On His Feet, On The Street

Less than two years after a sniper's bullet nearly tore off his leg, Detective Jeff Dauer is back on the Gang Squad, cruising Phoenix's toughest turf

"Even with Jeff's tenacity," Griffith says, "I personally felt he wouldn't ever be walking again, much less doing police work. It says a lot about a person that he set a goal and fought through the pain and frustration to achieve that goal, whatever it took."

Dauer got an unexpected boost about four months after the shooting when his supervisors asked him if he'd sit for an interview with a Phoenix Fire Department employee named Rebecca Fenimore. The subject was police- and fire-personnel interaction during crises. Dauer and Fenimore clicked, and Dauer called to reserve a copy of the final product.

"She suggested that we have lunch before that," he deadpans.
The couple was married last January.
Dauer returned to work in July 1995, with four halos and 12 pins holding his leg together. He did busy work and computer research for several months, happy for once with a desk job.

But Dauer longed to be back outside on the street, longed for the banter with his fellow Gang Squad members. Last May 13, he finally got the go-ahead to return to full duty.

At first, Dauer says, some peers treated him with kid gloves. He didn't like it, but understood.

"It's normal to tell your injured friend not to do too much, not to go too fast," Dauer says. "But I already knew I have limitations, and I'm not macho enough to try to do things--like chase someone for 100 yards--that I can't do. I want to be treated like everyone else, because I pretty much am."

That his comrades have started to needle him again delights Dauer. A recent example, courtesy of current partner Mike Puskar: "You're slow and white and used to have an uncanny shooting touch. Now you're just slow."

Dauer breaks into a huge grin at mention of the friendly jibe.
"I made my peace with what happened to me a long time ago," he says. "It happened, and I'm glad it was me getting shot instead of Rob. I don't understand what drove Benny to shoot me, but I don't really hate him. He's ultimately just a stupid, violent coward. I guess I'm just more aware now that there are a lot of things out there that can go bump in the night."

On September 26, a Maricopa County jury convicted Benny Johnson of attempted murder and other charges.

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