Chicago Warriors: Sgt. Mike Castro

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By the time I got back to the ER from my walk, most of the people had already left.

Mac hadn't gotten any better, but he hadn't gotten any worse either. I left to go home for a few hours sleep so that I could make it through the shift tonight. Shirley went home briefly to shower and grab a few things to get her through the night. She wasn't about to leave Mac alone, they had been together too many years and been through too much for that team to be split up now. I found myself questioning Him again...why did bad things happen to good people? Why did scumbags seem to prosper despite their evil ways, yet folks like Mac and Shirley are constantly asked to bear not one, but several crosses? It didn't seem fair...

I woke up groggy. Three hours sleep, after all of the emotional turmoil of the day was woefully short of what I needed to recharge my batteries. By the time I got my equipment together and headed to the station, I barely made in time for roll call. I walked in just as the sergeant was ordering everyone to fall in. I stood in the front row next to Marilyn.

"Hi Bens, did you get any rest?"

"I got a few hours, how about you?"

"The same," I said, "but I could have used another eight."
"I heard that," she said. "We're pointing that car straight to Dunkin Donuts after roll call. I need an extra large cup tonight if I'm going to stay awake."
Mac's replacement was a guy named Mike Castro. I remembered Mike from when I used to work day shift. We both came on the job about the same time, but he eventually got the day shift because his wife Casey was a nurse on afternoons at Christ Hospital. Mike was an aggressive, no nonsense cop that didn't pull any punches. He wore his heart on his sleeve; no one ever had to guess where Mike was coming from. He loved police work and he was good at good that in his early days on the job the undercover unit used him for a lot of temporary assignments. Mike was a good schmoozer, particularly when it came to drug deals. He could play any role, be it big time dealer, money man, or simply going on a controlled buy. He eventually got burned out doing the UC stuff. He told the bosses that he preferred being in uniform so that the bad guys knew exactly who they were dealing with.
"Morales, where are you cuffs?' asked Castro as he inspected the troops.

They're not in the case sarge?"

"No, what are you going to do, ask the crook to provide his own? See me after roll call and sign for a pair until you locate yours. I hope that we don't have some schmuck running around with your cuffs on."

"Or some babe chained to a headboard," someone added.
"Alright, enough of that. You see that mirror over there by the lockers? See the sign above it...? It reads, Does your appearance command respect? Check yourselves ladies and gentlemen before each shift, make sure your uniform is clean and pressed and that all of your equipment is present and accounted for. Right Morales?"

"Right Sarge."

"Okay at ease; take your seats. For those of you who don't know me, I'm Sgt. Mike Castro from the 2nd Watch. I've been volunteered to fill in for Mac until he's well enough to come back to work. I know Sgt. McNamara...he's a good man and he's tough. If anyone can beat a heart attack, it's Mac. I know a little bit about his background, including his time in Nam. He's had worse setbacks than this, but if any of you have a connection with ‘The Man Upstairs,' that will certainly help speed his recovery."

Castro gave out the assignments, talked about the admin items that needed addressing, and then got down to the real business at hand. "Ladies and gentlemen, I know that we will be feeling each other out the next few weeks. You'll want to know how much ‘crap' you can get away with before I come down on you. Let me dispel any notions right now. I'm a no-nonsense cop that loves you if you work hard, and despises you if you don't. We get paid by the citizens of this town to keep them safe, and they expect us to lock up any knuckle draggers that may try to do them harm. If I find out that any of you fail to take action, or as is sometimes the case on midnights, if anyone tries to grab a nap, I'll write your ass up. If you want to sleep, you should be working another shift. I don't have any sympathy for those of you that have second jobs during the day and then show up here for work exhausted. Your private life is yours; your tour of duty is mine. Any questions?"

Mac had been firm but not this vociferous. As I looked around the room, I saw everyone focused and alert, except one person-Rosato. He spoke up quickly, "Sarge, are you threatening us?

"What's your name officer?"
"I'm Officer Sal Rosato, people call me ‘The Hammer'."
"Well Rosato, or Hammer, or whatever you call yourself, you make your own interpretation about what I just said but know this: You and I will get along famously as long as you do your job. If that sounds threatening to you-so be it. If you don't like what I said, make a phone call to whoever your ‘Chinaman' is and see if you can get rid of me. In the meantime, work your beat, make arrests when needed, and back up your colleagues. That's all I ask."
Hammer didn't have any comeback. He wasn't a real bright guy, having just put a target on his back for Sgt. Castro to zero in on. He'd know Rosato well enough if he stayed on mids for any length of time. My hunch was that the two of them would cross swords in the near future.
"Okay, if there's nothing more, hit the streets."

We filed out to the lot, everyone pretty much doing the same things...checking equipment and vehicles. Ten minutes later, the early midnight shift was on the street and the afternoon guys were preparing to come in for check off. It was Marilyn's turn to take the wheel for the first four hours, and true to her word she headed straight for the coffee shop. We pulled up to see Rosato inside at the counter.

"Want to wait a few minutes Pete before we go in?"
"No, let's just get in real quick and get out."
We parked and went inside. "Hi Lisa!"
"Hi Bens, you and Pete doing alright tonight?"
"A little sleepy Lisa, but we'll get by as long as we get some caffeine in us-give us two large black please."
Rosato turned and faced us, "Well, look who's here, the hero and his new gal pal. If I were you Benson, I'd make sure that all my insurance policies were paid up-this guy could be bad for your health."

I stepped a bit closer to Rosato. "Listen brother, I don't appreciate your remarks, nor does anyone else. If you have a problem with me, you and I can settle it in private."

"I'm not your brother Shannon, and I'll say whatever I wanna say. You don't have your guardian angel, Mac, here anymore."

Marilyn stepped in between us. "That's enough Rosato, how the hell old are you anyway? Grow up and just do your job. If you have a problem with my partner, then you have a problem with me. Understood?"

I was impressed with her. She stepped right up to the plate and knocked it out of the park. Most guys just let Rosato get away with his arrogant remarks. Marilyn let it be known that she would not be intimidated; she wasn't going to take any bull from him.

"Take it easy Miss America, I got no beef with you," said Hammer as he raised both hands in a gesture of surrender. "All I'm sayin' is that you gotta watch your back around this guy. You know what happened with his old partner, right?"

"Yeah, I know what happened," she said. "He and his partner saved someone's life by putting their own on the line. I'd go through any door with Pete; I'm not so sure about you though." What do I owe you Lisa?"
"Four twenty five."

Bens put the money on the counter. We said good bye to Lisa and got back in our car.

"Bens, I don't need anyone to fight my battles, but you sure kicked his butt in there. I don't think that he was expecting that. Most guys just keep quiet and take it from him; you threw it right back in his face. Anyway, thanks partner."

She pulled the squad out on Pulaski..."Let's go earn our keep, brother!"

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John Wills spent 2 years in the U.S. Army before serving 12 years with the Chicago Police Department (CPD). He left the CPD to become an FBI Special Agent, working organized crime, violent crime, and drugs.  John Wills is an author of Chicago Warriors: Midnight Battles in the Windy City published by

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