Sunday, January 8, 2017

Substation (Season 4, Episode 20)

Episode 98

This is the city, Los Angeles, California. Everyday seventy-five million people pass through its international airport. 
Some come for pleasure, some come for business. Some come to break the law. When they do, I go to work. I carry a badge.
It was Wednesday, February sixteenth, it was cool in Los Angeles. We were assigned to vacation relief at the Los Angeles International Airport substation. The boss is Lt. Ashton, my partner's Jim Reed, my name's Malloy.
Oops, wrong show!

For some reason Reed is wearing gloves when they first walk into the substation.
Today Malloy and Reed are being loaned out to the airport substation. When they arrive at the cramped and busy station, the male dispatcher is letting all the units know about a 211 suspect driving a black limousine, he offers a taxi service at a cut rate then robs and beats his victim on the outskirts of the airport. Ron Carter ends his broadcast with KMA-785, then points Pete and Jim to the lieutenant's office. After that returns to his other duty of front desk officer.
Pete and Jim arrive at the lieutenant's desk and find him on the phone talking to someone about flight from Toledo. He finishes his conversation and greets the officers. He's glad to see them, if he was down anymore men he wouldn't have enough to cover the airport. From his cluttered desk he picks up a map of the airport and shows Pete and Jim their area to cover. They have World Way South, which includes four terminals, satellites, and parking lots. Jim takes the map, looks at that area and asks, "What's our job?".
"What's our job?"
[You're stewardesses today. Seriously?]
Ashton answers that their job is police work, all kinds of it. With eight thousand cars pouring in and out of the airport every hour, LAX is a busy place. They'll have lots do and when they have some extra time Ashton wants them on the look out for car prowlers operating amongst the six thousand parking spaces. He doesn't think they'll have much down time, though.

Now that Malloy and Reed know what to do, Ashton takes them on a tour of the crowded quarters. While he's walking them around desks where officers sit and complete paperwork, Ashton tells them that the substation has two small motorcycles. They're fast and quiet, which makes them good for cruising parking lots. Whether they're on the bikes or on foot, Malloy and Reed will use handi-talkies to communicate with the office. In order to keep things easy, Ashton makes their designation Zebra-12.
[Zebra-12, we think we can remember that. Hey, more importantly, is lunch still called code 7 here?]

Ashton also tells Malloy and Reed that Carter will do all of their dispatching, when he's not answering the phone or handling the front desk. Reed asks what type of calls they'll receive and Ashton lets him know that their tour will be like riding in a radio car, something new all the time. Carter then proves this when he tells the lieutenant about the call he just received. There's a man holding a stewardess hostage in Satellite two. Since there is no one else available to handle the call, this will be Zebra-12's inaugural assignment.


Inside the terminal Malloy and Reed meet up with an airline employee who will take them to where the stewardess is being held. As they walk up to the lounge Simmons tells them about the man who is holding the stew hostage, he's a real fruitcake named Jeffers who keeps raving about a movie producer.  
When they reach the door of the lounge Simmons gives them a layout of the lounge.  It's basically a big room with an alcove and a powder room. The powder room is where Jeffers is holding the woman. There had been other people in the lounge but Jeffers cleared them all out. Only him and his hostage are in there now.

Once everyone left the room Simmons was able to communicate with Jeffers through the door, until he decided he didn't want to talk anymore. He told Simmons to go away and only to come back if he had the producer. The door is the only entrance to the lounge. Without any other options, Malloy decides that they should take a chance and go inside.

Oh my gawd, the furniture!
 (I mean that in a good way.)
Malloy and Reed enter the room and position themselves on either side of the alcove opening. Malloy stands in front of the alcove entrance and shouts to Jeffers. He lets him know they want to talk to him. Reed stays behind a short wall with his pistol ready.
When Malloy is done speaking, a struggle and then footsteps can be heard in the alcove. But instead of facing the police himself, Jeffers sends his hostage out to do the talking for him. The only portions Malloy can see of Jeffers are his shadow, his left hand holding onto the woman's sleeve, and the gun he holds in his right hand. Jeffers whispers something to the stewardess, she then repeats his demands for the officers. He won't leave until they bring the producer, Allan Fleming, out there. 

