Sergeants and Gravy
1,640 words; about a 8 minute read
Location: Darrell's Restaurant, Manteo, NC
Timeline: 03 APR 2023, 0830
It was an important tradition and one that, as far as Sergeants Nell and Monroe were concerned, was vital to the operation of Alpha Platoon. The two sergeants were responsible for the leadership of the tour's operation, one for the patrol side of the house and one for the investigative side.
The two men always met on the first day of their three-day tour at Darrell's Seafood for a delicious breakfast or dinner, depending on if they were on days or nights that month. Sunday was the only exception because Darrell's was closed, and they would decide on a location the night or the day before instead. At these meetings, they would discuss the events of the upcoming few days and any concerns one had with personnel, equipment, or cases.
"Morning Levi," Nell said as he slid into the open side of their usual booth.
Levi grinned across at his patrol counterpart as he finished rolling up the sleeves of the light blue button down he wore.
The tie was still in the coat pocket and said coat was hanging from the booth's side tree. "Morning, Russ," Levi said. "Ready for another day of cops and robbers?"
"I'd prefer a day of just cops," he shrugged. "But it's not really the way things work out normally, is it?"
The outer banks had a diverse demographic of people depending on the year. The late spring to early fall is the busiest, quieting down over the colder months. Year-round residents who were primarily low to middle class who worked all the various local businesses or worked the tourist and summer swells and struggled considerably in the off-season. There, of course, were a sprinkling of well-off residents who worked in the more professional areas required year-round or owned local businesses. During the summer, there were those who owned second homes in the OBX to spend the warm times at the beach. Then there were the tourists who always made things interesting.
"About time for things to start picking up again," Russ observed. Life here and policing here was very different from where he'd gotten his start, but overall, he appreciated where he now called home.
Shifting into a comfortable position in his seat, Levi added creamer to his coffee and stirred it the requisite (for him) number of times before removing and tapping it on the cups rim. He blew on the hot brew and commented, "The overt stuff is always there. It's like a swimming duck. Everything can look calm on the surface but that ducks legs are kicking away where you can't see them."
Finally Levi sipped at his slowly cooling coffee, and said through a smile, "But you're right. The seasonal traffic will start. People will begin opening up houses and we'll get a rush of calls: All a month or more old because it's too much trouble to sign up with our spot check list service."
"Indeed," Nell agreed, "still I'll take a wild summer on the Outer Banks over the southside of LA any day," he pointed out. He waved the waitress over, "the usual please," he said when she pulled out her pad. The usual for him was black coffee, pineapple juice, and the sausage and gravy over biscuits with two eggs over easy.
When the waitress looked his way, Levi was ready. With a smile and half a wink, he said, "I'll go with the health food option. Two eggs sunny side up, double order of country ham, grits and toast. Milk, water and a side of peanut butter.
"How were your days off," Levi asked once the waitress had scribbled down their order. He slouched back into the banquet's seat and glanced around the restaurant, checking the scene without realizing he was doing it.
"They were good, quiet, enjoyable. Wife was busy left me home alone most of the time, glorious," he grinned. "How about yours?"
"Yard work," Levi replied with a wry grin. "Diane's birthday party was the primary. I had to get the yard cleaned up so she could have friends over and that morphed into getting the mower's oil changed, raking the yard and getting things as presentable as possible. You know the drill." After another swig of coffee, he said, "That did let De and me have a date night Saturday. We caught a movie and ate at the Blue Water." Chuckling, he added, "It was all very domestic."
"Chores often have a way of multiplying though it sounds like a nice balance to the weekend. I can respect that, and happy birthday to her," Russ said.
"I don't expect a lot for this tour," he said," turning the conversation back to business. "I don't think it'll pick up for another week or two. I think it's time to enjoy it while it lasts... I heard a rumor that Kitty Hawk would ask us to keep a unit in town and even offered the department money for dedication once the summer gets going."
"Not surprising. They've been thin and the last couple of officers they've had were almost straight out of academy, if I remember right." Pursing his lips in thought he continued, "But, I'd better push to clear some more files if we can before the rush does hit. Nothing major really going on, all petty stuff as far as official complaints go. We've a few warrants to look at this week and we're working on those catalytic converter thefts."
"I like petty," Russ nodded. "If Kitty Hawk finally folds and we can get rid of Kill Devils Hills the County will be running the whole thing, as it should be," Russel said.
The Sheriff's Office provided all investigative and special operations services to Kitty Hawk Police as it was who only had basic patrol officers and a few supervisors. The City of Kill Devil Hills, however, had some underwhelming detectives and relied only on the Sheriff's Office if they had to. At times they'd been known to call in the Highway Patrol or State Bureau of Investigation before the Sheriff's Office had to enter and throw around their weight.
After applying his fork to breakfast and chewing through that, Levi commented, "Crime doesn't follow borders. That's where departments get into trouble not talking to one another. It's about time to have a sit down and compare notes on things. Intel has been a little light lately. Or at least not as timely as it should be.
"Kill Devil Hills wants nothing to do with us. There is not much that can be done with that other than throwing our weight around. The Sheriff has done a good job enforcing our jurisdiction on them. Really the officers would be smart to want a merger anyway, just like every other department that did it. More money, better equipment, better opportunity."
"Who gives a shit what the car says on the side?" he shrugged.
"Mostly John Q public. Local police means the locals have more control. Or think they do. They don't see the other side of it," Levi commented, his eyes sweeping the patrons and diner before returning to their conversation. "That's why there was so much butt-hurt over the ghost decals we tried on a few years back. The hew and cry over people wanting to know a patrol vehicle was there before the wig-wags were cut in always struck me as more about people worrying about getting caught than anything else.
"Frankly, I think that ghost cars are idiotic. Though, the fact of the matter is that public opinion is not the answer to good policing. The public has the right to know that we are doing the right thing and to make sure we are doing the right thing by electing our Sheriff. They do not have the right to tell us it's not fair they didn't know that something was a law enforcement vehicle or not. Though, we'll never convince them of that. And, honestly, I think the sheriff has a pretty good balance of what he does and doesn't tolerate from the public. I'm not sure any other department has a narcotics dog named Cheech... or just flatly doesn't give a shit what you think of his patrol cars."
"Which is why I'm glad I don't have to worry about politics all of the time," Levi commented, finishing off the coffee in his cup. "The last commissioner's meeting slogged down during the sheriff's report over expanded foot, bike and quad patrol presence. I thought the boss was going to chew through his lip." He cast his eyes around the diner again and out into the parking lot before catching the waitress's eye and tapping the side of his coffee cup as she held up a pot, wordlessly asking if he was ready for a refill.
"I think the boss is too popular with the voters for the commissioner to give him too hard of a time. I also agree that I would rather deal less with politics than without. I took the Lieutenant's exam but I don't think I'd want to go any higher than that," Nell pointed out.
"Politics effects everything," Levi sighed. "Sifting through it all takes nearly as much time as actually sleuthing around and fighting crime. Half of my morning will be returning calls and reassuring people we're actually doing things. Keep as much of the dross off of the bosses desk as we can and keep the troops from getting bogged down so they can do the foot work." Chewing on the inside of his lip he remarked, "I"m still on the fence about moving up the ladder. I'll agree with you there."
“And one reason I never wanted to go into detective work,” he said. “Better you than me my friend.”