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Early Patrol

In early 1980 I completed my Field Training for the Seattle Police Department. I was assigned to the Georgetown Precinct, third watch. From 8 PM to 4 AM.

I walked into roll call in the station. It had been a police station since about 1889. The décor was early Barney Miller.

I sat in the second-floor roll call room, my uniform immaculately pressed, advertising my status as a rookie.

The sergeant entered the room. He went through the things we should look for during our watch. Finally, he called roll.

“Steiger,” he said. “Here,” I responded.


“Here,” an older officer responded.

“3 Robert 3.”

I looked at the person who would be my partner that night. Mustachioed and spectacled.

After roll call, he approached me.

“Harry,” he said, holding his hand out.

“Cloyd,” I replied.

We got the keys to our car and put our gear in it.

We headed out.

Harry was a good guy. We got along great.

At about midnight, a call came over the radio.

“A Downtown car is pursuing a car southbound on fourth avenue approaching Spokane Street.”

Harry was driving and rushed to fourth avenue just south of an overpass over the railroad tracks.

He turned the car south and waited.

After just a few minutes, a Cadillac came over the top of the overpass at a high rate of speed. So much so that it became airborne before landing in a blaze of sparks reminiscent of Bullit.

Harry turned on our red and blue lights and prepared to take off in front of the suspect vehicle.

The car saw us and tried to make a left turn onto the side street. He was going too fast. The car slammed into the building on the southeast corner of the intersection.

We turned around and went to the intersection. The driver got out of the car and ran eastbound.

There was a female in the passenger seat. She was trapped in the car.

Harry went to her, and I ran eastbound, looking for the driver.

As I turned the corner, I couldn’t see anyone. I held my breath. I heard someone panting. I grabbed the suspect hiding under a parked car. I pulled him out and handcuffed him.

His name was Orel Sledge. What a great name for a bad guy. I’ll never forget it. He was charged with the first case of Felony Eluding, or as we called it, Felony Flight, a new law in Washington.

He went to trial and was convicted.

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