COPS, KIDS, AND CALAMITY

Santos Rodriguez
I never knew a cop who put the badge on to do bad things! But I know cops who did bad things. Sometimes it was intentional, or just a foolish mistake, maybe the result of poor training, or not being serious about the job. Each reader can decide which it was when Dallas Police Officer Darrell Cain and twelve year old Santos Rodriguez met in the early morning of July 24, 1973.

On that night another Dallas officer saw three boys running from a closed service station and found that a soft drink machine had just been burglarized. He thought he recognized two of the boys as brothers, David and Santos Rodriguez. He enlisted the aid of Officer Cain and they went to the Rodriguez home where they arrested David, thirteen and Santos, twelve. The two boys were handcuffed and taken to the crime scene.
David (left) and Santos

As they sat in the police car and denied that they were responsible for the break-in, Cain decided to coerce a confession by pretending to play Russian Roulette, emptying his pistol, holding it to the back of Santos’ head and pulling the trigger. When he squeezed the trigger the second time he learned that he had not removed one of the bullets. Santos was killed instantly.

Retired Officer Robert Rowe, who arrived at the scene after the shooting, said in a Dallas Morning News interview forty years later, “There was an officer down on his knees. I found out later it was Cain. He had thrown up and was on his knees crying.”

Santos’ brother David, when interviewed, said, “They were trying to force us to say that we burglarized a Coke machine out of $8. We had nothing to do with that that night. He was mostly questioning my brother. When he wasn’t getting the answers he wanted, that is when he pulled out his gun. He opened the cylinder with me right next to him. I couldn’t really tell if he was emptying it or filling it. He put the gun up to his head. He said, ‘Now you are going to tell him the truth.’”

Four days later violence erupted in Dallas. Five police officers were injured, 38 arrests were made and property was damaged throughout the area. Cain was soon put on trial and convicted of murder with malice. He was sent to prison for five years.

Forty years passed before the City of Dallas officially apologized to the family.  Meanwhile, President Carter wrote a letter to the mother, two songs, Los Hermanitos Rodriguez and El Chicanito Sacrificado, memorialized Santos death and a stage play, Santos, A Wandering Soul, was based upon the incident.

In July of 1998, the first interview of ex-officer Darrell Cain since the shooting was published in the Dallas Morning News. Cain is not a victim in this story. He takes full responsibility for what happened.

“I was in the back seat, and I said, I bet I can get him to talk,” Cain stated. “I pulled out my gun, emptied it --- or so I thought --- and put the bullets between my legs.

“I put it to the boy’s head and pulled the trigger. The first time it clicked. The second time, it went off. I just saw this flash of light. It lit up the interior of the car. I jumped out screaming something like, ‘Oh, my God! Oh, my God! What have I done.’

“I would trade places with that boy any day of the week...if I could go back to that point in time. I probably live that night second by second. You know how some Vietnam vets have flashbacks? I wasn’t in ‘Nam, but I assume that’s what it’s like”.

David Rodriguez has always denied that he and his brother burglarized the soda machine that night. None of the prints lifted from the burglary matched either boy’s fingerprints.

FRED CARRASCO, MURDERER & DOPE DEALER

Some people are just born to be bad! Like pornography, Fred (El SeƱor) Gomez Carrasco, had no social redeeming value. Long before our current concern with drug dealers’ murderous wars along the Mexican border, he became infamous as a drug dealer who had no qualms about murdering his competitors, his accomplices, or the cops who chased him. A book was written about him, law enforcement officers and prosecutors spent thousands of hours trying to put him away, and his path was strewn with dozens of dead bodies as he built his drug empire in the late 60’s and early 70’s. 

We know him better, however, for being the Texas prison inmate who led the longest prison siege in U.S. history, at the historical Walls Unit of the Texas Prison System in Huntsville. Before it ended, two of his hostages, one of his accomplices, and Carrasco all lay dead on a ramp leading to his get-away transportation, an armored car.

Fred Gomez Carrasco grew up in San Antonio. He became the most successful heroin and cocaine dealer along the Texas and Mexico border. To accomplish this he and his organization left dozens of bodies, both friend and foe, in Laredo, San Antonio and across the nation. There is little accounting of how many more murders took place in Mexico at his hands or direction. Many of these killings were the result of drug wars with other gangs. He was personally suspected of having murdered forty-seven people.

