Sunday, May 29, 2011

Miami Homicide Detectives on First 48 ROCK!!!

"The First 48" is a mesmerizing documentary series following real detectives solving real cases. I grew up "hating cops" out of some misguided anti-establishment notion. And I realize now that what I dislike is a) the fact that "Vice" even exists and that people's personal 
choices, good or bad, are regulated by law.  I don't believe you can legislate morality.  Nor do I think we should;  and b) cops who abuse their power. 

But I digress. I'm watching Miami homicide detectives, Det. Kevin Ruggiero, Det. Orlando Silva, Sgt. Ervin Ford,  solving the brutal murder of a 24 year old woman, a corrections officer, and her beautiful 2 year old son. The woman's boyfriend, the boy's father, was laying in bed with his girlfriend with their two-yr-old lying in the middle, and suddenly half asleep he heard POP POP POP POP POP... Bam! His son is dead in his arms- And he sees his girlfriend, his son's mom, also shot dead. All I can say is, should something so tragic, so chilling, happen to you or someone you know, you--or they--should only hope for detectives a tenth as passionate and capable as Miami PD Murder police.  They do not give up! 

 I'm glad for us and for them that doing this job has not deadened or hardened them so much that they are unaffected by a crime like this.  I mean using an AK47 to shoot a baby?!  Who could possibly be so cruel and heartless.  If there weren't detectives willing to face that kind of ugliness, who would get these animals off the street? How would we? 

Moms and dads themselves, they have to live with these images  yet  keep their perspective. They have to care enough to be motivated, but have to keep the feelings in check so they really can do their job. It's amazing how little respect police tend to garner and how much we owe cops like these.  

To have the chance to see homicide detectives up close has changed my view of "cops" forever. (Thanks First 48.)     These men and women in Miami homicide are surprisingly free from gender bias, to my surprise. The boss is a woman, Sgt. Eunice Cooper, and not one of these men treats her differently than their male superiors.  The best of the male detectives aren't afraid to tear up or experience genuine emotion when on a scene like the brutal killing of a young woman and her two year old son..  And yet they're  professional enough, and experienced enough, to find a way to set their emotion aside to do their job. 

This murder, of a completely innocent young and her toddler son, is no run of the mill crime.  Left behind is a shocked and traumatized husband whose son died in his arms, grieving siblings and parents devastated. Detectives feel this woman, a corrections officer, is one of their own, and several have children around the same age.  With nothing at all to go on, every  detective in homicide works this case, no one sleeps for 48 hours.  And by the third day they know the identity of both perps and bring them in. Way too hardened too be swayed by interrogation techniques neither talk but one is arrested and charged as they also found his gun .   

How did they do it? Because the victims were shot from outside the house through the window, and thus there were no fingerprints, DNA, and no witnesses who saw their faces.  All they had were shell casings.

First they put out a public plea for information. The female victim's parents who were also the baby's grandparents spoke about their daughter. She was clearly kind and caring and greatly beloved. The boy's father was too distraught to speak but several spoke of the sweet, bright young boy who had barely begun to live. And  after the parents spoke, Sgt. Ervin Ford spoke too.  He also teared up as he spoke, concluding his remarks with a simple plea.

Usually television pleas like this bring many calls to a tip line in a city like Miami as even gang members will call in on the death of a child.  This time the lines were eerily quiet. 

Experienced detectives knew there had to be someone out there who knew something, and the silence told them that anyone who did know was too scared to talk. So every member of homicide reached out to any of their informants who might know who was likely responsible or be able to find out.  Det. Kevin Ruggiero had a hunch that a C.I. who was serving time might be able to get some info. The felon made one phone call and produced a name- not the shooters, but a woman who knew their identity.

She was brought in though determined not to talk. Det. Kevin Ruggiero asked if she thought what they did was right.  It was clear she did not but her fear of retribution was great. Det. R masterfully got her to see that she had to help them. Meanwhile they finally got a tip about where the guns used were being kept. And lo and behold they found the 357 Magnum (though not the assault rifle) and were able to tie that gun to one of the men the witness named. 

They were not able to arrest the second perp who'd used a "stick" in the shooting ("stick" being slang for an assault rifle) then but one imagines they'll find enough evidence soon. 

My new heroes: Sgt. Ervin Ford, Det. Kevin Ruggiero, Det. Orlando Silva, and Det. Emiliano Tamayo, Sgt. Eunice Cooper- you guys ROCK!   

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