(This is the fourth story in our ongoing "To Serve and Protect" series. Following "Undercover Operations" I decided to go back a bit and tell the story of how Pat and Mike met and fell in love. The events here take place before any of the events of the other stories, except for the flashback in the original Serve and Protect.)
Pat Morrison kept her eyes determinedly fixed on the unfolding road in front of her. Piled all around her in her battered 85 Ford were all her worldly goods. She had left the interstate behind several hours ago and was now nearing the coast, which meant she was now on the other side of the state from where she had left that morning. The other side and her now former lover Joyce. Pat slowed for a moment and blinked tears back. Setting her jaw she pressed again on the accelerator and sped back up.
As her car came around a curve Pat noticed a marked cruiser on the side of the road pointed towards her. She looked down at the speedometer. Great, 70 in a 55. She looked in her rear view mirror and groaned when the unit pulled out after her and activated its blue lights. She pulled right to the side of the road, shut off the engine and waited. "Wonderful," she thought. The pinholes in her pocketbook where her badge used to be would probably not impress this guy at all. She fumbled her driver's license out.
The officer pulled behind her and got out. He approached the car carefully, as all police officers do who want to see the end of their shift. Pat rolled the window down and extended her hand with her license before the officer, a sheriff's deputy Pat noted, could ask for it.
"Thank you Miss," the deputy acknowledged politely. "May I see your proof of insurance also, please."
"Certainly," Pat answered. She leaned across the car and opened the glove compartment. She had just a moment to realize what a mistake she had made when her now former service weapon was exposed. She heard the rasp of the officer's weapon against the leather of his holster and froze even before his shouted command.
"DON'T MOVE," the deputy commanded. She heard him activate his shoulder mike, "9L Lincoln to Dispatch. Officer needs assistance. I have an armed subject at my location."
"9L Lincoln 10-4," the metallic voice of the dispatcher answered. "All units, Officer needs assistance. Highway 143 by mile marker 38 southbound."
Pat heard another voice, a deep baritone audible even over the radio, "Dispatch, 9L, this is 9C Charles. I am enroute and will be there in 5."
Pat could hear the distant wail of a siren as the officer behind her instructed her, "Miss, place your hands slowly behind your head. Do it NOW." After Pat complied, he told her "Straighten up, keeping your hand behind your head. Do it NOW." He kept her like that until the first backup unit arrived. In short order Pat had been removed from the car, searched and cuffed. She maintained her calm, mad only at herself for forgetting to tell the officer about her weapon before the whole thing started.
"Miss Morrison?" Pat was able to recognize the male voice she had heard over the radio. "I'm Sergeant Gibson of the Jackson County Sheriff's Department." She looked up and categorized the man in front of her. About 6' 2", 200 pounds, well built, with short black hair. His eyes were invisible behind his sunglasses. "Please turn around." Strangely that statement seemed to sound more like a request than a command. She did and felt him take the handcuffs off. Turning back she saw he had removed his sunglasses and that he had smiling brown eyes, although somehow; even in the turmoil, Pat caught a glimpse of something faraway and sad in them.
"Miss Morrison, or I suspect I'm more correct when I say Officer Morrison, would you please tell me why you didn't identify yourself to Deputy DuPree when he first stopped you? It would have saved a lot of trouble."
Pat gaped. "How did you know?" she asked in surprise.
Sergeant Gibson laughed. "Pretty easy actually. You have a Glock 9 mil in a highride holster, obviously an off duty rig. Bob DuPree told me you almost anticipated his orders during the stop. You've either been busted a lot or you've been making arrests yourself. Finally, the FOP (Fraternal Order of Police) sticker that's on the bumper. Its not the one given to associate members, its the one given to real cops. So... ?" He left the open sentence hanging in the air.
Pat sighed. She explained her situation, without going into deep details, about breaking up and deciding to leave her job and where she had been living. She didn't exactly say so, but she left the impression the breakup had been with a boyfriend.
