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.