She hesitates before delivering the next part. Fleming violent shakes her arm, silently ordering her to say her lines.  If Fleming doesn't give him a job, he's going to kill her then himself. 

Malloy tries to negotiate with Jeffers, he tells him to let the girl go and then they can talk about it. Jeffers pulls her back into the alcove and whispers more instructions. From his hiding spot Reed tries to make out the inaudible murmurs.

The stewardess emerges again, looking more distressed than the last time. She tells Malloy that Jeffers won't let her go until he gets a job with Fleming. She then goes off script and speaks directly to Malloy.
"He means it officer, he really means it."
After she makes this plea Jeffers pulls at her sleeve and whispers something else to her. She repeats what Jeffers has just told her, "He's serious about using the gun".  Malloy tries to make him reconsider his plans.
"Think about what you're doing, Jeffers. The girl has no part of your problems. Let her go and we'll try and work something out."
Jeffers pulls her back into the alcove and gives her his answer to Malloy. When she returns, she's on the verge of tears as she delivers Jeffers' message. 
"He says this is your last warning."
She then begs Malloy to call Fleming. Jeffers pull her aside once again to give her the studio's phone number. After she dictates it to Malloy, he asks if Fleming knows Jeffers. The stewardess again relates Jeffers answer to Malloy. Fleming doesn't know Jeffers. He came out to L.A. a year ago for an acting job and Fleming refused to see him. Malloy tells Jeffers that they'll give it a try, his partner will make the call. The hostage begs Malloy to hurry. Jeffers then pulls her into the powder room and shuts the door.

[Ya know, I'm sick of working at the airport. I'm saving up to open a little diner in Beverly Hills. I'm going to call it the Peach Pit.]
(That's Joe E. Tata from Beverly Hills 90210 as Simmons.)
After Malloy and Reed leave the lounge, they start setting their plan in motion. Malloy waits by the lounge door with Simmons while Reed goes to get a phone. Simmons isn't too excited about the plan, he thinks it's a long shot, but he doesn't know what else they can do. When Reed returns with a green phone, it's time to get started.

Malloy enters the lounge and tells Jeffers they have Fleming on the phone. He explains that the producer can't come to the airport, but he will talk to Jeffers on the phone. Jeffers refuses to come out of the alcove for a phone call. He wants Fleming there. Now it's time for Malloy to show off his acting skills.
"He says he admires anybody who would go to such lengths for an acting job. He's tied up now, he can't come out here right now, but he says he'll talk to you on the phone. He says he has a part you might be right for."
A sweating and nervous Jeffers tries to call Malloy on his bluff. How does Fleming know he would be right for this part? He doesn't even know what he looks like. Malloy recovers by asking Jeffers if he has his picture in an actors' directory. Jeffers admits that he does have a picture in all of them. Malloy adds that Fleming looked him up and thinks he would be perfect for the part. Jeffers reluctantly agrees to take the call. But, only if Malloy clears out. If he sees a cop in the room, he's going to waste the stewardess. 


Malloy steps back and opens the door, Reed enters silently holding the green phone. While Malloy puts the phone on the table, Reed plugs the cord into the jack. 
Those chairs are like life-size Barbie furniture.
After the phone is set up Reed hides behind the wall to the left of the alcove entrance.

Malloy conceals himself behind a wall on the other side.

Next Reed tells Jeffers that Fleming is on the phone, he then opens and shuts the door to make him think they've left the room. 

Jeffers cautiously emerges from his hiding spot. The stewardess walks next to him, she has no choice. Jeffers clutches her arm and has his pistol shoved in her ribs. He throws her into one of the colorfully upholstered chairs and orders her to sit down. With his gun trained on her, he picks up the phone. When Malloy hears him say "Mr. Fleming?" he comes out from behind the wall and sneaks up on Jeffers. As Malloy grabs his gun, Reed and Simmons rush into the room. Reed takes the handset away from Jeffers who still believes that Fleming is on the other end.

Jeffers loudly protests as Malloy puts him in handcuffs, he claims he was never going to hurt the girl. He continues shouting, saying that he has to talk to Fleming as they take him out of the room. He's still making a racket when backup officers take him away. As they put him on the escalator, he threatens the police.
"I'll get you for this! Just wait!"
(I have a feeling we'll be seeing that guy again.)

