Thursday, May 17, 2018

Missing the Mark

By Officer Roelke McKenna

Village of Eagle Police Department

From the Chloe Ellefson Mysteries

by Kathleen Ernst

Roelke McKenna here. I'm in a bad way. My best friend and former partner, Rick Almirez of the Milwaukee Police Department, was killed on duty the other night.

He was killed in Milwaukee's Old South Side neighborhood.  I used to walk a beat here too, so I know it well.  A lot of Polish-Americans live here. Rick was killed near a statue honoring a famous Polish soldier.

The area is best known for St. Josaphat's Cathedral, which is an amazing church in a working-class neighborhood.

Good people live in this area, and I enjoyed my time here.  Rick did too. But now he's dead.

I didn't think anything could make that situation worse. However, I just learned that Rick did something strange the night he was killed. Rick missed his mark.

Like all beat cops, Rick was required to use a call box to check in every hour.  His mark time was ten minutes before the hour. Cops are only given a five-minute grace period to hit their mark. Sergeants get cranky if that window passes without communication.

Unless Rick was wrestling a violent drunk to the ground or something, he never missed his mark.

"Wasn't he carrying a handy-talkie?" I asked Dobry Banik, a mutual cop-friend.

"Rick always said it slowed him down."  Dobry just hitched one shoulder up and down.  "I don't carry one either.

I used to work at the MPD too. Rick and Dobry scoffed at me for being an "early adopter." When police vests came on the market, I got one.  When personal radios were made available, I carried one.  Sure, it was annoying to add an eight-pound weight to my duty belt. But for crying out loud, it's 1983. Why not take advantage of the latest tools?

But in Milwaukee, handy-talkies are still optional.  Lots of the beat men still rely solely on the old call boxes sprinkled through the city instead.

Anyway, then Dobry tells me that when the sergeant sent him looking, he found Rick in a bar.

"Trouble on a bar check?" I asked.

"No, Roelke.  Rick was having a Policeman's Coke."

As you probably know, "Policeman's Coke" is slang for alcohol.

I don't believe Rick missed his mark because he was boozing it up in some tavern. There has to be a good explanation. And the local cops, my old buddies, don't seem to be interesting in finding that explanation.

If the truth is going to be found, it's up to me to find it. Even if it costs me my career, which matters a lot. Even if it costs me my relationship with Chloe, which matters even more.

Wish me luck.

* * *
Kathleen Ernst is the author of thirty-six books, including the Chloe Ellefson Mysteries, mysteries for young readers, historical fiction, and two nonfiction books. Before becoming a full time writer she worked as a curator at Old World Wisconsin.

To learn more about the award-winning Chloe Ellefson series---including the latest, Mining For Justice, see Kathleen's website.

Kathleen is celebrating the series with an eight-month-long retrospective, and it's Tradition of Deceit month! Stop by her blog to learn more about the book, and watch her Facebook Author Page for a Giveaway.

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