Det. David Starsky, Ninth Precinct, Metro Division, Bay City Police
You gotta understand that me and Hutch are a little wary of the press. It's nothin' personal, okay? It's just that we've been burned before. I mean, last time it turned out all right in the end, but, well, we just don't much like to talk to reporters.
But our captain told us it'd be good public relations and you said you just wanted to get the story straight and, well, what do you want to know?
Q: Bringing James Gunther down was quite a feat. He's been untouchable for years. How did you do it?
A: Actually, it was Hutch that did that. I couldn't help him. I was flat on my back in the hospital. The thing is, you gotta understand that nothin' on God's green earth was gonna stop my partner from finding Gunther and making him pay for what he did to me.
Q: That's what I want to understand. How is it that Detective Hutchinson Hutch managed to do alone what the entire force hadn't been able to do for years?
A: (after a long pause) I'm not sure I know how to explain it.
Q: Take your time.
A: Hutch is a good detective. Sometimes, it's like he's inspired. Like he's got some kinda instinct that...well, he just knows things. Ferrets things out. I don't really know how he does it. He remembers stuff he's read in the newspaper or heard on TV years later. Names. Dates. Places. Amazing. Stuff just sticks to his memory cells or something. That's part of it. And part of it is well, us. Me and him.
Q: What do you mean?
A: We're best friends. Partners. Buddies. Brothers. Not by blood, of course. In our bones. If it'd been him lying in that hospital, I'd have done the same thing. And I'd have succeeded. Because I wouldn't have stopped until I got Gunther or I was dead.
Q: Hutch means that much to you?
A: It goes both ways.
A: What do you mean, why?
Q: Why do you mean so much to each other?
A: (clearly puzzled) We're partners.
Q: Is that all there is to it? You're partners, so you would risk your life for each other?
A: Yeah. That's what partners are for. What they do. Good partners, anyway.
Q: And Hutch is a good partner?
A: The best.
Q: But even the most dedicated cops don't always have the kind of devotion to each other that you and your partner have displayed. I've been going back through files, and this isn't the first time one of you has risked your neck for the other.
A: No, it's not. I guess I don't know. What we got is special. Different.
A: (laughs) There's nothin' weird about it. We're just he's my best friend. (shrugs) I love him.
Q: One doesn't often hear men, to say nothing of police officers, say they love each other.
A: (laughs) Guess not. But they do. Cops gotta trust their partner with their life. Every day. Can't do that if you don't have some kinda love between you. Would you want to put your life in the hands of somebody who didn't give a damn about you?
A: So you see what I mean.
Q: Is it true that you almost died?
A: Oh, yeah. I had three bullets in the back and a couple of them did some major damage. They told me my heart stopped and they had to bring me back with those paddle things. Hutch got to the hospital just as my heart started up again.
Q: That's pretty frightening.
A: (shrugs) Yeah. I guess.
Q: You're back on active duty now?
A: Yeah. Took some doin', though. Hutch had to bully me through all the physical therapy crap. I can be kind of stubborn. (laughs) But he wouldn't give up, any more than he gave up when he was huntin' Gunther. Not his style.
Q: Are you nervous? About being back on the streets?
Q: Why not? I would think
A: I got Hutch at my back. Just like always.
Q: But Hutch was with you when you were shot.
A: And he hollered at me to get down. If I'd have done it, I wouldn't have got shot. But I reached for my gun and I moved too slow. My fault. Not his.
Q: Do you ever think of leaving police work? I understand you've been hurt several times.
A: Sure, we think about it. We even did it once. But, well, it's what we do. Maybe it's even what we are. It ain't no fun gettin' shot, I can tell you that. It's a risk we take, though. A calculated risk.
Q: Why do you say "we"? I asked if you ever think of leaving the force.
A: (pauses) Hutch and me are partners. As long as one of us is a cop, we're both cops.
Det. Kenneth Hutchinson:
Q: Your partner said that you brought Gunther down without his help. Can you tell me how you did it?
A: I wouldn't say I did it without his help.
Q: But he was in a coma, wasn't he?
Q: Then how did he help you?
A: We work together. Even if we're apart. We've had plenty of cases where one of us tackled one thing and the other one tackled a different angle. But we were still working together. This one was like that. Starsky inspired me to take chances, play some hunches, try some things I might not have tried if I hadn't....(stops)
Q: If you hadn't what?
A: (with difficulty) I believed he was dying. He was dying. I don't know how he ever pulled out of this one. He was it was one hell of a close call. Did he tell you he almost died? That his heart stopped?
Q: Yes, he did.
A: (looks down) That scared me. That really, really scared me.
Q: And is that what kept you going after Gunther?
Q: What if Starsky had died?
A: (long pause) I don't know.
Q: Would you have kept going after Gunther? Do you think you would have still been successful?
A: If I died in the effort.
A: Why? Because I had to. Because I wouldn't have been able to live with myself if I didn't. Starsky would have done the same thing. He wouldn't have stopped or given up. I couldn't let him down. I had to do it.
Q: Was it about vengeance? Or justice? Were you being a police officer or
A: Both. Gunther hurt a lot of people. He personally gave the order to kill Starsky, and me. And a lot of other people. He's a goddamn monster. Excuse my language, but he is. He couldn't be left unpunished. But I'll admit it. What drove me wasn't my duty as an officer. It was Starsky. It was what he did to Starsky.
