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last word

A Day in the Life Field Notes from a Federal Agent by Anonymous


just to the left of his right nipple as he approaches. My partner cuffs him as the

meth house. Our target is a decrepit

eral open doors — each a potential am-

team arrives, and we methodically clear

building with an unknown number of

bush — so procedure dictates we stand

the rooms one by one. We reach the door

inhabitants. The goal is a quick surren-

firm. I yell, “Show me your hands!” He

where our gangster stood minutes ago,

der — shock and awe.

ignores me. Our teammates have encoun-

and I see a sawed-off twelve gauge just

tered additional gangsters, so we have no

inside. It’s loaded, just out of arm’s reach

from how we get out of the car to who

back-up, no idea what’s behind him, and no

for our gangster.

may end up using the battering ram, is

clue what’s behind those doors.

We talk tactics. Every last detail,

planned out. We double-check our gear.

His head slowly swivels back and forth

If you’ve ever had a near accident in a car, you know the powerful, shocking

Pistols, rifles, body armor, handcuffs,

as he sizes up his options. Sweat is pouring

rush of adrenaline and the sweaty, in-

flashlights, radios, evidence kits, cam-

down my back underneath the accumu-

stant panic.

eras, Miranda forms.

lated weight of my bulletproof vest, equip-

Game time arrives. Our unmarked Ford Expedition cruises through early morning darkness. A gang member makes us and runs to the house. We’ve got to move.

That’s what I felt when I saw that shot-

ment, and terror. I shout again, “I will shoot

gun and realized how close this was to

you in the chest and it will hurt!”

being the worst — and possibly last — 

Time slows. A beat passes. Two beats. Jack Bauer may kill four terrorists per epi-

day of my life. My work is mostly paperwork and pro-

sode of 24, but I understand the gravity

cedure, punctuated by moments of abject

mer, we swarm the residence. Another

of this moment, that both our lives are on

terror, where a criminal’s choice can elim-

officer and I clear the kitchen, reach

the line. My training takes over — a cold

inate my own. And every single day since

the back hall, and encounter a gang

and distant but instantaneous reaction.

that day, I am thankful that gang member

member standing less than 20 feet away.

All my focus is on the center of his chest.

made the choice to live. n

Hands behind his back, he’s shirtless,

It’s his decision. He can make me kill him.

Anonymous is a pre-9/11 graduate of U-M and a former U.S. Marine.

Breaching the door with a sledgeham-

“CopKila” tattooed across his chest. His chin is low, and his stare suggests that


he is neither shocked nor awed. Between us and the gangster are sev-

executing a search warrant at a known

LSA Magazine / SPRING 2011

After an eternal moment, he slowly shows his empty hands. I keep my sights

Crime and Punishment  

Spring 2011 issue of LSA Magazine.

Crime and Punishment  

Spring 2011 issue of LSA Magazine.