“Why” our badge is so heavy

I recently went with the girlfriend over to a social gathering of non law enforcement party go-er’s.  These were long time friends and co-workers of her’s.  Knowing that my girlfriend has no clue what it is like to wear a badge, it was completely foreign to her “why” I made my introductions to her friends slowly and methodically.  At one point she even accused me of “standing like a cop.”  When I asked her what that meant, she said, “I don’t know but you just look scary.” 

I took an evaluation of myself and the way I was standing and I had to really think about it.  I was standing in the corner, so nobody could be behind me (Officer safety first), my arms were folded width wise in front of me resting on my stomach and I was sizing up the party go-ers in the crowd.  Looking at and evaluating everyone.  Checking tattoo’s, clothing, bulges, intoxication levels, etc..etc..  I sized up what I was wearing; blue jeans, athletic t-shirt, running shoes, work watch on wrist, cleanly shaven…you know, the poster child for a Police Officer off duty. 

“Why do you stand like that?”, the girlfriend fires off.  So I took the time to explain to her all the reasons I had for being a social stand-off.  So I started with the lack of knowledge of the group of people at this particular event and the implications/repercussions for me as a Law Enforcement Officer.  She of course advised me that “they are not druggies.”, in which I replied, “Would you bet my job on it?”  I had to explain to her that not knowing these people had serious potential to become a huge problem for me.  It’s not as if we are in public place where I have no control over certain possessions and my involvement around those possessions.  No, this was someone’s house that while, not intimately known, my girlfriend is well versed with and associates.  Can you imagine trying to explain to your supervisors why you were at a party where illegal substances were being used?  Not saying that was the case in this instance, and in-fact I can say there wasn’t, however, the scenario is a real potential.

The freedom and liberties of the average person that is not a Law Enforcement Officer is the ability to remain gullible.  Our training and experience makes it so we have no valid excuse.  Imagine your Lieutenant asking you, “So why were you hanging out with a wanted felon?”  I guess you can play the, “I didn’t know he was.”, but how far is that going to get you?  Days off maybe?  Internal Affairs investigation?  Fired?  Bad reputation?

Normal social conforms for an Officer is so much greater than the average person.  There is so much risk and responsibility involved.  If someone is smoking marijuana, you can’t stay.  Why would you?  As a person growing in this day and age, marijuana is perceived as a little above a cigarette.  It’s “no big deal” to most people now.  But something as minor as a “no big deal” to them, can cost you your livelihood.

Now take all of your fears and worries aside and say no one has or is doing anything illegal.  Do you tell them you are a “Cop?” If you don’t, give your girlfriend a glass of wine and she will.  Even after telling her NOT to say anything.  Now once that information has been let out, there’s no way to put that cat back into the bag.  “My brother got a speeding ticket. Can you write off tickets for me?”  “Most cops I know are assholes.”  “Did you ever break the law?” – The questions just keep coming.  It’s funny, a show that debuted in 1952 still has a clip that carries the same weight to social events today.  Ever watched that infamous Joe Friday clip “What it means to be a cop?”  That clip hits home to this very day.  But the average person doesn’t realize it.  If you haven’t seen it, I advise you to youtube it.  Joe kills it.  There is a reason L.A.P.D. buried that man with full honors.

Now you take all these awkward social missteps that Law Enforcement have to navigate in their home life, then you add it to the stress of having to deal with the on the job stress of knowing and retaining thousands of laws, policies, case laws, etc..etc., it’s enough to drive anyone to insanity.  Well anyone except the hundreds of thousands of us that are doing it every single day for a low-adequate pay with decent benefits.  So the next time you run into a “Cop” at a party, do him/her a favor and talk about something interesting besides his/her job. – Thanks..

Stay safe all.. and when a Police Officer tells you something, please listen and do it.  They don’t know you or your intentions.

