“So I got your little message,” Stone sneered, kicking back in his chair and glaring at the stern-faced members of the tribunal, “but it didn't say why you dragged me down here. So lets get this thing going. Every minute I'm cooped up in here is another minute a criminal walks the streets.”
“First off Captain Stone,” began the woman who seemed to be calling the shots. She would be pretty, Stone thought, if she would just let her hair down and had the stick taken out of her ass. “We want to thank you for taking time out of your day, we know running a precinct can be a bit overwhelming on even the quietest of days....”
“Not on my watch it ain't,” Stone grumbled.
She ignored the interruption. “...but we really felt that there were some issues that needed to be addressed. My name is Audrey Hapsburg, I'm from Internal Affairs, and with me today are Daniel Cliff from the District Attorney's office, and Justin Phelps who oversees the city's Citizen Outreach program.”
Stone's only response was to look down at his watch and sigh. Shuffling some papers, Hapsburg continued.
“We're here to today to discuss your precinct’s rather unique...lack...of diversity. It has come to our attention...”
“What do you mean 'lack of diversity', Stone shouted, sitting straight up in his chair. “I got all kinds of races and ethnicities in my station house. We even just got a gay.”
“Would that be Detective Claude Flambeaux?” Cliff asked, checking his notes.
“He may have a limp wrist but he's hard on crime.”
All three members of the tribunal suddenly did an impression of the Three Wise Monkeys. Stone chuckled.
“I sincerely hope you have never said that outside of this room, Captain Stone,” Hapsburg said, her lip turning white with barely suppressed rage. “It’s that kind of statement that leads to...”
“Quit bunching your panties,” Stone reached into his breast pocket and pulled out a bundle of business cards. “Claude says that all the time. Its his motto. He even has it printed on his calling cards.”
The three of them leaned over and read the card that Stone tossed on the table. Sure enough, there it was.
“Well, we'll tackle that another day,” Hapsburg sighed. “Diversity, Captain Stone. It seems that your precinct is in violation of the city's Ostentatious Nomenclature Act.”
“Too many of your officers have theatrically extravagant names, Captain,” Cliff exclaimed. Checking his notes again, he began to read from a list. “Logan Steele, Hunter Mannix, Dominica Chavez, Lance Braddock, Damian Wolfe....
“Research has shown,” Phelps jumped in, adjusting his glasses and taking on the air of a school teacher. “That individuals, especially ones in authority positions, who have....overly tough sounding names tend to lead more action-packed lives. When it comes to police work especially, these individuals show a marked increase in acts of insubordination, attitudes that tend to enforce the spirit of the law and not the word of law, loose cannon-ism, and a rampant disregard for property.”
“...Kane MacTaggart, Rutger Lyons, Mason Thorne,...you even have a guy here named Horatio McPunch. Is that even a real name?”
“Punchy's a good cop,” Stone said indignantly. “Those are all good cops. Sure, they may fly off the handle sometimes but at the end of the day they get the job done and get the crooks behind bars. Each of you know I run the safest precinct in the city.”
“Your record is exemplary,” Hapsburg assured. “in certain areas. Your robbery, homicide, and narcotics units do a stellar job. Unfortunately, when it comes to crimes that are less hands-on in their approach, the more white collar crimes if you will, you are lagging. Also, the sheer cost of your division is staggering.”
“Your ammunition bills alone are crippling the city,” Cliff stated. “We've had to make some major cutbacks because of it. We even had to scrap the Commissioner’s new hot-air balloon division. He was pissed.”
“There isn't a single building in your district that has not had to undergo extensive repairs at some point,” Phelps pointed out. “Almost every citizen who owns a car has either had it commandeered by one of your officers or has had them leaped onto or slid across. The bodywork costs alone.... all of that gets billed to the city.”
“So this is about money?” Stone asked, disgusted.
“This is about efficiency,” Hapsburg corrected. “We'll have to transfer some of your men to other divisions....”
“You’re not breaking up my team!”
“...or we have to cycle in some individuals with less...colorful names and have them partner up with your existing squad members.”
“I happen to know that Leslie Flowers from District 10 has been quite interested in your precinct,” Phelps said helpfully.
“Never heard of her,” Stone grumbled. He didn't like people he didn't know.
“He's a him,” Hapsburg picked up yet another list. “We have a promising list of candidates actually, from all over the city. Let's see, we have...Cecil Pinkwater from the computer crimes division, Marion Morrison, Tracey LaPierre, Philmore Llewellyn,...”
“Those are all men, aren't they?” Stone asked, ignoring the “no smoking” sign on the wall and lighting a stogie. “Fine. I'll try it your way. But I just want to go on record and say that it ain't going to work.”
“Don't be so dramatic, Captain,” Hapsburg said with a smile. “What's the worst that could happen?”