While Jim watches Jeffers being hauled away, Pete has the much more enjoyable task of telling Kathy, formerly Jeffers' hostage, what will happen next. When he informs her that they will probably call her to testify in a few weeks, she tells him that she doesn't know when she'll be back in L.A. but the airline will probably give her time off for court.
She asks Pete if she will see him at the airport when she's back in town. When he tells her this is only a temporary gig for him, she's disappointed. Kathy really wants to see Pete again.
"Who knows, maybe I'll grow on you."
Pete doesn't seem opposed to the idea
"You already have."
[I mean, I thought you were cute when I saw you driving the get away car in "Log 88: Reason to Run", but in this stew outfit and shorter hair, you're absolutely adorable.]
It's time for Kathy to get back to work now. As she leaves, she makes a memorable exit. At least Pete thinks so.

As Kathy heads down the escalator, Jim turns around and starts walking towards his partner. Pete tries to hide his smile but it's too late.
"What was that all about?" asks Reed.
"Business."
"What kind?" chuckles Reed.
"Unfinished," answers Pete. He halts his partner's questioning by abruptly walking away.
[Pete and Kathy sitting in a tree...Hope she's not crazy like the Kathy that fell for me.]

Let's look at some stock footage of the airport.

Later in the day Zebra-12 is on patrol in the parking lots. They come upon a car surrounded by debris that looks like it's been there for a long time. Reed calls in for wants on the car. Officer Carter lets him know there are no wants, but tells them to come back to the base code 2. Lt. Ashton has a hot one for them.

When they get back to the substation Ashton informs them that a green suitcase full of pot is coming in on World Way flight 667 from Toledo. When it lands in ten minutes, the baggage supervisor will point the case out to them. 
This may be the airport, but they still have to follow proper police procedure. Reed asks what their probable cause is for searching the bag. Ashton explains that in Toledo a baggage handler knocked the suitcase off of a conveyor belt, thirty kilos of marijuana dumped on the floor. The Toledo Narco unit kept a sample and also marked a few bricks. They put them back in the suitcase to keep a good chain of evidence. The Toledo PD then called Ashton to let him know what happened and when the suitcase would arrive in L.A.

So far, it sounds like a perfect set up. Now all they have to do is nab the courier when he claims the bag. Which, Malloy points out, will not be easy to do in their uniforms. Ashton has already planned for that, he's got new uniforms all ready for them.
"You've just gone into the rent-a-car business."
[Yay.]

In the nearly deserted baggage claim terminal the few bags that remain unclaimed  from the Toledo flight make another trip around the silver carousel. Malloy and Reed, cleverly disguised as rental car employees, keep their eyes on the lone green suitcase.
Nothing to see here, folks. We're just regular rental car guys.
Reed inconspicuously radios to Carter and lets him know that the green suitcase still hasn't been picked up, he thinks they may have been burned.
[Nothing out of the ordinary, just conducting rental car business.]
Carter tells them to sit tight, drug couriers are usually hinky and careful. 

Finally, a well-dressed man in a suit, tie, and hat casually walks over to the carousel and retrieves the green bag. He walks quickly to the baggage attendant, shows his claim ticket, then leaves the airport. Malloy follows him to the door while Reed stays on the bench to give Carter an update on the radio.

When he's done talking to Carter, Reed joins his partner at the exit. They watch as the man stands on the curb. A taxi tries to pull over to pick him up, but he waves the cab on. Malloy guesses that he's waiting for a special ride.
Reed pulls out the antenna on the handi-talkie again and asks Carter to get a radio car to cover the airport exits. Carter lets him know that one just cleared and is available for the task. 

They watch and Reed reports to Carter as the man gets into a green station wagon with three other men inside. Carter tells them to stay with the man until the radio car can intercept. 

That famous LAX structure is called the Theme building. The area with the windows is a restaurant. You can read more about the Theme building here.
They go outside and mount the only mode of transportation available to them, the motorcycles. They slowly tail the green station wagon until it makes a stop to pickup yet another courier. Reed pulls the hands-talkie out of his coverall pocket to tell Carter what just happened. Carter instructs them to stay with the car until Zebra-15 blocks it at Satellite Three. The chase picks up speed as the station wagon starts on it's way to the exit.
When the black and white pulls in front of the green car, the pursuit slows down again. It then comes to a complete stop a few feet beyond the exit, ending the chase. Malloy rolls his bike up to the back door and orders everybody out of the car with their hands on top of his head.

