HOUSTON, TX - Officers Dale Tobin and Glenn Jarvis tensed as a woman staggered from a bar a block away, waving her arms wildly over her head.
"Could be a 10-104 Alpha," said junior partner Tobin.
"Don't call it in just yet," replied Jarvis. A moment later, his street-savvy hunch played out: the woman was merely dancing, not covered in bees.
"Most nights we don't even get a false alarm," said Jarvis, voice muffled by the heavy bee veil that covered his head like a floppy fencing mask.
"A lot of dead time," agreed Tobin, hands encased in thick goat-skin gloves, resting on the steering wheel, "But we're ready."
Jarvis shifted on the front seat of the squad car that he and Tobin called “Bee Ware.” "Suppose that lady wasn’t dancing,” began Jarvis. “Suppose, instead, she was covered in bees. Then suppose she was robbing that bar and got caught. How's a regular cop gonna handcuff a suspect covered in bees?"
"They can’t," broke in Tobin. "That's where we come in."
Since its formation in 2006, Houston’s bee squad has had only one incident. Tobin recalled, “A suspect had a couple of crickets in his pocket. I’m not sure why. But detectives called us anyway just to be safe.”
“We put the crickets in an envelope,” continued Jarvis. “Then we took the envelope outside and jumped on it.”
“Just to be safe,” added Tobin.
Hours passed. The car radio crackled with reports of auto theft and burglaries and arrests.
But none of them involving bees.
At least not tonight.