Partners, Episode 1:
Arlington Police Department, November 1983
“Hey! You told me you like your coffee that way!”

The Fall of ’83 was a time of many changes in my life! I just got married in September, and I was offered and accepted the position of Chief of Police for the Village of Arlington in western Washington County.

On my first day, (or in this case, evening) on the job, I was introduced to my Second Office and new partner, Corporal 4292, Dale E. Bessey. Clearly, Dale was better educated than I, and had far more experience having served with the Police Department at Cozad, Nebraska, and as a Military Policeman for the US Army before that. He declined the job I now had, as he wanted to concentrate on finishing his degree at the University.

The patrol car we shared was a piece of crap! It was a 1978 Ford LTD (not a Crown Victoria,) 4-door with something like one-hundred-eighty-thousand miles on the odometer. It was gray, with a maroon vinyl top. It had a bullet hole in the driver’s side front door, from the inside out! (Who knows which one of my predecessors was responsible for that!) While it had a 302 V-8 Engine, it was not a police car. It was your basic family car that the city had purchased from a local dealer off the lot. The communications equipment was installed badly. It was cluttered, inefficient, and uncomfortable. It was literally falling apart around us a little bit more each day. I could write a whole article solely on this rolling junk yard! …But I digress!

It’s my first night on patrol with my new partner, Dale. Friday night in the big city! As luck would have it, my flashlight was completely dead, so we stopped by the local convenience store to get new batteries. This was one of those 6-cell, cop type flashlights which doubled as an impact weapon. We get the batteries and hit the road. Dale is driving while I change the batteries. To keep them from rolling around the car, I start tossing the old betteries in the glove box, but due to the lemon like nature of the car, every time I place battery number 6 in the box, the glove box snaps back open! So I take the sixth battery, and drop it into a coffee cup that’s Velcroed to the dash. Life is good!

Some four or five hours later, (I’m now driving,) we pull into a lot alongside the highway to watch traffic. Dale asks, “Would you like some coffee?”

“Sure,” I reply. “Where shall we go?”

“I got it covered!” as Dale reaches into his duffel bag and pulls out a thermos.

He unscrews the cap and pours some coffee into it and hands it to me. He then take the cup from its Velcro mount on the dash. Now, a C-Cell size flashlight battery is pretty hefty, so I think he’d notice the battery; but no… I watch as he continues to pour coffee into the cup.

I say to Dale, “Do you always drink your coffee with batteries in it?”

“You bet! That’s the way my old man and I like it!”

Ok… After all, who am I to judge? Some people like Dale and his Dad like batteries in their coffee…

So here we are sipping our coffee when all the sudden, Dale spews and spits coffee all over his side of the patrol car! “JESSUS F**CKIN CHRIST!!! THERE’S A BATTERY IN MY COFFEE CUP!!!

“I asked you if you always drank coffee with batteries in it! You said you liked it that way!”

“I thought you meant that the coffee was strong! I didn’t know there was really a battery in the cup!”

On and on he went… “Oh my God! I’m going to die! There’s a funny taste in my mouth!” …and so forth.

Actually, from that point forward, we were a perfect match! Including Arlington, we worked at three separate police departments together. He is the God Father of my second child. He was my partner!

..And from that point forward, when ever Dale ordered coffee, I always asked, “One battery or two?

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