BY RODNEY HARRISON
Being a police officer can be a dangerous job. Working as an undercover officer in the units that deal with gangs, guns, or drug dealers takes the “can be” out of the equation. It’s just dangerous.
As Chief of Detectives of the NYPD, I have the honor, but also the great responsibility for deploying the undercover officers who, on a daily basis, walk into some of law enforcement’s most dangerous scenarios. We try as best we can to protect them with covert communications and back-up teams but we know undercover work is also unpredictable.
I know that as a commander, but I also know it as an undercover. On Sept. 21, 1995, I was working as a narcotics undercover with another officer. After attempting a buy from five suspected dealers on the street I couldn’t score. Something was off. After attempting another buy from a couple of other dealers nearby, the same. The vibe was off.
Walking back to the car that night I was being shadowed by my partner, Detective Mike Stoney. I was going over it in my head. We were in the middle of Bedford-Stuyvesant in 1995 where I had bought drugs undercover many times but the tension seemed higher.
As I turned the corner, the five dealers I had first approached saw me walking towards the car. I played it off, went the other way but Stoney walked ahead to distract them from me. The group challenged Mike and one of them, unprovoked, pulled a gun and opened fire.
Stoney was struck by gunfire
I spent much of that night at the hospital until I knew Mike was going to be OK. The five men involved including the shooter were arrested later that night. Last December when I was promoted to Chief of Detectives, I looked out to my right, and several rows back amid hundreds of people, there was Detective Mike Stoney, retired by then, but still watching my back as I assumed this new responsibility.