Over twenty years ago I sat in a Criminal Law Procedure class in college that was being taught by the instructor, Kenneth Stachowski. The 6'2" string bean, ever proud to be a "Pollack", was the only Caucasian I ever knew to have an "Afro". Beyond his striking appearance was his vast knowledge. Kenny was more than just all Cop. He was the intellectual type. He started out as a chemist, grew bored and sought a challenge in life through policing that began in the City of Cleveland, Ohio, in 1957.
Ken did not walk the beat for long as his superiors recognized his intellect and intrinsic drive. He made detective, then supervisor and became one of the founding members of the Cleveland Police Division Scientific Investigative Unit, or SIU, a generation before anyone in Hollywood ever thought of the acronym CSI. As an extension of SIU Ken was one of the original members of the city's bomb squad in an era when the mob was killing their rivals with car bombs.
As impressive as his career was, what impressed me the most is what he told me one day as I sat in his office talking about the course, before going to work the road myself as a rookie officer. He said, "I would never do your job again. It's too dangerous; far beyond what I ever experienced." I was shocked. Here I was in front of a guy who had survived a quarter of a century rendering bombs safe, getting shot at, shooting at others, and walking the sidewalks in the worse areas of a city of, at that time, nearly a million residents.
Well, after nearly twenty years of police service myself, I learned the hard way. Kenny was right. The dangers of the job got worse. The Crack Wars of the early 1990s and all the systemic trash associated with it, nationwide fall out from the Rodney King Incident, Mass Casualty Incidents like the 1993 World Trade Center attack, Oklahoma City bombing, Ruby Ridge fiasco, Waco, Lucasville Prison Riot (among others), 9/11, the war zone on our southern boarder, the cooperative efforts of MS-13 and Al-Qaeda, Meth epidemic, and ...the hits just keep rolling in. Working the beat longer than five minutes, and being real with yourself, means you will finally realize that this profession requires you to have super-human qualities, to include X-Ray vision, and always make the correct decision, the first time, when nobody else can.
Today, I find myself defending cops who have done nothing wrong but everything right. Kenny spoke about the traditional external threat facing his brothers and sisters in blue. The old school criminal element was just as bad as they always were but better armed as time wore on. What Ken never mentioned was that this was not the only threat making the job so dangerous. I've found that those who empower us to be policemen and women tend to be just as bad or worse as the common street thug. Simply put; Politicians can be Cockroaches.
Actually, to clarify I should say that anyone who plays politics for their own self serving interests, at a cop's - or anyone's - expense is a cockroach. They lie, cheat, steal and use us as their instrument of authority. When an officer has unwittingly achieved the purpose for advancing their political agenda then the cockroach discards the officer like a piece of trash. Along with the officer goes their pension, at times their individual freedom, reputation, mental wellbeing, and most importantly, the prosperity, health and welfare of the officer's family. In short, the threat from within the ranks is just a detrimental as the crooks from outside of it. I have always felt that the brotherhood of policing is a fallacy. You do not intentionally hurt your family members, but cops sometimes throw each other under the bus for nothing more than to look good to their superiors.