When I started patrolling Buffalo, New York’s east side as a rookie cop in 2013, the area was filled with dilapidated buildings, open lots, and gang violence. It was home to the city’s main hub for prostitution and drug sales — all the things I wanted to learn about but was not accustomed to. I loved every bit of it.
A day or two into working this rough area of the city, my partner and I — both recent academy grads and fresh from our initial field training — had to make our first arrest in the hood. Every police officer remembers their first arrest. Unfortunately, mine took place in a sleepy suburb and was horribly lame and unexciting in every way. My first arrest in the hood was far more memorable.
Driving down side streets just off the main drugs-and-prostitution strip, my partner and I saw a woman leaning into a passenger window of a car. As we passed by, she motioned the car away, began walking in the opposite direction, and immediately started yelling at us.
“Why are you talking to me? They just pulled a gun on me!” she said, pointing down the street.
A gun call is something police officers tend to get excited about, but her reaction didn’t match the severity of her complaint. In the interest of narrowing our search, we asked for more details. Her responses were vague, and she seemed upset that we were talking to her instead of fucking off to try and find the ghost car and the guy with a gun.
To appease her, we quickly drove down the block, where we saw precisely zero cars that matched her horrible description or that looked suspicious in any way. Suspecting the woman was a prostitute who made up the gun story because she had been trying to score a john just before seeing us, my partner drove back to the woman so I could ask her more questions about the ghost car.
I stuck my head out of our patrol car’s passenger window and requested she stop walking so we could continue our conversation. Unsurprisingly, she refused. I got out of my vehicle and walked behind her, demanding she stop to tell me more about the vehicle that had flashed a pistol at her. After she ignored me for a full block, I ran up, grabbed her arm, and told her I was detaining her for prostitution. Then shit got real.
I am not a small man — just under 6 feet tall and just over 200 pounds — but when I tried to put this woman’s hands behind her back and handcuff her, it was impossible. She wasn’t much smaller than me, but I could not move her arms to handcuff her. I struggled for 20 to 30 seconds, grappling with her arms and demanding she give me her hands. When I could grab one, the other would wriggle free from my grip. My partner rolled his eyes at me through the windshield and grumbled, “Jesus Christ, Rich, just put her in handcuffs.”
But my partner also knew it was no ordinary woman. This was a seasoned prostitute who had grown strong and durable (in a very unhealthy way) from the crack she regularly smoked. She was also known for carrying a knife and randomly stabbing people.
“Holy shit,” my partner said when he joined the fray. It was quick, but cops share a lot of quick moments like these. It was all he had to say to convey his surprise and utter disbelief at how strong and elusive the woman was.
As my partner and I struggled to overcome the crackhead-hooker strength this woman had built up over a decade of backseat BJs and back-alley hand jobs, we were suddenly hit with a foul odor. Her colon belched out a horrible, gut-wrenching stench — a combination of crack rock, semen, and whatever greasy abomination you can find under the food-warming hood of a bodega. I looked at my partner as he wretched at the smell.
“I think she shit herself,” I said.
“Oh my God, I think she did,” he replied.
I asked the prostitute — whom we had yet to handcuff — if she had, in fact, shit herself.
“Yeah,” she replied, continuing to resist arrest with the strength of a rabid polar bear.
Finally, after a long, frustrating struggle, we got her in cuffs. When I asked her again if she had shit herself, she said she had not actually filled her pants with feces but farted all over us many times during the struggle.
“I didn’t shit myself, I just faaaahhhhted,” she said with the most cigarette-smoking-Jersey accent I have ever heard.
After two hours of trying to determine the woman’s real name, we learned she had five warrants for drug possession, prostitution, and assault with a weapon. Now whenever someone lets one rip in the station house, I call out, “He just FFAAAAAAHHHHHTED” as I fondly remember my first hood arrest.
This article first appeared in the Fall 2021 edition of Coffee or Die’s print magazine as “Baptism By Fire: When your first arrest as a rookie cop in the hood is a crackhead prostitute with superhuman strength.”