By Chuck Milland (as amended)
Have you ever been stopped by a traffic cop and, while he was writing a ticket or giving you a warning, got the feeling that he would just love to yank you out of the car, right through the window, and smash your face into the front fender? Have you ever had a noisy little spat with someone, and a cop cruising by call out, “Everything all right over there?”. Did you maybe sense that he really hoped that everything was not all right, that he wanted one of you to answer, “No, officer, this idiot’s bothering me”? That all he was looking for was an excuse to launch himself from the cruiser and play a drum solo on your skull with his nightstick?
Did you ever call the cops to report a crime-maybe someone stole something from your car or broke into your home-and the cops act as if it were your fault? That they were sorry the crook didn’t rip you off for more? That instead of looking for the culprit, they’d rather give you a shot in the chops for bothering them with your bullshit in the first place?
If you’ve picked up on this attitude from your local sworn protectors, it’s not just paranoia. They actually don’t like you. In fact they hate your fucking guts! And for a number of very good reasons. The guy in uniform makes his living breaking up fights, rolling on the ground with bad asses, pulling people out of flaming car wrecks, shooting it out with dangerous felons, patrolling dark alleys at four in the morning and chasing drug dealers through housing projects. What the fuck do you do? Sell Insurance? With the exception of actual military combat, nothing impresses cops or is of any real importance. Real danger, up close and personal, is an integral possibility of police work. Cops feel like their ases are literally on the line every day; they think that putting on the badge is like pinning a big target on their chests, urging the rest of the world, “Take your best shot!” Every single day, a cop’s main concern is getting through his tour duty without being assassinated or crippled. Cops’ views of their personal dangers make them disdainful of lesser matters such as a private citizen’s dipshit problems or what a big-fucking wheel businessman someone is in the kumquat industry.
Besides civilians are so goddamn stupid. They leave things lying around, just begging thiefs to steal them. They park cars in high crime areas and leave portable TVs, cameras, wallets, purses, coats, luggage, grocery bags, and briefcases in plain view on the seat. Oh, sure, maybe they’ll remember to close all the windows and lock the doors, but do you know how easy it is to bash a car window? How fast it can be done? A ten-year-old can do it in less than six seconds! And a poor cop has another Theft from Auto on his hands. Another crime to write a report on, waste another half hour on. Another crime to make him look bad.
Meanwhile, the asshole who left the family heirlooms on the backseat in the first place is raising hell about where were the cops when the car was being looted. He’s planning to write a irate letter to the mayor and the police commissioner complaining about what a lousy police force you have here; they can’t even keep my car from getting ripped off! What, were the cops doing, drinking coffee somewhere?
And the cops are saying to themselves, let me tell ya, fuckhead, we were seven blocks away, taking another stupid report from another jerkoff civilian about his fucking car being broken into because he left his shit on the backseat too!
These civilians can’t figure out that maybe they shouldn’t leave stuff lying around unattended where anybody can just pick it up and boogie. Maybe they should put the shit in the trunk, where no one but Superman is gonna see it. Maybe they should do that before they get to wherever they’re going, just in case some riffraff is hanging around watching them while the car is being secured.
Another thing that drives cops wild is the ‘surely this doesn't apply to me’ syndrome, which never fails to reveal itself at scenes of sniper or barricade incidents. There’s always some asshole walking down the street (or jogging or driving) who thinks the police cars blocking off the area, the ropes marked Police Line Do Not Cross: The cops crouched behind cars pointing revolvers and carbines and shotguns and bazookas at some building. All of this has nothing whatsoever to do with him so he weasels around the barricades or slithers under the restraining ropes and blithely continues on his way, right in to the field of fire.
