Recreation at 92nd and Beach

By Sled Smith


I was working the north end one night with Rich McClellan as a trainee.  There was a request for immediate assistance at 92nd and Beach. We got there quickly and noticed there were somewhat less than 200 people standing around on the four corners of the intersection.  Rich had just started driving and rolled right past the fight.  I yelled at him to slow down and got out of the car while Rich went on trying to find some place to park the unit. 


Lou Wallace and his trainee, some kid named Painter, were literally in the gutter trying to control a nineteen year old man who was built like Ken Norton senior, the boxer.  They were both on top of him and as he would raise either of his arms he would lift and almost throw either of the deputies off.  I ran over and sat down across the suspects lower back trying to at least keep his body on the ground.  I had my 245 Gonzales in my right hand and with my left hand I grasped his Afro pulling his head backward to put his face vertically where Lou could hit him in the chops.  My grip into his hair was with my left thumb and first three fingers leaving my left little finger protruding off to the left.  The fight continued and finally started to go our way. 


Deputy Painter then decided to really take a swing at the suspect.  He stood up to his full height and stuck his right hand as high as he possibly could tightly grasping his tiny departmental issue spring wound sap.  Painter then threw the hardest punch he had ever tried to swing in his entire life.  The little sap whistled through the air and came to rest on the middle of the last digit of my left little pinkie.  It hurt like hell and I said some sort of expletive deleted commentary.  My left hand looked like I has stuck my little finger into a very small ripe plum, it was bright purple and very swollen. We managed to get the guy handcuffed and loaded into Lou’s car. 


At Saint Francis Hospital the white tornado, Dr. Riordin, took one look at the suspect who was handcuffed to the gurney on both sides and suffering from being severely beaten.  He pushed the gurney into one of the treatment rooms and told the man he was going to have to wait a while.  He then took me down to radiology to X-ray my broken finger.  He fooled around for at least twenty minutes showing me the X-rays and putting an aluminum splint on my little finger.  The last digit of my little finger was broken clean in half.  He finally went in and treated the suspect for his injuries. 


Subsequent to having the last digit of my little finger broken somebody in scheduling made the decision that I needed to be working light duty.  They assigned me as a complaint deputy at the desk.  I had already been regularly assigned and worked as both dispatcher and watch deputy.  About 30 seconds after reaching the desk area I was bored to tears and couldn’t stand working the phones.  Out of my boredom grew a little gregarious comedy, which I applied across the board to everyone who called in. I began answering the phone, “Sheriffstone Firestation”.  I would tell most folks that they had reached the fire station and if they wanted the police they would have to hang up and then call back. 


This only lasted for a limited time, perhaps little more than an hour, as I was seated with my back to the counter.  During one of my numerous fun loving conversations I felt an ominous presence behind me.  Suddenly a very calm regulated familiar voice began by chortling, “Sled, maybe you forgot that they just installed that great big tape recorder that records all incoming and outgoing phone calls as well as all the radio traffic 24 and 7.  I suggest you probably ought to stop that or you’ll get yourself into a lot of trouble”.  I recognized the voice having worked with Jerry Harper for a couple of years as a Sergeant at Lakewood.  I turned around to see the watch commander standing there and grinning at me.  He then laughingly said, “I’m going to see what I can do about getting you back in the field, you sure don’t belong in here”.  The very next night I was back out in a radio car doing what I loved best.