Sergeant Bill Weilbacher
In 1972 Carrasco was arrested in Guadalajara with over two hundred pounds of heroin. He had garnered the attention of two high-profile San Antonio cops, Bill Weilbacher and Manuel Ortiz. Weilbacher, who was described in a Texas Monthly article written by Gregory Curtis as "street smart, mean, and larger than life," attempted to visit him in the Mexican jail, but was thrown into the cell with him for a short time. The two men were aggressive adversaries. Carrasco escaped from the Mexican prison becoming a fugitive just three months after his arrest.

By July of 1973, Carrasco was arrested in San Antonio. During the arrest he was shot four times by a San Antonio police lieutenant. While in jail, he turned the tables on the two cops for a short period of time by convincing the lieutenant who shot him that Weilbacher and Ortiz had murdered two of his underlings, even though it was he, himself, who had committed the murders. His bravado was without equal, but the witness he produced was soon proven a liar and the grand jury investigating the cops issued a report saying there was not a scintilla of evidence against them. The incident caused a fracture in relationships between some San Antonio officers, that apparently faded with the exoneration of the two hard-boiled investigators.

Now incarcerated in Texas, Carrasco soon pled guilty to a murder and was given a life sentence in return for the release of his wife, Rosa. She was being held on a charge of aggravated assault on a police officer. She was apparently also the only person Carrasco held dear. Even though his lawyers believed that both he and Rosa could beat the charges, he refused to gamble with his wife’s freedom.


The Walls
Carrasco was sent to Huntsville, where he planned and orchestrated the taking of fourteen hostages, ten of them prison workers, in order to demand his release from prison. After eleven days, the hostage-takers made their move to leave the prison. Law enforcement and prison officials used high pressure fire hoses to disrupt the escape, but as the siege ended, two female prison librarians lost their lives. Elizabeth Beseda had been handcuffed to Carrasco. He murdered her before taking his own life when he realized the escape attempt had failed. Julia Standley was handcuffed to one of Carrasco’s two partners and she was murdered also. One of his partners was killed by gunfire when officials intervened. The other was captured and was eventually put to death, just a few feet from where the attempted escape ended.

It was an eleven day hostage negotiation, but on the national level it was not the lead story. The Watergate scandal was winding down; President Richard Nixon was about to resign. Except for the memory of the two murdered hostages and for ensuring the good reputations of the two San Antonio police officers, maybe the Carrasco story should have been overshadowed by other events. He was just a murderous thug who left mayhem wherever he went.

To learn more about Texas prisons, including books written on the subject, visit the website for the Texas Prison Museum at http://www.txprisonmuseum.org/index.html

ANOTHER DEADLY DAY FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT


A total of fifty-eight law enforcement officers have been killed on this date, April 7th, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page. It was a Friday in 1876, when Montgomery County, Texas Deputy Sheriff Abner B. Womack, Jr. was gunned down trying to arrest a horse thief. We know the suspect was arrested, but have no details of his punishment, if any.

Gabriel Leander Pool
Exactly one year later, a second Texas law enforcement officer, Deputy Sheriff Gabriel Leander Pool, of Milam County, Texas became the second officer murdered on this date. He was shot down as he attempted to arrest a murder suspect.

Thirty-seven of the officers killed on this date suffered death by gunfire. Eight of those were murdered in Alabama. Illinois and Texas each lost five officers on this date.

Wade C. Barrett, Jr.
The most recent officer to die from gunfire on April 7th was Wade C. Barrett, Jr. who was with the DeKalb County, Georgia Police Department. He was murdered when he answered a disturbance call and was confronted by five robbery suspects. Although wearing a vest, one bullet entered an opening in Officer Barrett's vest, striking his heart and killing him.


We should never forget these and the many others who gave their lives for us. Take a few minutes. Visit the Officer Down Memorial Page. http://www.odmp.org/search/this_day_in_history/april/7
Reflect on each name you see there and consider the families they left behind. 

A SMILING COP & TWO CARNEGIE HEROES


Jaime Padron was brutally murdered on April 6, 2012. When I think of Jaime, the first image is always of that million dollar smile he shared with everyone he met. This story is about him and two civilians who became heroes the morning of Officer Padron’s death.

