Have you ever been stopped by a traffic cop and, while he was
writing a ticket or giving you a warning, you got the feeling that
he would just love to yank you out of the car, right through the
window, and smash your face into the front fender? Have you ever
had a noisy little spat with someone, and a cop cruising by calls,
"Everything all right over there?" Did you maybe sense that he
hoped that everything was not all right, that he wanted one of you
to answer, "No, officer, this idiot's bothering me"? That all he
was looking for was an excuse to launch himself from the cruiser
and play a drum solo on your skull with his nightstick?
Did you ever call the cops to report a crime-maybe someone
stole something from your car or broke into your home-and the cops
act as if it were your fault? That they were sorry that the
crook didn't rip you off for more? That instead of looking for
the culprit, they'd rather give you a shot in the chops for
bothering them with your bullshit in the first place?
If you've picked up on this attitude from your local sworn
protectors, it's not just paranoia. They actually don't like you.
In fact, the cops don't just dislike you, they hate your fucking
guts! Incidentally, for a number of very good reasons.
First of all, civilians are so goddamn stupid. They leave
things lying around, just begging thieves to steal them. They
park cars in high crime areas and leave portable-TVs, cameras,
wallets, purses, coats, luggage, grocery bags, and briefcases in
plain view on the seat. Oh, sure, maybe they'll remember to close
all the windows and lock the doors, but do you know how easy it is
to bust a car window? How fast can it be done? A ten-year-old
can do it in less than six seconds! And a poor cop has another
Larceny From Auto on his hands. Another crime to write a report
on, waste another half hour on. Another crime to make him look
Meanwhile, the asshole who left the family heirlooms on the
backseat in the first place is raising hell about where were the
cops when the car was being looted. He's planning to write irate
letters to the mayor and the police commissioner complaining about
what a lousy police force you have here; the can't even keep my
car from getting ripped off! What, were they drinking coffee
And the cops are saying to themselves, "Lemme tell ya,
fuckhead, we were seven blocks away, taking another stupid report
from another jerkoff civilian about his car being broken into
because he left his shit on the backseat, too!"
These civilians can't figure out that maybe they shouldn't
leave stuff lying around unattended where anybody can just pick it
up and boogie. Maybe they should put the shit in the trunk, where
no one but Superman is gonna see it. Maybe they should do that
before they get to wherever they're going just in case some
riffraff is hanging around watching them while the car is being
Another thing that drives cops wild is the "surely this doesn't
apply to me" syndrome, which never fails to reveal itself at scenes
of sniper or barricade incidents. There's always some asshole
walking down the street (or jogging or driving) who thinks the
police cars blocking off the area, the ropes marked Police Line: Do
Not Cross, the cops crouched behind cars pointing revolvers and
carbines and shotguns and bazookas at some building, all of this
has nothing whatsoever to do with him - so he weasels around the
barricades or slithers under the restraining ropes and blithely
continues on his way, right into the field of fire.
The result is that some cop risks his ass (or hers - don't
forget, the cops include women now) to go after the cretin and drag
him, usually under protest, back to safety. All of these cops,
including the one risking his ass, devoutly hope that the sniper
will get off one miraculous shot and drill the idiot right between
the horns, which would have two immediate effects: The quiche-for-
brains civilian would be dispatched to the next world, and every
cop on the scene would instantaneously be licensed to kill the scum
bag doing the sniping. Whereupon the cops would destroy the whole
fucking building, sniper and all, in about 30 seconds, which is
what they wanted to do in the first place, except the brass
wouldn't let them because the mother-fucker hadn't killed anybody
An allied phenomenon is the "my, isn't this amusing" behavior
exhibited, usually by Yuppies or other members of higher society,
at some emergency scenes. For example, a group of trendy types
will be strolling down the street when a squad car with lights
flashing and siren on screeches up to a building. They'll watch
the cops yank out their guns and run up to the door, flatten
themselves against the wall, and peep into the place cautiously.
Now, if you think about it, something serious could be happening
here. Cops usually don't pull their revolvers to go get a cup of
coffee. They usually don't hug the sides of buildings just before
dropping in to say hello. Any five-year-old ghetto kid can tell
you these cops are definitely ready to cap somebody. But do our
society friends perceive this? Do they stay out of the cops' way?
