Cop Talk 16: RUN FOR YOUR LIFE
Wearing a police uniform has always been a tough row to hoe. Unfortunately the uniform of the Detroit Police Department is navy blue in color. This allowed it to show every piece of lint and dirt it came into contact with. No matter how much time you spent polishing and ironing your uniform, your work could ruined by the splash of a puddle, or by simply rubbing up against a dusty shelf. When this happened an officer would be forced to go into his cat mode, licking and brushing in an attempt to reestablish the gleaming appearance he started the shift with. You are a representative of law enforcement when you wear that uniform, I always felt it was imperative to look my very best no matter what the circumstances were. I was representing not only myself, but also everyone else wearing a badge. Maybe because of the effort we made to maintain this appearance, the public always seemed to enjoyed watching an officer have a misfortune when it came to those uniforms. Watch a cop, slip and fall in the mud, and I can guarantee his picture will be plastered over every media outlet available. The laughing is loud and deep, and many people will scream at the top of their lungs, to bring more “laughers” to the scene. Who wants to miss a cop looking like he just emerged from a pig waller. So not only are we trying to catch bad guys, we are also on alert to avoid these laugh-fests. One of my favorite uniform accidents are split police pants. There is simply no way to hide that one and it usually happens at an outdoor scene where you have to stand with your drawers flapping in the breeze for hours. The most dreaded of all is bird droppings. When you think about it, the odds are the same as hitting the lottery. Problem with the odds, is it allows other police officers to join in the laughter. No matter who you are a load of well placed pigeon crap on a navy blue cap or shoulder is funny. The worse part is it does not cleanup easily and even if you can remove most of it, the smell still lingers. It can make for a long day wearing a soiled cap. Although I have never been hit by our airborne friends, I have had two partners who took incoming bird poo. The look on their faces was definitely worth a few giggles.
I have talked about how critical experience is concerning police work. Obviously we cannot control when or where a bird has to dump, but we can try to dodge puddles, and wear looser pants to avoid some of these embarrassing incidents. I learned a valuable lesson one day when they were going to demolish a five story building near my precinct. The demolition experts decided the quickest method would be to blow it up. I think everyone in the neighborhood wanted to see how it was done because it was surrounded by other buildings. My partner and I were two of the curious. To assure safety the construction crew had barricaded off several city blocks surrounding the target building. Detonation had been set for 10:00a.m. and the gathering crowd could get no closer than a hundred yards. Everyone was anticipating the explosion as they counted down. A series of loud booms signified the start of the collapse. Proud and professional like eagles looking for prey, my partner and I had positioned ourselves as close as possible. The building began crashing in on itself when we realized something bad was happening. We were quickly transformed from eagles into turkeys with straining necks. The building was coming down and rising out of it was an evil-looking debris cloud, which began to boil. Like an avalanche racing down the Matterhorn, it thundered in our direction. Momentarily stunned the crowd had been frozen, but now they began screaming and turned to run. We never attempted to stop anyone, as we went from turkeys to gooney birds and began flapping in the same direction as the rest of the crowd. Not one of us stood a chance and we were soon overrun by the thick dust.
It was all over in minutes. I stood there in my now white navy blue uniform which was completely covered from the top of my hat, to the tip of my toes with dust. To make if even more comical, my thick eyebrows and mustache now matched my uniform. Everyone around me had also been dusted like a biscuit and we all stood laughing. Now here is the lesson part. Before the detonation I had noticed quite a few construction workers gathering at the site. What struck me as odd, was most of them were inside of vehicles which were positioned facing the crowd. I now understood why and was sure this wasn't the first time they enjoyed such a show. With another lesson learned, I gained some satisfaction because the crowd had been given a dose of their own medicine. I had to admit it was pretty funny. I would always think back on this incident for the rest of my career. If my hat blew off and was crushed by a passing car, I would think back to that crowd fleeing for their lives with that dust cloud hot on their heels. My giggling would immediately temper my frustration, making it that much easier to pickup my bent hat.
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“Cop Talk” Archives
- Cop Talk 1, Training Day
- Cop Talk 2, Working the Street
- Cop Talk 3, The Referee
- Cop Talk 4, Domestic Violence
- Cop Talk 5, Lady Scammers
- Cop Talk 6, Dogs and Cops
- Cop Talk 7, Motorcycle Gang
- Cop Talk 8, Should Have Kept the Front Door Locked
- Cop Talk 9, The Rookie Years
- Cop Talk 10, Ricky Gets High
- Cop Talk 11, My First Fire
- Cop Talk 12: Cops and Dogs
- Cop Talk 13: Lessons Learned
- Cop Talk 14: The Dragon
- Cop Talk 15: Felix the Cat
- Cop Talk 16: You can’t make this shit up