The murderer’s name won’t be printed in this article. That name will receive too much public display when it is printed and spoken tens of thousands of times over the next ten to twenty-five years as he sits on death row and attempts to cheat the grim reaper over and over with legal appeals.

Archie Jordy, Austin Chief Art Acevedo, & Lincoln LeMere
Officer Padron was an Austin police officer when he was killed, but he had served the citizens of San Angelo, Texas for fourteen years before moving to Austin. I first met him when he was in San Angelo and that is when his smile was indelibly inked in my memory.  He’ll forever be a hero to thousands who knew him and to tens of thousands who know his story. Here’s a link to a Facebook page honoring him. https://www.facebook.com/pages/10-42-Officer-Jaime-Padron-Badge-6674/358440230873133

Archie Jordy
In the early morning hours, Officer Padron was dispatched to a Walmart store in Austin, where employees observed a man acting strangely. When he arrived and confronted the man, a struggle ensued. Officer Padron was shot and mortally wounded. The two civilian heroes, Lincoln LeMere and Archie Jordy were working at the Walmart store. They faced the murderer, struggled with him, and disarmed him, though he got off one more shot during the struggle. Archie Jordy then called for help using Officer Padron’s police radio, while Lincoln LeMere held the murderer on the ground. Later, during the murderer’s trial, LeMere testified that after he was restrained, the person giggled and said; I killed a cop.

The Carnegie Hero Fund Commission was created a hundred ten years ago, in 1904, by American industrialist Andrew Carnegie. Its intent was to recognize and reward those ordinary citizens who become heroes when faced with extraordinary circumstances. You can learn more about the Commission if you follow this link, http://carnegiehero.org/resources/a-century-of-heros-video/ .


There were other Walmart employees who tried to assist that night, but LeMere and Jordy risked their lives to stop the murderer. We often joke about Walmart, its customers, and those who work there. That changed for me with the death of Officer Jaime Padron. I will forever think of Jaime when I see a Walmart employee. I’m sure if he could speak with Archie Jordy and Lincoln LeMere today, he would greet them with that giant smile and say, Good job, guys!


A DEADLY DAY

Today is March 24th. It’s a deadly day for police offices, but no more so than many other days. According to the Officer Down Memorial Page forty three officers have lost their lives on this date, the first in 1902, when Cincinnati officer Henry Deering was struck by a street car. The most recent was Texas State Trooper Javier Arana, Jr., who died while assisting in a vehicle pursuit and struck another vehicle.

Although the first and the most recent such deaths were the result of traffic accidents, by far the most common cause of line of duty deaths on this date has been the result of gunfire. Twenty two times officers have been killed by gunfire on March 24th.

As is often the case, Texas leads the nation in line of duty deaths occurring on March 24th, with eight officers having perished on this date. Five of those Texas officers were killed by gunfire.

The deadliest date in March throughout history for peace officers has been March 3rd. Sixty eight officers have given their lives on this date. The most recent was just more than three weeks ago, when Detective John Hobbs with the Phoenix Police Department was murdered by a fugitive he was attempting to arrest. Despite being mortally wounded, Detective Hobbs shot and killed the suspect.

An old friend often says, “We don’t pay police officers and firefighters for what they do, but for what they are willing to do, when necessary.” Statistics prove that it is necessary more often than we would like.


Visit the Officer Down Memorial Page at http://www.odmp.org/

OFFICER DOWN...MAKE THAT TWO!

Karl Hettinger
As the man exited the car, he drew a pistol, grabbed the officer, used him as a shield and demanded that the officer’s partner hand over his weapon. The partner, never having received training for such an event, made a decision. He relinquished the weapon. His partner was assassinated on the spot. As the assailants pumped multiple rounds into the officer's body, his partner took the opportunity to flee on foot. He ran five miles before finding a farmhouse where the residents called for help. This crime, which began at 10:00 PM, was solved with the arrest of two suspects within hours.

The surviving officer remained on duty through the night and well into the afternoon of the next day as he related the events and gave statements. The following night, less than 48 hours after having been abducted and witnessing his partner’s execution, he was back at work. He had already heard some of the rumors, questioning whether he had done enough to prevent his partner’s murder.

