Granby Police Chief retells story of undercover operation
December 22, 2016
Chief Bill Housley of the Granby Police Dept. has seen a lot in his 45-years in community policing, with stories that will make the hair on the back of your neck stand on end.
Housley will retire at the end of Dec. so I sat down recently with the Chief to discuss his career. Our conversation was filled with remarkable stories but one specifically demands retelling.
Early in Housley's career, the early 1970s, he worked as an undercover operative for the Madison Police Dept. in Madison Wis. After nearly two-years working undercover he was called to testify in Federal Court on an international drug trafficking case. His testimony marked the beginning of the end of his undercover work but before he fully transitioned to working as a uniformed officer he completed a few more undercover operations.
"After testifying in Federal Court I did not work alone in the City of Madison any more," Housley said. "On one of my cases after the Federal testimony I was in another city in Wisconsin. I was called out there to do a drug deal and had another undercover narcotics agent with me driving the vehicle."
Housley and his fellow undercover agent met their underworld contact and began talking business. "So I meet this guy and he starts telling me about how he was in Federal Court a few weeks back, watching an undercover agent testify. He said, 'you have got to be really careful these days. There are agents out there that look just like we do. You wouldn't believe this guy, one of the freakiest guys you would ever see, but he was a cop."
Chief Housley smiled wryly before continuing. "He was telling me about me. In court I was dressed better and had my hair straight down. When I met him my hair was in a ponytail and I was dressed for the street. We were just driving along and I was looking out the window, trying to not let him see my face." Housley chuckled. "He never made the connection."
Standard practice for such undercover operations usually entails having non-undercover officers affect arrests, but as Housley explained arresting the man who had seen him testify in court but hadn't made the connection during his undercover drug buy was an opportunity too good to pass up.
"I told him, 'Remember that guy you saw testify in Federal Court a few weeks back, well that was me and you're under arrest."