To a Police Chief, the perfect cop is someone
who looks sharp, works hard and
doesn't expect overtime pay, makes good arrests without offending anyone, writes
detailed reports and keeps a neat, readable activity log. He is also always
available when extra help is needed, accepts work assignments willingly and comes up
with fast, favourable results. In short, a perfect cop is someone who makes the Chief
To a Prosecuting Attorney, a perfect cop
is a meticulous investigator who gathers
and documents evidence, obtains confessions to all crimes and outlines each case in
order to make the prosecutor's job easy. He doesn't object when a case is plea
bargained so the attorneys can go golfing on Friday afternoon, and doesn't
mind if an offender gets probation or a suspended sentence because it is more
convenient to make a deal than go to trial.
To a Defense Attorney, a perfect cop is a
bungling idiot who makes mistakes
and someone the defense attorney can manipulate and make angry in court, making
the attorney look good in front of his client. A perfect cop is someone who
will agree to any and all plea bargaining proposed, and whom the defense attorney can call
when he needs protection from his own client.
To the City Council, a perfect cop is someone
who does his job well without
making waves, who is grateful for a job that he willingly works nights, weekends
and holidays. He never asks for more than the city is willing to pay, does an exemplary
job without adequate equipment and tools. Best of all, he never writes tickets on any
council member or their kid.
To the People of the Community, a perfect
cop is polite, a friendly person
who walks the beat and checks out strange noises and watches for strange people. He
teaches kids right from wrong, talks to them about the evils of drug use-but
doesn't mention Mom and Dad using alcohol. He will arrest drug dealers, but overlooks kids with
a "little" pot.
To his Wife, a perfect cop never lets his
job effect his emotions. He can
spend hours dealing with drunks, domestics, drug users, injured or dead people, and
then come home and be a loving, well-adjusted husband and father.
I have been a cop for over 20 years, and
have never met a perfect cop. Only
a few have even come close, being totally honest and truly caring about people and
doing the best job they can.
But all the cops I have ever known are human.
They love, laugh, cry, hurt,
and sometimes die too young. They try to make it to retirement, although many do not.
Divorce is common. Some become alcoholics and some suffer from "police stress", seen in a
variety of emotional disorders or heart attacks. Our job is often described as 98%
boredom and 2% sheer terror.
Why do we do it? We don't really know. I hope it's because we simply care about right and wrong.