Standing in a black shortsleeve, navy cargo pants and a black tactical vest with POLICE stenciled across the right breast, Dewey Beach Police Sgt. Cliff Dempsey looked as if he were waiting for someone to shout “action!”

I asked him what the occasion was.

“Oh,” he said. “Little drug interdiction.” He sounds like a little leaguer shrugging off a home run.

Then he’s off, down the hallway to get Judge Scott Bradley on the horn.
The police department was busy, for a Thursday, and waiting to talk to Dempsey felt like waiting for a dinner table at a popular restaurant. When he breezed back into the room, he said,

“Wanna see something?”

“Sure,” I said. Last time he asked that question, he showed me a consumer-model taser. It was shaped like a pager and made a terrifying snapping sound. This time, he grabbed a yellow baggie from a desktop. “Atlantic Books” was printed across the front. Dempsey fished out a nugget of tin foil.

“Sniff it,” he said. “Promise, it won’t hurt you.”

I peeled back a few layers of foil and uncovered what looked to be a candy bell, made from white chocolate flecked with something black. I lifted it to my nose and sniffed.

“For the life of me,” I said, “this is Hersey’s Cookies and Cream.”

Dempsey grinned widely, eyes electric.  “Magic mushrooms,” he said.