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The Texas Sun
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June 23, 1977     The Texas Sun
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June 23, 1977
 

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6 by Glenn Jones photographs by Nicolas Russell I got bored watching cops on television, so I decided to go see what a couple of cop friends of mine really do out on the beat. Steve Bridgewater and Fred Rodriguez walk foot patrol on Sixth Street for the APD, and they are definitely not T.V. cops. Sixth Street, that incredibly diverse area of downtown business establish- ments, spans a spectrum from the hard- core bars to the swank Cabaret. Sixth Street is the only place in town where tuxedoed frat-rats out on their first date mingle with hardened pimps, where a gentleman out for a stroll can encounter fifteen doller whores, cut-throat pan- handlers, and an occasional junkie mugger. Bridgewater and Rodriguez try to keep the peace amidst this hodgepodge of cultural styles that is Sixth Street. They have a difficult and dangerous job, and occasionally they add a certain creative flair to the regular tactics ,of police work. I Patrolmen Bridgewater and Rodriguez are as unlikely a pair of cops as you could ever expect to meet. Bridgewater is the classic heavy: a boisterious aggressive manner and a wicked sense of humor. Rodriguez is quieter, but don't be fooled. He enjoys a good joke or a good fight. They hit the street with a blend of high- energy tactics and sheer cunning that is more than a match for most any trouble- maker, and yet they are usually able to handle even the roughest characters without resorting to violence. This is the story of a typical Friday night shift on Sixth Street with Bridgewater and Rodriquez. Public Relations and sore feet Before I began the shift, *their super- visor, Sergeant Livingston, ran down a few guidelines for me: stand back, reserve questions until after all action ceases, and remember that since I was with policemen, I would most likely be considered a cop in any fast-breaking situation. Livingston also cautioned me that if any real trouble broke out, I was completely on my own. Shortly after these very reassuring instructions, I found myself plodding along Sixth Street with Patrolmen Bridgewater and Rodriguez in the muggy late afternoon sun. We had arrived in a squad car, parked it on Sixth, and taken to our feet. Throughout the shift we would alternate between walking and sweeping the entire area in the patrol ear. The early portion of the shift produced sweat, boredom, and sore feet. We paced up and down the street from Congress to IH35, trying to stay in the shade and praying for the sun to go down. The stiff flak-jackets the two wore underneath their starched blue shirts and their heavy leather belts made a creaking sound as they walked. The grim equipment of their trade -- handcuffs, keys, whistles, mace cans, holstered revolvers -- jingled and jangled. The two officers tore down fist- fuls of "Starmen Raggae Band" posters from public lightpoles and wrote dozens of parking tickets as we trudged along. Occasionally, a store owner would wave or shout greetings. Once, a man in a Cadillac asked for directions. Most merchants on the street welcomed our presence. The officers explained that the greater part of their job involved "public relations." I soon observed that the police definition of public relations is unique. Texas Sun - June 17, 1977 Strange Ladies and On the North side of the block of Sixth, young women came strutting Bridgewater, with a asked: "Are they boy or couldn't tell until the un approached to within a whereupon it became were male, despite their wigs, and slinky dresses. stepped solidly in front wore a red dress. "And where are you asked brightly. Larry, flus edge around Bridgewater. sidestepped, blocked her demanded Larry's replied nervously, but factorily, because Brid pass with a cheerful, "Stay ou ladies." Next we drove down IovJe Avenue looking for winOS, I observed tl" police defi public relations unique. Rodriguez quickly spotte grizzled man slumped in with his head on his at his feet. The two officers for public intoxication, protests. "I haven't even had a drunk yet. I was just drank my wine," the Bridgewater told him to "se he confiscated the old bottle of sickly green Back at the police station the first of many times "take - off - your your-hands-on-the booking a prisoner everyone else man claimed that he stupid as to hang hi~ shoelaces. I have been on counter myself, and I able to feel at ease being methodically But the old wino was didn't act like he through the routi instructed. He had been times before. I later asked Brid about making such seriously, "Of course, our drunks doesn't waste of time. We'bust get out and go right street and 'em again. It's a never Seems like society could better way of dealing they're useless and there them. I don't like it but I states that it is my duty intoxicated in a public Busting Gamblers in tt e As we resumed getting dark, and the on the street began the clash of cultures Street, Bridgewater usually see a lot of action would prove. The officers turned on their portable radios stealthily into an alley "Scottie's Bar-B-( As behind them I slightly absurd and more scared -- I haven't rece practice Halfway into the heard some men still owes me six dollas, Bridgewater and circle of Blacks throwing gambling. The two officers suddenly that for a