FEATURED IN LEADERSHIP
I ve been a cop for 10 years and work for a department with about 500 sworn in the South. My entire time has been spent in patrol, and I m good at it. I make more than my share of arrests and haven t screwed up anything major since I ve been here. So far, so good, right?
Well, here s the deal: I can t stand our detectives. They seem to look down their nose whenever they interact with patrol officers, and they really take joy in taking over the scene when they get called out. I go from on-scene incident commander to glorified gopher. Get this, fetch that, check on so and so, and on and on. What s worse, most of these guys haven t pushed a patrol car in years, and they probably won t because our department lets them stay there until they retire or get fired. Probably just as well because their center of gravity has shifted so much they probably couldn t fit in a uniform or jump out of a patrol car anyway.
Patrol cops work 7/24, and sometimes stuff happens that keeps you from getting everything done that you would do if you had more time. Come Monday morning, the guys with the coffee-stained ties show up and start picking apart what the patrol coppers did over the weekend. What was a good bust turns into a Keystone Kops caper after they get through with their critique.
Look, I know we all have a job to do, but I m tired of some guy that s in the same pay grade as me acting like he s God s gift to the district attorney. And look out if an arrest gets made on any kind of real crime because some detective will be all over you to get his name on the arrest report. There was a time when I thought I d like to work in the detective bureau, but I just don t see it now. What s your take on this?
Disgruntled with Detectives in Dixie
Detectives can be jackasses, can t they? I ve seen some who seem to have completely forgotten how hard the rest of the policing world works. These clowns seem to work at every department, and worse yet, they usually think the rest of the department is there to support them. I m sure you know the type. They show up at their kids Little League games on Saturday with their badge and gun clipped to their hip, claiming they re on call. I suppose they think they re so important they can t take the half a second to clip on the badge and gun in the off chance they do get called out. Lord knows that half a second might mean the difference between solving the case or not.
These same blowhards don t like to share information with others because if they can t make the arrest on their own, it must not be worth making. I can understand that side of it, though. Who wants to share information and actually get a bad guy into the pit sooner when the glory lies in letting the same bad guy victimize a bunch more people until Detective Bitchin gets around to sucking up a little glory no one else cares about?
I also love it when these self-important detectives actually roll out to a scene. I think they like to take their time so it will be a relief when they finally get there. After the patrol dogs have been waiting around watching the calls in their beat stack up for an hour and a half, these chumps roll in like Marshall Dillon riding into Dodge City. First, they point out every little thing that isn t wrong but isn t how they would have done it. I guess they don t realize how much slack a simple Sorry it took me so long to get out here would buy them. Or hey, since you took so darn long to get here and you included time to get your own cup of java, how about thinking of the folks who have been here for half the night and actually had to deal with this when it was still a chaotic mess.
Let s step back for a minute, though. Detectives do have a job to do, wouldn t you say? Even though patrol dogs are the most visible form of policing to the public, they aren t the only form of policing that matters because some things just can t get wrapped up in a shift. Good, hard-working detectives do everything they can to clear series crimes so patrol can stop writing car-burg reports in the same five-block area and go find fun things like stolen cars, dope and a good cup of coffee. These are the folks you want on your side because they always share information and they generally know of at least one crook whose warrant just dropped and needs to try on a new pair of bracelets.
Let s take one more step back. If there s a body lying in the street, stand by. If you feel pushed to the side when the homicide dicks roll out, think of the corpse that used to be a human just moments ago. Sure, maybe the murder victim was a dirt bag, but they were also a living, breathing one, and now they re just a piece of meat with a hole in them. Even dead dirt bags have family members who will miss them. The victims all deserve better than a sulking cop who feels a little hurt because he doesn t get to be the incident commander anymore. Where I work, the dead-body dicks walk with a little pep in their step, and they tend to do more telling than asking when they arrive on scene. Don t kid yourself either. The murder police should be the ones who have worked their way through at least a few assignments prior to landing there, and they deserve the respect of junior officers. If their belts have stretched a bit, it s probably because they have a bit of stress in their lives this isn t an excuse, it s a reason. These guys go to sleep thinking about one case and wake up thinking about another. Because the penalties for murder are so high, the body cops don t cut corners. While you re busy feeling upset about having to do your job when they arrive, try to remember that these folks are all business because their first-floor desks are piled to the third floor with all the paper that goes with every dead body.
Here s what you need to do. Make sure any scene in which the detectives are called out is set up safely and securely. Also, do everything you know they ll ask about, and when they arrive, be ready to give them a complete and well-presented brief on what s going on no attitude or whining. When the detectives ask you to do something, do it with the pride you felt the first time you put on that badge. That way it will get done right and it will show you as a leader among the troops who also knows how to take orders. When the detectives see you re serious about helping them get their job done, they should treat you better. If some of them don t, well, screw them at least you did a good job. Stop by the dick bureau at your department once in a while and get to know those guys. They re probably a lot nicer than you think, and I can guarantee you they know a few things about policing that you haven t even thought of yet.
Finally, change your attitude about trying out for a detective position. I know this old crusty cop who has so many bars on his collar and hash marks on his arm that I m not sure how he even lifts his shirt. This guy has worked every job in policing and come up with a few new jobs along the way. He once told me that the best job he ever had was being a detective.
Got a question or complaint?
Let Bullethead hear about it. He ll give you his opinion with both barrels.E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or fax him at 619/699-6246.