Saturday, February 10, 2007

king of the holster sniffers.

A few years back, I worked behind the counter of the local cop shop, selling guns and gear to police officers and deputies from every county within driving range. Because of our good selection of used guns due to our bartering with departments for their seized and surplus guns, we also attracted a fair amount of regular citizen walk-in traffic.

Every cop shop has a "holster sniffer". This is the guy that isn't a cop, but wishes he was. He may have managed to land a job with a security outfit that lets him wear a vaguely police-like uniform, and then he comes into the gun shop looking for a nylon duty rig for his Taurus PT92, or Ruger semi-auto, or whatever it is he ties around his ample midsection when he clocks out to go home. (You see, the most dangerous thing Holster Sniffer is allowed to attach to his belt while "on duty" is a 2oz. canister of pepper spray. It used to be his six-cell Maglite, but he finally passed his pepper spray certification on the third try.)

If there's an actual police officer in the store at the time, Holster Sniffer will sidle up to the genuine article and start "talking shop", sharing unsolicited advice sprinkled with anecdotes from the front lines of retail security. Many a rookie has made the mistake of giving Holster Sniffer the time of day once, and now Holster Sniffer will latch on to the rookie for at least thirty minutes whenever their paths cross in the gun store...which is more often than you'd think possible, because Holster Sniffer hangs out and waits for his "colleagues" to drop in every other evening before his shift starts.

Our worst example of the breed even drove a Chevy Caprice, the old cruiser model, complete with a search light, antenna farm on the trunk lid, and strobe battery in the rear window. He's somewhat of a local legend, and I'd make myself rare and disappear in the back to log in new Bushmaster shipments or something whenever I'd see his uniform-clad 300-pound frame approaching from the parking lot.

Still, our most dedicated holster sniffer could only aspire to the lofty standards set by Mr. Henry Terry, from Hempstead, N.Y. Not only did Mr. Terry have the uniform and badge, he also had a tricked-out Crown Vic, self-designed law enforcement credentials (from the entirely fictional "New York Enforcement Asset Recovery Bureau's District 2 Operations"), and an actual office, complete with name plate on the desk.

Pretty ballsy, actually. I don't know what I'd do if I got pulled over by a guy flashing credentials with a prominent typo on them, but handing cash to that guy probably wouldn't be near the top of the list.

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