We've all got stereotypes about cops, right? You know, arrogant, insensitive, aggressive, elitist control freaks. I've been lumped into this category since joining the police force last year but don't agree that's a fair assessment. What I've learned from the inside is cops are pretty ordinary. They do, however, seem to exhibit a peculiar stereotype of materialism. By this, I mean the obsessive desire to own motorcycles, guns, ATV's, trucks and truck accessories.
The problem is: the average cop doesn't make much money. This leads to an endless cycle of buying expensive toys and then selling them in order to buy other expensive toys. Take a look at this picture I took of the 'for sale' bulletin board in the breakroom of my precinct (click on it to enlarge). Do you see a pattern here? This is just one corner of the board shot close-up to see the pictures but there are many more motorcycles for sale. We have numerous and generous opportunities for overtime that allow the average patrolman to make extra money. This only adds to the cylce, though, as those in debt are forced to work off-duty jobs on their days off. The coveted three-day weekend is sacrificed chasing the almighty dollar.
I've only seen one mini-van parked at the police station: mine. The parking lot contains about 90% trucks, 5% motorcycles, 4% cars, and my minivan. I've been asked several times by other cops, "How many kids do you HAVE?" (in a tone that says, "there's no way you'd be driving that thing unless you had at least six kids). I then find myself explaining the benefits and features of minivans like a salesman at the car dealership.
I'm proud to say I'm not one of the materialistic cops. In fact, I'm almost the opposite. I gave up a much higher paying job (and the materialism it afforded) for the non-monetary rewards of a career in public service.