The result is that some cop risks his ass (or hers) to go after the cretin and drag him, usually under protest, back to safety. All of these cops, including the one risking his ass, devoutly hope that the sniper will get off one miraculous shot and drill the idiot right between the horns, which would have two immediate effects: The quiche-of-brains civilian would be dispatched to the next world, and every cop on the scene would instantaneously be licensed to kill the scum bag doing the sniping. Whereupon the cops would destroy the whole fucking building, sniper and all, in about 30 seconds, which is what they wanted to do in the first place, except the brass wouldn’t let them because the mother-fucker hadn’t killed anybody yet.
Another ploy of mopey civilians is ‘I don’t know how to work my alarm so when I set it off I’ll just wait for the police and tell them it was an accident.’ Cops would like to wire a bomb to this guys alarm and let him set it off. They have may have just come from the other side of the district with lights and sirens going risking life and limb; and some ‘Mickey the Mope’ just smiles and tells our boys in blue, “I just bumped the button sorry”. Most cops will forgive this once even twice, but when it is the same place everyday it makes cops nuts. What they are actually hoping for is for some rotten type to get into our mope’s house and the dispatcher will put the dispatch card on the side because it is a regular. Then Mickey can be cleaned out good proper.
Another allied phenomenon is the ‘my isn’t this amusing’ behavior exhibited usually by Yuppies or other members of higher society, at some emergency scenes. For example, a group of trendy types will be strolling down the street when a squad car with lights flashing and siren on screeches up to a building. They’ll watch the cops yank out their guns and run up to the door, flatten themselves against the wall, and peep into the place cautiously, Now if you think about it, something serious could be happening here. Cops usually don’t pull their revolvers to go get a cup of coffee. They usually don’t hug the sides of buildings just before dropping in to say hello. Any five-year-old ghetto kid can tell you these cops are definitely ready to cap somebody. But do our society friends perceive this. Do they stay out of the cops’ way? Course not! They think it’s vastly amusing. And, of course, since they’re not involved in this funny little game the cops are playing, they think nothing can happen to them?
While the ghetto kid is hiding behind a car waiting for the shooting to start Muffy and Chip and Biffy are continuing their stroll, right up to the officer muttering among themselves about how silly the cops look, all scrunched up against the wall, trying to look through the door without stopping bullets with their foreheads.
What the cops are hoping at this point is for a homicidal holdup man to come busting out the door with a sawed-off shotgun. They’re hoping it is loaded with elephant shot, and that he immediately identifies one of the socialites as serious threats to his personal well-being. They’re hoping he has just enough ammunition to blow the shit out of the gigglers, but not enough to return fire when the cops open up on him.
Of course, if that actually happened the poor cops will be in a world of trouble for not protecting the ‘innocent bystanders.’ The brass wouldn’t even want to hear that the shitheads probably didn’t have enough sense to come in out of an acid rain. Somebody out to tell all the quiche eaters out there to stand back when the encounter someone with a gun in his hand wether he happens to be wearing a badge or a ski mask.
Civilians also aggravate cops in a number of other ways. One of their favorite games is “Officer, can you tell me?” A cop knows he’s been selected to play these game whenever someone approaches and utters those magic words. Now, it’s okay if they continue with “... where such-and-such a place is located?” After all, cops are supposed to be familiar with the area in which they work. But it eats out the lining of their stomachs when some jerk-off asks, “Where can I catch the number fifty-four bus?” or, “Where can I find a telephone?”
Cops look forward to their last day before retirement, when they can safely give these douche bags the answer they’ve been chocking back for 20 years: “No, maggot, I can’t tell you where the fifty-four bus runs! What does this look like, a CTA uniform? Go ask a fucking bus driver! And no, dog breath, I don’t know where you can find a phone, except wherever your fucking eyes see one! Take your head out of your ass and look for one.”
And cops just love to find a guy parking his car in a crosswalk next to a fire hydrant at a bus stop posted with a sign saying, “Don;t even think about stopping, standing, or parking here. Car towed away, forfeited to the government and sold at public auction” and the jerk asks, “Officer, may I park here a minute?”
