• Stephen Warneke

Is That an Uzi in Your Pants?!



"On vacation one year, some stupid friend of a friend saw cops in a parking lot and said, "Why are cops always trying to dig up trouble when it's quiet? They are always looking to beat someone up or get in a fight."


First of all, his premise is that cops are inherently violent. I've already discussed how sometimes violence is a necessary evil and part of the job. In this guy's world, people are all good, and they don't hurt one another. Everyone can be reasoned with or convinced to do the right thing.


Secondly, I would hope all of you taxpayers would want cops our stirring up trouble when it's quiet. After all, that's what you pay us for. It's during those times when the gun-carrying drug dealers get pulled over, and good, self-initiated arrests make the entire community safer. When it's quiet and calls aren't coming out, we can finally set up on the parking lot where car break-ins have been occurring.


Two of us were hiding on the roof of an apartment building one night that was having a lot of drug activity and break-ins. We were up there for a while because no calls were coming out. This was a small complex, gated with long iron bars. There was a "no trespass order" for the property, which means, "If you don't live here, you can't be here."


We were sitting there waiting for something to happen when something did. Two guys climbed over the fence. They were sitting there obviously hatching some sort of plan when we came down to talk to them. They had no good explanation for and couldn't seem to agree on why they were there, where they had come from, or what it was they were doing.


We patted them down for weapons. I took one [suspect], and my partner took the other. I was chatting with my suspect as I checked him for weapons. I had known the other cop for a while. He was a cool cat and very calm. When I looked up at him halfway through his search, his face was completely white and he had his gun in his suspect's back. I heard him say to the guy he was searching, "Don't move or I will shoot you. Now, I want you to go down to your knees very slowly." I pulled out my gun and kept it on both suspects.


If my level-headed partner was this scared, something must have been really wrong. He reached into this kid's waistband and pulled out an uzi, and I mean just like you would see in the movies, complete with a long banana clip.


It turns out this kid had a ton of crack cocaine on him. It was more crack than I had ever seen in my life. Later on as we counted it, I was reminded of the movie Training Day, where each rock of crack we counted, we were also counting out the resulting prison years. He was tried federally and sentenced to about fifteen years in the penitentiary.


Then again, maybe we shouldn't have been stirring up trouble when things weren't busy.


I wish we all could get along and no violence was necessary. Believe it or not, most police officers are not the kid who had their lunch money taken when they were young. Most of us are hardworking, gentle, caring, giving, sacrificing people who would give our lives for a complete stranger. Sometimes that's worthy of some recognition."


- Excerpt from Ch. 18 "Lights, Camera, Action" from the book From Boy To Blue: Becoming one of America's Finest. Buy it here: https://www.stevewarneke.com/the-book.