At roll call, the sergeant asked the officer to stand before his colleagues and explain “how you guys fouled up” and “the things each of you did wrong, or what you didn’t do and should have,” as reported in Law Officer magazine. Supervisors then assigned him to attend other roll calls to repeat his story over and over.

This officer received no psychological counseling from his department. He began receiving mail at home questioning his actions and calling him a coward. He testified more than a half-dozen times regarding the incident as he continued to struggle with his partner's death and his own actions. After three years, he resigned from the department in disgrace, following an arrest for shoplifting. It was determined later that the shoplifting was a result of issues related to the murder of his partner. Today, we would call it Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Ian Campbell
Ian Campbell was the young father and Los Angeles police officer who was murdered in an onion field by Gregory Powell. Karl Hettinger, Campbell's partner, was the other victim of the crime, as well as his own department’s failure to “back him up” after the incident. It’s a rather famous case memorialized in the book and movie by Joseph Wambaugh, The Onion Fields.

Campbell was a hero. More information can be viewed at http://www.odmp.org/officer/reflections/2723-policeman-ian-j-campbell#ixzz2vskALps9, the Officer Down Memorial Page. Be sure to take a look at the comments section where a granddaughter posted a message just a few days ago. 

Campbell’s name has also been memorialized in Los Angeles by the naming of the intersection of Gower Street and Carlos Avenue, where he patrolled, Ian Campbell Square.

Karl Hettinger was a hero as well. He made a decision that he believed was most likely to preserve his partner’s life that night by giving up his weapon. His decision may have been influenced by the fact that within the six weeks preceding his partner’s murder, there had been three other cases of officers having been taken hostage, all ending with their release unharmed.

Gregory Powell and Jimmy Smith were convicted of the crime. Both died in prison, Powell, the shooter, at the age of 79. He was denied parole eleven times. At one of those hearings, Karl Hettinger testified, "I still get uneasy....I still can't sleep very well. I can still see their faces." Hero Karl Hettinger died May 5, 1994 at the age of 57.


Today officers are provided with psychological services after being involved in traumatic events and there is survival training available. But the one thing that today's officers should always remember is that harsh judgment of the actions of your brothers in blue during a crisis can have life-altering consequences. As an officer once said, “You would have had to have been there yourself to know for sure how you would have reacted.” Few have experienced what Karl Hettinger did.

 Note: I invite you to explore my three novels (available on this page in paperback or Kindle) about police officers, crimes and criminals. Thank you.

COP WHO WAS SHOT BETTER KNOWN AS CHILD ACTOR

If you are too young to remember who Eddie Haskell was, you might enjoy this YouTube clip of him as a child television star, his job before he was a police officer. Eddie (real name Ken Osmond) was the friend of Wally Cleaver on the television show Leave it to Beaver. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Atr4yRv27IQ

 He was a well-recognized star on the television show and his character became known as the smarmy kid everyone disliked. Because of that fame, when the show ended he was 'type-cast' and acting jobs were few. Osmond became a Los Angeles police officer. He spent time as a motorcycle officer, vice cop and narcotics agent during his career.

Osmond was medically retired eight years after being shot three times by an auto theft suspect he was chasing. In addition to the physical problems associated with being shot, the shooting led to clinical depression and ended his police career.

He said in an interview years later, “using very bad tactics, on my part.....we were toe to toe and he fired three times.” Although he doesn't refer to it in the interview, other accounts suggest that Osmond's bullet-proof vest and belt buckle may have saved his life. View that entire interview here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TYcqPbpRX9I

An interesting fact about the shooter, Albert Cunningham, Jr., is that his punishment was minimal. Only five years after shooting Osmond, Cunningham was charged and later convicted of murdering another man in California. He was sentenced to death in 1989 for that murder and still sits on death row in March of 2014.

As with others who have had fleeting fame, urban myths have popped up over the years centering on the question ‘whatever happened to Eddie Haskill?’ One story was that Eddie grew up and became Alice Cooper. The origin of that rumor is attributed to the real Alice Cooper having once described what he was like as a child as “obnoxious, disgusting, a real Eddie Haskell.” Some readers apparently failed to understand that Cooper was speaking metaphorically and believed he really was the child star. Cooper later told the New York Times, “It was the biggest rumor that ever came out about me. Finally, I got a t-shirt that said ‘No, I am not Eddie Haskell!’ but people still believed I was.”

