DC Death squad
MSNBC's WaPo highlights today include a profile of Washington DC Metro Police Department's 'Natural squad'. Comprised of former homicide detectives, the 'Natural squad' investigates all apparent non-homicide deaths in the District - some 800 of the 4,000 deaths reported in DC last year (the majority of reported deaths occur in the context of some kind of medical or assistive care). Burned out by the brutality of murder and the drudgery of the investigative process, these four detectives were attracted to this duty by the promise of regular hours and quick case resolution. It seems like it might be a Faustian bargain for some:
It is 10 p.m. on a Tuesday night, and [detective Randy] Brooks has been summoned to a Northeast apartment complex where a 98-year-old woman was found dead in her bedroom. Walking into the woman's cluttered apartment, he can smell death. He has something he finds particularly helpful on such occasions: cheap cigars, stashed in his jacket pocket and the glove box of his car. He doesn't normally smoke. But the aroma of his Black & Milds masks the putridness of rotting remains. [...] Brooks enters the bedroom and finds the woman slumped at the edge of the bed, facing a large mirror. The detective rummages through the closets and drawers, looking for identification cards. In a purse, he finds a few scraps of paper, with the names and phone numbers of several relatives. One note begins with words that seem meant for Brooks: "If something should happen to me, please call . . ."It's a very well-written piece, and more than worth the click.