Do cops have an attitude? Well, yeah. Sometimes. Let me explain why.
Whether you believe it or not, we took this job because we enjoy helping people. We see things that are wrong, and we want to fix them. People call us to their assistance, ask us for help, then often times fight us when we try to provide it.
We go from call to call, usually visiting the worst parts of people's lives. Sometimes because they are the suspect, and sometimes because they are the victim.
We took this job knowing that we won't be rich, and we won't always be the best-liked people in town. But that's OK, because we believe in what we do.
Ask yourself this question: What is the first thought that goes through your head when you see a police officer drive by? Is it, "Thank you for being here," or is it, "There goes my tax dollars at work. He's probably late for lunch"? Now, what is the first thought that goes through your head when you see a fire truck or an ambulance? Have you ever thought that they were on their way for a donut? (Don't get mad at me, firefighters and paramedics. It's just a joke.)
I heard a good joke from a fireman a while ago. It goes, "Cops and firemen both have one thing in common. They both want to be firemen." I thought it was pretty funny.
In the course of our duties, we hear many things from people. Many of those things we have heard hundreds and hundreds of times, and generally from people who are less than pleased with our presence at that moment. When we hear one of these comments for the 9 millionth time, especially during a time that we may not be at our happiest self, we may sometimes, just sometimes, be a tad short.
I would like to share some of the things we hear repeatedly from suspects and citizens, and some of the comments we keep to our inside voice. Until now ...
- "These aren't my pants!" I'm serious. Ask any police officer what the No. 1 thing is that anyone will tell them when contraband is discovered in their pockets. Really? They're not your pants? Is that the best you got?
And you can't tell if the pants belong to them by the way they fit, because of today's worst fashion trend ever. Which is buying pants 10 sizes too big so they hang down below your underwear. Don't even get me started with that one!
- "It wasn't me! It was him! Take him!" This statement is usually yelled at us as a joke. Usually in reference to their buddy close by, and usually after the both of them have a couple of drinks in them. Look, I understand the joke, but it's not funny anymore! Please stop! And come to think about it, it really wasn't funny the first time either. Sorry.
- "I pay your salary!" This is usually yelled at us by someone that has done something wrong, and is unhappy about their current consequences, which usually entails being arrested. When you yell "I pay your salary" at us, you will most likely get your money's worth. We will make sure your photograph and fingerprints are taken to the very best of our ability.
- "I'll have your badge for this!" This is usually yelled at us after an arrest, by a person who disagrees with being arrested. I have often thought, "You can have it!" It just isn't worth me trying to explain to you that just because you hit your spouse in your own home, it is still illegal.
- "Why don't you go stop that guy!?" This is usually yelled at us when we have pulled a car over for a traffic violation, and while citing the driver, he or she sees another car drive past committing some sort of traffic violation.
Well, I hate to point out the obvious, so I won't. I still haven't found a witty answer to this one, but I generally ask, "And how do you propose I do that while I'm talking with you?"
Since the only honest answer would be, "You should stop writing my ticket, run back to your car, drive 100 mph through Kettleman Lane traffic like Ponch and John chasing a flaming car full of armed bank robbers, then give them the ticket instead," I usually don't receive an answer to that one.
Most importantly though, if you are too young to remember who Ponch and John are, that means I'm officially getting old. It was bound to happen sooner or later, I suppose.
Any comments, questions or advice for Behind the Badge can be e-mailed to Jeanie Biskup at firstname.lastname@example.org; mailed to Lodi Police Department, 215 W. Elm St., Lodi, CA 95240; or asked by phone at 333-6864.