A Policeman is a combination of saint, sinner, protector, enemy, friend and foe. He is expected to protect property, enforce the law and maintain order. Officers must respect the rights of all citizens, take verbal abuse, while keeping a level head in the most dangerous situations armed only with his pistol and badge.
He is outgunned, out manned and out planned. Ambushed and hunted, abused and hated, he is most needed and most unwanted. Sir to his face and fuzz to his back. He is a diplomat that must settle differences between individuals so that each will think he won.
Police officers are required to work long hours, changing shifts, nights, weekends, and holidays. Duty first, family last. His life is on the line. When he leaves his wife and children, he may never come home.
Life expectancy is 15 years less than his statistical brother. He is 21 times more likely to lose his life than Mr. Average Citizen.
Media sensationalizes instances of dishonesty and brutality. Incidents are exceptional, unusual, and infrequent. Fact: Less than .00025% of policemen misfit the uniform. That’s a better average than you’d find amongst clergy!
If the policeman is neat, he’s conceited; if he’s rumpled, he’s a bum. If he’s pleasant, he’s flirting; if not, he’s a grouch. If he hurries, he’s careless; if he’s deliberate, he’s lazy.
Video makes him an instant hero or a felon. Law enforcement has become politicized. He must make an instant decision which takes months for courts, lawyers, and juries to determine guilt or innocence.
If he’s convicted he’s DOA, if he’s innocent, 25% hate him. Either way PTSD is commonplace.
He must be first to an accident and infallible with his diagnosis. He must be able to start breathing, stop bleeding, tie splints and, above all, be sure the victim goes home without a limp.
Or expect to be sued.
The police officer must know every gun, draw on the run while carrying 40# of equipment, and hit where it isn’t fatal. He must be able to whip two men twice his size and half his age. If you hit him, he’s a coward. If he hits you, he’s a bully.
Resistance brings cries of brutality. He must take unthinkable abuse and stand there stoically, never flinching and never showing emotion.
Cops are buried in bureaucracy—just the way the NRA wants it.
A policeman must know everything and not tell. He must know where all the sin is and not partake.
A policeman must, from a single strand of hair, be able to describe the crime, the weapon and the criminal, and tell you where the criminal is hiding. If he catches the criminal, he’s lucky; if he doesn’t, he’s incompetent.
If he gets promoted, he has political pull; if he doesn’t, he’s a dullard. The policeman must chase a lead to a dead-end, stake out ten nights to tag one witness who saw it happen but refused to remember.
The policeman must be a minister, a social worker, a diplomat, a tough guy and a gentleman.
And, of course, he’d have to be genius….For he will have to feed a family on a policeman’s salary.
PAUL HARVEY 1974