Good Cop, Bad Cop

Page 5 of 10

The family remained close, united in many ways around sporting events, especially those involving Quentis, the baby. He fulfilled their highest hopes, studying hard and excelling in all he did. To stay out of trouble, every day after school Roper hied himself down to the West Dallas Boys and Girls Club, where he played sports and did community work. He made the honor roll and was voted class president and, in the mid-'80s, became the star quarterback at Pinkston High, then a state football powerhouse. He earned a reputation on the field as a wild man, aggressive and unconcerned with his own safety. Calvin Roper says his brother was a "kamikaze" on special teams.

Heavily recruited, he decided to go with academics rather than the best football program. In 1990 he graduated with a political science degree from Rice University, where he quarterbacked the Owls for four seasons. According to a Rice athletic department spokesman, Roper was "a decent player, not a great player." After college, Roper moved back to Dallas, played arena football with the Dallas Texans for a year and, in the fall of 1991, joined the DPD. "He always wanted to do something for the community he grew up in," recalls Calvin Roper. "And after the first couple of years on the force, he knew he had found something he loved."

His first assignment was "deep nights" at Northeast--fourth watch, on at 6 p.m. and off at 2 a.m. According to his superiors, Roper was an "excellent" officer; from 1991 until 1998, he earned 48 commendations and a reputation for extremely aggressive police work. He particularly loved to "chase dope," busting through doors in "hot pursuit" of drug dealers, camping out at apartments and motels known for selling drugs, often hiding in bushes or trees, waiting for deals to go down. His m.o. was to nab a customer, lean on him to cough up the apartment number of his dealer, then storm the source. Known on the street as "Q," he was, at times, something of a daredevil; even when he called for backup, by the time other officers arrived, Roper had often already made a collar. In an unguarded moment, one of Roper's close friends describes him as "reckless" in pursuit of drugs.

Occasionally, this aggressiveness got him into hot water. In nine years with the department, Roper survived seven internal investigations for alleged incidents of excessive force, physical abuse, harassment, illegal searches, and use of profanity. All were ruled "inconclusive"--meaning not exactly groundless, but not proven to the satisfaction of internal affairs. In addition, he was counseled or written up four times for infractions. But there is no question that he was a valued and productive member of the gendarmerie, making hundreds of arrests and seizing copious amounts of guns, drugs, and money.

And it is this, Roper insists, that landed him in lock-up. Like Cruiser and Bruiser before him, Roper claims that he's in jail because he was such an effective drug buster that a group of dealers conspired to put him behind bars. In an astounding echo of the earlier scandal, Roper even points to a lawyer--though a different one--as the connection among complainants.

"It's amazing how eight to 10 of the people who testified against me have Frank Perez as an attorney," Roper says. "He had the connections to get this started."

One hundred North Central Expressway is the kind of midrise office tower you might drive by every day and barely notice, unless you're a cop. A nondescript, 12-story glass structure, the awkwardly named Rolle-Breeland-Ryan-Landau building straddles most of a city block between Main and Elm streets on the easternmost tip of downtown Dallas, a hundred yards from freeway overpasses and two blocks from police headquarters.

Unlike the main police building, where any shmoe can wander up to any floor, if you walk into 100 North Central during normal business hours, a beefy security guard will ask your business, make you sign in, and escort you up or out. It is here, on the fourth floor, that the 15-member Dallas police Public Integrity Unit is housed.

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Christine Biederman