Another myth was that Osmond became famous porn star John Holmes. That rumor abounded after Holmes billed himself a few times as ‘Eddie Haskell’. Osmond was so offended that he sued for 25 million dollars. The case went to the California Supreme Court, where it was determined that the use of the name ‘Eddie Haskell’ was protected as satire. It is a precedent setting case that is still cited in other cases.  

Ken Osmond's is an interesting life. A very public childhood as a popular actor and an exciting choice of careers as a police officer. Both these occupations often result in high rates of divorce. However, Osmond, in addition to beating the odds of surviving being shot three times, beat the divorce statistics as well. He married his wife, Sandra, in 1969. They have two children and remain married nearly 45 years later. 

TEXAS COP AUTHORS (AND A MR. THOMAS UPDATE)

Every cop has at least one story to tell and it is surprising how many of them have chosen to become authors. But before I go there, I want to update last week’s story about Mr. Thomas, the guy whose race prevented him from doing things other cops did routinely, served as an officer for over 60 years, saw enormous change in racial attitudes toward black police officers, and became one of the most revered officers in Houston, Texas.

I enjoyed writing last week’s blog about Mr. Thomas, but I never realized how popular the story would be, nor how many people would comment to me about Mr. Thomas after reading the story. Usually my Monday morning blogs about Crimes, Criminals, and the Cops Who Chase Them generate two to four hundred readers during the first week. Mr. Thomas’ story was visited by nearly 3000 last week, becoming the most popular blog I have published to date.

Here are some things I learned and a synopsis of comments I received about Mr. Thomas. First is that the North East Division of the Houston Police Department has created what was described to me as “a wall of honor” recognizing Mr. Thomas. I haven’t seen it, but I intend to visit that station soon to have a look.

The comment most often received about the article was similar to this one. “He is MR. THOMAS and earned that respect from all who know him.” Others commented about his great mentoring and friendship. One friend reported that Mr. Thomas is still active and recently attended a promotion ceremony where he pinned the lieutenant’s badge on a friend, Dennis Carter, whose photo with Mr. Thomas was in my article. Another officer wrote that he asked to buy Mr. Thomas' service revolver, for the historical significance of owning the weapon of a man who served for over 60 years. Mr. Thomas declined.

It was the most gratifying experience I have had writing this blog.

Now to the cop writers. Most of us are familiar with Joseph Wambaugh’s books, movies, and television series. It could be argued that his work opened the floodgates for books by other cops. I can’t begin to list even the books that have been written by Texas cops, much less a national list, but I have included a website below where you can learn about some of them. Just in Texas, the site lists nine cop authors each from Dallas and Houston, five from Fort Worth, four from San Antonio, and one from Austin. There are many more, including from sheriffs’ departments, constable offices and state police.

Not all are well written and, as with many independent authors, some failed to use good editing techniques before publishing their work. But I think you will be surprised by the overall quality of much of the work. The books include some great fiction, a smattering of technical police procedure books, and a few tomes documenting the history of law enforcement or the old west.

WWW.Police-Writers.com is a website dedicated to cop authors. You may be required to register in order to access the information, but it is well worth the effort. I have never received a spam or advertising email from the site. I understand that police officers created and run the site.

The following is an excerpt taken from the home page of Police-Writers.com.
“1199 Police Officers
As of February 15, 2014, this site lists 1199 state and local law enforcement officials from 498 state and local law enforcement agencies who have written 2625 police books.


Check it out if you like cop books.


MR. THOMAS – BEING BLACK AND BEING A COP FOR SIXTY THREE YEARS!


MR. THOMAS
When he became a police officer in 1948, E.A. Thomas could not attend daily roll calls with white officers, was not permitted to drive a patrol car, couldn’t go into the police cafeteria to buy a cup of coffee or eat lunch, and had to get permission from a white officer in order to arrest a white person. If he needed a drink of water, there was a special “colored” fountain for him to drink from. He stayed with the Department for 63 years during which time he witnessed enormous changes in the Houston Police Department.

