The Thin Black Line True Stories by Black Law Enforcement Officers Policing America's Meanest Streets

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2010-01-19
  • Publisher: Forge Books

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Supplemental Materials

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Meet the black men and women policing our meanest streets... LaVerne Dunlap: she infiltrated a drug gang and testified against them in court ... only to have the drug lords mark her for assassination. Dep. County Sheriff Winroe Reed: he ventured into America's "Homicide Capital" alone to apprehend a 6'9" homicidal crack dealer... a man so dangerous no other cops would accompany him. Chris Saffron: he worked the toughest drug gangs in Harlem, alone... even after his cover was blown. These are just a few of the courageous black heroes readers will meet in Hugh Holton'sThe Thin Black Line.

Author Biography

Police Lieutenant Hugh Holton was a twenty-nine year veteran of the Chicago Police Department. He authored several bestselling novels, including, Time of the Assassins, The Left Hand of God, and Violent Crimes. At the time of his death, Hugh Holton was the highest ranking active police officer writing novels in America.

Table of Contents

Editor's Notep. 7
Prologuep. 9
Deputy Sergeant Winroe Reed (retired), LaPorte County, Indiana, Sheriff's Departmentp. 15
(retired), Police Officerp. 21
New York Police Departmentp. 31
Captain Sam Welch, Indiana State Correctionsp. 39
formerly of the Santa Monica Police Departmentp. 55
Detective Lester Norvell (retired), Michigan City, Indiana, Policep. 63
Beverly Hills Policep. 71
Commissioner John O. Boone, Massachusetts State Correctionsp. 77
Los Angeles Probation Officerp. 85
Captain James Carneygee, Corrections Officerp. 101
Washington, New Orleans Sheriff's Departmentp. 109
Officer Tanya Junior, Chicago Police Departmentp. 121
Officer Roger Tucker, Philadelphia Police Departmentp. 131
Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, Sheriff's Departmentp. 147
Chicago Police Departmentp. 161
Los Angeles Police Departmentp. 169
Commander Hubert Holton (retired), Chicago Police Departmentp. 179
Captain Commander Hugh Holton (deceased), Chicago Police Departmentp. 189
Officer Florida Bradstreet, New Orleans Sheriff's Departmentp. 199
Officer Derrick Armstrong, Chicago Police Departmentp. 213
Chicago Police Departmentp. 227
Officer Michael Ballard, Chicago Police Departmentp. 239
Washington, D.C., Metro Policep. 247
Officer Angela Pate, Chicago Police Departmentp. 259
Officer Nora Smelser, Chicago Police Departmentp. 271
Officer Eddie Garrett, Chicago Police Departmentp. 285
Chicago Police Departmentp. 293
Los Angeles Police Departmentp. 307
Indiana State Policep. 319
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.


