TPS E24: Undercover Work, LAPD VICE, Internal Affairs – Thingspolicesee

TPS E24: Undercover Work, LAPD VICE, Internal Affairs

In this episode my pal Dave Escoto returns to tell us about going under cover for LAPD VICE and also working Internal Affairs.  Dave shares some great stories while he answers listener’s questions.  


hey guys welcome to the podcast thankyou for joining me in this episode ichat with dave Escoto dave did manyyears in LAPD he has a he was already onthe podcast back I think episode five orfour one of the early ones he was on hedid a war a bunch of different hats inhis career and I just so happened to geta bunch of questions in my email aboutundercover work something I never reallygot into as a police officer so I Davecome back on and he answered a bunch ofthe undercover questions he talked a lotabout his um his career and the timethat he worked viceso really fun chat with Dave really gladto get him back after I spoke with DaveI answered one more question I listenedto wrote in about being a police officerand maintaining relationship stuff likethat so doubt further ado here’s episodenumber 24 this is things police seizefirst-hand accounts with your oast Stevegolddavus Cotto thank you for coming back tothe podcast man appreciate itso like I mentioned here before I got Iget questions a lot through emails and alot of times like they’re askingquestions that I don’t really have anyexpertise in or something that I haven’tdone and the I got a listener sending abunch of questions about beingundercover know like doing that kind ofwhere I know sitting and I knew you didthat in when you’d advise and stuff likethat right right right yeah it wasn’treally deep deep undercover but yeah weyou know plain clothes grow beard growlong hear stuff like that just kind ofmen mingle in with the with the crowdright perfectyeah so I figured I’d ask you to come onand you could at least give upyou could probably give it better answera lot of side I mean where I was from Idid some like undercover buys of likestolen property when I was like a youngpatrolman but it was yeah sure once ortwice and that was itall right let’s see this this listenerwants to know well it’s kind of a verybroad question but no what does it taketo be an undercover police officerthere’s certain characteristics that youguys would all have yeah you got a youknow integrity is the most important youknow cuz working undercover one of thehardest things is to start feeling sorryfor the bad guy you know you know youkind of you don’t want to assimilatewith them but you know you got to yougot to know where you’re coming from youthere to uh you know whatever your jobis my advice was you know streetprostitution gambling you know alcoholviolations inside bars outside on thestreets things like that and you knowyou kind of start feeling for thesepeople but you got a you got to knowthat your integrity is that you knowyou’re you’re there to to make livesbetter for everybody and you know if yougot a bunch of prostitutes out in frontof your house or drinking or things likethat it makes life a little bitmiserable for the people that live inand working in Los Angeles so you knowthat’s what your job is and you got tokeep your integrity you know it’s kindof like it doesn’t getlike you know training Dave DenzelWashington you know he’s just way overthe top you know that that’s not whatyou want and I’ve never ever seen a coplike that but you know if there was thatthe guy be in jail but you know you justyou just got to know where you’re comingfrom and you don’t want the appearanceof evil and by that I mean you know whenyou go into the station you don’t wantto you know start a yeah I just had abeer out in the street you know Iarrested this and that you know make theuniform guys upset and you know you justgot to know the balance you got a yougot to keep your head got you yeah I canimagine the UM I mean cuz these peopleto that you’re that you’re kind ofinfiltrating in a way or you’re gettinginside with is they’re just people theyhave lives they have kids yeah you knowthey’re they’re good folks they’re justyou know maybe on the on a bad path atthat point in their life yeah can makeit probably really yeah one empathizeone of the hardest arrests was when Iwas working you know we do gamblingviolations and Vice to and and the wayyou get the bookies is you know one ofthe ways is you see who’s buying the Iguess you can call the cheat sheet whichshows all the odds and the horses allacross the United States and they’reusually at the corner new stands so youjust kind of hang around and see who’sbuying them and you know follow themaround see if they’re going to theirhouse you know people are coming in andout and things like that and I madefriends with this one guy that everyTuesday morning I think it was Tuesdaybecause I think the the tracks areclosed on Mondays it was a Tuesdaymorning he’d come in and buy the thecheat sheet every day and you know I’dtell man I wish I can go to the trackyou know I don’t I don’t have time I gotto get to work and he’d say well you’renot I’ll take your bet and this and thatand you know you get to know them andthe nice people it’s just you know it’sa vice and you know it’s it’s not even afelony but you know bookkeeping this isagainst