It is a sign of respect to address police officers as “Officer,” but before he retired, E.A. Thomas had earned a title intended to be even more respectful. Everyone, including police chiefs, called him Mr. Thomas. He was a person who avoided the public stage with fervor.  Because he was still serving as an active police officer at the age of 91, there was much media interest in his story. But Mr. Thomas denied all requests for interviews. As a result of his shyness with the media, not a lot of his personal history is available.

According to the book, Houston Blue, by Tom Kennedy and Mitchell P. Roth, Mr. Thomas was born in Louisiana after which his family moved to Nacogdoches, Texas. His mother was a school teacher, who probably encouraged Mr. Thomas’ graduation from high school and enrollment at Southern University in Baton Rouge. He was also a veteran of World War II and participated in the invasion of Normandy.

Another interesting bit of information, taken from the book, The History of the Black Police Officers in the Houston Police Department, by May Walker, is Mr. Thomas’ view of having been prohibited from entering the police cafeteria in the 1940’s and 50’s. Walker wrote that in 1988, 40 years after he became a police officer, Mr. Thomas still refused to enter the cafeteria, though the “Jim Crowe” prohibition had long since been lifted. That refusal may be the only recorded instance of Mr. Thomas rebelling against the unjust treatment of black police officers in Houston.

Entering the police department the same year that President Truman integrated the U.S. Armed Services, Mr. Thomas never expected to see a black police chief in Houston. Before he retired, he had served four black chiefs.

Mr. Thomas (center) with Officer J.J. Berry & Sergeant Dennis Carter
Mr. Thomas served the citizens of Houston for 63 years. He retired at the age of 91 in 2011. It was reported that he was the only surviving member of his family and that continuing to work was his life. We should never forget the many officers who have given their lives in the line of duty, and Houston should never forget Mr. Thomas, an officer who outlasted much injustice.

MARVIN ZINDLER, COP, MARINE, NEWSMAN, & SNAPPY DRESSER

Marvin Zindler is best remembered as the flamboyant newsman who shut down a Texas whorehouse, spawning a stage play and movie, both titled The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. In Houston, where he worked as a consumer advocate on a nightly television news station, he was viewed by many as an egotistic, self-aggrandizing, show-off. Marvin, on the other hand, viewed himself as a crusader for the little guy; a man who would take on the most powerful people and corporations to right a wrong. But, in fact, his life was much more interesting than can be described by either point of view.

Marvin’s father, Abe, owned a clothing store in Houston and fully expected his son to take over the business. But it wasn’t to be. Marvin worked there as a young man but his heart wasn't in it.

Abe served several terns as mayor of Bellaire, Texas, a small town close to Houston where Marvin was allowed to ride with the police as a teenager. From that activity sprang a life-long interest in police work. About 1940 he became an auxiliary officer with the Houston Police Department. He was assigned to the vice squad in Houston and served for two years. By 1941, with World War II looming, he joined the U.S. Marines. But he didn’t last long. He was discharged because he was a flat-foot. (pun intended)

Soon Marvin was again working in his father’s store, but pursuing a second career as a radio newsman. He was hosting a radio show called The Roving Mike. Marvin would go to crime scenes where he interviewed victims, cops, and criminals, while painting a verbal picture for listeners. Some of the recordings of those shows that are more than 60 years old have been preserved and can be heard on a Houston Chronicle blog, Bayou City History by J.R. Gonzales at http://blog.chron.com/bayoucityhistory/2009/09/the-zindler-tapes-the-return-of-the-roving-mike/

By the early 1950’s Marvin was working as a television reporter in Houston for KPRC News, but in 1954 he was fired after an executive of the company declared he was “too ugly” to work in front of the cameras. Shortly after that firing Marvin had the first of seventeen cosmetic surgeries which altered his appearance dramatically over the years.

Candace Mossler
His fascination with police work won out again in 1962 when he joined the Harris County Sheriff’s office. He took on the job of serving fugitive warrants. Always a publicity hound, he likely tipped off the media so that they appeared with cameras rolling when he made arrests and he always gave them a story. Returning from Florida with a wealthy Houston socialite, Candace Mossler, who had been accused of murdering her husband, he was met by the media at the airport. He didn’t disappoint! Ms. Mossler was paraded in front of the cameras wearing pink mink handcuffs as she was led to his waiting car.

