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San Francisco's Favorite Superman T-Shirt Wearing, Drug Busting, Fajitagate Enmeshed Cop Is Retiring

Ian Eck | June 16, 2014 | Lifestyle Story City Life

Greg Corrales, a 44-year veteran of the San Francisco Police Department, has hung up his cuffs. Known for his rough-and-tumble street-cowboy mentality, his career makes Dirty Harry look like Paul Blart, Mall Cop. Sure, he may have been on the losing side of the drug war (he still calls marijuana "the Weed with Roots in Hell"), but you can’t deny that a guy who was once suspended for getting drunk and firing his gun outside of the Hall of Justice has a certain dash about him. Did we mention he calls public urination “Urinating on America”?

Look to the Examiner for a great in-depth profile, but for now, here's a quick rundown on Corrales:

-After serving in the Marine Corps in Vietnam, Corrales joined the SFPD in 1969. It was a grittier San Francisco back then, when crowds were burning the American flag. Corrales’s motto at this stage: "Who can kill me?"

-Bold, considering that in his first year of duty, Corrales witnessed a fellow cop get shot in the head. Three more colleagues were murdered that first year, and it set the tone for his career in the 1970s, the most dangerous decade in the department’s history. Twelve of San Francisco’s finest were murdered that decade.

-During those early years. Ingleside police station was raided, Park station was blown up, and a bomb was planted at Mission station.

-Corrales said of those tumultuous times, “If someone walked up to your radio car, you had your gun in your hand.”

-Corrales became part of the notorious “Tac squad” which was basically a SWAT team before SWAT teams were invented. They became so effective, they literally wrote the book on riot-quelling for the FBI.

-Back then, Corrales was pretty much the only Latino in a predominantly Irish-Catholic police department. And seeing as the black cops were too well-known in the drug community, Corrales became the go-to undercover narcotics guy, infiltrating the world of addicts and drug-dealers for years.

-His feats: “crashing through a window in a Superman T-shirt during a drug bust in Potrero Hill; chasing down and apprehending two armed muggers while on vacation in New Orleans; after being kidnapped while acting as an undercover decoy, managing to cuff and detain his kidnappers, driving their car back to the station house.”

-His wardrobe: A shoulder holster with a 6-inch chromed-out .44 magnum outside his uniform. Underneath his uniform he often wore a Superman t-shirt.

-His nicknames: “The Archenemy of Evil” or simply “Superman”

-His McNultyism: He once went over the heads of his superiors to get permission from the attorney general to lead a raid on a pot club in ‘96. He was removed from his position as head of narcotics after the incident.

-His indiscretions: he once got drunk and shot his weapon in the air outside the Hall of Justice. He also T-boned a car during an illegal U-turn on the Golden Gate Bridge, causing a lawsuit. “I was an active cop,” he says. “Active street cops get sued on occasion.”

-A less-awesome indiscretion: he was one of the cops charged (and eventually exonerated) in the 2003 Fajita-gate scandal.

Later on in his career, when Corralles wasn’t Saying No to Drugs in a major way with fist and bullets, he took to the might of the pen. His famed Park Station Newsletter briefingswere filled with multisyllabic alliteration, humorous asides, and ridiculously amazing mid-century slang. (Busting “lush scoundrels” for inebriating themselves on “hooch” and “weed with roots in hell”). Here are some of his finer moments of descriptive brilliance over the years:

-“Cited a horde (7) of hapless, horizontal, hirsute hippies hibernating.”

-“Beat Officers Dennis & Racine located a lethargic lush lurching. Further investigation revealed that the souse was sauced to the point that he was unable to care for himself.”

-“The loathsome lewd louse spewed obscenities at the officers, at which time it became apparent that he was intoxicated to the point that he was a danger to himself. The disgrace to humanity was incarcerated after a violent struggle.”

-“Officers Bucy & Letsch encountered an unsuccessful thief who had attempted to steal seven bottles of Jack Daniels whiskey. Although he was arrested, he did receive kudos for having high aspirations.”

-"After turning in all my gear, I opted to check conditions on Haight Street one last time," he wrote. "Despite employing my finely honed police instincts for the last time, I was unable to spot any suspicious scoundrels skulking sinisterly. Purveyors of pernicious poison, in possession of passels of The Weed with Roots in Hell were nowhere to be seen. I knew then that I could go home."

Cue close-up of a badge and gun being laid on a desk by well-callused hands. Corrales, with glistening eyes, looks out the window to the setting sun over Golden Gate Park. Drug-free hippies and multi-ethnic children laugh and play together in harmony among the trees. Corrales lets out a satisfied sigh. Fade to black.

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