My beat partner recently got himself a girlfriend. Problem is, he has a wife and two kids. Before you say it's just his business, let me add that I've gotten caught in the middle of this because he uses me as an excuse when he's late coming home. He'll tell his wife we made a late arrest, we're going out for a drink after work, etc. I know it's just a matter of time until she asks me what's going on. She's really nice and doesn't have a clue her husband has started cheating on her.
This girl knew my partner is married and he's gone for her hook, line and sinker, but it really just seems to be about the physical stuff. I know cops have more than their share of divorces and I'm beginning to understand why, but I'd like to help my buddy keep from adding to the problem. Any ideas?
—Caught in the Middle
My first thought is you should just enjoy his stories of conquest while telling him the error of his ways that way you're at least half covered. All that's left to do is enjoy the entertainment as your partner completely self-destructs.
Here's how this could easily unfold. When his wife finds out, and she will, he will begin telling you what an evil woman she is for tossing him out of the house. Odd, since he's the one cheating, but that's the way it goes. Next he'll start hitting the booze like a K-9 hits a crook. He'll try his best to make you his running buddy when he's bar-hopping seven nights a week. He'll tell you how single life is much better than being married to that witch, whom he will quickly forget is the mother of his children. Your partner will start to sound like a salesman trying to sell you on the idea of finding your own little side dish. His pitch will include how it's no big deal if your wife does find out because single life is king. Soon he'll be living in a low-rent apartment somewhere and eating noodles or peanut butter every night. Finally, his new lady will dump him because it's just about the physical stuff, and the noodles, beer and peanut butter made him a lot less physically fun.
Actually, that isn't the end of it. His kids might decide to hate him for screwing over their mom and for not being around. For me, that's pretty much enough of a reason not to step out. My kids are far too important to see only on weekends and holidays.
Quite often I find these sorts of episodes to be on one hand quite cliche, and on the other hand damn entertaining. Some guys may start this process and catch themselves prior to becoming total boozehounds and wrecking their lives, but many will take a trip all the way. Look around your agency, and I'm sure you'll see plenty of examples.
It sounds like your boy has already put you in a spot. It's bad enough he expects you to lie to his wife about his bimbo. You better make sure he doesn't also expect you to lie to Internal Affairs (IA) or in court because then your job is on the line. You don't think that could ever be an issue? Let me lay it out for you. Your boy found himself a chick who had no issue hitting on him and eventually sleeping with him, knowing he is married and probably knowing he has kids. So, both your partner and his chick are not really standouts in the moral-compass area. I'm not writing for an adult magazine here, but I've been around long enough to know relationships based on the physical stuff need to be fed. That usually means doing it in more interesting and daring places. Mix a physical relationship with a cop and you have the perfect recipe for duty booty.
I'm sure there are plenty of old-time cops who don't think a little duty booty is a big deal. The bottom line: Duty booty goes along with plenty of other former law enforcement practices that were great for stories but are no longer even close to being OK. This is one of the few scandals not to have made it to video yet, but it will. Some jackass on-duty cop will get his jollies with his chick and get picked up on a camcorder, cell-phone cam, security cam, MP3/superphone/coffee-cup cam, etc. It will take about 4.5 seconds for that one to get onto the Web.
Let's back up to your situation. Maybe your partner doesn't get picked up on camera, but maybe someone sees him and reports him. Maybe his girlfriend gets mad at him and tells the department about the relationship and the duty booty. Maybe she calls his wife and she files her own complaint because she wants to know why her husband was able to meet and have sex with women on duty. Either way, now you're in the mix when it gets to IA.
I'll go one step further just to make sure you understand. What if the girlfriend gets sick of your partner and he isn't ready to let go, or the other way around? Now you have the real possibility of stalking and domestic violence. When this works its way to court, all the dirt will come up, and you will find yourself right in the middle. Oh yeah, your wife won't be real happy with you for knowing and not telling her either. I'll just leave that as a warning because you're gonna need more help than ol' Bullethead can provide to get out of that one.
My advice is simple: Put some distance between you and this guy. He may still be a good cop, and if he hasn't progressed to duty booty, he might even be a good beat partner. I would make this guy a work friend and leave it at that. Don't hit the bars with him after work or on your days off. When he gets busted, you will have to explain to your wife about him. If you continue to go out with him knowing he is fooling around, that will make you guilty by association. Even if you can talk your way out of it, why would you want to have this problem?
If your family and the cheater's family get together, stop! What will stop him from trying to jump into the sack with your wife? Think your friendship will prevent it? Maybe I'm a dork, but Mrs. Bullethead is my best friend. Since your buddy was willing to stick it to his own wife, I doubt he'll have any problem slipping around your friendship so he can stick it to your wife. Hopefully your wife isn't the type, but why put her through the hassle and embarrassment?
I wouldn't go as far as to ask for an immediate transfer, but I would move away. At shift change, figure out where this guy is going and go someplace else. If some special unit opens, put in for it. Just get away from him any way you can.
Other than that, there isn't much else you can do because when a man lets his immoral compass needle run his life, logic and higher thinking fly out the window, and disaster is usually close by.
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.