Officers Pete Malloy and Jim Reed were heading out to their black and white when the latter stopped.

"What's this?" Jim picked a thick magazine up off the table by the watch commander's office. On the front was a large color photo of a generic police badge.

"It's a catalog we buy some of our equipment from."

Jim flipped through the pages. "Wow. It's got everything."

"Pretty much."

The younger man looked around quickly. "Do you think anyone would mind if I took this with me?"

"I doubt it," Pete answered, a little reluctantly. He had a bad feeling about this ...

An hour later Pete was wishing Reed had never seen the thing. Despite a rather busy afternoon, his partner of almost two years found time to ooh and aah over everything from the newest patrol car reds to innovative gunholsters - and, as usual, he didn't keep his discoveries to himself.

"Hey, Pete, look at this," he said enthusiastically. "They've got these plastic handcuffs you cut off and throw away instead of unlocking."

"What's wrong with normal cuffs?"

"Nothing, but you can carry a lot more of these around."

"Oh, of course." Malloy was beginning to consider chucking the catalog out a window. Fortunately, just then they got a call - 415 in a condo. The address was close enough that Jim had no time to get back into his magazine. The man who had called met them outside, looking very upset.

"Officers, I've put up with this long enough. I'm a patient man but I've had it."

"All right, Mr. ..."

"Nelson, Mark Nelson."

"Mr. Nelson, what seems to be the problem?" Pete knew, from long experience, that this could turn out to be silly or very serious.

"It's that woman next door. She runs some kind of candle making company and I am sick of the smell! Come on, I'll let you decide for yourselves." The officers followed him inside. Instead of a horrid stench a faint, pleasant scent of lavender pervaded Mr. Nelson's rooms.

"You see? Day and night she's making those things. It's terrible."

"Sir, there's no law against making candles," Jim explained patiently. "We'll make an official report and talk to your neighbor, but there's really nothing we can do."

That only made Mr. Nelson angrier. "So this is what I get for all my hard-earned tax dollars," he fumed. "I should've known."

"I'm sorry, sir, but we can only enforce existing laws." Jim's attempt at placation failed, so the officers beat a dignified retreat.

"Talk about overreacting. You know Jean sometimes pays four bucks for those kinds of candles and this guy gets the scent free?" Pete smiled and knocked on the next door. It was quickly answered by a young woman and a waft of lavender scented air, which mingled pleasantly with the afternoon sun.

"Can I help you, officers?" she asked politely.

"We had a complaint about your candles, ma'am," Pete replied.

"Let me guess," she said with a light laugh. "Mr. Nelson, next door."

"We can't tell you who it was."

"That's all right. Come in, officers." She opened the door wider to admit them. As they stepped inside they saw hundreds of tiny jars filled with purple wax in the process of hardening. "I'm a single mother, you see; I started this business myself about a year ago. I'm selling these so fast that I'm planning to move to a warehouse next month."

"That should make Mr. Nelson happy," Jim observed. The two officers wished the young woman luck and left.

"1-Adam-12, clear," Jim reported as they pulled away from the curb.

"1-Adam-12 clear and a call, 415 at the concessions stand, 2430 East Olympic Boulevard, Code 2."

"1-Adam-12, roger. They're sure keeping us busy today."

"I hope it's not another disgruntled fan taking it out on the hot dogs."

In about five minutes they reached the fair-sized booth, which was surrounded on all sides by baseball diamonds. It was a beautiful day in early summer so the stands and dugouts were full. As the officers approached they saw a tall man carrying on noisily, pounding his fists on the counter; the owner behind it saw them coming.

"Arrest him! He's threatening me and he's trespassing!" The cry caused the offender to whip around - seeing two sturdy-looking representatives of the law approaching, he took off. Reed and Malloy immediately gave chase.

The man had a good head start on them, but Jim gained steadily. They raced across the dirt surrounding the stand and towards one of the baseball diamonds where a minor league game was in progress. The players scrambled out of the way as the suspect flew past first base and towards the infield, with Jim close on his tail and Pete only a couple meters behind. The pitcher saw them coming and cleared out as well. The crowd, which had up until now been rather bored, was cheering for the first time in hours.

The suspect reached and cleared the pitcher's mound in one leap. Jim, at full speed, tried to do the same - but he hit one edge and was instantly airborne. For a second the crowd's noise hushed; but, with considerable poise, Jim hit the ground on his back and slid right into third base. The crowd burst into a roar and Jim jumped up without a pause to continue pursuit - wearing a small smile. A tackle shortly afterwards decisively ended the incident. As Pete and Jim walked the man back to their black and white, all three equally out of breath, the crowd and players voiced their appreciation for a job well done.

"Nice going, officers! Especially the young one, there. That fellah didn't have a chance," the home team's coach called out as they passed by.

"That's my partner. If you run, you'll only go to jail tired," Pete replied with a rather proud grin.