Marvin convinced the sheriff to start a consumer fraud division within the department, and of course, he took charge. In a somewhat unprecedented move, he began going after presumably respectable businesses for false advertising (a crime at the time) and for other consumer fraud issues. Exposing bad conduct of these particular citizens and businesses was controversial and met with resistance by the District Attorney and business community. Before long, the sheriff who hired him was defeated. The new sheriff wanted no part of Marvin's theatrics.

He was immediately hired by Houston’s Eye Witness News channel 13 where he continued his pursuit of consumer fraud in front of the camera. It was from this position that he went after prostitution and gained fame for closing down one of the oldest whorehouses in Texas.

He had been a cop, a marine, a clothing salesman, and a newsman, but most of all he was a showman! More importantly, he really believed he was the knight in shining armor. Marvin died in 2007.

You can listen to a recorded interview with Marvin which took place in the 1970’s. During the interview he talks about his life, his various careers and the politics of Houston. The interview was conducted and preserved by the Houston Metropolitan Research Center. http://digital.houstonlibrary.org/oral-history/marvin-zindler_OH201.php

Meet Author Carolyn Ferrell Watts

I occasionally highlight the work of other writers on my blog and writing this week’s story was a special treat for me. My wife, Carolyn, has completed her first book, Magical Years to Learn with Liam. You might assume from the title that it is a children’s book and you would be right. Only 40 pages long and filled with eye-catching photos, children will love it! But it’s also a book for parents! Carolyn is a professional counselor with specialties in school psychology and family relationship therapy.


When kids become problem teens, some become just another statistic in our criminal justice system. With many of these young criminals a look back at their childhood reveals poor parenting from an early age. This is the case not only with the poor, minority kids raised in the slums and barrios, but for kids from middle-class and wealthy families also. And it’s not always about BAD parents, sometimes it's simply a lack of parenting information!

Just as there is a critical lack of training in schools and at home for young people to learn the basics of simple money management, there is also a void in training teens and young adults how to excel at parenting. They leave college or high school without a clue of how to manage their checkbook. They also marry and begin making a family without serious thought about the “how to” of raising children. Both are important and Carolyn’s book focuses on the second. Soon-to-be and current parents of a child seven years or younger can get a great start on parenting with this book.

Most of the joy of success or heartbreak of failure that people experience throughout life is tied to their ability to make good choices or decisions. This book teaches parents and children together how to make those choices during the child’s first seven years. It’s a simple book, intended to be read and shared with a child. The first seven years is the period of time that parents can have the most influence on the future behavior and skills for handling life.

The first steps in “taking the terrible out of the twos” and minimizing “teenage drama” are taught in this book. If you are a parent, grandparent or just have a young friend who is embarking on the task of parenting a child, this book could be the perfect gift.

In the words of Peggy Halyard, a Licensed Professional Counselor, “It is a gentle guide through areas that need attention when caring for a child. The captivating pictures and thoughtful wording help children and adults understand how to make good choices!”

Carolyn’s book can be purchased from her website at www.CarolynWatts.net or from the CreateSpace and Amazon websites. I also invite you to share this blog with others who might benefit from better parenting skills.

THE FALL OF A POLICE CHIEF



Carrol Lynn was a boy from Arkansas, who went off to serve in the military. Upon completing his service he relocated to Houston where he, like many others, stumbled into a career as a Houston police officer. Lynn and his wife were living in Houston in 1956. He was pursuing a degree at the University of Houston and providing for his family working part-time.

As he described events in a 1974 interview, a radio advertisement for police applicants got his attention. The ad said that those who became Houston policemen would make $300 a month. Lynn told his wife he would go to work at the Department for a couple of years while he finished college. Instead, he stayed for twenty-two years, became the police chief for eighteen months, resigned and served as an assistant chief for three years.

Unfortunately, while still serving as an assistant chief, he was arrested and indicted for perjury, obstruction of justice, and extortion. He was fired by his successor, Harry Caldwell, in April of 1978 and convicted of the charges the following Christmas Eve. Lynn was sentenced to twelve years and served five before being paroled.

Carrol Lynn took the reins of the Houston Police Department at a time of radical political change. The new Mayor, Fred Hofheinz, passed over all the higher ranking officers in the department to appoint Lynn. He was a Captain at the time and those senior officers did not accept his appointment with enthusiasm. 

