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A Day in the Life of a Niagara Falls Police Patrolman

By Frank Parlato

Niagara Falls Police Officer, Kenneth Redmond.

Officer Redmond stops known criminal.

Redmond interviews victims of gun 'brandishing" man.

Jose is arrested.

The Garage is ajar.

In pursuit of Robert Lorraine.

Lorraine is arrested.

Emptying pockets of $700 in cash.

Off to jail.

Antoine Bones

Actual photo of crack seized at the home of Antoine Bones.

Bones is urged to go to the hospital

Police search grounds following a gunshot incident.

Police tape off crime scene

A wallet is found following a gunshot incident.

It was through the courtesy of Chief Bryan DalPorto, who has called his force, "the best in the nation," that the Reporter was able to get a perspective on the challenges facing the people and the police of Niagara Falls.

(The names of police officers and Antoine Bones are true. The names of all others have been changed. All streets named are accurate. The actual addresses have been withheld to protect the privacy of the individuals living there.)

Dead Body

The time was shortly after 4 p.m. It was a warm, sunny day.

I accompanied Niagara Falls police officer, Kenneth Redmond, on a Friday night patrol.

On this night there would be 11 cars on patrol.

This night you might get anything, from a barking dog to a homicide, Police Chief Bryan DalPorto had said.

Ken Redmond and I were in car #42 and as we drove, the radio dispatch positioned between us gave us our first assignment.

'Dead body' call, said Ken. I need to give a camera to another officer.

Was it a crime? I asked.

Most likely not, he said.

Our destination was Wrobel Towers on Niagara Ave.
We were on Pine and Portage.

We pulled up to the Wrobel Towers, went inside and took the elevator to the 13th floor. As we walked down the hallway, Lt. Jeffrey Billings was outside the door and we went in together.

Officer Cory Wildt was already inside and on the floor was the dead woman, lying face down, obese, naked from the waist down, her head against the floor, dried blood in a hardened pool around her head. Her hair was dark brown; the smell of the corpse was exceedingly strong.

Wildt said, When they did not hear from her for about a week, they contacted the maintenance guy. The maintenance guy came up here. The door was locked and secured. He opened it and found her lying down. So it was obvious this was …

Apparently she was going to the bathroom, Lt. Billings said. She must have fallen and cracked her head.
Do you know her age? I asked, as Ken handed Wildt the camera.

40-ish, Billings said. She's decomposing. It’s kind of ripe in here.

Do you guys want to open a window, Ken suggested.
I would think we should open a window, Billings said, and they did. Looking out the window one saw a beautiful, panoramic view of the city and the river.

She had had a hysterectomy a few days before, Billings said. There does not appear to have been a struggle. It does not appear there was anything other than she had a medical issue, passed out and cracked her head. If this apartment had been unlocked and there were signs of a struggle, then we would keep this sealed off and bring our crime scene people and our detectives in and start an investigation.

You are certain it was not a crime?

This is 'natural cause' at this point, Billings said. But I am going to have the officer take photos just in case something quirky does come up. We only get one shot at this so that is why he is going to take pictures of this and attach it to the report. As we left, the manager was waiting.

Referring to the smell, now permeating out into the hallway with the door open, she said to Wildt, You aren’t going to stand inside there and wait?

How long has she been dead? I asked.

I would say less than a week, Ken said.

We went down the elevator and Ken and I left.

We had been 20 minutes into our patrol.


Man in an Aqua Shirt

Back in the car, Ken said, referring to dispatch, I'm sure she has another call for me.

What would you say the likelihood of this being a busy night? I asked.

Very high! We just went from cold weather and it is now breaking. Ever since it has been warm out, it has been pretty much busy, consistently, every day. Weather plays a dramatic role in the call volume.

Just then the radio dispatcher called, 42, 47… In the 2900 block of South Avenue, there is a white male in an aqua colored shirt going door to door asking people about their Time Warner TV service.

We headed toward South Avenue.

This could be a permitted solicitor, Ken said, but it could be somebody looking to expose elderly people, to pry his way into their house and steal from them.

As we drove to South and searched other streets nearby, we looked for the man.

