"Joy riding when you were supposed to be on a stakeout! What were you thinking?"

"I'm sorry, Joe," Josie said, "I guess I wasn't thinking."

"And to make it worse, you got a rookie involved... a rookie you were supposed to set a good example for."

The officers in the squad room, witnessing this scene, were very quiet, very tense, and very glad they weren't Josie!

Somehow nobody noticed the man with the camcorder.

"Josie, you're a cop," Joe said, "but today you acted like an irresponsible child."

Josie looked down at the floor for a few seconds. Then she looked up at her captain.

"You're right, Joe. I know I was wrong, and I'm ready to accept any punishment you think is right."

"Any punishment?" Joe asked.

Josie nodded. "Yes, sir."

"Even..." Joe lowered his voice and whispered something.

Josie looked startled, but she said, "Even that."

"All right," Joe said, "then that's what I'm going to do. Now, Josie, this is for your own good."

He put his left arm around her waist, drew back his right hand, and delivered an explosive

SPANK!

on the seat of her pants.

"OWWWWW!" Josie yelled.

"Okay, everybody, listen up," Joe said. "Josie did something wrong, and she has been punished. It's over. Understand?"
#####

But it wasn't over. That night, news broadcasts around the country showed a tape of Joe delivering that swat, and the next day's papers carried articles like the following:

DISCIPLINARY ACTION

Captain Joe Carlino took matters into his own hands when Detective Josie Sinclair broke a rule. Instead of placing her on suspension or desk duty, he gave her a spank on the seat of her pants. Yes, you read it right. He spanked her. Now, I have no idea what Detective Sinclair did to provoke that slap. Was it something that infuriated Captain Carlino to the point that he struck her, or was it something so trivial that he let her off with just a swat? This reporter wishes that Captain Carlino and/or Detective Sinclair would shed some light on that little trip to the woodshed. ##### Several message boards were set up especially for the discussion of that swat. Here are some of the comments posted on one of those boards. {Some posters' names omitted}

1 I saw that swat on the news, and all I've got to say is if I were her husband, I'd deck that guy.

2 Well, if you ask me, Detective Sinclair should have slapped his face.

3 Are you kiddin' me? She probably needs a good smack once in a while to keep her in line... like all women do.

4 "Keep her in line?" What century are you living in? That attitude went out with the bustle. I think a man who hits his wife should be strung up.

5 Are you a guy, or a girl?

6 What's the difference?

7 If you're a girl, you need a spanking. If you're a guy, you need a spine.

8 Let me translate that into your natural language: Oink, oink, oink.

9 I set up this board for people to talk about the swat Captain Joe Carlino gave Detective Josie Sinclair. There are other boards where you can discuss domestic violence.

10 As opposed to violence in the workplace?

11 I'm Gary Sinclair, Josie's huband, and this is for the poster who thinks I should have decked Joe. Well, Joe Carlino is one of the best friends Josie and I could ever have, and I'm not about to deck him because of a swat Josie admits she had coming to her.

12 Do you ever give her a swat when she has it coming to her?

13 I would never raise a hand to Josie.

14 But it was ok for her captain to do it?

15 That's just it. Joe is Josie's captain. She serves under him. She doesn't serve under me. We're equal partners.

15 Another wimp heard from! Another namby pamby who's afraid to give his wife a good smack on the ass! Remember, the man is always the boss! Equal partners? Bull!

16 That's it. I'm banning you from this board. ##### EXCERPT FROM A MORNING RADIO SHOW "So,is this going to be the new trend? Instead of suspending cops who mess up, or placing them on desk duty, their precinct commanders will just give them a potch in the tush?"

###### "What I want to know," Joe said, "is how this became public knowledge." He looked at the officers in the squad room. "I know none of you said anything about it."

"Maybe we should say something now," Josie suggested. "I mean, if anyone knows the real story, it's us."

"So are you going to issue a statement?" Toni asked.

"Not yet," Joe said. "Maybe the whole thing will blow over in a few days."

"What if it doesn't?" Adams asked.

"Then, we'll see," Joe said.

