Sunday, July 02, 2006

At The Range ~ The North Miami Police

I was very much a counter-culture type of guy back in the late 1960's. I guess you could call me a hippie, although I was a bit old for that, and a generation too young to be part of the Beat Generation, even though I loved reading the writings of Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. Not exactly the kind of guy to be hanging out with a bunch of conservative cops.

I was primarily shooting for The North Dade Journal, a weekly paper owned by the Miami Herald covering a few cities and towns in the north east section of the county. North Miami had recently built a new police station and my editor, Jim Kukar, had assigned me to do a story on the police and their new facility. I photographed everything from the jail cells in the basement to where they reloaded their practice ammunition. While I was in the chief's office getting some shots of him he suggested that I might want to come back in a few days and go to the shooting range with them.

The range was about 6 or 7 miles to the west on what was then the edge of the Everglades. It was a shared facility with several other police departments in the area. I met the chief at the station and rode out there with him. Back then the police had yet to start using 9mm automatic pistols. They still carried .38 revolvers and had a couple of "speed loaders" in pouches on their belt so they could drop 6 fresh rounds into the gun in one fast motion.

An interesting thing about the then new station that they showed me was the emergency generator. In case of a power failure it could be turned on and it would supply electricity to the entire building. Like many public buildings of that era it had minimum windows so it would be cheaper to air condition, but almost no light came in through the small tinted windows. Once a week somebody would go down to the basement and flip the switch to fire up the generator for a few minutes to make sure that it was working properly.

Well, one day there was a big storm and a power failure. The switch was flipped and nothing happened. It seems that the starter motor was 110 volts and plugged into a wall outlet! No 12 volt motor, no battery with charger. No lights!

P.S. Want an archival quality print of this or one of my other photos? E-mail me at for details.


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