We have found individuals selling magazines that had extraditable offenses in other states, Ken said. With this warm weather we have had suspicious people going door to door with a gas can trying to say, 'oh, I need money for gas, look I have an empty gas can, can you please help me out.' Meantime they are looking for a flat screen TV, jewelry, money, looking to see if this house can be burglarized, looking for exit points. They may or may not have a car down the road. I go to the extreme of checking the gas gauge on peoples' cars.
After a search of perhaps 20 minutes, Ken 'cleared' with the dispatcher that he was unable to locate the individual.


Man With a Warrant

It was a little after 5 p.m.

As we drove, Ken pointed to someone on the street named Michael Lorraine.

I have arrested him three or four times.

You recognize a lot of people, I said.

I check the warrant lists and study names and faces. I have a good memory for names and faces.

Within moments, Ken showed he was not bragging.

A man was driving in front of us in a grey SUV.

I have arrested this guy. He has a revoked driver’s license.

He pulled him over on 19th and Whitney.

As Ken and I approached the car, he said to the man, the reason I stopped you is that I know you have a revoked driver’s license. If you don't have any warrants, I will probably let you go with a couple of tickets.

As we went back to the patrol car to check with records, Ken said, I have arrested him three times. He has run from me before.

Will you allow him to drive home? I asked.

No, because I know he has a revoked driver’s license. Somebody will have to pick him up because he has a habit of continuing to drive even after I issue him a ticket.

Dispatch came through. Ken was right. The man had a suspended license for failure to pay child support.

The last incident he fought with us, Ken said. He sustained a broken nose from running from us and being tackled from behind and landing face first on a broken concrete block in somebody's backyard.

The dispatcher's voice came over the radio: ---- 6th Street. There is a male from the second floor that is threatening complainant and his girlfriend with a baseball bat. --- 6th Street, apartment one.

Not our call?

No. Somebody else is going to that now.


A Street in Fear

Before we could pull away, a car was stopped by a New York State trooper who had observed that the car, driven by a short, skinny man, had an expired inspection sticker.

Ken recognized the man and went over to the trooper and said to him, That's Jose Hernandez. He has a warrant.

Jose, seeing Ken, said, hey, look, remember when you pulled me over for that weed and driving without a license, you know, I went to court for that and they gave me a $80 fine.

I just told the trooper that you have a warrant, Jose. Do you have any drugs?

No, I gave that life up. But there is something wrong with the paperwork. Honestly, please man. It's my girlfriend's birthday tomorrow.

Ken and I waited off to the side, while the trooper waited on records to see if Jose did indeed have a warrant.

What's his future, I asked Ken

He’s going to jail. He has a warrant. This individual I have dealt with a handful of times. He has a history of dealing narcotics.

Once again, Ken was right. Jose did have a warrant. He was handcuffed and placed in the care of a Niagara Falls police officer who had recently arrived as back up.

Before we could leave the scene, a woman came up and approached us. She was upset and told a story of a man known to her who had pulled up to her and her boyfriend in a black car and had a handgun, then chased her boyfriend.

We used to all live in the same building, she said, and my boyfriend and him got into an altercation and they were fighting and his girlfriend and him were fighting the same day. And he said, Tony did it and Tony went to jail for stabbing him, but Jameel's girlfriend stabbed him. It's working itself in the courts but he is still trying to come at Tony and he chased him with a gun.

Ken and I got in the car and drove toward the house around the corner where Tony was waiting. As we drove, Ken saw someone in a car and he shouted, loudly, Scott Spooner, stop driving!

What was that about? I asked.

Scott Spooner. See how he didn't even look at me. I've arrested him 15 times. He has a major revoked license.
When we got to the house on 19th Street, Tony sat outside on the porch.

Tony said, we started over to see her friend and I gets to the store and they walking behind me. I said to myself, Tony, turn, turn. Instead of going in, I turns up and when I turns up, I see Jameel open the door and he said, 'You bitch ass nigger. I'll get your ass nigger.' Then I see the bottom of the gun, a handgun. I see the bottom of the gun, so I see it. I started running and he puts the gun back in and he started chasing me.

They even backed up, Tony's girlfriend said. They got as far as where me and my friend were by the store, then they went down that alley after him.

As birds were chirping, and the sun past it zenith, but still far from setting, and neighbors were out warming themselves after the long cold winter, even children were out on the bicycles on the sidewalks, I stood in the shadows as Ken tried to sort it out.