– Frank Three

https://youtu.be/IMc3RS_afSE
Joe Friday Clip

image

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32 thoughts on ““Why” our badge is so heavy

  1. So THIS explains why a few cops that I’ve had a crush on won’t give me the time of day!!!!! Lol. I thought it was because I was Ugly lol! Good to know:)😄

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  2. Thank you for this story, you have a job that I could not do, when I got out of the military I was thinking so I ask a police officer, what he told me I new it was not for me, so take care love you R.C.

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    • And less risks too.

      Don’t get me wrong; I have mad respect for our dispatchers. Love them to death and wouldn’t/couldn’t do their job. But they’re not the ones on the side of the road fighting a crackhead in a ditch at oh-dark-thirty with backup 15 minutes away.

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  3. It’s funny….my husband who is a army Veteran has the same issues. …standing with his back to the wall…his stance. People had often mistook him for a cop….even all my sheriff buddies that I work along side in the ER dept…smdh But I don’t find anything wrong with how cops hold themsleves….even in nursing, how we conduct ourselves off duty holds a huge ramifications to our license as nurses. So yes we too have to consider things like these when out with friends enjoying ourselves. ..making sure we don’t get into any fights, break any laws, or be involved with drugs. Our license that we’ve worked hard to get could easily be taken away.

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  4. The “Mark of Cain”. Once you have accepted this as your life, you carry this with you everywhere you go and we inherit this as this is not truely a choice but a calling from God ( Romans 13, 1-4)
    Losing friends becouse of the job is just part of it, remember its their choice.
    I would rather stand out as an officer then try to hide it or fit in, you never know when that person will pick you out that could result in lives being saved. Worship God as your true leader, remember your badge is a symbol not a god. My blood runs BLUE!

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  5. I seem to be out of step with the rest of the commenters here.

    You seem to be coming from the point of view that is “us and them”. That is anything but the case.
    I am assuming that you are new to policing and are young as the scenarios you describe reflect that of younger person.

    “So I took the time to explain to her all the reasons I had for being a social stand-off. So I started with the lack of knowledge of the group of people at this particular event and the implications/repercussions for me as a Law Enforcement Officer.

    So get out of the corner, interact with people, have a good time and get to know them. Most people in the world are good people. The chances of your girlfriend’s friends being into criminal activity is pretty slim. I think you are creating difficulties for yourself.

    “Imagine your Lieutenant asking you, “So why were you hanging out with a wanted felon?” I guess you can play the, “I didn’t know he was.”, but how far is that going to get you? Days off maybe? Internal Affairs investigation? Fired? Bad reputation?”

    I cannot believe that anyone’s Lieutenant could hold you accountable for unknowingly interacting with a wanted felon. I think you are convincing yourself of a situation that doesn’t exist. If they attempt to do so, then I think you will have a very strong case to grieve any such decision.

    “Normal social conforms for an Officer is so much greater than the average person. There is so much risk and responsibility involved.”

    Where is there so much risk and responsibility coming from?

    “My brother got a speeding ticket. Can you write off tickets for me?” “Most cops I know are assholes.” “Did you ever break the law?” – The questions just keep coming. … So the next time you run into a “Cop” at a party, do him/her a favor and talk about something interesting besides his/her job.”

    You can learn to easily redirect the conversation to talking about the person who is asking you the questions. Doctor’s get the same thing, as do many other professions. It comes with the territory.

    I think you are building up the difficulties of being in policing far beyond the reality of things.

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    • Than perhaps it is you who are new. This article rings so true for mine. There is a zero tolerance policy for alcohol related incidents. Does it matter one i-otta that you are in the right? Nope.. Any alcohol and have an off duty incident and you are done.

      It’s that simple. So why the hell would he walk around and loosen up? Sounds like he has been in some stuff and doesn’t want to sit in the hot seat again. Sounds like he knows exactly what COULD come his way. Not saying that EVERYONE needs to feel this way, but that’s exactly what the writer is basically saying. He says this is HIS perception of the department and many people agree with him.

      Maybe you and your imaginary traffic buddy can go back to playing with each other.

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      • If that is the case with your department, I find that to be extraordinary. Without identifying yourself, can you identify your department? I ask as I want to ask them what their rules are in this regard as it sounds so incredulous to me.

