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It was my sixth year with the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department in Detroit, and I was assigned to uniformed motorized patrol at the Patrol and Investigation Division in western Wayne County. Six years on the force meant I no longer had to work nights, afternoons, or the shift that was toughest on the social life: seven at night to three in the morning. The best part of days was that if I had to go to court, I could do it while I was working—no more having to lose sleep. And I could go to college in the evening without any scheduling hassles.
It was 12:05 a.m., and I was lying alone in bed, heartbroken after a recent divorce. She and I were both cops, she with Detroit Police and I with the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department. I had worked the scout car all day and then gone out on a date that evening, but I knew she wasn’t the one for me. I had finally dropped off to sleep when the telephone by my bed jangled me awake.
“Hello?” I said, grabbing the phone.
“Bobby! Please help!” It was my mother’s frantic voice.
“What’s wrong, Mom?”
“There’s people breaking in our house!”
January 25, 2014, was a beautiful Saturday afternoon in Surf City, USA—also known as Huntington Beach, California. It was a pleasant seventy-two degrees, with not a cloud in the sky. The weather was especially nice since, just the evening before, I had flown out of Detroit, where it was two degrees with biting forty-mile-an-hour gusts. I had been in Detroit for a week of unavoidable family business with three self-absorbed siblings.