Saturday, December 30, 2006

The unpleasantries of policing

I love my job and have talked about the great sense of pride and honor I feel being a cop. It's a fulfilling and intersting career and I'm glad to be doing it. Policework is not always the clean, orderly, and glorified duty as portrayed on TV or the movies. To provide an inside view of the job, here are some things you probably didn't want to know about policework:

Patrol Cars: Most police cars are disgusting. The seats are coated with a protective layer of waxy-grease-grime built up over years of use. I'm pretty sure the fabric wasn't designed to be water proof but has become so over time. The "passenger" compartment in the back is even worse. Biological material of every type has been artfully displayed on the seat, doors, and plexiglass shield. Discarded food, wrappers, loose change and everything else has wedged itself into every nook and cranny of the interior. Many times I've reached down behind a seat to retrieve the radio micraphone and have ended up with a handful of unspeakable mess.

Ballistic Vests: Don't get me wrong; these things will save your life and are an engineering miracle. But the downside is the creation of a body odor never before possible by pre-modern humans. There's something about a compressed layer of thick padded material pressed closely to the body that inspires the glands to put out an extra effort to announce their presence. It's as if the armpits felt shut out and launched an all-out odor assault.
Also, the common fatty area around a man's mid-section is perfectly situated between the bottom of the bullet-proof vest and the top of the stiff leather gun belt. While sitting, this is the ideal recipe for a constant pinching of the small 'spare tire' of fat as it gets caught in the middle (like those inflatable rubber buoys placed on the side of large boats to prevent it from slamming into the dock it is moored to).

Restrooms: Most people have the convenience of using the bathroom at home or at a typical corporate office complex. Out on the streets, however, choices are a bit more limited. I've seen some of the foulest, dirtiest, back-room toilets in convenience stores and in other 'employee-only' areas. Forget about sitting down. The time it would take to disassemble and reassemble a gun belt with its various buckles, pouches, etc. would never be worth it. I don't know how the female officers deal with this (to whoever invented the fly-front pant -God bless you.) Finding the time to use a bathroom can be another challenge. You never know when you'll be stuck directing traffic in the middle of an intersection or posted on the perimeter of a crime scene.

Paperwork: For anyone who enjoyed the movie 'Office Space' you'll know what I mean by, "All TPS reports require a cover sheet." I the chain of command style of police work, we have a 5 inch thick binder of policies called operation orders. The orders are written in such an incomprehensible style that it would take a team of genious cryptographers days to figure out the proper way to issue a traffic citation. Sometime I think the Bible must be easier to interpret.

Odors: Aside from the bullet-proof vest comments above, police officers are subjected to the most awful odors imaginable. I've been around homeless people before but have never been in the same car with a person whose limbs and appendages are rotted with disease, filth, and parasites. Try conducting a thorough search of a drunk transient and you'll know what I mean. The combination of bacteria, alcohol, vomit, urine, feces, rotten teeth, open sores, grease, grime, and mold creates a body odor too overwhelming to describe in words. Once, a man arrested for trespassing took off his shoes in my police precinct and people down the hall and several rooms away were choking on the smell. We double-bagged the wretched sneakers and still couldn't kill the stench.


At December 30, 2006 5:41 AM, Blogger RockDog said...

I've been reading your blog for several weeks now and it's this kind of great insight that I really enjoy. You server up the good with the bad!

Keep up thew good work...on the blog and on the streets!

At December 30, 2006 7:54 AM, Blogger *Goddess* said...

Very descriptive post;) No wonder you guys wear gloves all the time...

At December 30, 2006 8:55 AM, Blogger Bardouble29 said...

I really enjoying reading your blog. My ex always has funny stories to tell me about the vests too. His department recently changed to some military style and he was describing the fitting of the vest in the most hilarious manner.

At December 30, 2006 7:00 PM, Anonymous gamma said...

COME ON....... Did we really need to hear that much detail? I remember when you wore a clothes pin on your nose to change a diaper! Keep safe.

At December 31, 2006 12:28 AM, Blogger russkal said...

Happy New Year, Officer Gary!

There's a gift waiting for fellow bloggers in my place.

Make sure you click on "Gift"


At December 31, 2006 1:30 PM, Blogger whimsicalnbrainpan said...

Just in case I haven't said it, thank you for doing the job you do. I know it can't be easy to say the least.

Happy New Year!

At December 31, 2006 8:24 PM, Blogger Dirk_Star said...

Well that just ruined my appetite...

You guys are even tougher than I thought.

Happy New Year good Man!

At January 01, 2007 9:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is there some surgery you can have done to have your scent glands removed? I mean yes, you wouldn't smell holiday dinner again... but maybe the tradeoff would be worth the sacrifice?


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