        “Maybe you and your imaginary traffic buddy can go back to playing with each other.”
        I don’t get the reference.

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      • The point being Mr Keates. It is not my responsibility to provide you with any information on any departments. However, if you want to be thrown a bone, you can start with researching departments with “Performance to Standards” and “Fraternization” policies. You can do your own leg work since you find it so “Extraordinary” and “Incredulous” that out of the tens of thousands of Agencies across the board, that the authors comments ring true. I additionally find it suspect that you claim to be in Law Enforcement but have never heard of any agencies, nor do you find it possible that agencies have adapted these policies.

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      • ” It is not my responsibility to provide you with any information on any departments.”

        You made the statement, “There is a zero tolerance policy for alcohol related incidents. Does it matter one i-otta that you are in the right? Nope.. ”

        It is your responsibility to back up that statement. It is not incumbent on me to prove such a policy does not exist. That is close to impossible for anyone to do. It is your responsibility to back up your claims and provide the reference to support your position.

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      • What came first? The chicken or the egg?

        Well actually it was your comment stating you disagree. You believe it to be untrue, so the burden of proof is not on me Sir, it is on you.

        However, the reality is, this is not a court in which we HAVE to establish facts. I left you enough nuggets to go look. Your too lazy to go find the answer apparently.

        Good day..

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    • Yeah. You have no idea what you are talking about.

      No, we are NOT permitted to socially interact with wanted persons. We are required by law, on duty or off, to arrest them. Yes, you CAN be disciplined for ignoring this rule.

      Yes, we scan everyone to determine if they are threats. Yes, we are almost always armed.

      Illegal drugs are a no-go. If a joint comes out, I walk out. Period. We are NOT permitted to ignore illegal drug use. We are supposed to arrest them, not party with them.

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      • Sometimes it’s not about costs Mr. Kyeates.

        I read an article from a large agency on the west coast where several lower ranking Deputies were found guilty of obstruction for following orders.

        They found a cell phone on an inmate inside their jail (Misdemeanor crime). The inmate stated he was a CI for the feds. The Deputies brought it to their supervisors, who outside of their presence verified some information that the Feds were in fact involved.

        The Deputies were later ordered to give this inmate a new booking number and name by their supervisors while their supervisors conducted their own investigation into the potential crime of smuggling a cellphone into a jail and potential other crimes.

        You can read that here: http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-six-deputies-convicted-of-obstruction-20140629-story.html

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      • Thanks for the link to that article. I read it over and, recognizing that what is reported in the media is rarely accurate, it appears that the Deputies were involved in unlawful activity. They simply provided the defense that they were following orders but the article notes they were also charged with going to the FBI handler’s residence and threatening her. I don’t see that as the actions of an innocent person.

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      • ..and as you noted, the media doesn’t always report the facts. You can investigate whether any of the “young” Deputies traveled to the FBI investigators house. You can additionally look at “exactly” what was stated to her and see that they were laying out to her that the fact she was smuggling items into a jail it COULD be construed as a crime and she COULD be arrested.

        But hey, since you wanna fight me on everything.. Go look for yourself..

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      • I am certainly not trying to fight you on everything. I am simply trying to see what we an determine to be accurate and what is simply our own view on things.

        “… and as you noted, the media doesn’t always report the facts.” Quite right. Yet you seem to want to use the media reports to support your position, but don’t like the media reports that don’t support you position.

        And remember, the onus to provide evidence is on the person making the allegation.

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  6. http://www.aele.org/law/Digests/empl14.html

    This link addresses results of appeals regarding Employment & Labor Law for Public Safety Agencies. In each case of the ones that I looked it, they confirm that the officer had knowledge that he/she was associating with a known criminal.

    e.g. ” … engaging in a personal relationship with a known prostitute and heroin addict.”
    ” … sustains the termination of an officer who “associated with a person she had reason to believe was engaged in criminal activity.”

