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Joseph Wambaugh: Lines and Shadows Excerpt

Joseph Wambaugh: Lines and Shadows Excerpt

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Published by OpenRoadMedia
A true account of a daring attempt to make the U.S.-Mexico border safe.
A true account of a daring attempt to make the U.S.-Mexico border safe.

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Published by: OpenRoadMedia on Jan 22, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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09/29/2013

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
LinesandShadowsJosephWambaugh
 
AMysteriousPress.comOpenRoadIntegratedMediaebook
 
Prologue
IN1982,THREESANDIEGOAREAPOLICEOFFICERSUNDERWENTpsychologicalcounselinginanefforttoassesssometraitsthatmightcauseeitherembarrassmenttothepolicedepartmentordangertotheofficersthemselves.Thethreeofficersinquestionwereallconvincedthatdisturbancesintheirliveswererelatedtopoliceservice.Atleasttwohadexperiencedsomeepisodesofweeping,whichispredictableinpolicestresscases.Atleasttwohadsomethoughtsofself-destruction,whichisextremelypredictableinpolicestresscases.TheonlyotherthingthethreeofficershadincommonwasthattheywereallpartofalittleexperimentconductedbytheSanDiegoPoliceDepartment.Theexperimentlastedeighteenmonths,endinginApril1978.Itwasastrangeexperiment,theresultsofwhicharestillbeingdebatedonbothsidesoftheMexico-UnitedStatesborder.TenofficersoftheSanDiegoPoliceDepartmentwereaskedtowalkafootbeat.ItmaywellhavebeenthemostbizarreandremarkablefootbeatwalkedbyAmericanpolicemeninmoderntimes.Inadditiontobeingthestoryofthatwalkingbeat,thisisalsoataleoftwocities.Eachofthecity’smetropolitanareashousesaboutonemillionpeople.Onecityisgeographicallysmallandthepeopleliveincloseproximity.Onecityislargeandsprawling.Inonecity,inhabitantsstillsufferdiseasesconsideredexoticintheother:cholera,polio,typhus,tuberculosis,rickets.Intheothercity,
 
 
separatedfromtheformermostlybyanimaginaryline,liessomeoftherichestrealestateintherichesthalfofthericheststateintherichestcountryonthefaceoftheearth.Withinatwo-hourdrivenorthfromthatinvisiblelinetherefloatunbelievablearmadas:yachtsandpleasurecraft,halfamillionofthem.Andnolessthan150buildersofyachtsandpleasurecraftstrivingtofilltheinsatiableneed.Althoughit’sdifficulttosaywhereunusualideasoriginate,thisonemayhavebeenbornmanyyearsagoinahagofahotelneartheMexicanborder.ThetopfloorofthehotelinSanYsidrohoused“thebridalsuite.”ThesoleoccupantwasanofficeroftheUnitedStatesBorderPatrol.Hecouldcrossthefloorintwostrides.Hewasaverybigmanlivinginaverysmallroom,wrylynamed.DickSniderrecallshisdaysinthathotelvividly.Theflooroutsidehisroomrandownhillsothathehadtoskatetotheslime-greenbathroomdownthehall.Slippingandslidingbackupthefloortohiscoffinofaroomwasanothermatter,especiallywhenhe’dbeenputtingdowntequilaandmescalandMexicanbeeratThePlaylandClub,atheater-cum-saloonrunbyanex-tightropewalker.Maybethat’showitallseemedtothetwenty-five-year-oldborderpatrolmanonhisfirstassignment,tryingtoliveandsupportanestrangedfamilyon$75aweek,reducedtoeatingcheesesandwichesthreetimesaday,listeningtotheex-tightropewalkerrecallhergoodolddayswalkingwire.SanYsidroisnotanincorporatedtown;it’smostlyaSpanish-speakingcommunitywithinthecitylimitsofSanDiego.Onecan,theysay,hittheUnitedStatesportofentrywithanemptytequilabottlethrownfromanyhouseinSanYsidro.Anexaggeration,butonegetstheidea.BackwhenformerborderpatrolmanDickSniderwaspinwheelingdownthehallsofthelittlehotelitwasmostlycesspools,traintrestles,stuccoorcinder-blockbeerbars,andstreetsasgreasyandblisteredasfriedtortillas.

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