Q: He said he loved you.
Q: That doesn't surprise you?
A: Nope. Should it?
Q: Maybe not.
A: He doesn't usually say it. (laughs) He hates what he calls "soapy scenes." I remember once, when he was poisoned and he only had 24 hours that was a close call, too, way too fuckin' close. Sorry. Time was running out and he was getting weaker and weaker and he said (stops)
Q: He said what?
A: I don't know if he'd want me to repeat it. He made a dumb joke. But I knew what he really meant. He was trying to say it then, that he loves me. We're partners.
Q: You both use that word a lot, but it doesn't sound the same as when other police officers use it.
A: There's a difference, I guess. Between partners who work together and partners who think together.
Q: Do you ever worry you'll cross the line?
A: What line is that?
Q: That in your zeal to protect each other, you'll neglect your duty? Go too far? How did you avoid that with Gunther?
A: Sure, I've thought about it. So has he. But that's another thing about us. One of us always keeps the other one from going too far.
Q: But with Gunther, Starsky wasn't there to keep you from going too far. He couldn't talk to you or
A: He was there.
Q: But, I thought
A: You're right that he wasn't there physically. But he was there, just the same.
Captain Harold C. Dobey:
Q: You've been accused of being too lenient with Starsky and Hutchinson, of covering for them and letting them get away with things you wouldn't let other officers get away with. Would you say that's true?
A: I trust my men.
Q: But do you let them get away with things you wouldn't condone in other officers?
A: I don't think so. They're unconventional. They have their own methods, but they get results. They're my best team.
Q: Unconventional how?
A: If I have to send a team undercover, I'd rather send those two than any other men I have. They risk a lot to solve the case. They're creative. They'll look ridiculous or put themselves in danger to save someone else without a second thought. (laughs) Don't tell them I said so, but they're the best cops I've ever worked with, in a 30-year career.
Q: What makes them so good?
A: Each other.
Q: Excuse me?
A: It's the two of them together that makes them that good. They always showed a lot of promise, even before they were partnered, but the fact is, neither one would be as good alone or with another partner. They play off each other somehow, inspire each other I don't understand it. But it works. And that's what counts.
Starsky and Hutchinson were originally interviewed separately. After speaking with their captain, I decided I would learn more about them if I interviewed them again, together. Transcript continues:
Q: Your captain thinks quite highly of you two.
(Both men look at each other and laugh.)
Q: Why does that make you laugh?
H: I'm surprised he didn't roar at you to get out of his office as soon as you mentioned our names.
H: We, uh (glances at Starsky)
S: We drive him nuts.
Q: He said you were good officers, his best.
H: No shit?
S: (pokes Hutchinson in the ribs) Don't cuss in front of a lady, pal.
H: (flushes) Sorry.
S: What my partner means is, we give our captain a lot of grief, but he's a good guy and he's always been there for us when we needed him. We are a little surprised that he'd admit he likes us, though. (grins)
H: A little surprised?
S: Okay, okay. Stunned. You like that better?
H: Stunned is better. How about 'amazed'? 'Astonished'? 'Floored'?
S: We get the picture, genius.
Q: It sounds to me as if you actually have a warm relationship with Captain Dobey.
H: We do. We're just kidding. Like my partner said, he's a good guy. A real good guy. We just like to give him a hard time. Starsky gave him a toilet for Christmas a few years ago. (laughs)
S: Starsky gave him a toilet? Wait just a damn minute. That was the whole division that gave him the toilet, Hutch. Including you. And don't forget what you gave him for his last birthday.
H: I don't see any reason to
S: A subscription to some dieter's magazine. With a card that had a picture of this huge woman on it. I mean, she musta weighed 500 pounds. And it said
H: Don't tell her what it said!
S: (grins) It said, "For a whale of a good time "
Q: How did the two of you become so close? Your captain said that was what made you such effective officers, your closeness.
(They glance at each other again)
H: He's probably right.
S: You kiddin', clown? It's my terrific detective work. I been carryin' your ass for years.
H: Don't cuss in front of a lady, dummy.
S: I didn't cu
H: Yes, you did. You said
S: That's not cussin'.
H: If that's not cussing, I'd like to know what is.
S: Well, I could use your favorite word. The one your mother would wash your mouth out with soap for usin' if you were ever stupid enough to say it in front of her.
H: I have never used that word in front of my mother.
S: Good thing, too. Bet you ain't too big to spank.
H: Sorry. You were saying?
Q: I asked how you became so close.
S: Life. Workin' together for seven years.
H: Eight years.
S: Seven. Won't be eight until this summer.
H: (sighs) Okay, okay. Seven and a half. In that time, we've seen each other through a lot of difficult times.
Q: Like what?
H: (glances at Starsky)
S: It's okay. You can tell her. It was in the papers anyway.
H: The death of Starsky's fiancιe.
S: Hutch almost dyin' from botulism.
H: Starsky getting kidnapped by Simon Marcus' freaks.
S: The time he rolled his car down a hill, thanks to a little help from that slime Vic Humphries.
S: When a guy's been there for you during times like that, you either hate him or love him for it.
S: We trust each other. Lean on each other.
H: We're not just a couple of guys who work together.
S: (shakes head) No.
H: It's more than that. (reaches out and puts a hand on Starsky's shoulder)
S: We're partners.