A fan asked for stories from the career of Gary Jenkins, your host, so in this bonus episode, I describe the life of a young police officer named Gary Jenkins (Oh! me?) I was assigned to Central Patrol in a downtown car in November 1971. The Sergeant came in to roll call and asked if anybody would be interested in transferring to the highest crime district in the Division, Beat 154. I raised my hand immediately because I had enough of handling rush hour traffic problems, shoplifting reports from department stores and having tourists try to enter my 1971 Plymouth Fury thinking it was a taxi cab. We start in Radio Car #154, working from 35th Street to 39th Street, Paseo to Prospect. A neighborhood that had once been the home of Kansas City’s pre-WW II middle-class white folks and now as a decaying and dying neighborhood filled with lower-middle to lower class African American folks. I found that every few blocks sat small grocery stores that always had a liquor license and often had fresh meat, eggs, canned good, and other dry groceries. As I stopped into the stores, I found they were all owned and operated by either Italian or Jewish men whose sons and/or sons-in-law worked with them. They usually owned other rental property in the neighborhood and most allowed customers to run a tab until pay-day. Local thugs would often participate in casual extortion asking for a pack of smokes of 1/2 pint of gin in exchange for them to leave. One store owner, Max Levine often gave groceries to select families when they were in danger of going hungry. He had to be careful in order to keep making a profit and help these poor folks. These stores were the center of each little neighborhood. A couple of them had corrupt owners who bootlegged booze on Sundays (before Sunday sales), took in stolen property or assisted in narcotics sales.
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