Of course not! They think it's vastly amusing. And, of course,
since they're not involved in the funny little game the cops are
playing, they think nothing can happen to them!
While the ghetto kid is hiding behind a car waiting for the
shooting to start, Muffy and Chip and Biffy are continuing their
stroll, right up to the officers, tittering among themselves about
how silly the cops look, all scrunched up against the wall, trying
to look in through the door without stopping bullets with their
What the cops are hoping at that point is for a homicidal
holdup man to come busting out the door with a sawed-off shotgun.
They're hoping he has it loaded with elephant shot, and that he
immediately identifies our socialites as serious threats to his
personal well-being. They're hoping he has just enough ammunition
to blast the shit out of the gigglers, but not enough to return the
fire when the cops open up on him..
Of course, if that actually happens, the poor cops will be in
a world of trouble for not protecting the "innocent bystanders."
The brass wouldn't even want to hear that the shitheads probably
didn't have enough sense to come in out of an acid rain. Somebody
ought to tell all the quiche eaters out there to stand back when
they encounter someone with a gun in his hand, whether he happens
to be wearing a badge or ski mask.
Civilians also aggravate cops in a number of other ways. One
of their favorite games is "Officer, can you tell me?" A cop knows
he's been selected to play this game whenever someone approaches
and utters those magic words. Now, it's okay if they continue
with, "...how to get to so-and-so street?" or, "...where such-and-
such a place is located?" After all, cops are supposed to be
familiar with the area in which they work. But it eats out the
lining of their stomachs when some jerkoff asks, "where can I catch
the number fifty-four bus?" Or, "Where can I find a telephone?"
Cops look forward to their last day before retirement, when
they can finally give these douche bags the answer they've been
choking back for 20 years: "No maggot, I can't tell ya where the
fifty-four bus runs! What does this look like, an MTA uniform? Go
ask a fucking bus driver! And no, dog breath, I don't know where
you can find a phone, except wherever your fucking eyes see
one! Take your head out of your ass and look for one!"
And cops just love to find a guy parking his car in a
crosswalk next to a fire hydrant at a bus stop posted with a sign
saying, "Don't Even Think About Stopping, Standing, or Parking
Here. Cars Towed Away, Forfeited to the Government, and Sold at
Public Auction," and the jerk asks, "Officer, may I park here for a
"What, are ya nuts? Of course you can park here! As long as
you like! Leave it there all day! Ya don't see anything that says
ya can't, do ya? You're welcome. See ya later." The cop then
drives around the corner and calls a tow truck to remove the
vehicle. Later, in traffic court, the idiot will be whining to the
judge, "But Your Honor, I asked an officer if I could park there,
and he said I could! No, I don't know which officer, but I did
ask! Honest! No, wait Judge, I can't afford five hundred dollars!
This isn't fair! I am not creating a disturbance! I've got my
rights! Get your hands off me! Where are you taking me? What do
you mean, ten days for contempt of court? What did I do? Wait,
wait....." If you should happen to see a cop humming contentedly
and smiling to himself for no apparent reason, he may have won at
Wildly unrealistic civilian expectations also contribute to a
cop's distaste for the general citizenry. An officer can be
running his ass off all day or night handling call after call and
writing volumes of police reports, but everybody thinks their
problem is the only thing he has to work on. The policeman may
have a few worries, too. Ever think of that? The sergeant is on
him because he's been late for roll call a few days; he's been
battling like a badger with his wife, who's just about to leave him
because he never takes her anywhere and doesn't spend enough time
at home and the kids need braces and the station wagon needs a
major engine overhaul and where are we gonna get the money to pay
for all that and we haven't had a real vacation for years and all
you do is hang around with other cops and you've been drinking too
much lately and I could've married that wonderful guy I was going
with when I met you and lived happily ever after and why don't you
get a regular job with regular days off and no night shifts and
decent pay and a chance for advancement and no one throwing bottles
or taking wild potshots at you?
