Thursday, June 30, 1977

Police Decoys Shield the Helpless

“Purse snatch! Throw your coffee out the window!” The car careens into action, chasing two young men as they run up the block.

“Freeze or I’ll blow your brains out!” Officer Monahan shouts. Officers DeStasio and Hurley jump from the car guns drawn and tackle one of the youths. Officer Monahan speeds into oncoming traffic, brakes his car on the sidewalk and leaps out, cornering the second youth and immediately handcuffing him. The two “perpetrators” as the police repeatedly call them, are shoved into the back seat panting as a crowd gathers. Small boys shoot toy guns into the air and an ashen-faced cab driver tells Officer Monahan “I made the sign of the cross when I saw you coming. You want me to call a back-up?”

“I’m 15,” one of the purse snatchers tells an onlooker. “Are they allowed to hit me?” What do you get for purse snatching? One to three?”

The suspects are taken to a nearby police station for booking. “We just needed money to get home.” “How would you like it if your mother was robbed?” “She has been,” he muttered, and adds a little grandly, “We had no alternative.”

Once they are in the police precinct house their pockets are emptied, the contents checked and noted and then returned. “There’s your ride home, by the way, Officer Hurley says, waving several dollar bills from one of their pockets.

I lose more sandwiches and pizzas out the window,” Officer Monahan says, “But street work is what I think of as being a cop.”

Dunning 6/30/77 NYT

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