How Two Cops Took on a Stash House in Crack-Era Brooklyn

HBO's The Wire
Warren Bond played college football at UCLA and hoped to play in the NFL. He made it onto the Jets in 1982, but didn't play in any games. NFL players went on strike that year and Bond did not want to cross the picket line. In the meantime, he needed a job.

His brother-in-law, who was a cop, suggested Bond sign up for the police academy. The strike lasted just two months, but by the time it ended, Bond had decided that the career path of a police officer was more appealing than that of a football player. The starting salaries were similar, and the job security was much better.

He graduated from the academy in 1983. Within three years, he rose to the narcotics unit. There, he worked one of the most dangerous jobs in policing: undercover drug busts in crack-era Brooklyn

See also last week's feature story: The Tragedy of Louis Scarcella

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Photo illustation by Tom Carlson

Years later he would become a top murder detective and would join the Brooklyn North Homicide squad. He would work alongside detective Louis Scarcella, the subject of last week's feature story.

But before all that, there was Bond, one day in the late 1980s, on the ground floor of a stash house in Bed-Stuy, betting his life on the assumption that the man with the machine gun would not suspect he was a cop.

He and his partner, Reggie Holcomb, were supposed to be working back-up on this bust. The plan was that two other cops would go in, make the buy, and then Bond and Holcomb would follow and make the bust.

But the two cops had failed to make the buy. They had entered the row house and then walked right back out. They had judged that the operation was too risky.

"We'll do it," Bond told the two cops. "Trust us."

Bond and Holcomb were good at this. They were exceptional undercover officers because they didn't see themselves as much different than the men they were buying from and arresting. Bond grew up in Brownsville. He played dice in East New York housing project hallways and got roughed up by the beat cops like the rest of his friends. Some of those friends became drug dealers.

And so when he hit the streets as a cop, he didn't treat the men he arrested as if they were an inferior species. The only difference between him and them, he liked to say, was that his gun was legal. "What you're doing is to feed your family and what I do is to feed mine," he often told the dealers.

He understood his power and did not take it for granted. He understood the view from the other side.

"All I saw was another minority losing his life, another minority going to jail," he says now. "AlI I saw was someone that could have been my cousin or a guy I grew up with or my daughter's friend."

He blended into the streets well as an undercover. He wore ballcaps and gold chains and spoke with street slang. It looked natural because it was.

"Once I'm off work, that's who I am anyway," he says. "The streets is where I came from. It didn't phase us any."

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