Jim booked the man for numerous offenses as Pete got a drink in the coffee room, taking the opportunity to tell everyone about his young partner's minor league debut. When the new star walked in he was greeted by applause and a few wisecracks.

"How much of a signing bonus did you get, Reed?"

"So when are you leaving us for home plate?"

"Make sure to get us tickets for your first game - if they ever let you out of the dugout, that is."

Jim smiled in general acknowledgment as he got a cup of coffee and sat down beside his partner. Officer Ed Wells strolled in at that moment with his usual swagger, in spite of the sprained ankle which had placed him on desk duty

"God must love stupid people, 'cause he sure made a lot of them," he remarked as he pulled out a chair. "Woods, you remember the guy you brought in on a traffic warrant earlier?"

"Sure, why?"

"Well, it must've been about half an hour ago that his father came in to post bail. Things were a little slow so while they were bringing out the son I decided to run pops. Turns out there was a warrant out on him too, so they booked the old man and off went the son to scrape together another 250 bucks." Officer Woods chuckled, not much surprised, then spotted the magazine Jim had brought in from patrol.

"What you got there, Reed?" He answered the question by walking over to see for himself. "Hey, did you know my brother gets three or four of those a month?"

"From where?"

"Oh, from a couple different companies in California. He's found some great gear. Did you know they have ..."

"C'mon, partner, let's go," Malloy interrupted, getting up.

"But, Pete, I want to hear this."

"I don't. One catalog nut is enough." The older man started out of the coffee room. Jim returned a shrug to Woods' questioning glance and followed.

Once back on the road Jim picked up where he left off. "Look, here's a pen with a light in the tip. This would be great for writing citations at night."

"I'll bet replacing the bulb is fun."

"I don't know if you can ..." Reed studied the picture which accompanied the text he had been reading.

"1-Adam-12, 1-Adam-12, 415 family fight in progress, 744 Gage, Code 2."

"1-Adam-12, roger. Looks like everyone's decided to drive each other crazy today." Jim missed the accusatory 'you-can-say-that-again' look his partner shot at him.

When they arrived they could hear the sounds of a woman's angry yells from inside the small house. Pete knocked and got no answer; trying the knob, he found it unlocked and pushed the door open. A normal living room met their eyes - except for the fruit, milk and other groceries which littered the floor and walls. A man, flushed and bleeding from scratches on his face, was in the act of sitting down on a couch; a woman was standing a few feet away holding a bawling baby. Both looked at the officers, the man wearily, the woman in a kind of frenzy. She let out a scream of frustration and stalked into what appeared to be a laundry room. Opening the door of the clothes dryer she suddenly placed the baby inside; immediately all three men rushed towards her. The wife started kicking her husband viciously in the leg as he reached for the child, but moments later Pete and Jim pulled the couple apart.

"All right, that's enough," Pete growled at the woman, who was still struggling. He almost had to drag her from the room. The husband stood sullenly, with a firm grip on his daughter.

"Sir, can you tell me what happened?" Jim asked, after a quick visual check showed no one was seriously injured.

"She wanted me to put away the groceries, I told 'er to buzz off, so we went at it. She's a hellcat, officer, but I don't mind her beating on me. After she grabbed Diana is when I really got mad. You showed up just after I decided to lay off so she'd calm down."

"Do you want us to call an ambulance?"

"Nah, I'll clean myself up. Are you planning to take her to jail?"

"Yes, sir."

The father smiled cynically, then glanced down at his small daughter. "Don't bet on it."

The tip was a good one. It turned out the baby was nursing and wouldn't take a bottle. They contacted Sergeant MacDonald and after half an hour it was decided to take the mother and her child to her sister's house. Mac also sent a report to juvenile requesting an investigation.

Jim and Pete decided to take 7 before anyone else raised a ruckus in their part of the division. Pete's problem didn't go away, however; so far Reed had only managed to get halfway through the magazine, and after their meal he picked up right where he'd left off .

"Hey, this page has a bunch of lock picking equipment. State of the art."

"I'm sure glad it's cops buying this stuff and not the crooks," Pete commented. Jim smiled.

"Yeah." He sat up straighter in the seat as something caught his eye. "How 'bout that? They've got these barriers to put between the front and back seats of a patrol car. It says they're either made of this special plastic or reinforced with steel bars."

"That won't help the officer sitting in back with the suspect," Pete pointed out.

"Well, they might be good with the L-cars."

"I suppose."

"I don't get it, Pete. Some of this stuff is pretty nice. Why aren't you interested?" Malloy hesitated, wondering how to put it into words. While he was thinking the radio came on once more.

"1-Adam-12, 1-Adam-12, meet 1-L-20 on Tac 2."

"1-Adam-12 roger." Jim flicked the dial. "1-Adam-12 to L-20, go."