When they return to the base, Malloy begins logging the haul from the bags they found in the station wagon. By the time he's gone through 3 of the suitcases, he's found forty kilos of marijuana, thirty bags of heroin, and about twenty pounds of amphetamines and barbiturates. 
Lt. Ashton fills him in on the organized operation the smugglers were running. They had five different couriers on five different flights that all touched down at LAX within forty minutes of each other. Malloy thinks it wasn't a bad plan, by splitting the shipment five ways they cut their risk at both ends. 

Despite all of their organization and planning, though, the plan still went bust. Reed comes into report that the five men still can't figure out how that happened. Malloy has an answer he can give them.
"Tell them they should have bought a suitcase with a better lock."
After thwarting a kidnapping and a drug-smuggling ring, Pete and Jim deserve a break. As they sit down with their coffees Reed is curious about the phone call his partner just received from Kathy. Pete reports that they are the victims of computer scheduling, she's leaving for Twin Falls at four thirty today. He then predicts how explosive their lovemaking will be when they do finally do meet up.
"We'll put it together. When we do, stand back."
Before Jim has a chance to spit out his coffee, Carter comes in to tell them that a citizen has found an injured woman just beyond the airport boundary.

Pete and Jim take a black and white to the location. They find a small crowd gathered around a battered woman lying behind a bush. Jim rushes back to the car to call an ambulance while Pete stays with the victim.

Once the victim is being treated in the airport infirmary Pete and Jim are allowed to question her. She tells them how she thought the driver of the black limousine was a legitimate taxi service, so she got inside. She knew something was wrong when he started driving in the wrong direction. When she tried to say something about it, he took out a pistol and started beating her with it. Then he pulled over and took her purse. She begged him to let her go, she didn't care if he kept the money. Instead, he kept savagely beating her.

The woman breaks down sobbing after telling them what happened. Pete and Jim look truly concerned for her. They want to catch this guy. Pete knows it's hard for her to go on, but he has one more question for the woman. He found a piece of white cloth a few feet off the road and he wants to know if it is part of the suspect's shirt.

The woman thinks it could be. When he pushed her out of the car, she grabbed at him to keep from falling. She could have ripped his shirt. Before she breaks down sobbing again, she implores Pete and Jim to find him before he does the same thing to someone else.

That's exactly what they start doing. Malloy and Reed return to the airport exits and begin checking out any black limousines they see. They check eight black sedans in an hour, but come up empty handed. Then Carter contacts them over the radio and tells them about a limousine parked overtime in a loading zone at 200 World Way. This might be the break they need.
"Zebra-12, roger."
(Note the magnetic decals on unit 995.)
When they arrive at 200 World Way, Reed knows they've found the right car.
There's blood on the front seat.
(Who sits in the front of a limo, next to the driver!?!?)
Malloy notices that the sedan is registered to a leasing company located at the airport.

He instructs Reed to get Carter on the horn and alert all ticket agents and U.S. Marshals. He thinks the suspect may try to make an escape by flying out of Los Angeles.
"Yeah, if he isn't already gone."
Back in the terminal Reed and Malloy meet up with U.S. Marshal, Chuck Stanton. He's spotted a guy who doesn't quite fit the description of their suspect, but he does have the right clothes. He leads Malloy and Reed over to where he is waiting to board a plane. 
Stanton is just a regular guy who likes to 
listen to records, go bowling,  and visit libraries.
As they watch the man fidget in his seat Stanton explains that he came over to the ticket counter about twenty minutes ago and paid cash for a one-way fare to Salt Lake City. He's been acting sort of freaky ever since.

Most airports still have seats like this!
Usually not in these groovy colors, though. Just basic black nowadays.

