Part Three: 10-13 OFFICER DOWN
“T-O-N-Y Invade N-Y, multiply kill a cop, me and you, you got beef, I got beef / T-O-N-Y invade N-Y, multiply kill a cop..”
Capone-N-Noreaga: “T.O.N.Y. (Top of New York)
“Cop shot, cop shot, cop shot, cop shot / Keep shootin’ my people, we will shoot back..Every police is a punk ass bitch / This is for my ni@@as gettin’ frisked in the streets”
Dead Prez: “Cop Shot”
Those who were in the game back in those days will tell you that it changed forever during the early morning hours of February 26th, 1988 in front of a house in drug ravaged South Jamaica, Queens. The 103rd Precinct, much like all of the precincts responsible for patrol coverage in the uber violent streets of New York besieged by the Crack epidemic had been dealing with a staggering number of murders related to drug crews enforcing their territories in and around housing projects such as the Baisley Houses. I have been writing about “the game” or “cops and robbers” throughout this series but what transpired on this date during a cold winter night in 1988 in the Rotten Apple shook not only the city to its core, but even managed to piss off the President. Police and “bad guys” never agree on anything, but history will say that the murder of Police Officer Edward Byrne by members of the Bebos on orders from jailed drug enforcer “Pappy” Mason marked the beginning of the end of drug crews in New York. The end game began on February 26th, 1988.
I’m glad I never responded to a 10-13 when I was a cop in The Bronx. I responded to quite a few 10-85 calls which is an officer calling for backup/assistance and you literally fly over to the location of the call depending on the urgency expressed by the officer over the radio. You’re always nervous going to a 10-85 because you don’t want it to be a 10-13 by the time you arrive. 10-13 is the worst shit any cop will respond to in NYPD. That’s when the reality of the job hits you..seeing another uniform gravely injured or dying..or dead.
Ever since NWA released their ground breaking anti-police anthem “F**k Tha Police” in 1988, Hip Hop; which is thoroughly immersed in street culture and at times, the violence that accompanies street life has had as warm a relationship with police as do Red Sox and Yankee fans. NWA’s devastating right hook shook the FBI to the point that they sent a letter to the group’s record company asking that they refrain from promoting and performing the song because it advocates violence against law enforcement. Well what do you expect from an aggressive rap group hailing from a city run down by black on black gang violence, crack wars (there goes Crack again), poverty and hyper aggressive policing? The name of their record label is Ruthless Records! NWA unknowingly broke the levees for rap artists who began to express their disdain for all things law enforcement. Anti-police rap songs began popping up every year ever since, including fellow Cali gangsta provocateur Ice-T who used his Rap/Metal hybrid Body Count to unleash the to the point “Cop Killer” in 1992. Why does Hip Hop hate the police? I can come up with a few reasons.
“Yeah, and you don’t stop / (Cause it’s 1-8-7 on an undercover cop) yeah, and you don’t stop / (Cause it’s 1-8-7 on an undercover cop) “
Dr. Dre & Snoop Doggy Dogg: “Deep Cover”
Hip Hop music is the voice of the streets. Just like sports can be an opportunity for kids to escape the urban plight, an aspiring rapper can rhyme their way out of the hood and become an international star. However, rappin’ & trappin’ can sometimes be a hazardous obstacle course to navigate which can prevent one from escaping that life. It makes no sense to be a “trapper rapper” anyway right? Police are the ultimate haters who can thwart the plans for any aspiring MC who is trying to leave the life to go legit. Throw in the instances where real honest and legit working class blacks and latinos who just happen to live in violence prone neighborhoods and have had unfortunate negative police encounters, and you can see why the streets habitually salute police with the bird and a screw face. But what about the police who are also honest and really do want to make a difference in the neighborhoods they patrol? I know, I know, you must be reading this and thinking to yourself “Honest cops? GTFOH!” You see, the streets will have you effed the eff up with the way the game was, still is, and always will be. But one constant is this: You don’t kill a cop, ever. Yet, every once in a while, fellow officers are racing to the location of a 10-13, a job that is always grim in circumstance.
Hip Hop artists have always romanticized over all things Mafia. The braggadocio nature of being the king of the jungle among rhymesayers can actually crossover into real life. Unfortunately, some hip hop crews are still rooted in street life and allegedly continue to conduct criminal acts, the main hustle being tried and true drug slinging. Unlike their shadowy Mafioso counterparts who go to great lengths to hide in plain sight, rappers may drop a line or two about that body their man caught out of town which gets the Feds all excited because nothing is easier than telling on yourself right? (I covered this subject in Part Two of this series). As for “Goodfellas”, I can’t remember a time in my life where I read about a mob family sanctioning the killing of a member of law enforcement because why in hell would they want to attract that kind of attention to their organization? Killing a cop is like condemning your crew to suicide. The police will crush your criminal empire, just like they did back in ’88 after Ed Byrne was assassinated.
“Fuck em! Can’t find peace on the streets / Till the ni@@as get a piece / Fuck police (I hear ya!)”2Pac: “Souljah’s Revenge”
While the NYPD began to exert extreme pressure on drug crews with their TNT (Tactical Narcotics Team) squad, the Feds became involved after the Byrne killing. The brazen act perpetrated by Pappy Mason’s Bebos crew, an offshoot of Lorenzo ‘Fat Cat’ Nichols organization, began a domino effect of the police sweeping up drug gangs across the city. Backed by the limitless resources of an incensed federal government including a rebuke of Crack related violence by then President Ronald Reagan, the NYPD slowly began claiming the streets back from the grip of the blood thirsty drug gangs who took over the city’s urban communities in the early 80’s. By mid 90’s, most of the drug gangs had been arrested and convicted. Every once in a while, you read about another drug conspiracy uncovered by the joint NYPD/Federal task force in the same places in the city, in the projects. It’s as common as that dude who swears he can rhyme from your block, cause everyone has a hot 16 in NY right?
I had a few scraps while I was a patrol officer in NY. I was fortunate to come out of those incidents without injury, same for some of my friends who are still on the job. Every time I hear about a cop shot back home in NY, I always get nervous thinking about my old partner and my other friends. They are all born and raised in the communities they serve in. The streets will never understand that. It goes beyond the uniform. Having friends who used to be in the game and then actually embarking on career across a few levels of law enforcement all the while staying ingrained in Hip Hop culture can be confusing. Loyalties are tested, but I know who I am. I am a good dude who used to put on a uniform with the goal of not becoming a 10-13 and signing out at the end of the day, no different than the overwhelming majority of law enforcement practitioners nationwide. (10-13 is unique only to NYPD, the ten code or emergency code for responding to a police emergency varies nationwide).
******Part Four: Media & Policing: Selling Fear coming soon….follow me for monthly articles from a cutting edge perspective on a variety of topics******