“What, are you nuts? Of course you can park here! As long as you like! Leave it there all day! You don’t see anything that says you can’t, do ya? You’re welcome. See you later.” The cop then drives around the corner and calls a tow truck to remove the vehicle. Later, in traffic court, the idiot will be whining to the judge, “But your Honor, I asked an officer if I could park there, and he said I could! No, I don’t know which officer, but I did ask! Honest! No, wait judge, I can’t afford five hundred dollars! This isn’t fair! I am not creating a disturbance! I’ve got rights! Get your hands off me! Where are you taking me? What do you mean, ten days for contempt of court? What did I do? Wait, wait ......” If you should happen to see a cop humming contentenly and smiling to himself for no apparent reason, he may have just won this game.
Wildly unrealistic civilian expections also contribute to a cop’s distaste for the general citizenry. An officer can be running his ass off all day or night handling call after call and writing volumes of police reports, but everybody thinks their problem is the only thing he has to work on. The policeman may have a few worries, too. Ever thing of that? The sergeant is on him because he’s been late for roll call a few days; he’s been battling like a badger with his wife, who’s just about to leave him because he never takes her anywhere an doesn’t spend enough time at home and the kids need braces and the station wagon needs a major engine overhaul and where were we gonna get the money to pay for all that and we haven’t had a real vacation for years and all you do is hang around with other cops and you’ve been drinking too much lately and I could have married that wonderful guy I was going with when I met you and lived happily ever after and why don’t you get a regular job with regular days off and no night shifts and decent pay and a chance for advancement and no one throwing bottles or taking wild pot shots at you?
Meanwhile, that sweet young thing he met on a call last month says her period is late. Internal Affairs is investigating him on fucking up a disorderly last week; the captain is pissed at him for tagging a councilman’s car; a burglar’s tearing up the businesses on his post; and he’s already handled two robberies, three family fights, a stolen auto, and a half dozen juvenile complaints today.
Now here he is, on another juvenile call, trying to explain to some bimbo, who‘s the president of her neighborhood improvement association, that the security of Western Civilization is not really threatened all that much by the kids who hang around on the corner by her house. “Yes officer, I know they’re not there now. They always leave when you come by. But after you’re gone, they come right back, don’t you see, and continue their disturbance. It’s intolerable! I’m so upset, I can barely sleep at night!”
By now, the cop’s eyes have glazed over. “What we need here, officer,” she continues vehemently, “is greater attention to this matter by the police. You and some other officers should hide and stake out the corner so those renegades wouldn’t see you. Then you could catch them in the act!”
“Yes ma’am we’d love to take out that corner a few hours every night, since we don’t have anything else two do, but I’ve got a better idea,” he’d like to say. “Here’s a box of fragmentation grenades the department obtained from the Army just for situations like this. The next time you see those little fuckers out there, just lob a couple of these into the crowd and get down!”
Or he’s got an artsy-craftsy type who’s moved into a tough, rundown neighborhood and decided it’s got to be cleaned up. You know, ‘Urban Pioneers.’ The cops call them volunteer victims. Most of them are intelligent, talented, hard-working, well-paid folks with masochistic chromosomes interspersed among their otherwise normal genes. They have nice jobs, live in nice homes, and have a lot of nice material possessions, and they somehow decide that it would be just marvelous idea to move into a slum and get yoked, roped, looted, and pillaged on a regular basis. What else do they expect? Peace and harmony? It’s like tossing a juicy little pig into a piranha tank.
Moving day: Here come the pioneers, dropping all their groovy gear from their Volvo station wagon, setting it on the sidewalk so everyone on the block can get a good look at the food processor, the microwave, the stereo system, the color TV, the tape deck etc.... At the same time, the local burglars are appraising the goods unofficially and calculating how much they can get for the TV down at the corner bar, how much the stereo will bring at Joe’s Garage, who might want the take deck at the barbershop, and maybe mama can use the microwave herself.
