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What Being a Cop Has Taught Me, Pt 2

Last month I wrote an article in which I described some of the things I’ve learned from my more than thirty-three years in law enforcement. That piece drew such positive reaction that I decided to write, “What Being A Cop Has Taught Me, Part 2.

  • When you’re new on the job, your shift always seems to end much too quickly. As you near retirement, the end of your shift can’t come soon enough.
  • A fixed foot post in bad weather seems to last forever.
  • One of the most uncomfortable traffic stops is pulling over a fellow officer.
  • Decision time: whether or not to continue to chase a subject down a long gangway and around a corner.
  • Worst feeling: someone trying to take your weapon from its holster.
  • Best feeling: helping deliver a baby.
  • Never leave your squad car unlocked, even when bailing out for a foot chase.
  • Always cuff behind and always double lock. Few exceptions.
  • Never verbally spar with defense attorneys, particularly in jury trials.
  • Turn off your siren when you arrive on the scene.
  • Despite how tactical you are when approaching a shooting call or a crime in progress, one of your colleagues will show with their emergency equipment activated.
  • Thugs are amazed when you run after them and catch them.
  • Never take the elevator in public housing.
  • Nurses and cops are kindred spirits; we feel comfortable in each other’s company.
  • Always check under the seats and trunk of your unit before leaving the lot. If you find a weapon, you need to document it.
  • In big cities like Chicago, kids will open fire hydrants in the summer to cool off. When you come by and shut them off, the neighborhood residents will call you every name in the book as you drive away. Ten minutes later, you’ll get a call to shut off the same hydrant.
  • It’s best to wear civies to and from the job. The less people that know you’re a cop, the better off you are.
  • Friends and relatives will want you to intercede on their behalf for tickets they've received.
  • New Year’s Eve is a dangerous night to work. Parking beneath a bridge or viaduct is the best place to be at the stroke of midnight.
  • While a fresh coating of snow makes even the worst neighborhoods look beautiful, the snow can be a cop’s worst enemy. Not only is it slippery, but snow hides objects and sometimes small holes that can wreak havoc on a cop chasing someone down.
  • Holidays are a good time for catching fugitives. Many will want to be with relatives at that time.
  • Sometimes when you catch a juvenile for some minor offense and bring him home to his parents, the parents will be angry that you didn't bring the kid to jail.
  • Watch not only the hands of an individual, but their eyes as well. If you see the eyes darting around, your thug is preparing to bolt.
  • Putting a suspect on their knees or on the wall, doesn't guarantee immobility. Thugs practice getting out of these positions and can be gone in a heartbeat.
  • Disputes between neighbors are never satisfactorily concluded. One of the neighbors will always feel slighted. You will likely often return to mediate another argument.
  • If an arrestee tells you his cuffs are on too tightly, agree with him and tell him you’ll adjust them at the station. He’s likely wanting to attempt an escape.
  • If you see a group of thugs standing around, look for a child or a woman close by - they’ll have the gun you’re looking for.
  • You can’t afford to lose a fight.
  • It’s not like TV. When you try to kick in the door, it may take a multiple attempts. Even then it may not open.
  • Despite all the bad things that happen, and the terrible people you encounter, being a cop is still the best job on earth. There’s nothing else like it; that’s why people will always ask, “What’s it like being a cop?”

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