ANGELS ARE HERE!
Angels with Nightsticks
For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all
your ways . . .
Steven Rogers was a rookie officer in the Nutley, New
Jersey, police department in 1977 when he was assigned to be
partners with Phil. Not only was Phil older and wiser, he was
also an outspoken Christian. For the impulsive and sometimes
rebellious Steve, Phil became a role model. Daily, before their
shift, the two men would pray or read from the Bible, often
reciting the Ninety-first Psalm, the one that commits us to God's
care and summons angels when we are in danger. Nutley had a
growing problem. Recreational areas were being overrun with
teenagers drinking, taking drugs, and vandalizing property.
Police knew where the kids congregated, but whenever they raided
the gatherings, most slipped away and could not be found.
Apparently the teens had a hideout - but where? None of the
police officers had been able to find it.
One day Steve and Phil were assigned to plainclothes duty.
They were to dress like the kids and, it was hoped, discover
their hideout and the source of their drugs. That night they
stationed themselves in a secluded wooded area and watched the
young people fighting, cursing, and destroying property.
"What I saw sickened me," Steve relates. "I realized we were
not dealing with a few kids 'having fun,' but with many who were
hard-core drug addicts with minds out of control. Many were
invoking Charles Manson, or performing obscene acts. If this
behavior spread, it could threaten the whole city."
The main source of the drugs, it appeared, was a young man
the officers dubbed Mr.Big because of his apparent emotional hold
on the group.
The next day the officers went to the scene of the
gathering, prayed for guidance, and began to check it inch by
inch. They soon came across a well-worn path covered with
branches. The path led to a cleverly concealed cave. Inside, the
officers found pills, liquor, pornographic material, and
marijuana. Here was where so many young people eluded the police.
That night, they decided, they would raid the cave.
Before their shift, they requested extra backup, but they
were told they were on their own. How could two officers handle a
bunch of aggressive kids all alone? Once again, the men prayed
the Ninety-first Psalm. Then they strolled toward the crowd
already gathering near a railroad embankment. Mr.Big was there,
"We wanted to apprehend him first, because we felt many of
the kids would discontinue their illegal activities if he wasn't
around." Steve explains. But as they approached, a girl
recognized them. "Cops!" she screamed. The crowd scattered. Steve
and Phil went after the girl, caught her, and called for a backup
squad. By now some of the others, they knew, would be hidden in
Despite the fact that they were hopelessly outnumbered, they
found the hidden path and walked boldly into the entrance.
"Freeze!" Steve shouted, and not a person in the cave moved.
Steve ran his eyes across the group. At least twelve of them. And
they had caught Mr.Big!
Phil walked over to Mr.Big and asked for the package he was
holding. Meekly the young man handed over a bag of pills. Steve
gathered other evidence, read everyone his rights, then stood in
bewilderment, staring at the cave floor covered with submissive
teens who could have easily overpowered the two officers. Why
hadn't they put up a fight?
The van pulled up, and as they led the prisoners out of the
cave, Steve turned to Mr.Big.
"Why didn't you or any of the others try to attack us when
we came in?"
"You think I'm crazy or something?" Mr.Big asked. "There
were at least twenty guys in blue uniforms, and it would have
been stupid to think of fighting or running."
"Twenty? No, there were just the two of us."
"Yeah?" Mr.Big called to another young prisoner. "Belinda,
how many cops came into the cave?"
Belinda shrugged. "At least twenty-five."
It was then that Steve remembered the words he and Phil
recited so faithfully: "You will not fear the terror of the night
... for he will command his angels concerning you...."
Within nine months of the time Steve and Phil had been
assigned to this special duty, they had made 250 arrests - more
than the department's annual total. Former hangouts of drug
addicts and vandals were deserted, and Nutley neighbor-hoods
flourished. Whenever anyone complimented the officers on their
accomplishments, they gave credit to Jesus for protecting them
and helping them solve the crimes.
Jesus ... and a very special squad in blue.