Thursday, January 17, 2008

Police Brutality !

Writers get used to is other people telling them what an easy job it is. People often say, “Oh, I’m gonna write a book too.” Luckily, I had the best training for putting up with inadvertently insulting comments. It’s called police work. A job where everyone who ever saw Law and Order or CSI thinks they are qualified to be a cop. The best essay I ever saw on this is posted below. If anyone knows the author please let me know so I can give credit and my appreciation. I heard it was an officer with the L.A.P.D. but I have been unable to confirm it.

I may have posted about this before. If I did, I apologize. Patty Smiley sent me the link at the bottom of the post. It’s a joke answering machine message for a police department but echoes many things that cops face. It reminded me of this essay.

So thanks, Patty for coming up with this week’s blog.

Cop Harrassment author unknown

Recently, a California web site ran an e-mail forum (a question and answer exchange) where the topic was "Policing the Community."

One of the civilian email participants posed the following question:

"I would like to know how it is possible for police officers to continually harass people and get away with it?"

From the "other side" (the law enforcement side) a cool cop with a sense of humor replied:

"It is not easy. In California we average one cop for every 2,000 people. About 60% of those cops are on patrol, where we do most of the harassing. One- fifth of that 60% are on duty at any given moment and are available for harassing people. So, one cop is responsible for harassing about 10,000 residents. When you toss in the commercial, business and tourist locations that attract people from other areas, sometimes you have a situation where a
single cop is responsible for harassing 20,000 or more people each day.

A ten- hour shift runs 36,000 seconds. This gives a cop one second to harass a person, and three -fourths of a second to eat a donut, AND then find a new person to harass. This is not an easy task. Most cops are not up to it, day in and day out. It is just too tiring. What we do is utilize some tools to help us narrow down those people, which we harass.

They are as follows:

People will call us up and point out things that cause us to focus on a person for special harassment. "My neighbor is beating his wife" is a code phrase we use. Then we come out and give special harassment.

Another popular one on a weeknight is, "The kids next door are having a loud party."

We have special cops assigned to harass people who drive. They like to harass the drivers of fast cars, cars blasting music, cars with expired registration stickers and the like. It is lots of fun when you pick them out of traffic for nothing more obvious than running a red light.

Sometimes you get to really heap the harassment on when you find they have drugs in the car, are driving drunk, or they have an outstanding warrant.

Some people take off running just at the sight of a police officer. Nothing is quite as satisfying as running after them like a beagle on the scent of a bunny. When you catch them you can harass them for hours.

When you can think of nothing else to do, there are books that give ideas for reasons to harass folks. They are called "Codes". Penal, Vehicle, Health and Safety, Business and Professional Codes, to name a few. They spell out all sorts of things for which you can really mess with people. After you read the code, you can just drive around for a while until you find someone violating one of these listed offenses and harass them. Just last week I saw a guy smash a car window. Well, the code says that is not allowed. That meant I got permission to harass this guy.

It is a pretty cool system that we have set up, and it works pretty well, but it's never "EASY".

We seem to have a never-ending supply of folks to harass. And we get away with it. Why? Because the good citizens who pay the tab actually like the fact that we keep the streets safe for them.

Next time you are in my town, give me the single finger wave. That will be a signal that you wish for me to take a little closer look at you, and then maybe I'll find a reason to harass you!

This is Patty's contribution:


Do people tell you how to do your job? Do they think you don't have a hard job? Let's talk about this.


  1. Ohhhh, Jim. Don't get me started. Everyone who's ever seen an episode of any lawyer show, ever, thinks they know how to do my job better than me. Anyone who's had a relative, acquaintance, or cellmate who's been charged with a crime, divorced, sat on a jury, or been involved in a civil lawsuit thinks they're suddenly the greatest legal mind since Clarence freakin' Darrow and that the only reason I don't eagerly endorse their muddle-headed, crack-brained, totally loopy idea of how to handle their matter is that I'm (1) lazy, (2) stupid, (3) racist, and/or (4) in cahoots or bought off by the other side. God forbid I should ever express the suggestion that their best interest might be served by settlement.
    Oh, and it's okay if they put off paying me until, well, ever, because I'm a lawyer, therefore automatically rich, and should really be doing their case for free to right the horrible injustice done to them.
    Glad you didn't get me started.

  2. Love it.

    People think anyone who can read can be a book critic.

    But really, they don't know about the training, expertise and credentials it takes, like...

    Hmm. Wait a minute...

