June Hawkins and Alan Singleton teamed up to bring Colombian drug queen Griselda Blanco to justice, and a decade after the case, they fell in love
However, it wasn’t while they were on the job and working on the case.
“We were both married to other people at the time,” Miami native Hawkins, 73, tells PEOPLE. “Cops don’t have real good track records when it comes to their marriages.”
She matter-of-factly throws off all the reasons why, namely: stress from the job. Shift work. Insane hours.
“As a group, we tend to get divorced a lot,” Hawkins, who was a single mom, says.
So it was perhaps better that the two didn’t reunite until after both had their wilder cop times behind them.
The two were working in the homicide bureau when they met in 1979 and only started dating 10 years later when Hawkins left and began working in criminal intelligence for the Special Investigations division.
Hawkins was one of the first female police officers in Miami and also one of the first two female Hispanic officers, according to the Hispanic Police Officer Association. Her mother was Cuban, and her dad was from North Carolina, but she was raised with her sister in Miami.
Singleton, now 74, was a former Marine who had come down from a small town in Ohio after a friend told him Miami had job opportunities. They both came on board during the heyday of the Miami drug lords, known as the Columbian Cocaine Cowboys, in the 1980s.
“Talk about a culture shock,” says Singleton. “June was our Columbian expert who spoke Spanish and was a good investigator. And she was also the prettiest cop on the force.”
Singleton was impressed with how good she was at analyzing the information and putting it all together.
“All these cases were related, but we didn’t know that. She tied them all together,” Singleton says. “She was pretty, but she had a good brain and made it all make sense.”
The former colleagues got reacquainted when Singleton was approached by the late author Richard Smitten, who was writing a book on Griselda Blanco. The book, titled The Godmother, was one of the inspirations for the Netflix series.
Singleton then called Hawkins to see if she was interested in talking to Smitten.
“Those lunches and those meetings with Smitten became the way we rekindled,” Hawkins says. “It was comfortable for me because I knew Alan from when we were coworkers and I trusted him. He was a real gentleman.”
On their first date, the movie they had planned to see was sold out, so they grabbed a pizza and went back to the unfurnished apartment Singleton was renting, where they ate out of a cardboard box. His divorces, she says, had left the father of two sons “financially compromised.”
The couple lived together for many years before deciding to get married in 2004.
“I wasn’t all that enthused about getting married again. I said if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” Hawkins says. “But after we moved up here to Tennessee and retired, the legal things made it a lot easier if you are married.”
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And in typical no-nonsense Hawkins style, the actual wedding ended up being an impromptu affair at the local courthouse. The two had gone just to get a date on the court calendar.
“The lady at the desk says, 'Just a minute, honey, let me see what I can do,'" Hawkins says. "'I'll see if the judge has a minute.' We didn’t have witnesses, so he says, ‘I’ll get Mabel and Lucy’ or whatever, and then boom, boom, we get married.”
Hawkins says she would have been happy spending her retirement years with her family.
“Alan wound up retiring and then became a volunteer firefighter here for a few years,” Hawkins says. “I thought, ‘He’s out of his gourd.’ I don’t want anything to do with any kind of police work afterward.”
Yet she got sucked in as a consultant on Griselda.
“We have to collaborate because we can’t remember everything. That was 40 years ago,” Hawkins says. “He kept good notes, so he’ll look at them when there’s a question. There were so many cases and so many murders. It’s hard to remember if that was the guy found stuffed in the TV box or the one found on the side of the road.”
The creators turned her into a supporting character, while Singleton is only shown in the final episodes. However, he helps her with her consulting gig.
“I’m pretty much off to one side,” Singleton says when asked if he works on the show. “If it ever happens again, I’m getting my own agent.”
Griselda is currently airing on Netflix.
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