As Ken was talking to them, a white, middle aged man with jet black hair, shaped not unlike a bowl haircut, came up to me seemingly flustered.

You need to be around here a lot more, he said.

Especially Fridays. I'm John Winston. I've been living here for 30 years. You need to come down a lot more especially when school, when Friday ends, until Sunday.

There's so much s--- that goes on in this damn street I'm starting to get fed up with it.

What happened today? I asked.

I'm in my backyard, watering my lawn and some black guy tries to break into my white van so I came out.
Did you see him?

I saw him. Always at the back of the head, when they're running.

Moving pretty fast?

Moving pretty fast. Not only that, this guy on the corner, he had his house broken into with his TV stolen just a couple of days ago. They got into the basement. They not only took his TV, they took his little girl's DVDs. Now how low can you get?

That's pretty low, I said.

The man with the black hair, and desperation in his voice, said, you guys come on down. Have an officer right there, pointing to his yard. Anything for safety and I'm willing to pay more to have more of you guys out there. They figure they can do anything they want. We need you guys more than ever.

As Ken came to the patrol car to run the plates of the man who chased Tony in his black car, an elderly white man came out of his house.

The man with the black hair, observing Ken, said you know who I am. 30 years. 30 years. I wasn't even home 15 minutes.

I asked the older man how the neighborhood was.

It was fine, he said, but now it’s starting to get back down into the dregs again. I don't think it is the locals. I think it’s gangs from outside. Kids that come from Maple Ave. They come down here and they wreak havoc.

How old are they?

I would say between 17 and 22, in that age bracket.

Have you had problems?

Since I put the fence up, they kind of leave me alone. And I have a burglar alarm in the house. The only thing better than them alarms is you. This used to be very nice, but they come in like swarms, like flies. The house next door was broken into the other day. But it is good to see you guys. It’s a pleasure knowing that you guys are around, really. But like he was saying, if you could make it more frequently but I realize you have a schedule. You have the whole city to take care of. All I have to worry about is my block.

As Ken and I got back into the patrol car, I said to him, there is fear here on the streets.

Ken said, Yeah. That's a good observation. There is fear.


Spitting at Officers

We drove to the city market. As we dove, he pointed out a man. I’ve arrested that man in the white tee shit on the corner.

There was broken glass on the street and a guy speeding around a corner. Suddenly he slowed down when he saw the police car.

After we parked, Ken wrote his incident report. He was careful to write it accurately. He searched for just the right word to convey that the suspect had revealed that he had a gun.

'Showed?' No. 'Displayed?' No. Brandished. Then Ken typed, 'He brandished a gun.'

An unhappy looking, rather badly kept young man, about 25, walked slowly past us, carrying a bag from one of the stores.

As he passed us and without looking at us, he spit on the ground.

They will purposely spit on the ground, a common sign of disrespect for a police officer, Ken said.


Another dead body?

Back on patrol, as we drove along, I noticed that everywhere, we got more than the usual amount of notice. Staring I would call it. People notice and they look.

We were dispatched to --- 6th Street, apartment four.

The woman at dispatch said, they are saying it smells very badly and are concerned about the man who lives there.

The first suspicion is probably your first suspicion, Ken said. That he passed away.

When you drive your car, a regular car, people don't always stare at you, I said, taking up the theme of how people stare at police cars and its occupants.

A lot of people size you up, Ken said. A lot of people pretend not to notice. A lot of times when they have drugs, handguns, they try to not make eye contact. A lot of people are just amazed at a police car. Out of habit it has attracted their attention.

We pulled up to a ramshackle, small apartment building on 6th Street.
There was a smell as bad, or worse, than the one in the Wrobel apartment where we had been earlier that day.

The neighbors came out to see us. One of them, a woman said, they hadn't seen the old man who lived upstairs in a long time. Strangely, within a minute or two, the old man appeared, coming down the stairs.

I thought he was dead, the woman said.

Well it’s good that he isn’t, Ken said.

No it’s not good, she said. Cause it smells like dead maggots. You walk through the front door.

Upon investigation, it was determined that the smell was coming from the lower apartment.

We examined the windows and Ken saw what he knew to be roach feces, and mouse feces.

Who lives here? Ken asked the woman.

Barbara, the woman said.

Is she alive?

