The Dragon Force
Part One


 
A series of "800's," police code for crackpot telephone calls giving false or misleading information, compounded the stress already created in the San Francisco Police Department by newspapers who put relentless pressure on their reporters to come up with angles on the city's worst massacre. Every caller's crackpot theory had to be checked out, every lead investigated.
Television journalist Marilyn Baker invited two representatives of Chinese Youth Alternatives to join her on Channel 5 for a discussion. C.Y.A. was an organization whose chartered purpose was to find jobs for Chinese youth as an alternative to crime. On the air, C.Y.A. leaders Wayne Yee and Gary Pang accused the police of corruption and of being in cahoots with the Tongs to keep young Chinese people unemployed and on the streets. They claimed that the massacre had occurred as a natural consequence of a conspiracy of discrimination suffusing city politics. Yee avowed C.Y.A.'s role to be that of knight-errant in redressing this wrong, thereby preventing any more "Golden Dragons."
Chinatown merchants, many with their fingers near a trigger just in case, stood inside the doors of shops watching everybody and every car that moved through the streets in the days following the bloodbath. Their fear was almost tangible. What they saw outside was mostly lengthening shadows cast by the autumn sun. There were few people. The regular crowd of customers, whose dollars helped gild the Oriental faades, no longer braved the scowls of the stone foo dogs guarding the gateway to Chinatown at Bush and Grant. The tidal wave of shoppers usually engulfing Chinatown's markets, restaurants and stores had thinned to a trickle. The curious drove by the Golden Dragon with windows rolled up and doors tightly locked, pointing and gesturing at the now infamous landmark.
Elsewhere in The City, which at 49 square miles is relatively small despite its stature as a great metropolitan center, daytime traffic swept by in normal routine, but nightfall brought fear. Even in the mansions of Sea Cliff, a wealthy enclave overlooking the Golden Gate, families checked the locks on all the doors before settling in front of TV sets to await news of the Golden Dragon investigation. Tigers were on the loose.
Although the Golden Dragon massacre bore an individual stamp of terror, there was nothing new about crime in the streets. The mother city of the hippie era had grown accustomed to that. The same held true for all large American urban centers.
San Francisco, being geographically small, was unique in the sense that its police problems varied widely from each of the city's nine station districts to the other. It was only a matter of blocks from the region of posh department stores such as I. Magnin and Saks Fifth Avenue around Union Square to the flophouses of the Tenderloin, to the warehouses and winos south of Market Street, to the exotic splendors of Chinatown, to the cozy Italian coffee houses of North Beach, and to the open-air crab stands of Fisherman's Wharf. For policemen, a mile in any direction marked the difference between an easy job and a tough one.
The Tenderloin, bordering Market on the north, was especially noteworthy as a trouble spot. This tawdry remnant of San Francisco's 19th-century image as a "Barbary Coast" of sin offered little hope to the pure in heart. Prostitutes, both female and male, jockeyed for places on its crowded sidewalks among the garish neons of sleazy bars, massage parlors and erotic bookshops.
It was an evening proving ground for every new cop who had sweated through tough days at the Police Academy.
In fulfillment of his childhood ambition, Daniel Foley took the San Francisco police exam and was accepted by the Police Academy on June 16, 1966. The course lasted 14 weeks, and during the last five weeks the cadets were dispatched to in-service training on Friday nights. They were sent to a variety of stations for lower echelon assignments--walking beats and working radio cars.
On such a Friday night, Foley had found himself at the Bureau of Special Services. He met John McKenna there. McKenna, who had been working Vice for some time, instructed Foley to go and change from his uniform into some street clothes. "Tonight you work the Tenderloin hookers," he grunted tersely. Foley mentioned this to his wife at home while changing. She paled. "My God," she wondered, "what do you do?"
Foley didn't know. He had no idea what was in store. When he got back to the office, McKenna explained all the different techniques to use ("Look innocent, but approachable"), the legal aspects ("You can't proposition them; let them proposition you"), and the art of developing a cover story so the girls wouldn't catch on.
