What Is A Cop?

What is a Cop?


"It's awkward having a policeman around the house. Friends drop in, a badge answers the door, the temperature drops 20 degrees.  You are out with your brother’s friends who want to leave early because you make them feel uneasy while you quietly enjoy the campfire.


You throw a party and that badge gets in the way. All of a sudden there isn't a regular guy in the crowd. Everybody's a comedian. "Don't drink too much," somebody says, "or the man with a badge will take you in." You’ll hear “It wasn’t me”, and hear mothers tell their children “you had better straighten up or that man will arrest you” while the small child looks up at you scared.


All at once you lost your first name. You're a cop, a flatfoot, a bull, a pig. You're the fuzz, the heat; you're poison, you're trouble, you're bad news. They call you everything, but never a policeman.


It's not much of a life, unless you don't mind missing your kids game because the phone rings.  Unless you like working Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays, at a job that doesn't pay much at all. Oh, the pay's adequate-- if you count pennies you can put your kid through college, but you better plan on seeing Europe on your television set.


And then there's your first night on the road. When you try to arrest a drunken criminal who spits on you, kicks and screams, but you still have to call “Sir”.


And you're going to rub elbows with the elite-- pimps, addicts, thieves, bums, winos, girls who can't keep an address and men who don't care. Liars, cheats, con men.


And the heartbreak-- underfed kids, beaten kids, molested kids, lost kids, crying kids, homeless kids, hit-and-run kids, broken-arm kids, broken-leg kids, broken-head kids, sick kids, dying kids, dead kids. The old people nobody wants, the ones who walk the street cold, and those who tried to keep warm and then died in a room with an unventilated gas heater. You'll walk your beat and try to pick up the pieces.


You’ll remember the feel of the eight year olds ribs cracking under your palms while you try to get her to breathe again.  Open eyes staring up at you with no spark, no light, and no hope.  You’ll watch while the child dies, the mom and dad still smelling like booze from the night before walk out of the house complaining about upset stomachs.  All because the only heat they could get for free is the generator that powered the gas space heater next to their daughters room.


You’ll never forget the face of the mother whose son was just killed in the car accident that you had to take, telling her that he is dead...and then trying not to answer her screaming questions of “why?”


Do you have real adventure in your soul? You better have, because you're gonna do time in a patrol car. Oh, it's going to be a thrill a minute when you get an unknown-trouble call and hit a backyard at two in the morning, never knowing who you'll meet-- a kid with a knife, a guy with a gun, or two ex-cons with nothing to lose.


And you're going to have plenty of time to think. You'll draw hours and hours of duty in a lonely car, with nobody to talk to but your radio, and the screaming thoughts inside your head.  What if I was quicker..would she still be alive?  Is it my fault?


You’ll be the one.  The one to pull a screaming child out of their grandparent’s arms and hand them over to the heroin addicted mom and her new sex offender boyfriend.  You’ll watch as the car drives away while Grandma weeps for her granddaughter.  You’ll have to explain to the broken man that it's the law while he picks his wife up off the sidewalk.


Four years in uniform and you'll have the experiences, the heartbreak, the thoughts in your head, and the dead bodies you can’t forget to see. For every crime that's committed, you've got three million suspects to choose from. And most of the time, you'll have few facts and a lot of hunches. 


People who saw it happen - but really didn't. People who insist they did it - but really didn't. People who don't remember - those who try to forget. Those who tell the truth - those who lie. You'll run  files until your eyes ache.


And paperwork? Oh, you'll fill out a report when you're right, you'll fill out a report when you're wrong, you'll fill one out when you're not sure, you'll fill one out listing your leads, you'll fill one out when you have no leads, you'll fill out a report on the reports you've made! You'll write enough words in your lifetime to stock a library.


You'll learn to live with doubt, anxiety, frustration. Court decisions that tend to hinder rather than help you. You'll learn to live with the District Attorney, testifying in court, defense attorneys, prosecuting attorneys, judges, juries, witnesses. And sometimes you're not going to be happy with the outcome.


But there's also this: there are  alot of men and women in this country, who know that being a policeman is an endless, glamourless, thankless job that's gotta be done.


I know it too and I'm damn glad to be one of them."


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