the law and you know and I feltbad arresting the poor guy who’s here’san older guy and is just trying to makeextra money for his family and stuff butyeah you do what you got to do you feelbad but no it’s just something you gottado what did that look like like when youat when you went to arrest that guy likedid he have a look on his face like ohmy gosh I can’t believe you’re a cop isthat nah he he just kind of looked at meand I just shook his head and said youknow you know what Dave I’ll I’ll beback on the streets before you’re donewith your reports you know good luck toyou just stuff like that and it’s trueyou know by the time he bailed out andI’m still doing the reports bookingevidence and he’s back out doing whathe’s doing right kind of like a oh yeahpart of a team Peter play for himbasically exactly he got caught and heknew it and no hard feelings but youknow he just makes him it a littlesmarter it makes me a little smarter didyou have a lot of situations when yougot to know someone you were working onand you know started to like them andthen you had to rest them was a prettycommon thing uh-huh it’s not really tootoo common you try to keep your distancefrom the people you’re working you knowsometimes you can’t help but like thisbookmaker you know you it’s a it’s avictimless crime so to speak I mean youknow the victims are the bettorsfamilies you know they lose all theirmoney and they can’t put food on thetable or things like that but you knowthere’s no violence involved and youknow that that’s the kind of arrest youlike to make it or the you know thehardcore guys but in Vice you know it’sit’s mostly you know not you know I hadno desire to work narcotics whatsoeverand I back when I when I was undercoverthat’s when they had the rock houses andyou know coppers were going into thesehouses and making buys and and comingout and doing the search warrants andyou know there’s there’s no way I wantto go into a house where they lock thedoor behind me yeah you make there’s noway I wanted to do something like thatso but there’s a lot of guys that arewilling to do it and want to do it endup jumping out a second-story window orsomething yeah so another question wasdo you think it’s much harder now orwhat role I guess to say what role wouldsocial media play now would goingundercover and is it make things harderlike I guess like can if you’re doingundercover work or stuff like that youprobably shouldn’t even have socialmedia I’m guessing or maybe yeah happenunder your wife’s name or somethingright right you know the only type ofsocial media that I know of that thatcoppers use now or you know catchingthese guys that are going into chatrooms with young kids you know they’llpose as uh as a young kid and you knowmake friends with these people and endup making the arrests but as far as thesocial media ID are you asking do copsuse it or does it make it harder becauseof the bad guys using social media tofind us I kind of muddied that up let meI’ll just read it verbatim so I’m notputting words in the guy’s mouth is itharder now with so much social media forUndercovers to maintain their cover yeahyou know back back when I was undercoverthey didn’t have social media you knowwe didn’t have cell phones we didn’teven have beepers so there was nointernet back then but I can imagine nowhow you know four guys arrested by anundercover how he he could post the thecoppers name you know you can you canfind anybody’s address really and on theInternet which is you know unfortunatethere was a time when we could block aspolice officers block our addresses butthere’s so many sites now that you knowmakes it pretty pretty hard to to keepyour cover yeah that’s true they could Imean I’m surprised it doesn’t happenmore often I’m surprised the criminalelement isn’t putting coppers on blastyou know just yeah daxing them as theycall it I can imagine when you’re deepundercover that you know you do a namechange in the whole bit you know I I hadan alias when I worked vice for when Iwalked into the bars you know I had Ihaven’t went to DMV you know they theywork with the cops and you know gave mea new driver’s license with a new nameand had my photo on it and yeah what wasyour name do you remember Robert Santininice yeah it was it was fun it was agood time awesome so are you touched onthis a little bit the last question wasour famous undercover movies realisticat all like The Departed or theinfiltrator or Donnie Brasco you talkedabout um training day there yeah yeahthey’re a little bit over the top Idon’t I don’t see himyou know it’s Hollywood you got tosensationalize everything right III youknow I like the movies I like watchingthem but I’ve never seen I ran intoanything that that they’re depictingthat you know that that even comes closeto what we used to do yeah it’s kind ofa common thing I think for cops to watcha movie about cops and to sit back ohyeah this is ridiculous yeah like NCISor you know one of those shows were youknow they got all this trick stuffscience stuff that you know you cancatch the bad guy I watched that and Ithink man I wish we had that yeahexactly that’s making my job so mucheasierwe used to um I remember doing that afew times when I just had a patrol levelinvestigation just telling you know kidsin the late