Photo by Felix Koutchinski
1. “If the average person knew the state of law enforcement in this country, they couldn’t sleep at night” – from one of my academy instructor’s lectures. Nothing has changed in 28 years. There is a reason why I always carry a gun off-duty and try to talk all of my loved ones into at least owning a firearm.
2. There are a lot fewer of us out on the street than you know. Take your local agency’s head count, lop off about 20 percent for administrative assignments, then divide the remaining amount by three or four (shifts). Then subtract about a quarter for those on days off/sick days/limited duty/training/vacation. Make it a busy night and no cars will be available and the calls pile up… and pile up.
3. After about three years, most officers become civil service workers. They are not looking to invent new case law or do more paperwork. At five to seven years, most officers think about another line of work. If they pass that hurdle, they can last 20. At 20 plus years, unless you are driving like you are competing in the Indy-500, you’re not getting stopped and you have to really, really work to be arrested.
4. The job is not nearly as exciting as portrayed on Cops or other television shows. There is an inordinate amount of paperwork – at times it seems like we are glorified secretaries with guns.
5. When we arrive on scene, we instantaneously know who is going to jail: the guy with no shirt (or wearing a “wife-beater”) with a mullet, usually standing in the middle of the road puffing up.
6. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, good happens after midnight.
7. Don’t expect me to fix in under 15-minutes what took you ten years to destroy.
8. Don’t expect me to raise your kids. You decided for years to raise feral children with no discipline or sense of social responsibility, I can’t do much in a few minutes.
9. None of us care who you know. If you had any real juice; you’d not say anything, but would just smile and accept the citation or arrest and magically, behind the scenes, things would be fixed. I’ve dealt with the really connected people and have seen how they can manipulate the system – and that obviously ain’t you.
10. You can’t get our badge. Trust me, we hear that all the time. Just like how you will sue – get in line. Again, if you had power, you’d be as inconspicuous as possible.
11. Attitude goes a long way. I’ve cited people I originally was going to warn and warned people who I was going to cite. Same with arrests.
12. If we have to fight you or shoot you, we will be the first to give you medical treatment.
13. We are not trained as social workers or psychologists but that is a big portion of our jobs. When no one else is available or can help, it seems like a good time to call the police department.
14. When we are trying to help you and you feel like we are trying to shove a square peg into a round hole – we feel the same way. The laws and policies don’t make much sense to us either.
15. Law enforcement is one of only two jobs where everyone is an “expert” with no training or experience. The other one is being a head football coach.
16. I sincerely apologize when we forget to be empathic. While this our 500th burglary, this is your first time being violated. While this is our 200th dead body call, it’s your first.
17. I don’t care about your prior bad experience with law enforcement. I’m here now. I’ve had bad experiences with plumbers, physicians and barbers, but I don’t stereotype a whole profession off of one experience.
18. Our cars aren’t much different than yours. Sure we have a snazzy paint job, some special lights and a radio, but we can get as stuck as easily as you, we can have an accident just like you and we can’t stop on a dime. And, we’re limited on how fast we can get to a call. We can’t go warp speed nor get traffic to part, like Moses did with the sea.
19. We really don’t care what race, sex or ethnic group you belong to, we are trying to get this issue resolved before going to the next call.
20. We all H-A-T-E when you scare your young kids by threatening them by telling them we will arrest them. Really? Way to make your kids the next generation of cop-haters and they are now petrified to approach us if they’re in danger or lost.