by Danny Kresnyak
“He’s got a knife! He showed it to me before.” In an instant, the mood changed. Guns drawn, “on the ground, hands above your head,” shouted Constable Bosch, a second generation Regina cop. It was around 8:30 at night, on a mid-October Thursday. The air was not yet cold, but contained the crispness of the yellow leaves crunching beneath their boots. Constable Carnall, another second generation, trained his sights at the shabbily dressed man now flat on his belly.
“Everybody`s got a story, or an excuse,” explained Bosch. “We just have to figure whose is closer to the truth.” They had responded to a knife call in the shadow of Taylor field. Not an atypical experience. The shabby man was now in the back of the police cruiser, his eyes wet with tears. ”Just a white guy in the hood," he said. “I’m the only one who’s hurt. How can I be charged with assault?” The smell of cheap liquor plumed in the car; a sickly sweet mixture of sweat and two-litre coolers.
More police cars arrived, as onlookers gathered in the front yards lining the block. The initial incident occurred on the deck of a second floor suite. A small crowd of people poured down the steps. Each constable went into crowd control mode. They began to collect statements from the principle players. Bosch sat in the front seat of the cruiser. Carnall had gone inside with a middle aged man. After a few minutes of questioning, the police congregated in the street between their cruisers. “There’s no mens rea for an assault here”, said one green young constable. After brief conversation a consensus was met. There was no knife. “We’re not gonna charge you with assault. But don’t be coming back here tonight”, instructed Bosch. “Where’s home? We’re dropping you there.”
The shabby man kept his head down and directed them to an alleyway a block and a half up. He thanked Carnall as he was un-cuffed, wiping his eyes on a sleeve and quickly disappearing into a brown and white house. Back in the cruiser, Carnall met eyes with Bosch, “No mens rea for an assault.” The two shared a hearty laugh, at the young green.
“Most of what we do is just send people to neutral corners, and tell them to stay there.” Carnall explained the role of the patrol officer. “We show up, people are drunk and just need to be separated. If we think they’ll be more of a problem they go to cells.” For the next hour or so, the radio was calm. Bosch checked the computer for pending calls. Carnell’s eyes scanned the road. “Don’t do it!” As the words left his lips, a white Mazda sped through a red light.
A few tickets later, the radio chimed up: “We have a 909 on Victoria Avenue." The two constables recognized the robbery call numbers and flicked on the siren. The cruiser sped down Saskatchewan Drive. Reaching speeds near 120 kilometres an hour, slowing briefly at uncontrolled crossings.
“He took my beer and left me.” The young women swayed in the parking lot. “He’s supposed to be my boyfriend.” She was near tears, as she recounted events. “We were at his house, and then he ditched me.” She was visibly upset, emotions riled with distilled aggression.
“Calm down. We’re you robbed or are you just drunk?” Bosch asked. The girl swelled and exhaled, releasing anguished profanity and bitter memories. The call shifted from a 909 to a 927, drunk and disorderly. “We’ll give her a place to sleep tonight," Bosch said. “We’re not there to solve her problems, just to solve tonight.”
The booking process can vary in complication. This depends on the co-operation and inebriation levels of the person being booked. “Do you have anything sharp on you?” A female officer asked as she searched the young woman. She was relieved of all items but one shirt, pants and her socks. She stumbled often, her speech impeded by over consumption. The young woman broke into tantrums and tears as she was led to her room for the night.
Back on the streets, hours passed filled with traffic infractions and a trespassing call. A brief meal break, spent in a booth at a local restaurant known for its uniform special. Last call means the streets fill. “Between two and four things pick up”, explained Bosch. The radio clattered with reports of fights and calls to local bars.
Albert Street, the city’s main drag was under construction. Cut down to two lanes separated by orange cones. As Carnall stopped at a red light, a grey Oldsmobile pulled up alongside. The light changed and the Oldsmobile swayed into the proper lane. Two blocks ahead, the car stopped a green light. “That’s good enough for me.” Carnell flipped on the lights and the Oldsmobile shuffled to the curb.
The driver emerged from the car. He wore a denim jacket and pants, and a blue Maples Leafs cap. His shirt was unbuttoned, and he breathed heavily expelling the smell of hops and barley. He readily delivered his opinion of the Constables.
As the tow truck leads his car away he yells to his companion, “Get the keys or you can’t get in the house.” The driver is put in the back of the cruiser. His glazed eyes assess the situation and fixate on Bosch. ““Fuckin’ cops pulled me over last week for no reason.”
“Maybe, but tonight you were driving on the wrong side, and you stopped at a green.” Bosch eyed him in the mirror, picked up the radio and called in another guest for the night.