I was a cop for fifteen years, but I took my first ride in a scout car long before that, on a beautiful spring day in 1959. I was 10 years old, in fifth grade at Bennett Elementary School in southwest Detroit. Leaning against the tall chain-link fence that enclosed the playground, my two friends Randy McCoy and Jimmy Smith and I were singing Wilbert Harrison’s new hit song “Kansas City”:


“Well, I might take a train, I might take a plane,
but if I have to walk, I’m going just the same.
I’m going to Kansas City, Kansas City, here I come . . .”

Wives can be great companions and lots of fun, but from a cop’s perspective, an angry wife can be something else altogether. She can stop your heart. Of all my professional dealings with hostile women, two encounters really stand out.

Christmastime 1972 was one for the ages. I was a 24-year-old undercover cop assigned to the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department Metropolitan Narcotics Squad. It was December, and I was also serving with Company F, 425th Infantry (Ranger), in the Michigan National Guard.

How, after spending eight years on the Wayne County Sheriff’s force and three years in the Narcotics Bureau, did I end up in the Detective Bureau, shuffling papers and answering phones? Answer: because I decided it would be a good idea to illegally convert two semiauto M1 carbines to fully automatic. The Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms didn’t agree with my assessment. Neither did my department—never mind that these were weapons I used in my work as an undercover cop. So I worked patrol till I was promoted to detective, but what I really wanted was to get back to the Narcotics Bureau, where everything was fast, exciting, and fun.

It was a beautiful summer day, and I had just spent most of it in the 22nd District Court of Michigan, in the city of Inkster, a notoriously high-crime suburb west of Detroit. I was there because, three months before, on Thursday, March 4, 1976, a drunk ran a stop sign and slammed into my shiny black ’73 Ford LTD on Michigan Avenue in Inkster. I was still in uniform after finishing my shift in the scout car and making six arrests. So Jackie Wayne Giles, 36, became my seventh arrest that day.

Dear Stephanie,

It’s been over a month, and not a day goes by that I don’t think of your father. I didn’t know Ed was sick until nearly the end, when Officer Skidmore told me. Now, whenever I’m running along a road, I still half expect to see that black pickup pull over, and Ed jump out with his usual swagger and smile, hollering, “Hey, Iceman!” God knows how many times he did that and we’d just talk right there on the roadside. Ed was always upbeat and funny, and he’d often say we needed to get together. And I would always put it off for another day because I was busy with college, writing my book, or doing some other “pressing” thing. Now it’s too late, and I’m truly sorry for that.