Meanwhile, that sweet young thing he met on a call last month
says her period is late. Internal Affairs is investigating him on
fucking up a disorderly last week; the captain is pissed at him for
tagging a councilman's car; a burglar's been tearing up the
businesses on his post; and he's already handled two robberies,
three family fights, a stolen auto, and a half dozen juvenile
Now here he is on another juvenile call, trying to explain to
some bimbo, who's the president of her neighborhood improvement
association, that the security of Western Civilization is not
really threatened all that much by the kids who hang around the
corner by her house. "Yes, officer, I know they're not there now.
They always leave when you come by. But after you're gone they
come right back, don't you see, and continue their disturbance.
It's intolerable! I'm so upset, I can barely sleep at night!"
By now the cop's eyes have glazed over. "What we need here,
officer," she continues vehemently, "is greater attention to this
matter by the police. You and some other officers should hide and
stake out that corner so those renegades wouldn't see you. Then
you could catch them in the act!"
"Yes, ma'am, we'd love to stake out that corner a few hours
every night, since we don't have anything else to do, but I've got
a better idea," he'd like to say. "Here's a box of fragmentation
grenades the Department obtained from the Army just for situations
like this. The next time you see those little fuckers out there,
just lob a couple of these into the crowd and get down!"
Or he's got an artsy-crafty type who's moved into a tough,
rundown neighborhood and decides it's gotta be cleaned up. You
know, "urban pioneers." The cops see a lot of them now. The cops
call them volunteer victims. Most of them are intelligent,
talented, hard working, well-paid folds with masochistic
chromosomes interspersed among their otherwise normal genes. They
have nice jobs, live in nice homes, and have a lot of nice material
possessions, and they somehow decide that it would be just a
marvelous idea to move into a slum and get yoked, roped, looted,
and pillaged on a regular basis. What else do they expect? Peace
and harmony? It's like tossing a juicy little pig into a piranha
moving day: Here come the pioneers, dropping all their groovy
gear from their Volvo station wagon, setting it on the sidewalk so
everyone on the block can get a good look at the stereo system,
food processor, the microwave, the color TV, the tape deck, etc.
At the same time, the local burglars are appraising the goods
unofficially and calculating how much they can get for the TV down
at the corner bar, how much the stereo will bring at Joe's Garage,
who might want the tape deck at the barbershop, and maybe mama can
use the microwave herself.
When the pioneers get ripped off, the cops figure they asked
for it, and they got it. You want to poke your arms through the
door of a tiger cage? Don't be amazed when he eats it for lunch!
The cops regard it as naive for trendies to move into the crime
zones and conduct their lives the same way they did up on Society
Hill. In fact, they can't fathom why anyone who didn't have to
would want to move there at all, regardless of how they want to
live or how prepared they might be to adapt their behavior.
That's probably because the cops are intimately acquainted with all
those petty but disturbing crimes and nasty little incidents that
never make the newspapers but profoundly affect the quality of life
in a particular area.
Something else that causes premature aging among cops is the
"I don't know who to call, so I'll call the police" ploy. Why, the
cops ask themselves, do they get so many calls for things like
water leaks, sick cases, bats in houses, and the like. Things that
have nothing whatsoever to do with law enforcement or the
maintenance of public order? They figure it's because civilians
are getting more and more accustomed to having the government solve
problems for them, and the local P.D. is the only governmental
agency that'll even answer the phone at 3:00a.m., let alone send
So, when the call comes over the radio to go to such-and-such
an address for a water leak, the assigned officer rolls his eyes,
acknowledges, responds, surveys the problem, and tells the
complainant, "Yep, that's a water leak all right. No doubt about
it. Ya probably oughta call a plumber! And it might not be a bad
idea to turn off your main valve for a while." Or, "Yep, your Aunt
Minnie's sick all right! Ya probably oughta get'er to a doctor
tomorrow if she doesn't get any better by then." Or, "Yep, that's a
bat all right! Mebbe ya oughta open the windows so it can fly
In the meantime, while our hero is waiting time on this
bullshit call, maybe someone is having a real problem out there,
like getting raped, robbed, or killed. Street cops would like to
work the phones just once and catch a few of these idiotic
complaints! "A bat in your house? No need to send an officer when
I can tell ya what to do over the phone, pal! Close all your doors
and windows right away. Pour gasoline all over your furniture.