  3. Awesome post. I can't think of very many jobs tougher than being a cop or a firefighter.

    And yeah, people are always telling me how to do my job. I'm in corporate real estate / facilities management, and what I say about it is: anyone who lives under a roof thinks they understand real estate, and everyone who sits at a desk thinks they could do my job better - that is, if my job added any value to the company. Every once in awhile, I get a new boss, who thinks they can 'fix it' - then they walk into the political buzz saw that is my little corner of the world, and are never heard of again. It's almost as entertaining as watching Law & Order.


  4. You guys really get it. Except Dusty, because, c'mon, a lawyer? How hard can that be? Even Paul is a lawyer.


  5. Who watches Law and Order or CSI? I watched the latter once or twice with a friend, and found myself laughing. She wanted to know why, so I pointed out some of the flaws. She didn't believe me, until there was an episode where guilt was proven because bundled money can't be taken out of the denomenational markers without unsealing the wrappers. Since she was a bank teller, she knew better--and found herself suddenly disillusioned.

    I try not to put myself above professionals. However, I also realize that the professionals aren't completely flawless, every single time. I don't mean that as a criticism, merely an observation.

  6. Great post, James O. I love it when people with zero writing experience tell me they're going to write a book when they get a little time--like a month or so. I also respond with, "Good luck with that."

  7. I'm actually partial to the people who tell me what I should be writing about.

    Like the hairdresser who wants me to write a book about, you guessed it, a hairdresser who turns a client green. Yep, that one's going to shoot up the bestseller list.

    Or the man in the post office who suggested I find a way to work in a postal worker who kills. Never been done. Original thought.

    I've never understood how people can be so bold. I'd love to turn the tables and suggest that they catch a clue, but that would be impolite.

    Drives me insane.

  8. Cool topic! Welcome to the life of a graphic designer:

    Unfortunately for me, about 50% of the western world know how to use Word and/or Publisher and this automatically makes them experts.

    "Can you make that blue a bit bluer?" Can you make yourself a bit vaguer?

    "What the hell is this area with nothing in it? I'm paying for this advert, and we can squeeze heaps more info in there" Value for money is MUCH better than an effective design

    "I don't know if you were really listening to me. I need the images to really pop off the page." Do you mean as in pop-up books, or pop a cap in yo' ass?

    "I think if you use more fonts it'll make it stand out more" There are only 5 million fonts in existence... you're currently using 30% of them in one poster

    "But my friend knows Publisher really well, and had no trouble printing from it" Well obviously he must be a genius then to get around the fact that Publisher is a pile of steaming poos created so you can make invitations for your kid's birthday.

    "You know, with all of these changes I've asked for, it's taken nearly a month to get this done, and you've stopped giving me any form of helpful advice - I thought you were supposed to be the expert" Say hello to my leeeetle friend

  9. This is the most recent:

    I met with a novice film producer (he has money and has read Syd Field's book) who developed a "proprietary" 5-page film treatment in Excel that he said made screenwriting painless.

    That's the word he used - painless.

    I laughed out loud.

  10. Marcus,

    Having spent 30 years as a copywriter, nothing a client says surprises me.

  11. I have been so talentless at so MANY jobs in this life that I still astound myself--world's worst typesetter, hotel maid, prep chef, typist, high school teacher, journalist, secretary, fact-checker, etc, etc.--that I just admire anyone who can hold down a job that's NOT writing.

    If anyone has a writing idea, I'm open to listening. Usually I just say, "that's a FANTASTIC IDEA! You should so totally write a book!"

  12. As a licensed computer forensics investigator, I've actually had people say to me, "Thirty Hours? I saw on CSI, they did it right away!"

    That one and "You're too expensive, my nephew knows all about computers, I'll ask him to do this." This is when I smile, and think 'Okay, but God help you if this goes to court....'

  13. Come on, JD, everything I need to know about being a lawyer I got from reading Paul's books!

  14. I'm a teacher, so of course everyone who has a child or who has "taught" Sunday school thinks that they can do my job. Then there's always the comment about "Must be nice to have 3 months off." I prefer to think of it as an unpaid leave of absence. Then when they find out that I am a special education teacher, I always get the coment that I must be so patient. As if all children shouldn't have a patient teacher or that my children must be so difficult to teach. (Please... have they seen what's in a general education classroom, lately?) But after 28 years of teaching, I've come to realize that usually they are just expressing admiration for a job that they feel they could not do and that no offence is really intended.

  15. To our anonymous teacher,

    Anyone who has ried to teach their own children should worship teachers. I sure do.

    Working with my son on math I realized teachers are saints.

    Thanks for the comment.