I told you about my super-secret trooper friend in my last story. Well here is the continuation of his getting me involved in one of his shenanigans.

Like I said before, most troopers hardly ever knew what this guy was up to, but to me he was one of our best officers. He worked mostly behind the scenes, developing information that was obtained from confidential informants. Some of the information was out of the state prison, or from someone facing serious time in the hoosegow who needed to make the best deal possible before getting put away for a long time.

So I get this call from my friend warning me to be available some evening in the following week. It would have to be at a moment’s notice, as when the call came, we would have to act upon it immediately.

“Are we going to have a game plan or are we just going to wing it?” I asked.

“I’ll tell you as we get closer to the date it might happen,” he informed me.

Working that week, staying pretty close to the radio or phone, all I could think about was what in the world my secret friend was up to in my area now. One thing for sure, I knew it would be interesting to say the least, if not hair-raising at the same time. I was getting as anxious as one could get, because he kept checking on me throughout the week to see where I was. I think he was having fun teasing me, keeping me on the edge.

Finally the evening arrived.

“Where are you, Mark?” he called on the Maine State Police car-to-car radio channel.

I should first explain about the radio system our cruisers had back then. There were lots of channels. One of the channels for the Troop C and D troopers was used to dispatch calls to us from headquarters. I could hear calls being given to other troopers all the way from Brunswick to Winterport to Sugarloaf. The channel was strong and far-reaching. We monitored this channel all the time.

We had another channel that was called State Police car-to-car channel. That way troopers could talk to each other, from one car to another, without going over the primary channel. Most of the time this channel was good for about five to six miles, depending on our location. If we were up on a ridge, it could broadcast a long way, but the only people hearing it would be other troopers.

“I’m right here in Unity,” I replied.

“Need to meet with you right now,” he demanded.

So I hooked up with him in Unity. I was all smiles because I knew we were going to be doing something a little different that night. It was what he always brought to the table.

“OK, here’s what’s up,” he said. “I got a fella that has two stolen trucks and they are going to move them tonight. We need to intercept them, confiscate the trucks, and arrest everyone involved. You got that?”

“OK, so where, what, when and how?” I was full of questions.

“Well above all, I need to protect the informant,” he said. “I know which vehicle he is going to be in and I am going to be making that stop. He and I have already made a plan that I will call in a high-speed pursuit after you make your traffic stop and have your suspect in your cruiser. That way, your suspect will hear that my guy is running from the cops and not cooperating with them.”

“Now this is a hare-brained idea!” I told him.

“Well it isn’t really a chase. After you make your stop and have your guy, I will call you on SP car-to-car so no one else hears it. You and I can just make it up as we go along. I need you to convince your suspect that I am chasing the other vehicle. I need to protect the informant. There will not be any chase, we’re just making it up,” he explained, trying to convince me.

“OK, we’ll see how that goes,” I said.

I got into the preplanned position, where we knew the vehicles would be going, and waited. Sure enough, within minutes, along came our two suspected stolen vehicles. I quickly got in behind the vehicle that I was supposed to stop and initiated a traffic stop. Thankfully, my guy pulled over and stopped. I have no idea how bad it could have been if he had decided to run.

I got the suspect out of the stolen vehicle and placed him in my cruiser. The plan so far was working great, as my suspect could not produce any paperwork for the vehicle. This should trigger any officer to investigate further, which I was doing.

As my suspect sat in my cruiser, sweating profusely, I might add, my secret trooper friend then put the rest of the plan into action. He made up a conversation between himself and headquarters over the car-to-car channel about a chase he was involved in, requesting my assistance.

“Augusta 434,” came the call to me.

“Go ahead Augusta,” I responded on the wrong channel.

“1157 is involved in a high-speed chase on Route 9 towards Albion and wants you to start that way to back him up,” my secret trooper friend said, trying to sound like dispatch.

“10-4 Augusta,” I replied again. “I’ll get him on car-to-car.”

Now remember what I said about the limits of the car-to-car channel? That it is usually only good for five to six miles, depending on our location? Well it seems we were both sitting a little higher on the ridge than we thought that night. Immediately, other troopers, particularly from Troop C, heard the conversation.

“Where are you guys? What direction are you going in? Which road are you on?” screamed one of the troopers.

Uh-oh! Now how in the world am I going to let these other troopers know this is all just a hoax to save an informant, I thought to myself. My secret trooper friend had made the chase seem hair-raising with high speeds and close calls to make it sound more realistic. But now we had other troopers who wanted in on the chase to get the guy. The other problem — my secret trooper friend could not hear the other troopers.

I quickly advised him that some Troop C troopers were hearing his radio traffic and would be en route to assist him. There was a long pause. All of a sudden he put an end to the chase, saying the vehicle was pulling over. He soon followed that transmission by saying he had arrested the vehicle’s operator.

I then advised the other troopers that the chase was over, the guy finally pulled over and was under arrest. They all backed off.

Phew! That was close.

My secret trooper friend’s plan worked excellent that evening, except for the fact that the radio worked too well and caught the interest of the other troopers. We recovered two stolen vehicles, made out-of-state arrests for insurance fraud, and took one of the guys into custody.

My theory was always this: If you catch the bad guys and no one gets hurt, you’ve done good.

Just another day in the life of a trooper.

Mark Nickerson is a retired Maine State Police Trooper who lives in Unity. The 28-year veteran and award-winning columnist may be reached at menick@uninet.net.