Cop Talk 18: You Are All Alike

Once you put on a police uniform, you are no longer just yourself; you are part of a group that reflects the actions of every other person involved in law enforcement.  One bad apple in the barrel spoils the whole bunch. The conduct of a police officer is constantly under the scrutiny of the public and the media. It is a rare event to see an officer performing some heroic act on the news. It is more probable to see him caught on camera sleeping or using excessive force to make an arrest. Many times these publicized incidents do not tell the whole story.  Other times they do tell the whole story. Either way, all the men and woman of law enforcement are lumped in with those officers profiled on the news. The reason for this is simply because they wear a badge and a uniform. No matter what type of officer you are, for that instance, you are the bad guy on the news, kicking someone when they are down. For the good officers this is a burden they must bear for their entire career.

I had at least one moment in my career, where I got to enjoy the very thing I despised.  How many times had I heard, “All you cops are the same.”  On this day, I got to laugh and laugh hard because we did all look alike. A full eight hours of police work can put you in a bad mood. My partner and I were having one of those days. I’ll save the daily stories and just say he stepped in dog shit getting in the car to start the shift. Needless to say he was grumpy, and with each police run it seemed his temperature was rising. It began to peak for him, after a dead body run was followed by committing a crazy person to the crisis center. Mental patients were always one of his favorites. Most of them wanted to hold his hand. He was chattering profanities as we made the Thirteenth Precinct to drop off all of our dead body, and Looney Tune paperwork. I pulled onto the ramp, and told him I would wait in the car and catch up our run sheet. He exited the car, hooting and hollering and disappeared through the precinct door. I had lied to him. I just needed a few minutes of quiet time. He had me frazzled.

Now came the good part. I was parked three spots from the precinct door and kept a watchful eye for my partner.  He was already primed and didn’t need any more fuel for his fire. He stormed out of the door and quickly made the passenger side of the scout car parked next to me. This vehicle also had an officer behind the wheel who was waiting for his partner. I could see my partner throw his ticket book on the dash. He was very animated and I could see the car rocking back and forth. His head was down and it was obvious he was writing on his clipboard. This went on for several minutes, with him talking to the other officer the entire time. Now this new partner was a good one. He sat quietly and allowed my partner to rant and rave, scribble on his paperwork and to completely vent his horrible day. After another minute or so, my partner looked up. His new partner had not said a word, and had a sly smile on his face. They locked eyes for a moment, at which time my partner attempted to wrench the whole door off the squad car so he could get out. He now approached our car, and gave the passenger door the same brutal treatment only this time it was so he could enter, not to exit. I was now holding the same pose as the other cop, with the sly smile fixed on my face. My partner was now glaring at me, and sat down into the seat with as much energy as he could generate. He opened his mouth, as I held my smile. He glanced to his right, and locked eyes with his new old partner who was now facing him still seated behind the wheel of his car. That same smile still plastered on his face. My partner spun back toward me, his mouth was still open searching for words. At that moment I completely understood why the old time steam engines came with a relief valve. My partner’s had clicked open, and emptied all that anger. We both began laughing, as did the officer next to us. We got out of our vehicles, at which time several of our co-workers exited the precinct. We all had that good tummy laugh going that would stay with you all day.  Heart felt slaps on the back, and hugs were passed around. For once, just for once we were all happy we all looked the same.

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