Determined to avoid the draft, Terry became a D.C. cop in 1969. His four years with the MPD were marked by bravery—and clashes with superiors. One of the scarier moments was when Huff and partner Bob Horan cornered a notorious heroin pusher in the lobby of an apartment building. The perp pulled his gun. “In that moment, God showed me his arm,” Terry says. “[The gunman] suddenly spun around and backed up into a fire extinguisher, which started spraying everywhere.” Then Terry shot him through the right side of his chest. The dealer was paralyzed.
Soon, Huff started hearing whispers of a contract on his life. Here and there he’d get tips—on his 3rd District patrols, at the station, at home, even down on the Maryland farm where he’d lived during his foster-home days. “He was one of the most notorious guys in D.C.,” he says. “And one of the reasons I never sang in nightclubs all of the years is because I know that there are guys out there who would hurt me if they knew I was there and they could get a bead on me.”
Later, Huff and Horan tracked down a suave bank robber whom local media had labeled the Gentleman Bandit. They cuffed him in the Dupont Plaza Hotel. But, according to a Washington Post piece on the arrest, they never got to close the case—the FBI swooped in and took the Gentleman Bandit into federal custody.
Huff was quickly promoted, but his tenure didn’t last long. As he tells it, the swaggering and jockeying within the robbery squad ultimately got to him. After a string of altercations—Huff is hazy on the details—his sergeant told him, he says, to “shut up.” Terry was not amused. “I didn’t really like the quasimilitary thing. After I got into that thing with my sergeant, right in the squad room, I said, ‘You have no business speaking to me in this manner in public. Let me just say to you: I’m bigger than this job.’”
“They were always speaking to you like you had to beg for the job,” Huff says. “‘You don’t like it? Then quit.’ Well, that’s exactly what I did.” By December 1973, he was off the force and determined to get back into music.