That's it. Now, set it on fire and get everybody outside. Yeah,
you'll get the little motherfucker for sure! That's okay, call us
Probably the most serious beef cops have with civilians
relates to those situations in which the use of force becomes
necessary to deal with some desperado who may have just robbed a
bank, iced somebody, beat up his wife and kids, or wounded some
cop, and now he's caught but won't give up. He's not going to be
taken alive, he's going to take some cops with him, and you better
say your prayers, you pig bastards! Naturally, if the chump's
armed with any kind of weapon, the cops are going to shoot the shit
out of him so bad they'll be able to open up his body later as a
lead mine. If he's not armed, and the cops aren't creative enough
to find a weapon for him, they'll just beat him into raw meat and
hope he spends the next few weeks in traction. They view it as a
learning experience for the asshole. You fuck up somebody, you
find out what it feels like to get fucked up. Don't like it?
Don't do it again! It's called "street justice," and civilians
approve of it as much as cops do, even if they don't admit it.
Remember how the audience cheered when Charles Bronson fucked
up the bad guys in "Death Wish"? How they scream with joy every
time Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry makes his day by blowing up some
rotten scumball with his .44 Magnum? What they applaud is the
administration of street justice. The old eye-for-an-eye concept,
one of mankind's most primal instincts. All of us have it,
It severely offends and deeply hurts cops when they administer
a dose of good old-fashioned street justice only to have some
bleeding-heart do-gooder happen upon the scene at the last minute,
when the hairbag is at last getting his just deserts, and start
hollering police brutality. Cops regard that as very serious
business indeed. Brutality can get them fired. Get fired from one
police department, and it's tough to get a job as a cop anywhere
else ever again.
Brutality exposes a cop to civil liability as well. Also, his
superior officers, the police department as an agency, and maybe
even the local government itself. You've seen those segments on
"60 Minutes", right? Some cop screws up, gets sued along with
everybody else in the department who ever had anything to do with
him, and the city or county ends up paying the plaintiff umpty-ump
million dollars, raising taxes and hocking it's fire engines in the
process. What do you think happens to the cop who fucked up in the
first place? He's done for.
On may occasions when the cops are accused of excessive force,
the apparent brutality is a misperception by some observer who
isn't acquainted with the realities of police work. For example,
do you have any idea how hard it is to handcuff someone who really
doesn't want to be handcuffed? Without hurting them? It's almost
impossible for one cop to accomplish by himself unless he beats the
hell out of the prisoner first, which would also be viewed as
brutality! It frequently takes three or four cops to handcuff one
son of a bitch who's absolutely determined to battle them.
In situations like that, it's not unusual to hear someone in
the crowd of onlookers comment on how they're ganging up on the
poor bastard and beating him unnecessarily. This makes them feel
like telling the complainer, "Hey motherfucker, you think you can
handcuff this shithead by yourself without killing him first?
C'mere! You're deputized! Now go ahead and do it!"
The problem is that, in addition to being unfamiliar with how
difficult it is in the real world to physically control someone
without beating his ass, last minute observers usually don't have
the opportunity to see for themselves, like they do in the movies
and on TV, what a fucking monster the suspect might be. If they
did, they'd probably holler at the cops to beat his ass some more.
They might actually even want to help!
The best thing for civilians to do if they think they see the
cops rough up somebody too much is to keep their mouths shut at the
scene, and to make inquiries of the police brass later on. There
might be ample justification for the degree of force used that just
wasn't apparent at the time of the arrest. If not, the brass will
be very interested in the complaint. If one of their cops went
over the deep end, they'll want to know about it.
Most of this comes down to common sense, a characteristic the
cops feel most civilians lack. One of the elements of common sense
is thinking before opening one's yap of taking other action. Just
a brief moment of thought will often prevent the utterance of
something stupid or commission of some idiotic act that will, among
other things, generate nothing but contempt from the average
street cop. THINK-and it might mean getting a warning instead of a
traffic ticket. Or getting sent on your way rather than being
arrested. Or continuing on to your original destination instead of
the hospital. It might mean getting some real assistance instead
of the runaround. The very least it'll get you is a measure of
respect cops seldom show civilians. Act like you've got just a
little sense, and even if the cops don't love you, they at least
won't hate you.