Disclaimer: The Sentinel and its characters are completely the property of Paramount and Pet Fly Productions. I use them out of reverence, solely for fun and not for profit.

Why Blair Flunked Out
of the Police Academy




"Sit down, Cadet Sandburg."

"I'd prefer to stand, sir."

The grizzled man of huge girth looked up quickly at that. The cadet was at attention. So at least he knew what he had done was unacceptable. Good. It should make the interview go more smoothly.

"Cadet," he said, fingering the report in front of him, bushy greyed-out eyebrows nearly forcing his eyelids shut, "we have a situation on our hands."

"Yes, sir."

"You saved the life of your roommate, Detective Ellison, when he was down, and the store clerk too."

"Yes, sir."

"You have come to the attention of the public."

"Yes, sir."

"In fact, you're something of a hero to them." Despite his best efforts, the disbelief in his voice was unmistakable.

"If you say so, sir."

The cop—once a cop, always a cop—stared at the kid. Never let them see you sweat, huh, boy? Big teeth in a wide mouth gritted. He could almost feel sorry that this one was going to be thrown back in the pond.

"In fact, I understand that the mayor has you down for an award." See what he made of that one!

"I can't accept anything for doing what any citizen would do, sir."

"That's precisely the point, Sandburg. You acted like a citizen."

"I know, sir."

That was a whisper. The kid knew he was out. Okay, time to do it. But give the devil his due first.

"Your scores for every class you've taken are phenomenal."

There was no response.

"Even in the self-defence class. You had some training before you came here, didn't you?" It was simple curiosity mixed with the certainty of blue sense deduction.

"Not really, sir. I used to spar with Sweet Roy..."

"Ah, yes, I remember now. And you've been on the streets with your roommate, Detective Ellison for some years too. He give you pointers?"

"At times, sir."

"Uh-huh. He teach you to shoot?"

"No, sir."

"You learned that here?" This time the astonishment in his voice surprised even the speaker.

"Yes, sir."

"You're very good with a gun."

"I have good hand-eye co-ordination according to Jim. Detective Ellison, I mean."

"You hit what you aim at."

"Yes, sir."

Again, that had been a whisper.

The cop sighed. This was a far more unpleasant duty than he had expected it to be. Sandburg had entered the Academy with the backing of a bunch of higher-ups who all but thrust the kid down the Academy's collective throats, and everyone had been waiting for him to slip up.

But he hadn't. He was the genius Simon Banks had declared him, or so the cop had heard through the grapevine. His exam scores were perfect. He could probably have challenge-written all the tests without ever taking the courses and still have gotten perfect marks. But Sandburg toughed it out, went to all the classes, put in his share of opinion during discussions and no more, claimed no special status as a longterm 'partner' of the longterm Cop of the Year. He'd done it right, as a student and as a man under a cloud of doubt.

And now he was about to be dumped for something he had done on his own time. It could almost make you believe in fate.

"Sandburg," and the tone was gentle, "please take a seat."

The cadet met the cop's eyes and nodded once. "Thank you, sir." He sat.

The cop had the uncanny feeling that Sandburg had seated himself to make this last interview easier on him, not on himself. He cleared his throat. "Sandburg, the committee held a meeting this morning, after we saw the news clips last night."

"Yes, sir."

"You behaved with great courage."

"Thank you, sir."

"You defused a situation that was deadly, after your partner"—the cop never noticed the import of that—"was down."

"Yes, sir."

"There was no loss of life. You took out the gunman at the convenience store without further injury to anyone."

"Yes, sir."

"But it was the way you did it that we're here about today."

Dark blue eyes that were glinting just a little looked into the cop's and then flashed down to stare at the shiny black shoes.

"Yes, sir."

"You just don't have cop instincts, do you, son?"

The cadet looked up again, resolve and a touch of gratitude at the unconscious use of a family name, lightening his eyes.

But he made no reply.

"What were you supposed to do in that situation, Cadet?"

"My partner was down, the gunman had shot him in his right shoulder and Jim couldn't handle his gun. Grates was swinging his pistol back and forth between the clerk and us." The cadet's eyes were distant, and the cop could tell he was reliving the scene that meant his partner's life and his own career's death. "I got Jim's gun out of his hand when Grates was looking at Donna, the cashier. I was supposed to... shoot him."

"But you didn't, did you?"

The expressive blue eyes hurt to see. "No, sir."

"You know you've been trained to do that very thing, don't you?"

"Yes, sir."

"Do you disagree with that training instruction?"

"No, sir. I understand fully. The perpetrator needed to be taken down, and if it had been Jim, he'd have shot the guy and I would have been patting him on the back. Sir."

"But you couldn't do that, could you?"

"No, sir."

"Then that's a problem, isn't it, Cadet?"

"Yes, sir."

"The committee recognises your fine performance in all your classes, and admits that what took place last night was on your own time. We believe you should be allowed to graduate with your class, but seek employment in another field. Do you understand me, Cadet?"

"Yes, sir."

"And what do you say to that."

"Thank you, sir. I will be proud to graduate from the Academy with my class. But the committee is right. I don't believe I would make a good cop. I don't know what I'll do now, but I shouldn't carry a gun, sir."

"I think you're right, Cadet Sandburg. I'm sorry to see you go." The cop was sincere.

The cadet snugged his lips tight and turned them up at the corners in a parody of a smile. "Thank you, sir. Are we done here?"


The cadet nodded, stood and saluted, then turned on his heel and left.

The cop sat back in his chair, filled with the utmost compunction. He privately resolved to determine whether the Academy had any openings for a teacher next term. That would be a better solution than this—execution.

But what else could any of them have done?

What kind of cop disarms a pistol-packing hold-up man by throwing his own gun at the perp?

Even if he does hit what he aims at?

~ End ~

E-Mail Ismaro at ligela@sympatico.ca
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Page last updated 8/15/03.