Malloy and Stanton agree, this guy doesn't match the description. But, Stanton doesn't want to take the risk of letting him board the plane. Without probable cause, though, they won't be able to stop him. Reed points out that the victim said he had a gun. He asks Stanton if they could bar him from boarding if something showed up on the metal detector. 
Stanton thinks that should work, after all part of his job is keeping weapons off the aircraft. But, Malloy worries about what could happen to the other passengers if the man is armed and they tried to capture him. Stanton answers that he will make sure the man is alone in the jetway when he goes through the magnetometer. Malloy thinks it's worth a try. He'll cover the jetway, Reed will cover the lobby, and Stanton will set it up.

Stanton tells Simmons that the nervous-looking man should come through the jetway alone.

Once everybody is in position, Simmons begins the boarding process.
"Please extinguish all lighted materials before entering the jetway."
(Ah, the good ol' days. Also, did gate agents not have to wear uniforms or name tags in 1972?)
Simmons also informs the passengers that they will be using a weapon-detecting device monitored by a deputy U.S. Marshal to screen everyone as they board the plane. He adds everyone should space themselves according to his directions when entering the jetway.
Malloy watches as the passengers get ready to enter the jetway.
When Mr. Freaky enters the jetway, it looks like Stanton doesn't like what he sees.
And with good reason, Mr. Freaky turns around and starts to run!
"Malloy!"
Malloy, Stanton, and Reed begin to chase after the man. They run through the lobby, pushing passengers out of the way and jumping over chairs.

The chase continues down a very long staircase.

Reed, with his youth and superior athletic abilities, is, of course, right behind the suspect. When he tackles the man at the bottom of the stairs, the pursuit ends.

After the suspect and Reed slide across the linoleum floor, Malloy helps get him in handcuffs and haul him to his feet. Malloy then unzips the suspect's jacket, takes the gun out of his pants, and reveals the key evidence. 
"Is that your boy?" asks Stanton.
"Yeah, torn shirt and all," answers Reed.

The End

Although parts of "Substation" are ridiculous (the rent-a-car employee cover) and incomprehensible (Who sits in the front of a limousine or taxi?), I still like this one a lot. It's exciting to see Malloy and Reed fight crime in a different setting and use the same LAPD procedures at LAX. It's also interesting to see how the cramped and understaffed airport substation works, especially in conjunction with the U.S. Marshal. Finally, in 2017, it's also a fascinating look at how much airline travel has changed and stayed the same since 1972. 

The acting here ain't bad, either. Francine York does a terrific job of playing Frank Sinatra, Jr.'s frightened hostage. She is then cute as a button when she works her magic on Pete, although her character does bounce back rather quickly from being held at gunpoint. Sinatra comes off weird and creepy, which is exactly what he is supposed to be in this episode. Lenore Stevens turns in a great performance as the beating victim, I love the way she turns from weepy to steely when she tells Malloy and Reed "find him". Kudos to the Mark VII make-up department for making her wounds look realistically disturbing. 

Since the experience of watching Substation was much more enjoyable than actually being at LAX, I give this one a rating of:


Do you agree? Let me know what you think somewhere, out there in cyberspace. See you next week with "Backup 1-L20".

KMA-367





















13 comments:

  1. RIP Francine York

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    1. Thank you for letting me know! I hadn't realized that she passed away on Friday.

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  2. Am I the only person in the world who doesn't care for Frank Sinatra, Jr.? Maybe it's just his roles, but I don't care for him in ANY of his A-12 roles. Guess he played this particular role well enough, but I find him seriously annoying in the Quack Clinic ep and the "hustler-type" playboy cop in the ep where he and Pete pursue FSJ's sister, Tina. "Cocky" (snicker!) behavior in men is always a huge turnoff for me, no matter what insecurities it masks. That being said, I enjoyed everything else about this episode, especially the different venue. And I ALWAYS love seeing Reed leap tall buildings and tackle bad guys! His action scenes look so realistic to me, like he rather than a stunt double is doing the heavy stuff. Could that be true? Great commentary as usual, Keely! Thanks for all your hard work.

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    1. I actually liked Frank Jr. (Who also just passed away a few months back) in the stealth pilot for "Fraud!". Yeah, still cocky but his character had the smarts to justify it.

      (A bit of irony - his co-star was Sharon Gless of CAGNEY & LACEY, which was originally offered to Mark VII but turned down by Webb, fearing it'd look too much like a gimmicked rework of his earlier shows.)