"Meet me at 543 Seaton St. We've got a 417, possible attempted suicide. I'll fill you in when you get here."

"Roger, Mac. 1-Adam-12 switching back to frequency 1."

Three minutes later Pete pulled Adam-12 to the curb behind L-20. The sergeant came up as they stepped out, the low sun casting their shadows across the deserted street.

"What's going on?" Pete asked.

"It started out as a family dispute. The Appletons were arguing when the husband suddenly goes into the garage. The wife follows to see him pouring gasoline all over the floor and holding a shotgun. She ran back inside and called us."

"What's the plan?" Jim put in.

"Try to talk to him. We'll have to be careful, if that really was gasoline he might be sitting on a powder keg."

Mac led the way around the house into a large backyard, in the rear of which stood a boarded up garage. The three officers approached with caution, guns drawn, using as much cover as the area offered. When they were about halfway to the building a sudden series of shotgun blasts made them all hit the dirt. The shots were accompanied by sounds of breaking glass and a loud thud. After a few moments of silence Mac motioned the other officers forward. The building appeared to be intact; whatever Mr. Appleton had been shooting at, it wasn't them. As Pete and Jim crept up to one of the walls a dog began barking and growling at them from just out of sight around the corner. A few moments later they all heard a crash.

"Don't shoot! Don't shoot, I'm coming out!" A man yelled. Someone inside started making their way towards a nearby door.

"All right, come out with your hands up," Mac called. The door opened slowly to reveal the suspect with his hands held far above his head, smelling of fresh gunpowder. Pete quickly patted him down while Jim slipped into the garage. It was dark, both because of the boards over the windows and the oncoming dusk, and there was a powerful odor of turpentine and gunpowder. No one else appeared to be inside. A 12-gauge shotgun lay on the floor next to a broken ladder and a car with damage to its hood and windshield. Glass and debris littered the entire area. Jim quickly picked up the gun and unloaded it, then went back outside.

"We'd better get someone from the fire department down here, Mac. It looks like there's paint thinner everywhere, and there's a car with damage to the engine." Mr. Appleton suddenly groaned.

"I just finished restoring the engine yesterday. I can't believe what that woman drives me to." An instant later 'that woman' came hurrying out of the house in a near panic.

"Danny! Danny, what did you do? What's going on?" Jim met her halfway.

"It's all right, ma'am, just calm down. Let's go inside." He and Mrs. Appleton went back into the house while Pete and Mac started walking her husband to the black and whites.

"Are you arresting me?" he asked. "You can't arrest someone for trying to burn his own garage."

"Why would you burn down your garage?" Pete asked, curious.

"I just couldn't stand listening to her nag me! I wanted to teach her a lesson. I climbed up in the attic, cut a hole in the floor and poured paint thinner over everything underneath, but the stupid match went out before I could set it on fire. I tried using the shotgun, but all I ended up doing was breaking my ladder - and my car!" The man didn't seem to realize that torching his garage might have done more damage.

"How'd you get down from the attic without a ladder?"

"I fell. I heard the dog barking and figured it was the cops and I lost my balance." Pete nodded, trying not to smile too obviously.

Mac called for someone to come take care of the garage, then for an ambulance to transport Mr. Appleton to a mental hospital for evaluation. Ten minutes later Pete was alone, waiting for his partner, watching as the sunset caught a few careless clouds on fire. Jim soon came out the front door, still accompanied by the wife. He seemed to be reassuring her of something; after a moment she smiled. They talked for a moment more, then he nodded a goodbye and came down the walk. She went back into her house with a much calmer look on her face than the last time she'd entered it.

"What was that all about?" Pete asked as his partner approached.

"Oh, Mrs. Appleton wanted to make sure we'd take care of her husband. She really seemed worried about him. I told her we'd do everything we could, and that if she ever needed us again we'd be here and not to hesitate to call. I think that made her feel better."

Pete nodded, then reached inside the black and white and picked up the magazine from his partner's seat. "Reed, you asked me why I wasn't too excited about the stuff in here. Remember?"

"Yeah ..."

"That's because I've learned something. This stuff is neat, and might even help us a bit. But remember - it's the man in the uniform who makes the real difference. Mrs. Appleton didn't care if you had a light on your pen or not. She needed your help and you gave it to her. That's what's important." Handing over the magazine he strolled around to the driver's side door. "Let's go, partner, we've got two hours left in our shift."

Jim got in. As they drove away he tossed the catalog into the back seat, taking out the log book to start the reports instead. He still had plenty of things to learn from Pete Malloy, but that night the list got a bit shorter.

These incidents are true. I adapted them, changing circumstances and locations, from Officer Russell's now-defunct Life On the Beat list archive. Jim, Pete, Mac and the others are fictional characters, of course - but there are thousands of real police officers who are just as brave, kind, dedicated and worthy of praise as those we meet and love on Adam-12.