teens that we had that stuffwho was being at the lab being analyzedand they were just confess cuz he hadyou know they really believed it that atthis little town on Cape Codthis you know this uh yeah DNA scanningequipment my dad used to drive my dadnuts he was a he was a local policeofficer for like 34 years and like we’resaying about cops and movies yeah theywere whenever a town cops in a moviethat you see him walking robbed my dadwould always be I look here comes thethe you know the the retarded town copyou know he’s gonna say something realdumb and then and then sure enough youknow in whatever movie does a town copwill come up and act like a like ajackal oon nuts dad your dad seen a lottoo I’m sure 32 years Wow oh yeah forhim yeah actually I’ve been thinkingabout maybe asking him to come on see ifhe wants to because he’s awesomeyeah I’ve liked a father-son episodeyeah kind of like now me oh isn’t that’sme so the other excuse me I’m justgetting over being sickthe other thing people were asking aboutyour episode your episode was I thinkfour or five so one of the earlier onesbut it was very popular and you werevery well liked and received awesome ofcourse but people wanted to hear moreaboutthe when you worked Internal Affairs andI think yeah with guys like you thatwork such a long career work for so manydifferent divisions I can’t like wecan’t get into everything and sometimespeople write in like hey I wish youtalked about this longer but we deficitwould be ten hours long you know but umpeople did write in and ask a fewquestions about like how did you getinto internal affairs but what is itlike where you are they really hated byother cops like things like that yeahwell what what happened with me is I’veworked as a detective most of my careerand I worked for this one lieutenant whowent to internal affairs and he heworked his way up into the SpecialOperations which is the the follow hometeam there undercover internalinvestigators and you know if it’s areally serious allegation against apolice officer and in order to prove ordisprove we want to follow the copperaround that’s what these guys do and itwas called special operations sectionI think they’ve changed the name sincebut I worked homicide at the time andthe lieutenant approached me he calledme and said hey can can we meet at arestaurant I want to talk to you so Isaid sure so you know we met away fromthe station and he and I sat down hesaid hey I want you to come and work mysection I want you to work this case andI said sure what is it you know I’d loveto and he goes well it’s a a policeofficer and his wife he served his wifewith divorce papers and she came tointernal affairs and she’s only aSpanish speaker or just a Spanishspeaker I should say and she said herhusband had killed two people before hebecame a police officer so he said Iwant you to work the case because youhave homicide experience you haveconnections up and down California shejust speaks Spanish so you know I saidheck yeah I’d love to do that case so Itook the case and you know interviewedher and started moving forward the guy Iused to live up north in NorthernCalifornia before he was a cop andthat’s supposedly where hemurdered two people but the wife gave methe names what’s that it’s not possiblebackgrounds never would have missedsomething like that so so anyway I justI found the two people alive that thatshe said he had killed and what it wasis it was two other women that that thisguy unfortunately was uh having affairswith she found out about it and he hadtold his wife well don’t worry aboutthem you know I I love you I don’t lovethem in fact they’re not even on thisearth anymore you know he kind ofinsinuated he killed him oh geezso just to you know to to keep thingsbetween them cordial I guess right youstill the only one for me becausethey’re don’t worry about him so but Ifound a book alive and it turned out youknow he was just talking talking smackwith her and you know unfortunatelythere was a really nothing we can dowith him I mean yeah I don’t even knowif he’s still on the job or notso that’s interesting so internalaffairs isn’t always it also I mean theinvestigations also end up protectingpolice officers from bad claims andstuff right right right and you knowworking and I ended up staying in thatsection for three years I that case tookme about four months and then I ended upstaying for three years doing othercases and excuse meyou know cases like coppersaccused of fraud insurance fraud oraccused of bringing people across theborder illegally you know flashing theirbadges and saying hey they’re with meand you know they’ll be okay I’ll bringthem back home or whatever you know justthings like that you know stuff thatthat coppers shouldn’t be doingwow that’s pretty brazen you try usingyour badge and your ID at like a federalcheck yeah yeah exactly and you know wecaught two guys actually doing it youknow they’re bringing back a couple ofwomen from Mexico that they met in a baryou know and they were they just wantedto bring him to San Diego to para little bit so they they brought himacross the border and they were caughtWow yeah that’s because you know justthings like that you know luckily it’snot really a lot of drugs a lot of gunrunning you know things you’d see on