By the time she finished she and the Sergeant were leaning on the hood of his squad car. He had called the other units off and reported all under control at the scene. He became silent for a moment than waved the original Deputy over and spoke to him for a minute in private. Returning to Pat he handed her the keys to her car and smiled. "Well, 24 hours is close enough for professional courtesy. Please put the darn pistol in the trunk and drive carefully."
"Thank you," Pat managed to reply. She smiled for the first time since she had walked in the door and caught Joyce in bed with that red headed woman. "I appreciate it."
"No problem," Gibson replied. "Where are you headed?"
Pat pondered that question for a moment. "I really don't know," she admitted.
"Well if you don't know, this is a pretty good place to be," he replied. "We're on the coast, its not so hot as it is inland and our department is hiring. I don't know you at all, but I can tell you don't get flustered in a bad situation and that's half of being a good cop."
"And the other half?" Pat raised an eyebrow at the Sergeant.
He walked to his car and opened the door. He smiled. "You already know it, I can tell." With that he climbed into his car and left, waving at her as he did.
Pat walked back to her car. She opened the trunk and placed her pistol inside. She looked after the departing cruiser and waved back. "Oh my," she thought. She hadn't been paying a lot of attention to guys anytime lately. Something about him though seemed to touch her. She looked around. "Wonder what it would be like to work here?" she thought.
Two weeks later Deputy Pat Morrison was sworn into the Jackson County Sheriff's Department and assigned to the Uniform Division at the Central Preceint. Since she was already a state certified peace officer she went immediately to work.
Inspector Robert Brett walked Pat down to the briefing room. "Pat, usually we start new officers on the afternoon or morning shifts. However, considering your experience and the recommendation I received I'm going to put you on nights. You'll be partnered with another officer to teach you this part of the county and where the trouble spots are. You have, of course, county wide jurisdiction but we provide all the law enforcement in an pretty big county so learn this precient first. "
Pat nodded but then asked, "Recommendation? Who made one, someone from my old department?"
"No, right here as a matter of fact," Inspector Brett replied as they entered the briefing room. "Lieutenant Donaldson," he called. "Over here."
Pat met her shift supervisor and was introduced to the other officers on her shift. She found them the usual group found in any law-enforcement community, young and older; black, white and Hispanic; male and female. Lieutenant Donaldson waved them to their chairs and looked at the door. He tapped his fingers and gave an exaggerated sigh. The other officers laughed.
Just then a man came rushing through the door. Pat recognized him as the Sergeant she had met at the traffic stop.
"Ah, Michael Gibson, how nice of you to join us," the Lieutenant said. "And two minutes early! We are honored."
"Stuff it Will," was Gibson's comeback.
"Mike, this is Deputy Pat Morrison," Donaldson introduced the two of them. "You'll be her FTO (Field Training Officer). Pat, I fear this disrespectful Sergeant is the best we can offer you at this time. If you have any problems with, punch him out and I'll write the paperwork to cover you. Now if we can get on with the briefing, please."
After roll call they went out to the line together to pick up their car. Pat looked at Mike. "You made that recommendation didn't you?"
"I did, Pat," he answered. He tossed her the keys with a grin. "You drive. Let's go learn the county."
Pat laughed. "Okay Mike." They got in the car and pulled away, already talking like old friends.
Pat and Mike made good partners. They quickly learned each others' quirks and were able to anticipate what the other was going to do in a given situation. After the three month probationary period finished they were assigned as permanent partners.
As close as they became they did not share off duty time together a lot. Occasionally they would go get a beer after changing clothes but by and large they parted at the end of their shift. They learned the basics about each other, homes and education and training. Pat learned Mike was a widower with two young girls and Mike knew Pat was single. Neither of them dated, Mike because he announced he had no time and Pat because she simply wanted to be by herself to recover from Joyce. There seemed to be no particular policy or opinion in the department or even in the county itself about same sex dating but Pat saw no one, male or female she was interested in. She did notice a very attractive dark haired narcotics officer talking to Mike on occasions but decided not to pursue anything with anyone for the time being.
.... There is more of this story ...