#### But it didn't blow over. Two weeks later,Joe came across the following thread on another message board {Some posters'names omitted}:

I'm a cop at the 23rd Presinct in Bay City, Illinois. I can't give my name, because I don't want to lose my job, but it's time for the specculation to end and the truth to come out. First of all, that picture dosent tell the whole story. If you think Josie got just one swat, think again. Joe walopped the daylights out of her. And if you ask me, she got off way too easy. See, Joe wants us to keep our mouths shut about what Josie did, but I think this is too serius to sweep under the rug. Dettective Sinclair took a bribe. She took a bribe, and all she got was her $$ smacked. It's rediculus, IMO.

2 First of all, if you're a cop, I'm Mother Goose. That post has BALONEY written all over it, and you should be arrested. No. I take that back. Judging by your spelling, you're probably too young to be arrested. You should be grounded!

3 ICAM! If this kid were mine, he/she would be studying his/her spelling instead of posting lies.

4 My post isn't fake. I'm not a good speller, but that dosent make me a liar, or a kid.

{After reading the messages, Joe knew that he had to respond.}

5 I'm Captain Joe Carlino of the 23rd Precinct in Bay City. Up until now, I've ignored all the talk about that swat I gave Detective Josie Sinclair. But now I have to speak up. Josie did something wrong. She acted irresponsibly. But she absolutely did NOT take a bribe. Josie would never do such a thing. And she got just one swat. Now, to the person who started this thread: Throughout history, lies and rumors have caused a great deal of harm. People have had their reputations ruined, and worse. For example, there were the Salem witch trials way back in 1692, and there was McCarthyism in the 1950's. Think about that, for your own good, and the good of others.

6 I'm Josie Sinclair, and I agree with what Joe wrote. Also, I have something I want to say. I think it's ridiculous that the whack I got has been turned into a media event! ###### ###### A month later, with the rumors growing worse and worse, Joe and Josie appeared on Helen Barlowe Rochester's syndicated TV program to set the record straight.

"Today," Helen said, "Captain Joe Carlino and Detective Josie Sinclair tell the truth about what perhaps can best be called the swat heard 'round the world."

Joe and Josie walked onto the set.

"Captain Carlino, Detective Sinclair, welcome to the show," said Helen. "Now, we've all seen the tape of that swat. Did you ever find out who made that tape?"

"No," Joe said, "we never did."

"It was taped without our knowledge, and distributed without our consent," Josie added.

"And since that tape first aired," Helen said, "there have been all sorts of rumors circulating."

"That's why we're here," Joe said. "We want to put those rumors to rest once and for all."

"And I'm flattered that you've chosen my show as your venue."

"Well, we knew you wouldn't try to manipulate the interview," Josie said.

Now, I'd like to begin at the beginning. Detective Sinclair, can you tell me why your captain punished you?"

"Yes," Josie said. "It was because I acted irresponsibly."

"Then there was no corruption involved?" Helen asked.

Joe answered, "None whatsoever. It was more a matter of Josie acting, in that one instance, like an irresponsible child."

"I was on a stakeout with a rookie, and it got boring... stakeouts are often boring, because lots of times all you do is just wait, and wait, and wait," Josie said. So I turned to the rookie who was riding with me, and I said 'Let's have some fun.'"

"What kind of fun?"

Josie looked at the floor. "I'm a bit embarrassed to admit this," she said, "but I took her joyriding."

"While you were on the stakeout?"

Josie nodded. "While we were on the stakeout."

Helen turned to Joe. "No wonder you were so angry with her."

"I wasn't really angry," Joe said. "I was more disappointed than anything else. You see, Josie is usually such a good cop, and this just wasn't like her."

"Joe reprimanded me, and helped me to see how wrong my actions were. So I told him I was ready to accept any punishment he thought was right."

"And I asked her, "Even a good whack on the seat of your pants?" And she said, "Even that." Right, Josie?"

"Right," Josie said.

"How did you feel when Joe asked you that question?"

"I was surprised, but then I figured, at least it'd be over a lot sooner than desk duty, or a suspension."

"Would you have accepted more than one swat?" Helen asked.

"I don't know," Josie said. "I really don't know. You see, I'd never been spanked before, but after I got that swat, I was glad it was just one!"

"And the tape doesn't show what happened next," Joe said. "After I swatted Josie, I told everyone that it was over, meaning that the subject was closed."

"And then Joe took me in his arms and hugged me," Josie said. "So you got one swat, and it was over in less than a minute," Helen said thoughtfully. "Talk about people making a mountain out of a molehill! I want to thank you for setting the record straight."

"We were glad to," Josie said, "because, well, let me put it this way. This whole thing has been a real pain in the butt."