Last updated: 29 december, 2009 - 21:53 GMT

The Americas

24 Hours in Tulsa

Police officer Jay Chiarito Mazzarella

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A midget street thug on a kiddy bike. Incompetent thieves who resort to stealing air-conditioning units. A woman too drunk to notice a police car heading towards her with all lights flashing.

These are just some of the criminals and junkies, the faithful and forlorn encountered by one police officer cruising the streets of one Midwestern US city. But this policeman has an eye for the weird, an overdeveloped sense of humour and a talent for narrative.

Last night was good night for many reasons. I was rolling around looking for trouble and found some. About a dozen people hanging around in a parking lot, two of whom I recently arrested for guns and dope.

Officer Jay Chiarito-Mazarrella

Which is why Officer Jay Chiarito-Mazarrella created a cult following for his Street Story podcasts, vivid vignettes of his work for the Tulsa Police Department.

In 24 Hours in Tulsa, we hear the best of the Street Stories, giving us a fresh, funny and sometimes downright scary insight into policing from the horse's mouth.

The stories are interspersed with location recordings of Officer Jay and buddy Corporal Will Dalsing out in their patrol car, checking out drug lab fires, random shootings, car crashes and drug busts.

And in the wee small hours of a Tulsa morning, Officer Jay describes how members of his own family became involved with the mafia, a street story very close to home.

First broadcast on BBC World Service on 30 December 2009.

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