    It appears the author’s claim that “So why were you hanging out with a wanted felon?” I guess you can play the, “I didn’t know he was.” is invalid, as I previously suggested.

    I note that you have provided nothing to support your position other than your word. Without something to corroborate your points, it appears your position reflects your perceptions rather than reality.

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    • I don’t who you are addressing when you are suggesting the authors point is invalid.

      You just posted a link that validates his claims.

      “I guess you can play the, “I didn’t know he was.”, but how far is that going to get you? Days off maybe? Internal Affairs investigation? Fired? Bad reputation?”

      In your link you affirm that Officers have been fired for hanging with felons. He doesn’t state that they were unable to get their jobs back, nor did he state that was the end of it. He noted bad reputation, Internal Affairs investigations, days off. All of which, including being FIRED are a HUGE issue. Even if the department owes back pay and other issues, you have still been without a job during the duration, you also carry a bad reputation now. Exactly what the author claimed.

      So….I guess we are back at square one, and it sounds like you now agree with the Author. Either way, you just debunked your original claim that this is unheard of that a Lieutenant would go to such lengths as you just have posted several examples of exactly that.

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      • If you double-check my original post you will note that I said, “I cannot believe that anyone’s Lieutenant could hold you accountable for unknowingly interacting with a wanted felon.” The key word in my observation is “unknowingly”.

        In my post you have just responded to I had stated, “In each case of the ones that I looked it, they confirm that the officer had knowledge that he/she was associating with a known criminal.” The key words in that statement are “the officer had knowledge”.

        My original point was that unknowingly associating (a lack of mes rea) would not lead to disciplinary action. The link I provided you confirmed that in cases where there was action taken against an officer, the officer had knowledge of the person’s criminality. There is no contradiction in my statements.

        I do note you have as yet to provide anything to corroborate your position.

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  7. Its the writers opinion guys. And one I agree with. I feel the same way and me and the writer are a thousands of miles apart. I’ve been doing this a long time. And he is pretty well spot on in my opinion

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  8. While the sentiments in this article are grounded in good intentions, this is also a recipe for burnout. I would have to agree that the author of this article is “new” to a certain extent. I have been an LEO for going on 12 years, so I’m not armchair quarterbacking here. Being a cop is like being a waitress or being a car salesman, you put on your uniform, go to work, and come home a take it off and you are Joe Citizen, Granted, for overt stupidity or criminal acts, you will be held accountable at work unlike other jobs. But that is just it, it’s a job. You need to be able to turn it off. You are not a cop 24 hours a day, use that other 14-16 hours a day to live your life. If there is a chance that there are felons and drugs at a social gathering, then don’t go. Don’t go anywhere or do anything that you would put yourself in that situation, cop or not. Sizing up everyone, assuming the worst in everyone, thinking that any second you will be thrown into the $%!# wherever you are is called “hyper-vigilance” and it will take a toll on you, your relationships, your family and friends. I’m not saying not to be aware of your surroundings, but just be aware. If you are not on duty, be off duty. Why is our badge heavy? It is, only if you let it. You are not a cop 24 hours a day, use that other 14-16 hours a day to live your life. Have non LE hobbies, don’t watch cop shows and read cop books and hang out with only cops. This job WILL consume you. Your girlfriend didn’t understand your behavior at the party, I don’t think you did, either. No offense intended in any of this, just relax and take that badge off. It’s a symbol of what you do, not who you are.

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  9. This also goes for Corrections officers their job is just as dangerous, just think that a police officer deals with one maybe two at a time well correction officers deal at least 72 if not more at one time. They don’t know what these guys are thinking but they walk around them all day. So they to have a dangerous job not taking anything away from police officers their job is dangerous to.

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  10. My brother was a CHP for 20 years and was always “aware” but also” lived” his life without his badge, until his death from health reasons unrelated to his job. In any family or friends situation no one could point a finger and say “he is a cop”. God was his ultimate “boss” and he still could be a friend, brother and father and do an award winning job. Don’t let the badge become who you are. I have many relatives in LE and love every one of them and pray for them to be safe and protected by God.

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