2005-10-07 / Community

Subway Cop Book Touches On Rockaway

A Wave Review
By Howard Schwach


Trebor Nehoc may or not may exist, but he’s written one of the funniest books about working underground that I have ever read.

The book, “The Electric Sewer: War Stories of the NYC Transit Police,” is a series of lifelike vignettes about Nehoc’s long career with that agency before it was taken over by the NYPD.

Ed Dee, himself a prize-winning author of New York City police novels, said of the book, “If you thought the streets of New York were crazy, wait until you go down below. This is a hilarious collection of subway stories that only a cop could tell – the weirdest, wackiest cast of characters you’ll ever read about.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

The stories in the book are not politically correct and if you are shy about cursing or about the specter of police misconduct, this book may not be for you. In fact, some might find both the book and the actions of the transit officers depicted in the book offensive, but it probably represents a true picture of what went on below ground in this city in the past.

One of the jokes in the book perhaps best describes its tone.

“How many transit police does it take to push a perp down the stairs? None, he fell.”

The book moved downhill or uphill, depending on your view of the police, from that point. For example, the following is one of the short chapters in the book, cleaned up more than slightly for The Wave’s family audience: “Beer makes some people brave; it makes some people stupid. Some people are lucky enough to have it both ways.

“Two young chowderheads were feeling their beer muscles one night on Beach 116 Street. They were starting to get a little ugly, so they were looking for something to focus their energies on when they noticed a guy looking at them, standing with a small group of people in front of the subway station. Apparently, they took this as a challenge to their manhood, because the next thing you know, one of them said, ‘What are you looking at, you Chink ____?’ I guess they did not like the answer they got because now the two of them walk over and one of them tries to kick him in the groin. Well, the guy was Chinese, but he was also a member of the Rockaway Beach Transit District Police. For whatever reason, these two geniuses had decided to pick a fight with a plainclothes team coming back from a sweep. What happened next happened with astonishing speed. Rather than bore you with the technical details, let’s just say they got beaten up and taken to the transit district jail.

“We’ve got them inside the district and it starts to dawn on one of them that he’s made a terrible mistake. He calms down and the arrest proceeds normally. His buddy, on the other hand, is still causing a problem. He’s handcuffed, but he tries to kick us. He has no one to blame by himself for the injuries he suffered when we put an end to his childish and immature behavior.

“So, now we’ve got to take him to the hospital and to our surprise, he turns out to be only 17 years old. He’s about six feet tall, two hundred pounds with a crewcut, mustache and a goatee, and tattoos on both arms. Since he’s a minor for medical purposes, we had to get his parents down to the district. His family lived close by and his mother came down within ten, fifteen minutes. Whatever it is he’s been drinking, we’d like to buy some because he’s still going off in they cell. We’re explaining to his mother at the front desk that he’s been arrested and you can hear the commotion coming from the back, where the cells are. He’s screaming at the top of his lungs (multiple expletives deleted). His mother walks into the cell area and it was like somebody flipped a switch – he’s suddenly meek and subdued. As he hangs his head, he says ‘Hi, ma,’ She wheels on us with fire in her eyes and says, ‘What have you done to my baby?”

Those who abhor the police action described in that chapter will probably think the book detestable and put it down immediately. Those who see it as an example of what the police put up with each day will probably want to read more.

In any case, Nehoc led an exciting life, much of it in Rockaway and Broad Channel. The book is a good, quick read for anybody interested in the area or interested in what police have to go through each day.

“The Electric Sewer” is available from Oak Tree Press in Springfield, Illinois or online.

It will be well worth your time.

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