Police Department, March 1984 and Valley Police Department, February
1986 and November 1990
“Hello. We’re from the Government. We’re
here to help…”
of lip service is given by the various Federal Law Enforcement Agencies
about cooperation. They’ve always told us about how they are
there to help, and assist local law enforcement. That’s what
they say, but in reality, what the Feds consider cooperation is
most often a one way street. The locals provide the Feds with volumes
of information, while the Feds provide no information in return.
This perception is so pervasive that even the television cop shows
have picked it up, and have dedicated whole episodes to the dysfunctional
relationships between Local and Federal Law Enforcement. During
my career, I found that if there was a need to include any of the
Federal Agencies, I would pass the matter to the State Patrol, and
let them work with the Feds at their level.
1980’s, with the exception of the US Marshall’s Service,
the Federal Agencies recruited their agents straight out of college.
They ran them through their specific training programs, and then
put them to work. Unlike most local law enforcement, which typically
requires their people to work on patrol before being promoted to
an investigation position, the Feds don’t have a mechanism
for their people to gain the “street smarts” that comes
from a year or more working patrol activities. That’s just
my observation, and I’m sure someone from the Bureau is prepared
to challenge that opinion.
with individual agents, they always appeared to be courteous, well
educated, well trained people. However, maybe due to a lack of street
smarts, downright arrogance, or both the conduct of Federal Agents
always left me wondering about what was really going on in their
bureaucratic little heads. I provide you here, with three examples.
PD, March 1984:
the night time hours, one of the pneumatic transfer machines in
the drive through lanes at the local bank was vandalized. Damages
were cosmetic and assessed at about $200. Security of the bank was
not breached, and no money was stolen. This was a misdemeanor case
of Criminal Mischief. Evidence was collected and photographs were
taken. We had an idea as to who committed the damage, but we did
not have enough to make an immediate arrest.
following morning, I received a telephone call from a Special Agent
from the FBI. (I have no idea how the matter was brought to their
attention, but here they are.) I provided the agent with a synopsis
similar to what was provided in the above paragraph, to which the
Agent replied, “That’s very interesting. Would you like
us to take the case?”
my reply was something to the effect of, “You’ve got
to be kidding me..!”
why the Bureau was interested in this particular misdemeanor case
of criminal mischief in a small town in Nebraska, but could not
get a definitive answer other than the FBI was always interested
in matters involving financial institutions. Perhaps it was a very
slow day at the FBI. I thanked the Special Agent for the Bureau’s
interest, but assured him that I believed we had it covered.
four or five weeks later, we received four separate, individual
complaints of a person identifying himself as a Federal Criminal
Investigator for the Social Security Administration coming to the
homes of recently widowed, elderly women, telling them that they
were in danger of having their Social Security Benefits taken away
unless they purchased an expensive insurance plan. Two more complaints
were received later during the week.
of the investigation, I consulted with the Social Security Administration,
who told me they don’t have Criminal Investigators, and suggested
I contact the FBI. It seemed to me that what we had was a person,
impersonating a Federal Law Enforcement Officer attempting to extort
monies from their victims by fraudulent means.
indeed call the FBI, briefed them on the matter, and was bluntly
told, “It’s not our problem.”
why this was the case, I was simply told that it was not within
their jurisdiction, and it was strictly a local matter. I argued
that impersonating a Federal Agent is a violation of Federal Law,
as was extortion and fraud. I still got the same reply, “It’s
not our problem.”
way, while we never made an arrest for the Criminal Mischief, we
did make an arrest of the man contacting the widows. Without federal
charges, we could only cite him for the infraction of Door to Door
Sales Without a Permit.
PD, February 1986:
running radar along US Highway 275 in Valley, I observed a White
Dodge Four Door with two male occupants parked in the lot of a local
service station across the highway. From time to time, the car would
pull into the lot of the liquor store next door, then back to the
service station. Sometimes they would pull up to a nearby pay phone.
This was suspicious, but not illegal.
contacted by dispatch, and requested to call the owner of the service
station at his home by telephone. I went to the office to make the
phone call. I was told that his 17 year old employee had noticed
the people in the White Dodge, and thought they might be getting
ready to rob the gas station. I told him that I had also observed
these people, and that I would continue to keep an eye on them.
back out on the street and drove into the service station with the
pretext of making a purchase. When I pulled in, the white Dodge
immediately pulled out, and entered the lot of the liquor store.
I was able to get a closer look at the two individuals. The driver
was wearing a white shirt and a tie. The other was dressed like
a working cowboy in denims and a cowboy hat. This was certainly
the odd couple, and I was also beginning to believe that either
the gas station or the liquor store was going to be held up. I moved
back, but maintained a position where I could continue to watch.
White Dodge continued to move from the parking lot of the liquor
store to the gas station every so often as I continued to observe.
10:00 PM, the kid working the gas station was about to close the
business for the evening. As he turned out the lighted sign, the
White Dodge at the liquor store suddenly lit up, and pulled out
of the liquor store lot, squealing its tires as it sped out of that
lot, and entering the gas station lot! I figured the robbery’s
going down, so I hit the gas and quickly pulled into the gas station.