Yes, she is alive. You just got a call from her because her old man called my old man a nigger and he came down to see them with a baseball bat.

Will she come out?

No. She's an alcoholic.

Ken banged on her door and said, Police, open up.

A middle-aged woman, in a tattered summer dress, with greasy hair, came out and with her came from inside a waft of smell that could intoxicate a man.

What is rotting in your apartment? Ken asked.

Barbara was drunk.

Do you know you have roaches?


How much have you had to drink today?

Two beers, she said.

The smell coming from your apartment is so intoxicating and nauseating it is causing everyone in this entire building...

It is the garbage cans outside, over there, Barbara said, which of course it was not.

She invited us in.

No, Ken said, I'm not coming in and as she opened the door a roach flew past us.

Ken, making executive decisions, called the landlord and persuaded him to fumigate the building. He told the tenant that if the landlord didn't fumigate within a week, he would advise them to call inspections and make a complaint.


An Alarm in DeVeaux

Dispatch called. A burglar alarm went off at somebody's house in DeVeaux.
We were assigned.

Ninety-five percent of the time it is a false alarm, Ken said.

We approached the home and it was an expensive home. There were no signs of anyone around or that there was a break in. When we got to the back, however, we noticed the garage door was partially open just enough for a man to climb under.

Ken looked under. There was no one inside the garage.

Ken slid under the garage door.

I followed and slid under also.

We went up to the door that led to the house.

It was unlocked.

Ken went in. I followed behind him.

There was no one inside of what might be called a mud room. The door to the main house was locked.

Not finding anything, Ken cleared and we returned to the beat.


The arrest of Robert Lorraine

Back on patrol, soon we were on the 1800 block of Niagara Avenue. Pointing to a particular house, Ken said, that is crack-dealing central.

As we drove by it, Ken pointed out a guy he had arrested.

You have an uncanny memory for criminals, I said.

No sooner had I said that, then Ken saw someone in the side mirror.

Ah, he has a couple of warrants.


Robert Lorraine. I'm going to pull him over.

He stopped him and went up to Robert and handcuffed him.

I can cut you a break on the tickets but you got two warrants for your arrest.

Robert explained that it had been taken care of and that there was no longer any warrants.

As Ken took him to the police car and sat him in the back seat, he said, Good, if you've cleared it up, you'll be good to go.

But they were not cleared up.

Ken frisked him and moved Robert's car so it would not block the driveway and need to be towed. He grabbed his cell phone and went to ask him if there was anything else he wanted for he was going to jail.

As we drove, Robert spoke about a recent gun shot wound he incurred when a bullet grazed his head leaving a scar alongside his almost shaved head.


Bones is Taken

At the intake area at the police station, Robert was searched and this included his emptying his pockets and depositing $700 cash on the table, before Ken and Officer Eric Rotella.

We got a better look at Robert's scar; it went all along his head.

That’s amazing, Ken said. It had to be a 380.

They weren't shooting at me. They were shooting at someone else, Robert said.

His head got in the way, I said.

We learned of the fruits of a swat team's search warrant execution at 1140 Center Avenue.

An A-I felony. Antoine Bones. They found 11 ounces of crack cocaine, Ken said, almost jubilantly.

A-1 is equivalent to murder, said Officer Rotella. It doesn't get any higher than that. It’s the highest charge for drugs.

I have had major dealings with him. He fled on me in a car chase, Ken said.

Did you get him?


He went like 100 mph. His car went airborne. I arrested his brother, Anthony Bones, in January 2012 for 10 grams. He is still being held.

As Ken started the paperwork on the arrest of Robert Lorraine, he talked about how some dealers will hide drugs inside their rectums to avoid detection during strip searches.

Ken had a few moments earlier performed one on Robert.

I put them in handcuffs, Ken said. They sometimes try to put it in their mouths and swallow it.
Then you tell them politely to drop it or you will go the hospital and we will get a search warrant. And a doctor will remove it.

As we waited for Lorraine to be booked, a group of firemen appeared.
And so did Antoine Bones, the man with the A-1 felony whose house had been raided, sitting on a stretcher.

It was said that he had swallowed a quantity of drugs and they were prepared to take him to the hospital.

When Bones saw Ken he became annoyed.

He said to Ken, you look as happy to see me as Michael Jackson in a day care center.

I'm smiling because they got you on an A-1, Ken said.