thetelevision or a movie set the copsallegedly do you don’t get a lot of thatyou know unfortunately and you’ve seenthat movieCopland right with yes sylvesterstallone like that that moviespecifically a lot of people get theirinternal affairs knowledge from you knowbecause that’s like it’s Robert De Niroplays the Internal Affairs guy I thinkit’s Robert De Niro right City InternalAffairs guy I think so yeah yeah he’skind of like huh obviously excuse mefalling apart like a he’s a realstraight arrow type of guy but it’s kindof insinuated in that movie that they’rethese guys aren’t really well liked inreal life is do cops pretty much justrealize it’s a necessary division thathas to exist and you weren’t like lookeddown on for it or anything like that notno not really and you know most coppershere you you know you got me and youknow if they did something you know youown up to it you know especially whenchief gates when daryl gates was ourchief you know if somebody owned up totheir mistake and it wasn’t somethingoutrageous you know you get a spankingand you know I was forgiven and comeback on you know come back to the jobwelcome back but you know you take twothree weeks off a couple of months offwithout pay you know that hurtsespecially if you have a family sure butyou know if you you know if you write areport and you put false information onit and turned in to the courthouse justto make an arrest just to get a guyconvicted you know that’s you don’t dothat you know if you don’t have enoughevidence to get the guy he goes free andget him next time you know you can’t youcan’t make things up just to just tomake yourself look good right yeahthat’s I mean it’s super important thatthat he that even exists good for peopleto hear about that yeah because it’simportant to police officers to to havethatsomeone you know watching the Watcherssure no yeah and you know LA and I’msure our other departments have I can’tsay I don’t I’ve never worked any otherdepartment but you know we pride ourselfon I’m cleaning up our own you know it’sif they’ve done something wrong then youknow take take the hit and let’s move onabsolutely totally agree with that yeahoh babe I think I uh I think I asked allthe questions like I called to ask wellI appreciate that uh it’s always fun Iappreciate you coming on again I anddon’t be surprised if I don’t try torope you into coming on once again withall the all the specialties you’ve hadyour career any time any time you knowwhere to find mealright brother thank you alright broback hey you guys you were justlistening to the always interesting andhandsome Davis Cottobefore we go I’m gonna I’m gonna answerone more quick one more listenerquestion that came and I have a bunch oflistener questions I appreciate all thewritings and I will get to them over thecourse of a few episodes I reallyappreciate them I just want to do toomany in one episode and have you guysget sick of it or anything so thisgentleman writes in and he he says helistened to podcasts all the time andhe’s wonderinghe said he’s aspiring to be a policeofficer and his girlfriend has someconcerns about their future what it willbe like being a relationship with thepolice officer people around her aretelling her that there’s high divorcerates with cops there’s an unbalancedlife it’s it’s hard to deal with beingmarried to a cop so he wants to know isthere anything I can tell him about thatbeing police house her in relationshipsor can they shed some light on thesubjectyeah I mean I don’t know if it’s exactlywhat you want to hear I’m sorry I’mstill still coughing from the mild caseof AIDS that I’ve been trying to getover here so basically it can be roughmy wife and I were dating when I wentinto police academy andof course we were in our 20s and she wasvery supportiveshe even woke up at 4:00 in the morning4:30 in the morning with me somemornings to help me iron creases into myuniforms make sure I had everythingsquared away help me make made my lunchwhen I was doing other things so she wassuper supportive because police academyis it’s a good little test for howstressful it can be for a spouse becauseit’s a it’s a pain in the ass it’s areal pain in the ass going throughpolice academyand your significant other needs to bepretty committed to helping you out orat least putting up with the long hoursthat you’ll be doing so my wife wasreally cool with that and she was rightthere to help help me up now when Igraduated police academy like manyplaces I went right to midnight shiftovernight shift so and I stayed therefor five years so that’s not the bestshift for your social life and whenyou’re a new cop you also are gonna missall the holidays all the cookouts allthat fun stuffyou’re gonna miss a lot of social stuffso your girlfriend and/or wife will beleft hanging for all these events in thebeginning anyway so in the beginningwhen you’ve seen you have no seniorityand you’re low man and depending on whatship is the most unpopular in yourdepartment you’ll be on that ship so formy departmentit was overnights and I sat there forabout five years and it did get badafter about five years excuse metowards the end my wife was saying Idon’t like this I don’t like this somuch that I wouldn’t mind if you didn’twant to be a cop anymore she wasbasically at the