  I ain’t touched crack in forever, asshole’

‘This crack right here.’  I hold up two vials containing crack-cocaine.  She swears to God they are not hers. 

She’s right.  They are not hers. They’re mine.  Maybe the day will come where I will have to swear to God they were hers.

I carry them just in case.  In case of what?  In case I watch a drug dealer for 20 minutes then when I go to get him he runs, and by the time I get him, he has nothing on him.  In case, I want to search a car but have no reason.  I may just drop them in so they land in plain view.  When I reach in the car and pull them off the floor, that’s good enough for the camera.

I carry them in case some fucked up hooker will not get the proper medical help even another junkie hooker can see she needs.  So you’re not going to the hospital?  Ok, you’re going to jail.  At least you’ll get three hots, and a cot.  But sorry sweetheart, no one is dying on my post tonight.

Where did I get the crack? Well, in this state the law does not say exactly how many crack vials is intent to distribute.  It’s kinda up to the cop to determine what the possessor intended to do with it.  So I decided anything under 10 vials would be simple possession, 10 or more vials would be intent to distribute.  Every once in a while you get a decent guy who you know is not a dealer, but he has 10 or 12 vials.  So, I charge him with simple possession of 9 vials and keep the other vials- just in case.

July 10, hotter than Hell’s oven.  I got to court for Daisy’s case fully intending to recommend probation for the simple possession of two vials of crack.  Of course, she didn’t show.  On the way out I saw an EMT who asked me if I heard what happened to Daisy.

‘Yesterday she overdosed in a car and fell asleep.  The windows were up.  She basically fried to death.  She was ripe when we got there.  Gawd, did she raise a stink’


Joe Petro spent 25 years in law enforcement in the NYC area.  He is currently an educator.  



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