Chief of Police Scott Silverii, PhD is passionate about positive change. Over 22 years in policing gives Scott the experience and vision to believe there is always a better way of doing business.
His passion flourished while growing up with a close-knit community in south Louisiana’s heart of Cajun Country.
Scott’s life is seasoned by the Mardi Gras, hurricanes, oil spills, humidity, and crawfish boils. This gumbo of experience serves up a unique perspective in his writing.
But don’t let the smile fool you. Chief Silverii spent 16 years working in policing’s special operations groups (SOG) with years of undercover narcotics and SWAT missions. He has bought dope, banged down doors and busted bad guys. He combines his experiences with academic research designed to bring you the best and most compelling details of what life is like on the other side of the “thin blue line.”
Law enforcement’s culture is shrouded in a mystique, veiled by a sacred canopy. This veil of separation and secrecy creates a unique culture. However, within this group, there are the outliers or subcultures where deviance becomes the standard and bumping up to criminality becomes the rule.
I’m not referring to the nefarious police corruption sagas, but the Special Operations Groups (SOG), within which undercover work falls. I spent 12 years early in my career working with the DEA and commanding a multi-jurisdictional narcotics task force. It is an exacting toll with two failed marriages as my tithing, but the draw to the edge-lifestyle is strong and embracing the roleplaying of “others” is intoxicating.
Chief Silverii during his undercover days
Since this is my introduction to you, I want to share a glimpse into my life. Before I became a city chief of police, before I became a national subject matter expert teaching efficient and effective data-driven policing practices and even before I started using terms like “efficient and effective,” I was a Narc. A term of respect from some, fear for others, and distrust by most. We operate in the grey realms of policing.
In a policy manual driven profession of black or white practices, the SOG’s edge existence is unsettling. Seen as a necessary evil, undercover narcotics ops are carried out by officers often living a duality of purpose. While earning the assignment based on an ethically high standard of conduct, the new agent is taught that success depends on the ability to lie and manipulate. Assuming an alternate identity may be fun for out-of-town weekend bashes, but life or death encounters are wholly different.
I want to share with you my final undercover mission before being promoted into an exciting life behind the desk. I’ve extracted this excerpt from my latest book examining life inside the SOG subculture, A Darker Shade of Blue: From Public Servant to Professional Deviant; Policing’s Special Operations Culture. This outtake goes behind the shield to explain the SOG’s attraction to violence as a tactic for surviving undercover. Life-threatening encounters become the fuel driving your work, and the path for gaining acceptance into the dark blue fraternity of undercover narcotics. As the story goes…
I was assigned to the cover team tasked with monitoring and ensuring the safety of rookie undercover agents targeting a possible biker-run barroom in the middle of literally, “nowhere.” They were too fresh, too clean, too academy grad stiff. No one bit and the night began losing the promise for busting drug-dealing asses. Late into the night, I signaled for the agents to leave the bar and clear away from the area.
The “hooks” left as instructed and it was just us grownups in the place. There had been plenty of alcohol, lies, and promises, but no offers for buying illegal drugs. The rookie agents left a chilling effect on the entire rat hole. But they were now gone, and the feel changed immediately. It was darker, smaller, and deadly quiet.
I found myself alone in a small one-stall bathroom with a giant man holding a steel-blade Buck knife and a plastic cigarette wrapper full of methamphetamine. It was an odd situation to find myself. My long-time partner and fellow SWAT Operator had walked outside of the barroom and unknowingly locked the door behind him at closing time. I was walking slowly behind and heard the bartender call out. This guy stood over six feet six inches, with shoulder length hair and a long, gnarly beard. He was a target of our undercover mission and identified as a member of an outlaw motorcycle club.
Because of his intimidating build and disposition, I avoided eye contact during the night other than ordering alcohol. I did not want him to mistake me as being confrontational, but only that I was there to party and buy drugs. Once the place emptied, he asked me to follow him and we walked into that small bathroom. There, he pulled that long, sharp Buck knife from the tattered leather sheath on his side.
I forced myself to remain calm while my heart pounded wildly. My mind began rehearsing the SWAT close quarter combat strikes and kicks I anticipated unleashing. I knew I was going to get bloody, but I wasn’t going to get dead. I strangely looked forward to it as that stall seemed more like a coffin than a toilet. He shoved the knife in front of my face with the point filled by caked up methamphetamine powder and demanded that I taste it.
It was no friendly gesture of sharing his supply. He smelled the other two undercovers and put the halt to anyone doing business with them. With me, he was not so sure. The years taught me plenty to do, and not to do. Living the character you create is key, and stress tends to crack that facade. Not me. There was no bend or break in who I portrayed, because there was so much of who I am in that character’s role.
The encounter became heated, and I braced for his assault. Then, I noticed a hesitation in his decision about fighting, so I began inciting him for establishing dominance. My gamble worked, and he dumped the dope into a plastic baggie and handed it to me. I tried walking calmly towards the exit door, praying that it was unlocked and that he did not change his mind. It was too late. I busted into the sticky night air and greeted my partner. His “where the hell you been” look told me he realized his mistake. I left quietly because I knew his fate had been sealed.
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Share Chief Scott Silverii’s vision at http://brightblueline.wordpress.com/
A Darker Shade of Blue: From Public Servant to Professional Deviant; Policing’s Special Operations Culture sneaks you behind the badge, revealing the mystique of police culture’s “Thin Blue Line.”
Come on-duty, undercover and after hours as Chief Scott Silverii, Ph.D. escorts you through a multi-year, cross-country examination into the fraternity of law enforcement.