end of her rope with itshe just was sick of the overnightschedule so luckily right around thattime I came off Midnight’s and went backto normal and you do notice it whenyou’re on Midnight’s for a long time youfor us we worked at 5:00 in 3 so we’dwork five days on then we’d have threeoff so around the third day you start tofeel normal again and then that day youhave to go inmidnight back to work so that’s a reallytough shift and that just puts morestress on your relationship so sheshould definitely be ready for thosechallenges in your life and you knowthey do have the Academy I went toanyways they did have the option tobring your wife in into her girlfriendPriya Academy and they kind of give thema talk and kind of let them know aboutthe stresses you’ll be going through andit is really stressful because whenyou’re doing it everything is on theline you’re a whole it feels like yourwhole life is on the lineit’s paramilitary you can be kicked outif you screw up too much you can bebooted you know with your Departmentyou’re on probation so they can just getrid of you any time and you know theywould be devastating and humiliating andit would suck to have to to go back tofriends and family say I didn’t make itor then have to try it again so it’sreally stressful and it can be hard on arelationship but I think if she if youhave an understanding significant otherboyfriend or girlfriend and you talkedabout it beforehand totally doable it’stotally doable I do have a friend ofmine back from Cape Cod who was workingfor the county at one point and alwayswanted to be a police officer his fatherwas a really badass I think he was inthe gang unit and Connecticut reallybadass cop and he kind of always wantedto do it so we end up leaving the hisCounty job and getting accepted by localPD and getting accepted into policeacademyand he went up for orientation and theygave the speech about how hard it is andwhat I can do if due to a family so onand so forthand I I even believe maybe his wife waspregnant at the time or they were tryingthat might have been part of the mix butuh it was convincing enough to him thathe actually quit the police departmentand went back to work for the county hewas lucky enough to be able to do thatbut it freaked him out enough and hetook it serious serious enough that heactually said you know what thanks butno thanks I don’t want to be a cop sothere is a lot to consider there but itis on the positive note ittotally doable I am a very average dudeI am I did not Excel really in any way Idid really well in shooting in Academybut that’s you know most people do findhim that I did not excel in anyway I didnot excel in college or high schoolacademically and I was able to make itthrough Academy and keep my relationshipand I got married pretty much right whenI got out so it’s totally doable but yesit is a challenge it’s not as long asyou as you as long as you know whatyou’re getting intoand you guys make sure you take care ofyour relationship and take care of eachother’s needs it’s it’s totally fine andwhen you get on the job as a young copthe hours will always be wacky but asyou progress through your career youyou’re more than likely get a betterchoice of ships and assignments andstuff like that so it there’s light atthe end of the tunnel it doesn’t have tobe so oppressive the whole time so Ihope that helps you out that was myexperience that’s really all I can talk- for me it was fine my wife was prettymuch a saint the whole time help me getthrough like I said help me crease thosethose uniforms and make sure that Iwasn’t getting gigged during inspectionsso I hope that helps you out buddy Ihope she stays with you if you’re gonnago through police academy and I’m sureyou guys will be fine so that’s it forthe podcast guys I’m trying to line upmore interviews it’s becomingincreasingly difficult because I’m kindof running out of people I know reallywell so I’m kind of having to I need toget out of my bubble here and reallykind of branch out and grab peoplerecruit people let’s say – – come on soI got to be a little bit better aboutthat but um podcast is still doing welldownload wise really appreciate all youguys listening if you have a subject youwant discuss or if you have questionsanything like that please don’t hesitateto write in and ask me it’s thingsplease see at gmail.com and also pleasego to iTunes rate and review the thepodcast that helps I think if thelistener listenership keeps growing andgets biggerand more people are listening I will tryto set up I’ll try to monetize thepodcast try to make a little doremioff of this and if I do that I willdesignate a certain amount to tolaw-enforcement charities so I don’tknow how any that would work but I knowthat’s a goal mind if we can keepgrowing the podcast to do that would bewould be really awesome so thank you forlistening again and I will catch up withyou guys next week

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

neon background blank

We formed to give our audience an insight as to what law enforcement professionals actually see and do. 

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER

Get the latest episode updates and current events straight to your inbox.

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.
Scroll to Top