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WARNING: the photo is SAFE, but the text may not be suitable for younger or sensitive readers!

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When we first receive word that are to be detailed to the Tactical Unit, we naturally figure it has something to do with our stellar performance over the past few months. Actually, what they need are two white guys to replace the two who had committed the offense of High Treason when they conspired to betray our beloved Commander’s trust by requesting a transfer to the 6th District. They are promptly busted down to Uniformed Patrol, whee they will have to serve their time in purgatory until said Commander feels that justice has been done…

We are rookies and therefore do not fully understand the inner-workings of the Third District. In short: we lack the good sense to decline the offer.

Our first night when we show up for work at the Tac Office, we don’t know what to expect. We learn that the Tactical Unit consists of three separate teams that rotate at regular intervals: Days, Nights, and Relief. When you work the latter, you bounce back and forth to cover manpower shortages on the other two watches. Each team is headed up by a Sergeant, using the radio call-sign 361 (three-sixty-one), 362 (three-sixty-two), or 363 (three-sixty-three), depending on which watch his team is working. The Sergeant will then assign each of his two-man teams a letter suffix – A through D – giving us actual radio call-signs such as 361-Adam, 361-Boy, etc.

It doesn’t make a lot of sense to put two rookie Tac-guys on the street as a team, but here we are, the blind leading the blind, walking out the door as 361-David. We’re not about to ask anyone to take us by the hand, so we’ll just have to wing it.

Just as we are about to hit the street, the early cars from the 3rd Watch are coming in for check-off, ready to hand in their reports, tickets, and whatever else they have to show for their 8 hours on the street.

Two wagon guys come in with some mope they just scooped up somewhere: "Anybody want this guy? We got him with some dope, but we just want to go home…"

Okay, they’re offering us a freebie. We look at each other, and at the other guys on our team, wondering if we have to give them first crack at this pinch – based on seniority or some other unwritten rule we’re ignorant of – but they turn up their nose: this caper is obviously beneath them…

Well, we figure this is better than nothing, and, since we don’t know our ass from a hole in the ground when it comes to this tactical shit, we’d better take whatever we can get.

We knock out the paperwork in no time, and Kelly goes off to run the guy on the computer – a single terminal behind the central District Desk – to see if he has any outstanding warrants, which is standard procedure before we can take him to the lock-up. Lo and behold, the guy pops a murder warrant. Man, you should have seen the faces of the other guys on our team when thy find out what they had passed up. They are pissed!

The greatest revelation about working Tac is that we are part of a "team" in name only. We are actually competing with everybody else, and "points" is the name of the game and all of our arrests are logged in our daily activity report, better known as our "humper."

Right out of the gate, we’ll hit 63rd Street, to see if we can scoop up a couple of hoes. They come in several varieties: He/Shes, Skanks or Skeezers, and Skullies. If a particular broad looks pretty good from a distance of 50 feet or more,
it’s almost certainly a dude. Some of these guys have gone the whole nine yards, and are now the proud owners of a full set of female plumbing. Throw in some hormone shots and they’ll even grow their own set of knockers. Most, however, have not yet gone that far, and they are still largely male under that no-so-subtle layer of make-up.

When you move in a little closer, you can see that Adam’s Apple bobbing up and down, and, as the saying goes: if you’re not careful, you may find out that the lovely lady has a bigger dick than you do…

Yet, for reasons I still don’t comprehend, some guys will pay these gumps to suck their dick, and – since they’re on the "receiving end" – they still firmly believe that they are not engaging in a homosexual sex-act.

If you ask these same customers if they’re let one of these He/Shes fuck ’em in the ass, they are horrified: "What do you take me for…?" Well, you just said it was okay to be on the "receiving" end, right?

Anyway, with the AIDS epidemic running rampant, we make sure we know who we are dealing with before we slap the cuffs on any of our "ladies" of the night.

There aren’t even that many He/Shes here on 63rd Street. Most customers looking for that type of action, take their business to the Wooded Island, just south of the Museum of Science & Industry, where they’ll find a much wider selection to choose from, with very little police interference.

The real broads that work 63rd Street are usually revolting to look at from any distance. The Skanks and Skeezers may have a few months left before they hit rock-bottom, while the
Skullies as already there, in the final stages of disease, addiction and despair. Covered with open sores, they will give you a blow-job for a few bucks, with or without a condom. Once Crack arrives on the scene, it is not unusual for them to quote the prices for their services in "rocks" instead of dollars.

Regardless of their particular plumage, all prostitutes on 63rd Street usually hang out on street corners, preferably one with a corner tavern they can duck into when they see us coming down the street.

Most of them will do that slow stroll, with gyrating hips, while flashing their sagging little titties to entice passing motorists.

To make a legitimate arrest for prostitution, you have to use an under-cover office, and the prostitute must quote him a price for a specific sex act.

Well, our Tac Lieutenant doesn’t want us to go through all that for no stinkin’ misdemeanor arrest. Instead, we are to use an arcane, vaguely worded municipal ordinance, which only requires that we see them "flag down a lone motorist, and engage him in a brief conversation, which – in our experience as a law-enforcement officer – is the modus operandi of a prostitute plying her trade on the public way."

The uniformed officers who work 63rd Street will get to know the girls, and most of the time they’ll give ’em a pass. Most of the time, they’ll look out for the girls, and make sure they don’t get hurt out there. Of course, in the "good old days" some coppers only treated them as human beings in return for a "freebie" to be cashed in on demand.

Tactical officers don’t give anyone a break, unless they can "trade up" for something better, like a gun, some serious dope, or solid information on a violent felon. It’s all about the number of heads you bring in at the end of the day. In the 3rd District – during that particular regime – quantity is more important than quality. It’s true that you get more points for a homicide or rape offender, but we are not given the time necessary to trace down tips and leads in order to solve serious crimes. Instead, we have to some in with something…anything, no matter how insignificant or embarrassing it may be.


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The photo shows the same Tac Office where I worked back in 1988 and ’89. This is where we processed our prisoners, and the small room in the back was a secure room where we could hold offenders for a short period of time, giving us the freedom to leave the office to track down additional leads and other offenders. This photo shows the same set-up used during the late-80s, but we had manual typewriters instead of computers…

In the book, I used a pseudonym for the many different officers I worked with over the years, but one I identified as Kenny, worked with me for most of my time on the job. Now that he has finally retired, I can give his real name: Kelly.

Posted by Andre’s Street Photography on 2017-10-26 01:16:12

Tagged: , Warning , Achtun , not suitable for young readers , Chicago , Chi-Town , Chicago, IL , Chicago Cop , Tales from the Street , Tales , Street , South Side , 3rd District , Third Police District , Chicago Police , CPD , Tac Unit , 3 Tac , tactical unit , inside , interior , Tac office , District Station , 71st & Cottage Grove , urban , urban photography , book , excerpt , , Author , Andre Van Vegten , photo by Andre Van Vegten , auto-biography , behind the scenes , glimpse , blackandwhite , B&W photography , B & W , B & N , zwartwit , schwarzweiss , noir et blanc , blanco y negro , blanco e nero , Chicagoist , Chicago Reader , Chicago Magazine , Chicago Tribune , Chicago capture , Grand Crossing , Woodlawn , Park Manor , South Shore , Canon , EOS , 60D , DSLR

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