Within the practice and protocol of the Los Angeles Police Department a
two-six call is the one that draws the most immediate response
while striking the most fear behind the bulletproof vest. For
it is a call that often has a career riding on it. The
designation is derived from the combination of the Code 2 radio
call out, meaning "respond as soon as possible," and the sixth
floor of Parker Center, from which the chief of police commands
the department. A two-six is a forthwith from the chief's
office, and any officer who knows and enjoys his position in
the department will not delay.
Detective Harry Bosch spent over twenty-five years with the
department in his first tour and never once received a
forthwith from the chief of police. In fact, other than
receiving his badge at the academy in 1972, he never shook
hands or spoke personally with a chief again. He had outlasted
several of them - and, of course, seen them at police functions
and funerals - but simply never met them along the way. On the
morning of his return to duty after a three-year retirement he
received his first two-six while knotting his tie in the
bathroom mirror. It was an adjutant to the chief calling
Bosch's private cell phone. Bosch didn't bother asking how they
had come up with the number. It was simply understood that the
chief's office had the power to reach out in such a way. Bosch
just said he would be there within the hour, to which the
adjutant replied that he would be expected sooner. Harry
finished knotting his tie in his car while driving as fast as
traffic allowed on the 101 Freeway toward downtown.
It took Bosch exactly twenty-four minutes from the moment he
closed the phone on the adjutant until he walked through the
double doors of the chief's suite on the sixth floor at Parker
Center. He thought it had to have been some kind of record,
notwithstanding the fact that he had illegally parked on Los
Angeles Street in front of the police headquarters. If they
knew his private cell number, then surely they knew what a feat
it had been to make it from the Hollywood Hills to the chief's
office in under a half hour.
But the adjutant, a lieutenant named Hohman, stared him down
with disinterested eyes and pointed to a plastic-sealed couch
that already had two other people waiting on it. "You're late,"
he said. "Take a seat."
Bosch decided not to protest, not to make matters possibly
worse. He stepped over to the couch and sat between the two men
in uniform, who had staked out the armrests. They sat bolt
upright and did not small-talk. He figured they had been two-sixed
Ten minutes went by. The men on either side of him were
called in ahead of Bosch, each dispensed with by the chief in
five minutes flat. While the second man was in with the chief,
Bosch thought he heard loud voices from the inner sanctum, and
when the officer came out his face was ashen. He had somehow
fucked up in the eyes of the chief and the word - which had even
filtered to Bosch in retirement - was that this new man did not
suffer fuckups lightly. Bosch had read a story in the Times
about a command staffer who was demoted for failing to inform
the chief that the son of a city councilman usually allied
against the department had been picked up on a deuce. The chief
only found out about it when the councilman called to complain
about harassment, as if the department had forced his son to
drink six vodka martinis at Bar Marmount and drive home via the
trunk of a tree on Mulholland.
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