The Texas Observer

Dropping Their Guard

IT’S THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT, AND A skinny young man is slumped on a curb outside a San Antonio strip club. Officer Joe Smarro—dressed casually in jeans, sneakers, and a black polo shirt—approaches him.

“What’s going on, man?” he asks.

“Woke up and didn’t like the reality I’m in,” the man replies.

The encounter wasn’t random. Smarro has been called here by worried family members, who’ve discovered their relative has just purchased a gun and plans to kill himself that night. “All I ever wanted was a family, to work hard, provide for them,” the man says, “but all I do is fuck up.”.” After a few more minutes of talking, the man agrees to let Smarro and his partner, Ernie Stevens, drive him to a psychiatric emergency room.

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