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In a rare moment late in the workday, the entire Vice/Narcotics Division floor went silent. Even the bombastic old-timers with their loose ties and rolled-up sleeves stood stunned at the public dressing-down their bureau captain had just doled out. Then, the sound of the men’s room flushing toilet from the floor above broke the silence.
Over the years, Bette had committed her fair share of minor infractions both as a street cop and a detective, one or two earning her a verbal reprimand. Though today’s blatant disregard of proper procedure deserved one, the tongue-lashing embarrassed not only Bette but everyone who witnessed it. Leaving Oakland after the ambush was stupid, even in Bette’s book. She didn’t, however, expect the captain to carry out the reprimand in the department’s version of the public square.
The glass door of the division flapped shut behind the captain like saloon doors after a big wild west shootout. When the dust cleared, one of the old-timers broke the tension that had settled like stale air. “Captain sure has his panties in a wad today. Pay him no attention, Bette. You did good out there today.”
That affirmation from the old male guard, followed by the collective grumbling in agreement, didn’t escape Bette. In their eyes, she had just earned her chops as ‘one of the guys,’ and became their equal. That meant more to her than any of the medals the brass pinned on her chest over the years.
“Let’s get back to work, everybody.” Lieutenant Joyce Wischnia said in a reassuring voice. “Porter. Decker. My office.”
Once inside, Joyce settled into her well-worn chair. “I don’t agree with the captain’s tactics, but we both know you should’ve reported the ambush the minute you were in the clear.”
Bette kept her gaze on Joyce. When Eric opened his mouth to defend her, Joyce raised an index finger to shush him. “Having said that, I would’ve done the same thing. Agent Kennard is your partner in this case, and my primary concern would’ve been for her.”
The tension in Bette’s shoulders relaxed.
“However, I would also accept punishment like a professional.” Joyce paused at Bette’s nod. “Good. A one-day suspension without pay after we close this case should do it. Consider yourself reprimanded.” Joyce winked. “You concentrate on the case, and I’ll clear up this mess with the Oakland PD.”