The whiteboard briefing was midway through when the boss began to issue the operational orders and direct people to the photographs at the rear of the pile. There was a rustle of paper as they leafed through and began studying the images.
‘Team Six, number six is your target,’ declared the boss. ‘Surprisingly, his image is on photograph number six.’
A soft chuckle rippled through the room. The boss was generally regarded as a quiet man and a good boss. Well respected, he was a popular leader of the police unit.
Chair legs squeaked on the tiled floor. A large man in uniform stood up to dominate surroundings and challenge the boss.
‘Is the warrant in here?’ asked Big Alec brusquely.
‘You’ll find it in the pile,’ suggested the boss with a smile.
‘We just need the warrant and we’ll be on our way,’ declared Big Alec, irritated, impatient.
‘You just need to listen to your instructions and study your operational order,’ revealed the boss trying not to lose his temper. ‘And then you can be on your way. Understand?’
‘Yeah, sure,’ muttered Big Alec.
Alec sat down and the briefing continued with the hands of the wall clock moving on.
Ten minutes later it was all over when the boss said, ‘Okay, collect your car keys, door openers, radios, and all the stuff you need.’
‘Where’s my warrant?’ niggled Big Alec aggressively.
‘What is it with you today?’ enquired the boss. ‘It’s in the pile, look for it the same as everyone else is. Okay?’
‘It’s all we need - the warrant - too much talk not enough action,’ offered Big Alec.
‘Be that as it may but I like my people to know what is expected of them,’ answered the boss. ‘Come on, get your stuff and hit the road. I want these felons in the cells by lunchtime. Okay!’
‘Yeah, yeah, yeah,’ muttered Big Alec grabbing papers from the pile on the table.
The boss shook his head and watched the men file out of the room and into the car park.
Moments later, there was a roar of engines as the posse hit the road and turned into the dual carriageway leading into town.
They crept along the side of the wall, low and hunched down close to the ground, out of sight.
Their radios were silent but that didn’t stop sweaty fingers reaching along the iron bar. It was the jemmy one of them would use to force the window and climb in. Behind the jemmy was a wooden stave, a pickaxe handle and a door stretcher - all tools of the trade when forcing your way into a house and having the wherewithal to defend yourself in the event of an attack.
Leastways, that’s what the new boss had told them that day. We’ll do it this way! Be prepared. Take equipment you need to get into the premises and don’t take any backchat from the wanted man. We’ll do it this way!’
So they did it this way. Most of them that is.
Big Alec turned and said to the crew, ‘Gimme the warrant and let’s get on with it!’
An arm reached out and delivered the arrest warrant into Alec’s hand.
Alec scrunched it into his fist and rammed it into an inside pocket saying, ‘Okay, let’s do it. Two of you at the back; the rest follow me.’
A lone voice offered, ‘Alec, you got a minute....’ and was ignored.
There was a crash of wood and the sound of glass splintering when they broke into the house and rushed into all the rooms.
Suddenly, he was there sat on the sofa in the lounge and then he abruptly was lying on his stomach with his hands behind his back and Big Alec booming over him, ‘I have a warrant for your address, Mister Jefferson.’
‘Who?’ from the hapless hopeless manacled victim.
‘You!’ screeched Big Alec. ‘Daniel Joseph Jefferson!’
‘Nope,’ from the man on the ground trying to force his neck upwards and wriggle onto his back. ‘I’m Robert John Barton and you’d best have a good lawyer because I’m going to sue the shirt off your back.’
Big Alec’s mouth dropped and he snapped, ‘You are Daniel Joseph Jefferson, 14 Springtree Road.’
The prisoner wriggled on the ground, looked up and said, ‘Big fella, six foot three with a beard and a tattoo on his forearm?’
‘That’s the man,’ declared Big Alec suddenly rifling through the images in an operational order.
‘Number 16, next door. Looks like you’re mistaken, officer. You broke into the wrong house.’
Big Alec stood motionless as a voice from the rear of the group whispered, ‘I tried to tell you... I said Alec, have you got a minute.... But the boss was right.... Read the bloody warrant, you idiot.’
Unlocking the handcuffs, helping the man to his feet, brushing him down, Big Alec forced a tired smile and said to the prisoner, now liberated, ‘Just a mistake, Mister... Mister...’
Robert John Barton looked directly into the officer’s face and said, ‘Don’t you ever listen to anyone?’
‘A mistake,’ came the reply.... ‘Just a mistake.’
‘A mistake that will cost you dearly, officer,’ replied Barton. ‘Now get my door fixed, my window fixed, and get my lawyer down here................ NOW!’