I'll be out on streets next week, Bones said.

I don't think so Ken said.

I'll be out eating p----y this weekend, Bones said.

Officer Tommy Caldwell was engaged in talking to Bones, urging him to go to the hospital, arguing that with the present charges against him, even if they found more drugs inside his stomach, he would not get any more charges.

"They can't go higher than A-1. So you have nothing to lose. This is not an e felony. You have an A-1 felony.

But Bones would not consent.

"If you have drugs and it goes through your digestive system you could die," Tommy said.
Bones finally agreed to go and was escorted out, handcuffed, with the team of firemen and police, headed to Memorial Medical Center.

Do you honestly think he swallowed something? I asked.

I don't know, Caldwell said. Someone called, a relative or someone, and said he swallowed marijuana then someone else said it was a whole bunch of crack.

Shortly after Bones left, we ran into the head of the narcotics unit, Captain David LeGault, who had engineered the arrest of Bones.

He said he used eight officers.

It was very successful, LeGault said, explaining his success earlier that night. One more guy off the streets. It’s a cliché. But the search resulted in seizing 11.4 ounces of crack cocaine.


A Larceny report interrupted by gunshots.

With an hour left on the shift, Ken and I went back out on patrol.

We were quickly dispatched on a larceny complaint on 20th Street. Someone had taken $138 from somebody.

When we arrived at the house, a man and a woman were drunk.

She looked at me and asked who I was?

Just asking, said the woman. Looks kind of like a priest without the collar.

The upshot of her story is that she gave a friend money to pay her rent and he spent it on crack cocaine instead.

He downright dirted me, she said. My landlord was so mad he said I had to get out of here.

As she spoke, there were seven pops in the distance.

That sounded like gunshots, Ken said. It was definitely gunshots. That was not firecrackers.

Ken hurried the woman who lost her $138 with advice on how to get a warrant and then we got into the car and went in search of the source of the gunshots.

It was 11:08 p. m.

Calls had come in and we learned that it was on 24th Street.

Several officers were on the scene.

A woman about 45 years old, dressed in a halter top and a short skirt, explained: I was sitting up on my kitchen and my son and his friend were on the patio and somebody came on the side of the house shooting a gun, four or five times, from the back gate to right along here, four or five times, you guys, like seriously.

As five or six officers looked along the side of the house with flashlights, they found a wallet with ID, but no money. The name of the license was Drake Carlisle of Buffalo. Also, a baseball hat, a drug baggie, some nine millimeter shell casings. And a piece of a holster. And a set of car keys.

This could potentially be a homicide, Ken said.

There were also two cars with Virginia license plates parked in the alley behind the house. One of the vehicles was reported stolen.

I went to the front and a young man, about 20 years old, came out of the house.

Whose cars are back there? I asked.

I don't know.

You live here?


What did you hear?

I heard a couple of pops, but I just got out of the shower. I was brushing my teeth and I thought maybe someone was doing like fireworks or something. Referring to the middle aged woman that had reported the shots, he said, That’s my girlfriend and she was like 'did you hear that?' 'Like, yeah.' She said 'it was on the side of the house, it was gunshots.' That's when she called the police, but I'm not her son though, like I said, I'm her boyfriend.

Just then a quite large woman with an incredibly too short skirt was leaving the house next

It's an odd dress, isn't it, I said to Ken.

He nodded.

The woman in the short skirt said, Oh my God, this never happens like this and now all of a sudden over here. This is supposed to be a nice street. There's never been no drama here, then she come out and tell me there was gunshots. You seen blood or something?

No, but somebody was running for their life, Ken said. Trying to get the hell out of dodge.

I'm not coming back. I'm going to my mother's house.

Soon more officers came to the scene and so did Lt Billings.

Billings was giving instructions to the men and assigning who would stay.

He said to me, Oh, you don't want to stay for another round?

Given the choice, I suspect Ken would prefer to go home.

Billings turned to Cory Wildt and asked, were you first one here?

No, Cory said, I was first one to get the call on the radio.

Billings turned to me and added, you're welcome to stay.

As they taped off the scene, waiting for the crime scene unit, Billings said to Ken, alright take off.

And we did.



Niagara Falls Reporter - Publisher Frank Parlato Jr. www.niagarafallsreporter.com

May 07, 2013