Winroe Reed is a retired sergeant in the LaPorte County, Indiana, Sheriff ’s Department. He is six feet tall and weighs two hundred pounds, and a longtime friend of Sergeant Reed said that as a young man he was an extraordinary athlete and utterly fearless. He also remembers Reed as having “a burning sense of justice.” Those same traits have obviously followed him through his law enforcement career.
I worked for the LaPorte County Sheriff ’s Department for thirty-one years—from 1968 through 1999. Much of my work involved “serving arrest warrants,” which means arresting people. When people are charged with a crime in LaPorte County, someone has to go after them—assuming they haven’t turned themselves in voluntarily—even if they leave the jurisdiction. Frequently that someone was me.
For decades I traveled the country serving warrants, but most of my work was done in the Indiana area—including Illinois and Michigan. I made many trips to the slums of Gary, Indiana, and the Cook County lockup in Chicago, which are pretty rough places. In other words, I’ve had to bring in some very tough guys—often single-handedly.
When I drove out to serve a warrant, I usually kept .ve sets of waist-wrist shackles and .ve sets of leg irons in the trunk. By nature I’m a nice guy and try hard to be respectful to the people I pick up. However, sometimes these people are just plain nasty. Not only do they have nasty mouths, even if they are shackled, they may well try to bite, butt, or rear back and kick you. The really violent people, I’ve been known to shackle with multiple sets of irons—legs and
The Thin Black Line
wrists. I tell these people in advance that I’m a kind man, but don’t mistake kindness for weakness.
I don’t know how many people I’ve brought to justice over a thirty-one-year career. Thousands, I would guess. I remember one guy lived right on the Indiana–Michigan border, and he was hard to catch. He was not only brutal, he had some “rabbit” in him. The .rst time I went after him, I was alone, and when I couldn’t cover both doors, he skipped out the back door and bolted across the state line. Later I spotted him laughing at me from the safety of Michigan, where I was not authorized to follow and arrest him.
Then he ran off.
I had quite a problem apprehending him and had to make several attempts. One time I let the air out of his tires so he couldn’t jump in his car and split. I was persistent, though. I .nally staked his house out from down the street and saw him sneak back home.
He wasn’t laughing when I caught him.
A lot of newspapers call Gary, Indiana—in Lake County—some pretty bad things, such as “the Homicide Capital of the United States,” and it does have an unusually high murder rate, frequently the highest in the country. As you can imagine, it’s not always easy to get of.cers to go in there and arrest people. I’ve had to serve a lot of arrest warrants in Gary all by myself. Usually I would stop off at the local precinct to let them know that the LaPorte County Sheriff ’s Department was in town and to ask if any of them wanted to keep me company. The answer was invariably, “No!”
Once I remember I had to go in alone and bring back a six-footnine-inch crack-addicted murderer. He was much feared and extremely violent. Now, a guy that big and wild isn’t exactly inconspicuous. Still, he’d been at large for a while. I don’t think anyone else wanted to go in and get him.
During most arrests you aren’t supposed to knock on the door
with your gun drawn. Some people will never see past the gun, will
bolt or pull a gun themselves. When I suspected the guy was
Winroe Reed
homicidal—if he had a really violent rap sheet, for instance—I would have the warrant on a clipboard, which I held in front of my stomach, upright. But behind the clipboard I kept a pistol.
More than once the suspect would pull a gun, only to see me drop the clipboard and put my own piece on him. Which was how I apprehended the six-foot-nine-inch crack-addict killer.
One of the weirder warrants I served was on a guy who had a wicked temper and a bad history of violence. He also had two terrifying dogs—a rottweiler and a pit bull. He also owned a lot of guns and threatened his neighbors routinely. He had a rap sheet. We had complaints on him and .nally someone had him charged. It wasn’t enough to send him to prison, but it was enough to arrest him.
The dogs had also terrorized the neighborhood, so before I went over there, I put on my Kevlar vest, cartridge bandoleers, multiple cartridge belts, pepper mace, extra clips, extra cuffs, and several sidearms. When I knocked, his wife answered the door.
“I have to serve this warrant on your husband and take him in,” I said. “Now, I know you have two dogs, and you don’t want them hurt. So I’m going to give you two hours to put them up someplace. Because when I come back, if they attack, I’ll shoot them.”
When I came back two hours later, the family had moved out, which satis.ed the terri.ed neighbors.
I was on the department marksmanship team and in fact helped to train the other members. I traveled with them around the state for eight or nine years, shooting against other teams in marksmanship contests. A perfect score was 300. I got so many 300s in a row that the judges asked me to step out and shoot by myself so they could watch. They didn’t think anyone could run up that many consecutive perfect scores. They thought I was scamming them.
Pretty soon, several of our guys began shooting consecutive 300s. We were beating everybody in the state, so they doubled the number of shots both sides had to take, and I once scored 599 out of 600.
Even though I’m retired I still instruct .rearms at the police
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academy. I teach them all the basics, including how to center their sights, how to be comfortable with their .rearm and not flinch. To that end I have them dry-.re their guns .rst, then .re one round, after which they continue dry-.ring. I’ve helped to produce some superb students.
Sometimes people ask if I’m happy in retirement. I answer, yes. I head up security at a local hospital, which is both interesting and challenging. You have a lot of wonderful people doing fine work in hospitals, but you also have drugs, vulnerable patients, agitated visitors, and occasionally unsavory people walk in. Hospital security requires a lot of tact, intelligence, and diplomacy. Another reason I enjoy retirement is that I don’t have to go into high-crime areas anymore and serve arrest warrants. I was afraid if I continued doing that, I’d shoot somebody.
Or somebody would shoot me. Excerpted from The Thin Black Line by Hugh Holton.
Copyright © 20089 by Elizabeth Cook and Ed Gorman.
Published in January 2009 by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.
All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and
reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in
any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.

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