"Hence the confusion," Glitsky said. "Some of our civic leaders remain unclear on the concept."
They walked in silence for another moment. "What's second?" Hardy asked.
"What's second what?"
"You said you don't investigate hit-and-run homicides, first, because there's a separate hit-and-run detail. When you say first, it implies there's a second."
Glitsky's pace slackened, then both men stopped. "Second is that hit-and-run homicides tend not to be murders. In fact, they're never murders."
"Never say never."
"This time you can. You want to know why?"
"It's hard to ditch the murder weapon?"
"That's one reason. Another is that it's tough to convince your intended victim to stand in front of your car when there are no witnesses around so you can run him over. Most people just plain won't do it."
"So what's the problem?"
"The problem," Glitsky said, "is that with twenty-seven dead people in twelve months, the citizenry is apparently alarmed."
"I know I am," Hardy commented. "Perpetually."
"Yeah, well, as you may have read, our illustrious Board of Supes has authorized special funding for witness rewards and to beef up the investigation of all vehicular homicides."
"And a good idea it is."
"Wrong. It's a bad idea," Glitsky said. "There's no special investigation of vehicular homicides to begin with, not even in hit and run. Ninety percent of 'em, you got a drunk behind the wheel. The other ten percent, somebody's driving along minding their own business and somebody runs out from between two cars in front of them--blam! Then they freak and split. They probably weren't even doing anything wrong before they left the scene. These are felony homicides, okay, because the driver is supposed to stick around, but they are not murders."
"And this concerns you because . . . ?"
"Because now and for the past two months I've had these two new politically connected clowns--excuse me, inspectors--in my detail that I've been telling you about, and they seem to be having trouble finding meaningful work. And let's say that this hasn't gone exactly unnoticed among the rest of my crack staff, who by the way refer to them as the 'car police.' "
"Maybe they mean it as a compliment," Hardy said.
Glitsky shook his head in disgust, then checked his watch. "Let's walk."
Hardy could imagine the plight of the new inspectors, and knew that their treatment at the hands of the veteran homicide cops wouldn't be pretty. Despite all the scandal and controversy that had ravaged the self-esteem of other details in the police department over the past few years, the twelve men and women inspectors who served in homicide considered themselves the elite. They'd worked their way up to this eminence, and their jobs mattered to them. They took pride in what they did, and the new guys would not fit in. "So abuse is being taken?" Hardy asked.
"Somebody painted 'Car Fifty-Four' on their city issue. Then you know the full-size streetlight we've had in the detail for years? Somehow it's gotten plugged in and set between the two guys' desks, so they can't see each other when they sit down? Oh, and those little metal cars kids play with? Six or eight new ones every day on their desks, in their drawers, everywhere."
"I guess we're moving into the abuse realm."
Glitsky nodded. "That would be fair to say."
* * *
At a little after nine o'clock, Glitsky sat behind his desk in his small office on the fourth floor of the Hall of Justice. The door was closed. His two new men-Harlen Fisk and Darrel Bracco-had so far been called out on injury hit and runs about ten times in their two months here, and in theory they should have been rolling already on this morning's accident involving Tim Markham. But this time, they were seeking their lieutenant's guidance before they moved.
Reprinted from The Oath by John Lescroart by permission of Dutton, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. Copyright © 2002, John Lescroart. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
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