In later years, Foley would remember getting out of the car around Eddy and Mason Streets and ambling along with what he hoped was an air of approachable innocence. He was scared. The Academy cadets were greenhorns; they weren't allowed to carry guns. He turned the corner on Eddy Street, and two girls fought over him right off the bat. The ice broke. That titillation of his male ego restored his ability to talk his way through almost anything. The girls settled their fight with a joint proposition, and Foley had himself his first case. He was on his way to becoming a cracker-jack cop.
In those final five weeks of training, he averaged five to seven arrests each night, and the newspapers, writing about the latest crackdown in the Tenderloin, talked about "unleashing the baby-faced rookies." Looking at his new record with smug satisfaction, the 22-year-old fledgling policeman was thankful for his baby face.
After graduating from the Police Academy, Foley was assigned to Taraval Station, covering a primarily residential district. He ran into McKenna again one day in an elevator at the Hall of Justice. Always casting for talent, the inspector asked him to put in for a transfer to the Bureau of Special Services. "You don't want to go out there to Taraval," he said. "It's dead. They roll up the streets at 9 o'clock! Come and work with me. You'll learn a lot quicker." But Foley told him he wanted to start out working on his own, in uniform. "I don't want to be a 'juice' guy," was the way he put it. He figured he would be a cop for a long time, and there was no better way to fill out his knowledge than by working the "midnights" at stations all over town.
He worked at Taraval for a year and a half and received several meritorious commendations, even being selected by the Police Commission for Policeman of the Year. He was very proud of that.
After Taraval, a new unit was formed to combat heavy street crime and violence in certain areas, named the Crime Prevention Unit. They took 80 officers from the various stations and moved them down to the Hall of Justice. Foley was among those selected. He worked in four-man uniformed squads patrolling the Tenderloin and the Potrero District in black-and-white cars. During this time he met Tim Simmons. They worked together for a while. "Tim was a real likable guy," Foley was to recall, "a good cop and friendly. He'd take us over to his house at midnight, all four of us, and he or his wife would cook up a breakfast. It was really kinda nice. I don't know if many wives would go for that, but Tim was the sort who would give you the shirt off his back." The two men saw each other occasionally throughout the years until they started working together regularly in 1977.
During the period between 1967 and 1968, there were a lot of problems in the Northern Station District, primarily in the area ranging from Haight Street along Fillmore as far north as Sutter. Northern's territory ran all the way to Broadway past Pacific, but the problems of the late 60's fell short of upper-class Pacific Heights. They confined themselves to what was known as "the Fillmore," a black ghetto generously salted with white.
Six men were assigned to walk Fillmore Street from 3 to 11 P.M., starting at McAllister and Fillmore and working north toward California Street. Muggers, hypes and all the riffraff were bothering merchants and people on the streets. The "flower power" of the Haight and Ashbury Street hippies, and the aggressive behavior of racial groups like the Black Panthers, had begun to test San Francisco's tolerance.
The public in general was as yet unaware of the heavy drug traffic that fertilized "the Hashbury." Tourists gawked at far-out poster shops and fingered seed beads of Job's Tears at the street stands, sniffing the Hashbury's all-pervasive aroma of patchouli perfume overlying fetid sweat. Among the visitors elbowing into crowded cafes with vaguely erotic names like "Magnolia Thunderpussy" were those who hoped to find the familiar face of a missing daughter or son. They were seldom aware that the street people of the Hashbury mostly comprised a floating population that crashed at night in the less colorful and more terrifying Fillmore.
Dan Foley was detailed as one of six lawmen sent out to the Fillmore on a five- or six-week detail. For him, it turned out to be nine years. In the San Francisco Police Department, short details often turned out to be long ones. One man dispatched to the shooting range for a week had stayed 20 years.
The Fillmore was a real hellhole. Just going out there was enough to scare the average citizen half to death. At any hour of the day, at McAllister and Fillmore, there would be as many as 300 people milling around--winos, drug addicts, psychos, you-name-it. The problem for Foley, as well as for the other cops, was how to tell the good guys from the bad guys. Everybody looked bad. But Foley enjoyed the Fillmore beat. He came to think of it as the best nine years of his career.
 

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2000 Brockman Morris