In July 2010, The SF Examiner published a story about a “surly scoundrel” who defiantly stood in the driveway of a fire station, purposely blocking firefighters’ path as they were responding to a call. The crazed lowlife stuck out his middle finger at the firefighters and refused to budge until they threatened to get tough with him.Although the odd tale was comical on its own, we found a San Francisco police captain’s use of the term “surly scoundrel” the most amusing.
Greg Corrales, a 42-year veteran of the Police Department, also called that scoundrel a “remorseless reprobate” in his colorful community newsletter out of the Mission Police Station, which he penned for the better part of two years and that read like a 1940s hard-boiled crime novel.
While the newsletter covering police activity in the Mission district was a hit among journalists and locals, particularly English teachers, the Jan. 13 edition was Corrales’ last.
The pulp-writing cop and ex-Marine was recently reassigned as police captain at San Francisco International Airport, and he said he doesn’t plan to write a newsletter in his new post.
Like Raymond Chandler’s detective thriller “Farewell, My Lovely,” Corrales’ final newsletter did not disappoint.
In reporting about a prostitution bust at 20th and Valencia streets, Corrales wrote that three cops “arrested a soiled dove for loitering for the purpose of tawdry faux amour.”
To describe a marijuana bust at County Jail, he wrote, “Officer Sands thwarted a sullen smuggler’s attempts to sneak a quantity of The Weed with Roots in Hell into the jail.”
He also penned a report about “a miscreant urinating on America.”
Corrales began writing the newsletter in 2009, during his second stint as Mission station captain. In putting out a newsletter, which is required of all station captains, Corrales said he mixed his love of being a cop with his passion for the hard-boiled style.
He collects books from the genre dating between the 1940s and mid-1960s.
Favorite authors include Cornell Woolrich, David Goodis and San Francisco’s own Dashiell Hammett, Corrales said.
“Pulp writers in those days got paid like a penny a word for producing stories,” Corrales said. “They used a lot of adjectives to up their payroll.”
Creative use of a thesaurus
In the March 26 newsletter, for example, there is a reference to a fugitive who was “a very glib and convincing prevaricator.” However, “pursuant to their diligent investigation” officers “discovered the craven convict’s real identity.”
And then there was the March 13th incident, when officers encountered “a shameless scoundrel who was in the act of urinating on America. The bumptious brute violently resisted arrest.”
Police Capt. Gregory Corrales, also indicted, was sued in 1985 for allegedly choking and clubbing a taxi driver who had committed a minor parking violation. The city settled the case for $45,000. According to court records, Corrales was named in three or four lawsuits in the early 1980s.