The kid working there must have thought the same thing, because
I could see, even before I pulled into the lot, he was literally
diving behind the counter to take cover!
the patrol car across the path of the Dodge, bailed out of the patrol
car, and drew down on the cowboy just as he was getting out of the
passenger side of the Dodge. “DON’T SHOOT! DON’T
SHOOT! FEDERAL AGENTS!” he shouted.
both subjects to keep their hands where I could see them, and ordered
the cowboy to very slowly produce some credentials. He produced
a badge and a photo ID card, which allowed everyone to breathe easy
again. “Alright, so what are you guys doing?” I ask.
agent in the white shirt and tie says, “We have a suspect
getting on the Greyhound Bus at Cheyenne on his way to Omaha where
we plan to arrest him. We wanted to put one of our people on the
bus before the arrest went down…”
I say, “But what are you doing here?”
were told this gas station was the Greyhound Depot in your town…”
Agent, White Shirt says.
“Gentlemen, Greyhound changed its routes back during the mid
1970’s or so. This hasn’t been a Greyhound Stop since
that time. As a matter of fact, I’ve not recalled seeing a
Greyhound Bus pass through town since I’ve worked her!”
let’s take a look at what I saw from my point of view…”
I went on, “I’m on patrol, and observe an oddly paired
team of the Marlboro Man, and an unknown Business Man, spooking
around, back and forth between this gas station and the liquor store.
It looked so suspicious, even the Kid here called his Boss! It wasn’t
a question of if there was going to be a hold up, but a question
of which store was going to be robbed, the gas station or the liquor
store? Now, putting your selves in my shoes, what do you think was
going through my mind, and how should I have reacted?”
I guess that looked pretty suspicious when you think about it…”
says the cowboy.
didn’t you talk to us about it before hand?” I asked.
determined that you didn’t have a need to know,” came
the reply from Agent, White Shirt.
“Didn't have a need to know…. Well if we did
have the need to know, we could have told you the Greyhound hasn’t
gone through here since God knows when, and even if it had, if we
had the need to know, we could have stayed out of your way while
you pretended to look like criminals. Do you realize that you
damn near got yourselves SHOT?!”
of my report was provided to the Special Agent in Charge at the
FBI Office at Omaha. We never received a reply or comment.
PD: November 1990
working the 11:00 to 7:00, A-Shift on a Friday Night. It was early
during the shift, and there was quite a bit of activity in and out
of the drinking establishments in the downtown business district.
look over the scene, I see the usual crowd of late night, local
gentry consisting of good ‘ol boys, swing shift factory workers,
members of the late night bowling league, shit kickers, party animals,
their assorted girl friends and one very odd duck who looks as out
of place as a beer can at high tea for the Queen!
Movie- Blazing Saddles: Deputy Jim explains the
nature of their constituents to Sheriff Bart.
person who is standing out so prominently is wearing a pastel yellow
pull over sweater, a pressed white shirt, a nice tie, dress pants,
and well shined Italian style shoes. Even at a distance, he appears
to be wearing an expensive wrist watch on one arm, and a gold men’s
bracelet on the other. He’s peeking in through the windows
of the tavern on the east side of the street, then walking south
to the pay phone a block away, then back to peek in the window of
the tavern. One did not have to be an expert of observation to come
to the conclusion that this guy was not part of the local crowd.
him go to the phone, back to the tavern, then start to the phone
again when I decided to have a closer look at the dude. I drove
around the block, then down the alley so I would be coming out of
the alley about the same time he arrived at the pay phone. I pulled
into view just as he was picking up the handset to the phone…
could see his shoulders drop in disappointment as he looked over
at me, ten feet away. I held up my index finger, and motioned him
over to my patrol car. “Are you lost?” I asked.
no… I’m Special Agent ‘So and So’ from the
FBI.” He pulled out his credentials, and handed them to me.
That’s a really shiny badge!! Very nice!” I
exclaim, “You’re standing out like a sore thumb, so
I have to ask the obvious question; What are you doing?”
Dude says, “There’s a guy we have under investigation
who’s in that bar. I’ve been sent to watch him.”
You mean the bar owner, Joe Blow!” I reply.
How would you know that?” asks Agent Dude.
“It’s been in the newspapers for the past several months.
I don’t think there’s anyone in Douglas County who doesn’t
know Joe Blow is under Federal Investigation.
Right…” says Dude looking toward the ground.
I say, “Maybe it’s part of your investigation where
you want Joe Blow to know you’re watching
him. If that’s your aim, then you’re doing a great job.
On the other hand, if you’re supposed to be stealthy and covert,
your cover was blown before I even came on duty. Everyone in town
knows you don’t belong here. Take a look over there!”
I pointed to a crowd of four or five individuals about a block away,
watching and pointing at us.
you need to watch this guy under cover, put on some blue jeans,
a t-shirt, maybe some old cowboy boots or ratty tennis shoes and
a ball cap. If you did that, you could probably go inside the tavern
and sit down right at the bar and easily take a close look at Joe
Blow all night long.”
Dude walked back to the pay phone, made his phone call. From there,
he walked back to his car, and left town.
fairness, the FBI and other Federal Law Enforcement Agencies perform
a difficult, yet necessary job which most local agencies could never
possibly coordinate. Even the large metropolitan agencies could
not do the job that the Feds do overall.
leave it to you how well their level of service and cooperation
was with Local Law Enforcement back in the 1980’s.
Purple Sage Law Enforcement