The unknowns of on-duty

For those who think police work doesn’t require people who can think outside of the box, here are some of the calls attributed to U.S.-based police agencies in a recent cursory Internet search of the news using only the word “police” as a search parameter. According to my search, police across the country:

  • Found the remains of a toddler in a box in a vacant house.
  • Investigated a man who alleged tried to drown his girlfriend in her bathtub.
  • Were analyzing at an incident where a high school football player stood accused of assaulting another player at a football game.
  • Rescued a family from a burning house.
  • Arrested a horseback rider who was apparently riding while intoxicated.
  • Went on multiple high speed chases all around the country.
  • Searched for a perpetrator who tried to yank a girl out of her home by reaching into her bedroom window.
  • Checked on a report that a cab driver, enraged at a passenger, may have used pepper spray and fired a bullet in connection with that incident.
  • Dealt with multiple reports of children shot to death in criminal acts.
  • Raided smoke shops for fake cannabis.
  • Continued to investigate countless disappearances, many of which involved young people and elderly individuals who’d left nursing home care.
  • Arrested a woman who unwittingly (and in a stroke of very bad judgment) tried to sell her services to an officer.
  • Reportedly found a boat and a music store stuffed with marijuana in two separate incidents.
  • Solved dozens of homicides from coast to coast.
  • Caught an escaped offender who was on the run.
  • Dealt with attacks on officers using weapons that ranged from vehicles to guns to hammers.
  • Investigated what police believe was the starving death of a toddler.

And that lists reflects only the results of the first few pages of my search. So what’s my point?

Years ago, a civilian friend of mine suggested I write a memoir about my time working as a police officer. I told her any cop could do that because it’s such an interesting job. And no one would ever believe it, outside of other cops, because every day is an adventure of some sort.

And that’s what makes the job fascinating to some and a nightmare to others. I can say with complete truth that what I liked best about my time behind the badge was the sheer variety of the work. The idea of never knowing what was going to happen when your shift started, never having any guarantees when you answered a call or worked a case, made boredom impossible. Police work isn’t for those who crave sameness, routine or reassurance.

What makes a good cop is the ability to find the challenge in each moment on the job. I never got rich or famous while in police work, but I’ve also never found another career as fascinating or worthwhile. I wouldn’t trade my experiences for all of the nine-to-five office jobs in the world, no matter what they paid.

If you are lucky enough to still be behind the badge, you’re one of the special few who can handle anything this extraordinary job throws at you. If you really think about it, that’s not such a bad way to spend a good chunk of your life.