Hofheinz’ election had signaled that radical change was coming to the City of Houston. His campaign was largely based on inclusion of minority citizens in the voice of government and particularly in the police department. Adding to the discomfort of those within the department who were resisting change, was the fact that Lynn was replacing a popular chief, Herman Short, who was considered by most officers to be a “cops cop.” Short had resigned upon learning that Hofheinz won the election.

It is tempting, when writing about Chief Lynn, to focus only on his self-imposed downfall which resulted in arrest and a prison term. But consider these facts. Within the first nine months of his leadership Lynn faced the following highly politicized, public and controversial issues. 

The week Lynn was appointed chief a mentally deranged man took twelve hostages in a grocery store. The Chief was on the scene and the situation was resolved. Because of that experience, he created the first SWAT Team in Houston, although some on his command staff argued against it.

Just weeks later he learned that the federal government was conducting a wiretapping investigation of his Narcotics Division, culminating with arrests and convictions. Following that revelation was the very public expose' that his Criminal Intelligence Division was keeping files on highly popular political figures. Even more disturbing for a Mayor who campaigned on minority relations was the discovery of one file reportedly titled “miscellaneous niggers,” ostensibly containing information on black citizens not important enough in the eye of those keeping track to have individual files. 

Finally, the investigation of a patrolman, who just happened to be the son of the Harris County Sheriff, on charges of sexual assault of a prostitute ended up on Lynn's desk. All these incidents occurred or began before he became Chief, but were made public during his first nine months in office, placing the responsibility on him to deal with each. It wasn't long before the controversial Mayor turned his back on the man he had picked to reform the police department. 

Summing up his removal of Chief Lynn several years later, former Mayor Hofheinz said, “Carol Lynn was a highly unpopular police chief in the cop shop and his public relations were awful. I asked him to get out of there.”

Chief Lynn’s tenure ended just eighteen months after appointment. Stepping into the job previously held by Herman Short would have been difficult for any successor. In Lynn's case it was further hampered because, by his own admission, he had never been part of the "old boy" system. He acknowledged that during his career he had never developed a social life with other officers. But the most bizarre aspects of his police career were yet to come.

After demotion to Assistant Chief, Lynn met with Houston oilman John Holden who was facing an investigation by the Security and Exchange Commission regarding the alleged sale of non-existent oil wells. The meeting included Holden’s attorney Jerry Birnberg. Lynn suggested that he could make the investigation go away for $45,000. Birnberg advised his client against paying Lynn, and reported the conversation to authorities.

An investigation ensued and as it progressed, events became even more peculiar. Birnberg was ambushed and shot, though not wounded critically. No arrests were ever made. Rumors abounded, some corroborated by court testimony. Among them was that Lynn had planned a robbery of the police property room, where drugs, guns and cash were stored. His alleged accomplice was J.L. Patterson, a former employee of Holden who later cooperated with federal officials as they made a case against the Chief. The investigation, however, focused on his offer to "fix" Holden's legal problems and Lynn was eventually arrested as he left Holden's home carrying $25,000, a payment set up by FBI agents.

He refused to resign from the Department and was ultimately fired. Police Chief Harry Caldwell was reportedly so angry that he had Lynn’s photograph removed from the wall where all former chiefs’ photos were on display at the police department.

Upon release from prison, the former chief worked for a Harris County Commissioner in a security related position for some period of time. He currently lives in the Houston area and, according to a 2012 article written by Tom Kennedy in the Badge and Gun newspaper, spends his time caring for his wife of fifty years.

Former Chief Caldwell's view of his fallen peer has mellowed. In Kennedy's article, Caldwell is quoted as saying, I’m sure Lynn has regretted his mistakes many times. He’s a family man and diligent Christian who has paid for his sins. We all make mistakes; some are just worse than others.”

A personal note from the author, 

Carrol Lynn was the first Houston police officer I met. He was a Lieutenant in the Recruiting office when I applied and conducted my first interview. Years later, he was the Chief when I was promoted to sergeant and presented me with the gold badge. 

"His career ended tragically and disappointed many, perhaps none more than he, himself.

"Some readers will be familiar with his story. I invite your comments, but remember that I do not publish anonymous posts.”