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  3. Like the intro, Keely! (And it's a bit appropriate - this was one of the first occasional episodes that took Malloy and Reed off their usual patrol and into other aspects of police work, similar to DRAGNET's almost-weekly changes of assignment.)

    Kent McCord must have been more sensitive to cold weather - this isn't the last time he's wearing gloves "on duty" when Milner isn't. (And in fact, in one scene here it looks like he's still wearing his field jacket while Milner's in normal uniform. Must have been a cold day or two at LAX.)

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  4. I've wondered if Kent had seasonal allergies or colds which caused him to sound slightly "stopped up" at times. I've also wondered why he occasionally wore sunglasses and Martin never did (like the 2 final episodes, Something Worth Dying For, Parts 1 & 2.) Makes me wonder if the powers-that-be were just trying to make Reed look less approachable, showing that he was moving on from the regular "beat cop" role toward a detective or desk-bound role.

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  5. I don't think the sunglasses were meant to make Reed look less approachable, just another subtle sign that he's evolving into a bit of a veteran with his own style. (As I noted at the beginning of this season, a similar "tell" is that his new sidearm has customized grips - as Malloy's had on his since the first season - instead of the standard issue.) It's little hints that he's grown into the job.

    (Also maybe making him look a little more modern, and that might have reflected real LAPD policies. They didn't even allow short-sleeved uniforms until the late '60s.)

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  6. I find people in sunglasses less approachable because making eye contact thru sunglasses is difficult. (I always think of the mean road gang guard in "Cool Hand Luke", whose mirror shades made him look all that much more evil.) Yes, Reed had several indications of individual style, but I wondered how many of them were related to his differing roles toward the end of the final season. For example, the combed-back hair and the long prominent sideburns. I thought maybe those were intended to make him look less like a cop when he was doing the narc thing. They stayed after he ended the scruffy dealer look, so they ended up being part of a cooler, more hip look. I went back to the beginning of this season to see your comments, Don, and I tried to see Reed's customized grips, but they weren't really obvious to me. (Probably because I know nothing about guns. My husband has some for hunting, but I never look closely at them.) The clamshell holsters were obvious to me, but not sure I would've noticed them if I hadn't read Keely's remarks about them.

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  7. If you're not familiar with guns (and particularly pistols/revolvers) it's not obvious. Basically, the grips on their sidearms are carved to fit their hands for best aim and control. If you look at Reed's in earlier shows, it's just the standard stock version (still a good design, but generic) - but Malloy's is customized already. (Same as how they had Pete wearing the old-style leather field jacket for most of the first season, until it got shredded saving Ed Wells.)

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  8. I went back to Season 4, ep 1, and tried blowing up a pic or 2, but I just couldn't get a good look at the hand grips. The grips were obscured by the hand holding the gun. I may try some other eps, but seems like I just can't get the pic large enough with enough light to really see what you're talking about. I'll ask my husband about it. I know he has one handgun, but I have no idea about the grips. You always have such interesting information!

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    1. I couldn't find a good screencap for illustration either. Not Keely's fault - it's just a minor detail. I noticed it because A) I used to be a video editor and had to watch for continuity errors, B) I grew up watching and still love the Mark VII shows (A12 and Emergency! especially), and C) am a longtime pistol/revolver shooter and occasional trainer, so I noticed it. The details aren't obvious.

      (I did just watch an episode of the contemporary anthology series POLICE STORY, created and story-edited by LAPD
      Sgt Joseph Wambaugh, with a young cop toting a sidearm customized to near-Olympic level. The episode title was "The Wyatt Earp Syndrome" ; the working title was "The John Wayne Syndrome" , but there was too much fear of a lawsuit for them to use it.)

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    2. Interesting! I'm gonna see if I can find that on YouTube. Can't learn anything from my husband's handguns, of which I've learned he has 3, since they don't have customized grips. Also interesting to learn a bit about the reasons for your inside knowledge. I had just assumed that you were a LEO.

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    3. Oh no. I was an EMT for a while (and dealt with a number of good, bad and mediocre cops on the job), and had good relations with the USAF Security Police during my time in that Service, but I'm not a LEO and never have been.

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