Twenty-three miles east of us, by the corner of Dexter and West Chicago, in Detroit’s near north side, several black Wayne County sheriff deputies were facing something much more ominous than freezing weather. They were experiencing a cop’s worst nightmare.
On Monday, February 10, 1975, my partner, Ken Crowley, and I were assigned to a sixteen-square-mile area in the City of Romulus, a large suburb ten miles southwest of Detroit. Romulus’s most noteworthy attribute, other than hotels and crime, is that it surrounds Detroit Metropolitan Airport. Every shift, four sheriff’s cars patrolled the city, and Ken and I were working the eleven p.m.‑seven a.m. shift.
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!”