Most people consider being a police officer a dangerous job. There are always threats coming from the “bad guys,” but what happens when the most significant risk comes from other police officers? That is precisely what happened over the weekend in Detroit. It seems two sets of undercover officers ended up fighting to arrest each other. They were caught in each other’s sting it seems.
It is not unusual for teams of police officers to work undercover. This can mean posing as all sorts of unsavory types including drug dealers, sex traffickers, and even child molesters. In this case, the officers from the 11th precinct posed as drug buyers looking for dealers. They were not aware at the time that the dealers they were watching were also undercover police officers.
At the same time that the officers from the 11th precinct were suiting up to look like drug addicts, officers from the 12th precinct were also getting ready to go undercover. They were not posing as junkies though; they were targeting the other side of the deal.
Officers from the 12th precinct set themselves up to appear as if they were drug dealers. It seems both the team from the 11th and 12th precinct were successful in going undercover; each side had no idea the other was working. They essentially set the other up for an arrest that was not going to happen.
It is not clear how the confusion happened since, in theory, they all work for the same team. Somehow they were not aware that their undercover work might overlap and this ended in a truly embarrassing situation.
Officers from the 12th precinct set up their “push-off” drug sting. The term “push-off” is a street slang that means to get high. This is the type of sting that usually ends in the arrest of those trying to illegally buy and use drugs. While some may argue this is a way to entrap citizens, it is usually accepted as a pretty effective way to target drug users.
For the average person trying to buy drugs, there are usually efforts made to avoid running into police officers working undercover. One might even expect that other police who were working undercover as buyers could pick out a fellow officer who was working. This did not seem to be the case as the members of the special ops team from the 11th precinct rolled onto the scene.
With officers from the 12th in their best drug dealer outfits and characters, special ops officers from the 11th came to the meeting dressed as drug users. What happened next was right out of a movie.
Officers from the 11th attempted to make a deal, and it quickly went wrong. They were the “customers” and turned the table on the”dealers” from the 12th. At one point the rogue customers ordered the fake dealers down to the ground and chaos broke out. It seemed that the officers from the 12th were not prepared to be taken down by what appeared to be customers buying from their sting.
While officers from both the 11th and 12th started to fight what they thought were the “bad guys,” punched were thrown and more police arrived. Neighbors watched as the fight continued and a local house was raided. At one point guns were drawn.
It as not clear when the officers involved realized the sting had gone wrong. Several members of both the 11th and 12th are now under investigation for their roles in the fight. This type of scene is rarely discussed, so it is also not apparent how often this kind of thing happens.
The fact that the fight was between police officers means this was a case of “blue-on-blue” violence. According to a recent report about the issue, this means that is was:
“…an attack in which soldiers, etc. are injured or killed by their own army or by soldiers on the same side as them.”
This is the same type of issue that can lead to the friendly fire. There are cases where police or soldiers know the other is on their same side, or there are cases like this one where they did not know.
While the actual fight seems to be the focus of most of the attention this event is getting, the failure happened way before they came to blows. There seems to be a disconnect between the local police in Detroit as far as knowing what is going on in the overall force. There is no reason that both the 11th and the 12th did not know the other was out in a sting operation.