Reality Check

Ask anyone in the general public about law enforcement or cops and you’ll most likely hear a tale of “that time that I was pulled over” or a second or third hand story that has been embellished with each telling. Folks outside our circle typically have a love-hate relationship with the men and women in blue.  Movies, television shows, and news media perpetuate concepts that are as true to life as our colony on Mars.

Apparently the normal life of a cop should consist of firefights ending with the evidence technician/detective/non-ballistic vest wearing tactical guru sitting on the steps of an ambulance being patted on the non-flesh wounded shoulder by a now-vindicated victim or appreciative immediate supervisor.  Or the good guy cop takes a stand against a corrupt subset of the agency and connects all of the dots necessary to tie the bad actors to whatever nasty actions they are responsible for in the beginning of the episode.

The rookies are either horrendously incompetent or are stellar superstars that unravel an incredible crime syndicate nearly single-handedly without any help. Someone is an alcoholic with at least a divorce or two under his belt, and the cranky and gruff Sergeant or Lieutenant grinds axes with the speed and intensity of a blacksmith on crack.

According to the news, cops single out entire races of folks simply because of the color of their skin, and are apparently trained and expected to dole out as much physical punishment as possible in the process.  If one were to believe the media, officers dry clean their uniforms and KKK-coward sheets all at the same time.

In reality, a normal shift is 98% absolute boredom comprised of calls for service that have nothing to do with law enforcement.

We cajole unruly children to obey their parents who don’t have the time, patience, or make any effort to actually “parent” their children. We respond to civil complaints that are ridiculous, take theft reports from professional victims who never make any effort to secure their possessions, and respond to Facebook harassment complaints where someone is being a meanie to the complainant.  We ask neighbors to turn down music or bring in a barking dog because the neighbor who called can’t deal with conflict that is on such a grand scale.

Complainants on these calls are generally upset at the end because the officer cannot resolve a non-criminal issue and provided honest feedback that may offend his or her delicate sensibilities. These things take up more of our time than the general calls for service that are actually law enforcement-related.

The remaining 2% of a shift doesn’t typically involve running gun battles or vehicle pursuits running down sidewalks with sweet Tokyo drift style cornering. But a lot of the calls in the 2% category would put a normal, untrained citizen in an adrenaline induced SNS coma. Our officers typically respond and resolve these issues as consummate professionals.

Criminal investigations take time and must negotiate hurdles along the way to safeguard the rights of everyone involved. Irregardless of the irritations those hurdles bring, we press on because as a majority, we are absolutely set on upholding everyone’s rights and don’t want haste to ruin an otherwise easy conviction.

Everyone plays a role, evidence technicians collect evidence and detectives interview those involved. Uniformed officers gather information and relay people to and from interviews. It would be nice to refer a paint chip to some national database that provides the make, model, VIN, license plate, registered owner’s name, blood type, etc.; however those databases do not exist in reality. We do what we can, not just because it’s our job, but because we would want someone to do the same for us if the roles were reversed.

Aside from the normal grind, those that do resist arrest or physically assault an officer are dealt with in a swift manner depending on the level of experience of each officer.  There is no checklist dictating a response depending on the race, color, or other demographic information of those who violate a law and decide that they are above it.  Most typically I’ve found that those who complain about use of force have never been in a simple fist-fight. let alone a situation where a split second decision can have a forever impact.

I couldn’t care less what color someone’s skin is while they are being physically combative. It’s their choice not mine that leads us down that path.  The sooner people take responsibility for their actions the better. However common sense isn’t terribly common and factual information gets in the way of a good story that could lead to a riot. Riots are great for ratings.

That’s my 2 cents for now, it’s time to go patrol the Donut.


About donutcountycop

I am a husband, father, and coach who began a career in law enforcement at a very small agency in 2003. After a deployment to Iraq with the USMC reserve in 2004, I changed agencies and moved to a “donut county” that borders a major US city in 2006. My current agency is composed of about 50 sworn officers, and is the busiest agency in our part of the donut. I am currently a mid-level supervisor who is in charge of a night shift, and serve the department in many other areas that include SWAT, FTO, and primary instruction. I’ve been around long enough to lose the illusion that I have every answer to every problem and now fully understand that my experiences have prepared me for little else than a life of wearing a badge and pistol.
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One Response to Reality Check

  1. Pingback: Get a haircut and get a real job… | Donut County Cop

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