FEATURED IN TRAINING
- 10th-Anniversary Conference Shines Brighter than Ever
- Pro Tips for the Firing Line, Part II
- ASIS International to Host Transitioning Program & Luncheon for Law Enforcement & Military Professionals
- 5 Reasons Not to Miss ILEETA Conference 2013
- Less-Lethal Lessons
- Through the Darkness
- NRA's Law Enforcement Division: A Great Resource
I work for a great city and a great department, and I love my job. I feel a little strange sending a letter like this, but I don't know how else to get an objective opinion.
Here's the situation: A guy on my shift seems to take advantage of his cop job to meet women. I'm not saying he's does anything really blatant, but he definitely takes every opportunity. He's single and a looker, so he could probably hook up without the badge, but it seems like it's just happening at work a lot. From the stories he spins in the locker room, it sounds like traffic stops or other contacts often lead to an exchange of telephone numbers. That usually leads to a date and some type of conquest he shares with anyone who will listen. A few times he even said the woman was married and just lonely. He thinks he's somehow doing them a favor.
I don't think this guy has ever physically taken advantage of someone who didn't want his attention, but it seems like he's certainly taking advantage of his badge. So, it comes down to this: Is this type of activity okay? Am I the one that's off-base? Most of the other officers just laugh or look like they're a little envious, but nobody says anything. The female officers avoid him like the plague. If the bosses know, they certainly haven't said or done anything about it. Patrol Cop
Dear Jealous John:
Okay, maybe you're not jealous. I don't care either way, and believe me, it won't have a thing to do with where Bullethead comes down on this one.
Unfortunately, plenty of cops carry on with this sort of behavior. They seem to congregate around swing shifts because it allows them to try to work their particular brand of sleazy, unprofessional magic on traffic stops and at parties. If those don't work, they always have the longstanding and easiest fallback for the sleazy cop looking for a quick hookup: the bar-check. These chumps stop working as early as they can and get all of their paper knocked out in a fast and substandard manner. They put themselves out at a bar known for drunk chicks and get themselves all set up to be off duty and back at the bar by last call. (I'm guessing they don't really meet too many "take her home to mom" types, but that probably isn't what they look for.) All cops of this sort are irresponsible, unstable, unethical idiots at best, and officer-safety and operational-security risks at worst.
Responsibility and stability are among the most important traits for cops. Remember that 20-page or so background package you filled out prior to getting hired? Typically, those packages are designed to look at a candidate's responsibility and stability, among other core issues. That's why many departments look for either college grads or prior military when recruiting department administrators believe if you made it into and out of college or the military, you probably picked up the sort of stable and responsible character necessary to handle all that goes along with carrying a gun and a badge. They want to know you won't lie under oath, and that your financial situation will not put you in a spot where you could be easily bribed by some hustler. After you're hired, no one cares if you bounce an occasional check or get in a little over your head because you just had to have the fastest ski boat. They care that you are responsible and stable enough to take care of these things without losing your mind or attracting negative attention to the agency.
Let's move on to the ethical aspect of this. It's simple: We make a pretty decent living, and we're expected to work while we're at work. I'm not saying cops shouldn't take a few minutes here and there to chill with our fellow officers and catch up on the important issues of the day, such as who has the fastest boat or who just picked up a new Harley. Hell, it's even reasonable to discuss the pajama party you just broke up at the local college and all of the sights you observed while clearing it out. But keep a couple of important differences in mind here: These conversations are cop to cop, and as long as your partner doesn't have a problem speaking about what they saw or what they missed, everything is fine and no problems surface.
If, on the other hand, you went to this same party with some sleazy badge-bunny chaser, you might end up in the middle of a brawl with some drunk while your idiot partner tries to get a phone number from some half-naked coed. I certainly don't have a problem with half-naked coeds, but I draw the line when officer safety is at risk. We all know what happens when alcohol is consumed in the sort of quantities typical of a college party. It's certainly possible little miss fall-out-of-her-PJs will giggle at the hunky cop and start asking questions about his night stick just to upset her frat boy because she caught him drooling at the wrong pair of jammies. Our hero, who mistook our locker-room banter about conquest as praise, follows the nice young lady a few feet away so he can start making time with her and have another story to tell. Why wouldn't he? Everyone else has left the party with no problems, so it must be code-4. Unfortunately, the frat boy is also a middle linebacker, and when he sees her hanging on the idiot's badge, he goes nuts and attacks the first uniform he finds yours. You're separated from your cover, and even if your dance card was full, you're doing the hair, teeth and eyeballs jig with a guy 10 years younger than you. That's right, you just got blindsided by a young stud propelled by rage and keg beer. This scenario could just as easily occur at a bar and make for a worse situation because the clientele might be a bit meaner than at a college party.
That brings us to operational security. A while back I was out for a nice dinner with Ms. Bullethead when in walks some chump in his outlaw biker garb. For reasons too lengthy to go into, let me assure you this guy was the real deal. Hanging on this dude's arm was an attractive woman dressed so everyone would notice her. Now, I'm betting the cop you wrote about does not have really high standards. Plenty of loser chicks will do anything to hang from this biker's arm, and bedding down an idiot cop for some intel would get her a pass to the top floor. The idiot's libido has just put every other cop at risk.
I would take another route with Officer Rico Suave. Since you wrote the letter, I hereby deputize you to do my work. From now until this problem is resolved, you shall be known as Caphead. (Son, you have not lived enough to be Bullethead.) Next time he starts one of his traffic-stop stories, let him know he's truly a loser if he needs a badge and a gun to get a date. Tell him you have more respect for guys looking to score with hookers because at least most of them do it on their own time and are straight up about their intentions as opposed to cutting someone a husk on a traffic stop in exchange for a phone number. As Caphead, you must lead rally the other hardworking cops to your side and blast this waste of time. Use the ammo I've given you and develop your own large-bore salvos to show him the error of his ways. If you do your job correctly, the supervisors should take notice and perhaps wake up to realize they, too, have a job to do.
Good luck, Caphead don't let me down.