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          -if you have to ask get out of the way-

    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
this game.  

    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
complaints today.  

    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
outside again!"

    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
any time."

    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,
especially cops.  

    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.  

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