When the pioneers get ripped off, the cops figure they asked for it, and they got it. You want to poke your arm through the bars of a tiger cage? Fuck you! Don’t be amazed when he eats it for lunch! The cops regard it as naive for trendies to move into crime zones and conduct their lives the same way they did up on Society Hill. In fact, they can’t fathom why anyone who didn’t have to would want to move there at all, regardless of how they want to live or how prepared they might be to adapt their behavior. That’s probably because the cops are intimately acquainted with all those petty but disturbing crimes and the nastily little incidents that never make the newspapers but profoundly affect the quality of life in a particular area.
Something else that causes premature aging among cops is the ‘I don’t know who to call, so I’ll call the police’ ploy. Why, the cops ask themselves, do they get so many calls for things like water leaks, sick cases, bats in houses, and the like things that have nothing whatsoever to do with law enforcement or the maintenance of public order? They figure it’s because civilians are getting more and more accustomed to having the government solve problems for them, and the local P.D. is the only government agency that will even answer the phone at 3:00 A.M. let alone send anybody.
So, when the call comes over the radio to go to such-and-such an address for a water leak, the assigned officer rolls his eyes, acknowledges, responds, surveys the problem, and tells the complainant, “Yep, that’s a water leak all right! No doubt about it, You probably ought to call a plumber! And it might not be a bad idea to turn off you main valve for a while.” Or, “Yep, your Aunt Minnie’s sick all right! Maybe you ought to get her to a doctor tomorrow if she doesn't get any better by then.” Or, “Yep, that’s a bat all right! Maybe you ought to open the windows so it can fly outside again!”
In the meantime, while our hero is wasting time on this bullshit call, maybe someone is having a real problem out there, like getting raped, robbed or killed. Street cops would like to work the phones just once and catch a few of these idiot complaints: “A bat in hour house? No need to send an officer when I can tell you what to do right here on the phone pal! Close all your doors and windows right away. Pour gasoline all over your furniture. That's it. How set it on fire and get everybody outside! Yeah, you’ll get the little mother fucker for sure! That’s okay; Call us anytime.”
Probably the most serious beef cops have with civilians relates to those situations in which the use of force becomes necessary to deal with some desperado who may have just robbed someone or beat up his wife and kids, or wounded some cop, and now he’s caught but won’t give up. He’s not going to be taken alive, he’s going to take some cops with him, and you better say your prayers, you pig bastards! Naturally, if the chump’s armed with any kind of weapon, the cops are going to shoot the shit out of him so bad they’ll be able to open up his body later as a lead mine. If he’s not armed and the cops aren't creative enough to find a weapon for him, they’ll just beat him into raw meat and hope he spends the next few weeks in traction. They view it as a learning experience for the asshole. You fuck up somebody, you find out what it feels like to get fucked up. Don’t like it? Don’t do it again! It’s called “Street Justice,” and civilians approve of it as much as cops do-even if they don’t admit it.
Remember how the audience cheered when Charles Broson fucked up the bad guys in Death Wish? How they scream with joy every time Clint Eastweed’s Dirty Harry makes his day by blowing up some rotten scumball with his .44 magnum? What they applaud is the administration of street justice. The old eye-for-an-eye concept, one of mankind most primal instincts. All of us have it, especially cops.
It severely offends and deeply hurts cops when they administer a dose of good old-fashoned street justice only to have some bleeding-heart do-gooder happen upon the scene at the last minute, when the hairbag is at last getting his just deserts, and start hollering about police brutality. Cops regard that as very serious business indeed. Brutality can get them fired. Get fired from one police department, and it’s tough to get a job as a cop anywhere else ever again.
Brutality exposes the cop to civil liability as well. Also, his superior officers, the police department as an agency, and maybe even the local government itself. You’ve seen those segments on 60 minutes, right? Some cop screws up, gets sued along with everybody else in the department who ever had anything to do with him, and the city or county ends up paying the plaintiff umpty-ump million dollars, raising taxes and hocking its fire eng