By John McNeil
A police officer wants to "plant" evidence to incriminate a person
he is convinced to be guilty of drug-dealing.
Detective Senior Sgt Rob Judge
Detective Julian Wright
The office of Detective Senior Sergeant Rob Judge. He is talking on the phone.
Judge: We thought that before, but it didn't come off, did it! (Pause) Look, I want the case to stick as much as you do, and what you've just told me gives us some good ammunition. But he's proving very hard to pin down. Twice now, we thought we had him nailed, and each time he slipped through our fingers. We'll get him. Just keep your head down, and don't do anything silly by getting impatient.
(There is a knock at the door.)
Judge: Look, I've got to go. I'll be back in touch as soon as I've got anything definite. (Puts phone down.) Come in!
(Enter Detective Wright)
Wright: You wanted to see me, Senior?
Judge: Yes, come in, Julian. Have a seat.
Wright: Thanks. What's up?
Judge: Nothing particular, really. Just thought I'd check how things are going since you joined the Drugs Squad.
Wright: Well, you know how it is. Constantly taking two steps forward and one back. But I think we're making some progress on the McBride shooting. A neighbour happened to note a car in the driveway around that time, and for once it wasn't stolen. She could only remember part of the number plate, but it's narrowed the search.
Judge: How come you got called in on that? I thought it was an Armed Offenders job.
Wright: Yeah, but they're pretty sure it was a case of mistaken identity, and the intruders had gone there looking for drugs.
Judge: Cross-match dealers with those known to have a propensity to shoot first and ask questions later, and the field gets narrowed considerably.
Wright: And apparently Forensic says the bullet's got some unusual features, too. Gives us some good lines to follow.
Judge: Good. But I hope that's not taking too much of your time. There are some pressing matters that are not seeing much progress, and the Super is starting to ask some awkward questions.
Wright: Oh!? About what?
Judge: The gang shops, for a start. We've had a special team trailing them for three months now, and not a single arrest.
Wright: But you know results don't come quickly in that kind of work!
Judge: And so does the Super. But he's got Mike Moore hounding him every second week, and asking questions in Parliament, and the City Council's getting towey, too.
Wright: Well, I'm not involved in that lot, so how does that affect me?
Judge: But you are working on the Crawford scam.
Wright: Yes!? Together with some guys from the Fraud Squad.
Judge: Apparently you touched a few very raw nerves when you brought Crawford in for questioning yesterday. It seems he has some friends in very high places, and they complained big time to the Super about police harassment.
Wright: Harassment? It was all completely above board and perfectly legit! There was no suggestion that he was a suspect. We took extra pains to give the impression we just considered him a witness in another matter.
Judge: Well, he obviously smelled a big rat, and is screaming blue murder.
Wright: But there's no way he could have suspected what we were really after. We were ultra careful.
Judge: And I'm saying you blew it.
Wright: Blew it! That's not a fair assessment....
Judge: Cool it, Wright. Over-reacting won't fix it. Now look, I want to see Crawford get his as much as you do. We know he's the biggest solo importer in the South Island, but he's a very slippery customer. He never deals directly with the stuff, but always gets others to do his work for him, and he launders the money through any one of a raft of off-shore companies. The trouble is, we've never been able to get any documentary proof.
Wright: And that's exactly why we asked him to come in. While he was here, we hoped to sneak a look through his wallet, in the hope it would yield some evidence. He never saw it go or come back.
Judge: Maybe, maybe not. But it was a stupid risk to take, and he sure smelled something was up.
Wright: Are you suggesting we ease off him?
Judge: No. I'm about to suggest we try a different approach.
Wright: We're already doing phone taps and 24-hour surveillance.
Judge: Good, continue them. But I think it's time we got tougher. He's flying to Sydney tomorrow for the weekend. When he gets back, I want a sniffer dog in the area as he comes through customs.
Wright: What makes you think they'll find anything?
Judge: These! (He hands to Wright a packet containing papers and photographs. Wright leafs through them while Judge speaks.) A source close to Crawford has supplied us with a list of couriers, and photographs of him meeting some of them. The dog will raise the alarm, and these, together with a small quantity of dope, will be found in his bags.
Wright: You're going to plant them?
Judge: A contact among the baggage staff at Sydney Airport will handle that.
Wright: But he won't be stupid enough to try and carry drugs in his own bags.
Judge: This time he will. We'll make sure of that.
Wright: And these photographs. They look like holiday snaps or photos of barbeques.
Judge: They are. But it's amazing how innocent pastimes can cover up criminal activities, isn't it.
Wright: I don't believe this. It's unethical. It'll never stick. I'm not having a part of it.
Judge: It'll stick. Because a simultaneous search warrant on his home will turn up certain other evidence that will be enough to put him inside for a long spell. And as to whether you want a part in it, well, that depends on how long you want to stay a constable. A successful prosecution could do your promotion chances a great deal of good, couldn't it. And I understand you're not finding it easy to make ends meet on your current salary.
Wright: This is blackmail.
Judge: Don't be stupid. Of course it's not. It's just using the system to your advantage. We both know Crawford's guilty. This evidence will just help us establish the case. I'll give you 24 hours to think on it before I switch someone else on to the case. You can go now.
Wright: Sir, I ....
Judge: I said, 24 hours.
Wright: Yes, sir. (He leaves, bewildered.)
Judge: He'll come round. And then we'll get the..... (phone rings). Hello? (Pause) Look, I told you not to call again. It's too risky. Yes, I've seen the papers and photos. I think they'll do. But we'll need those account numbers and computer files to really make it stick. Just make sure you're out for the day when we come round to search. Better still, get out of town for the weekend...stay at your mother's or a friend. (Pause) Yes, I do love you, and when this is settled we can make proper plans. But don't call again. Just trust me.
© John McNeil 1998
All rights reserved
This play may be performed free of charge, on the condition that copies are not sold for profit in any medium, nor any entrance fee charged.
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He may be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or at: 36B Stourbridge St, Christchurch 2, New Zealand.