Friday, December 19, 2014


Disclaimer: I love dispatchers. They have a very tough job. I once sat in for a shift at our dispatch center. I'd last about 20 minutes up there before I either quit or got fired for cussing out a caller. Our dispatchers are terrific, but sometimes important things get lost in the shuffle.

Patrol officers depend on dispatchers for a lot of things. They can be the difference between an incident going smoothly, and an incident going really wrong. Here are just a few things we depend on them for:

1. Sending us to the correct address.

2. Getting the correct spelling of the names of the people involved in the run, including the caller.

3. Running the people involved in the run, including the caller, to make sure there are no warnings, cautions, alerts or warrants attached to any of those people (see #2).

4. Confirming with the appropriate agency any warrants that might pop up on anybody in the run (see #2 and #3).

5. Making sure that enough cars are dispatched when there are warnings, cautions, alerts or warrants on someone involved in the run.

6. Sending additional cars on the run if the officers already there don't answer their radios, or if the shit hits the fan.

7. Periodically check on the officers that are dispatched to a run where officers are now not answering their radios, or where the shit has hit the fan, to make sure the officers are OK.

Where I work, dispatchers are great at #1, but often don't do #2. This makes #3 (and therefore #4 and #5) difficult or impossible. Consequently, they are often doing #6 and #7. This occasionally makes for some exciting days at work.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Out Of Touch

I don't Facebook.

I'm not LinkedIn to anything.

I don't know what Instagram is.

I'm not Pinterested.

There's a Vine growing on the fence in my backyard, but that's all.

Foursquare is a game we played in the street when I was a kid.

I am minus Google+.

MySpace is the limit of how close I'll let you get to me before I tell you to back off.

I have a flip phone. I can text if I can muster the endurance to push the buttons like 600 times to send "Hi". I can make phone calls, but don't very often.

The masses walking and driving around with eyes glued to nothing but their "smart" phones all day every day is one of the saddest things I've ever witnessed.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


How do I know you're drunk enough for the ER? Well, you're sleeping in a 2-foot wide space between this crappy apartment building and the crumbling detached garage, and on top of broken glass shards, chunks of broken concrete, and piles of tree limbs. You're unable to stand up or, when we pull you to your feet, remain standing. And despite your alcohol-induced paraplegia, you want to fight with two cops. I am a trained observer, you know.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Speed (intransitive verb) - to go or drive at excessive or illegal speed

Officer Cynical: "Sir, I'm stopping you because the speed limit in the school zone back there is 20 mph. You were doing 35."

Mr. Logical: "But I don't live around here, and I usually take that street over there (points one block over), and I'm not a speeder. I don't speed."

Officer Cynical: "Well, you were speeding this morning, and there are kids all over the place this time of morning."

Mr. Logical: "I know, but I'm telling you I'm not a speeder. I never speed."

Officer Cynical: "I can show you the lidar readout, if you'd like."

Mr. Logical: "I don't care what the lidar says. I'm not a speeder, and I....."

Officer Cynical: (interrupts) "Look, I'm not going to argue with you here. You can take the citation to court, if you feel it isn't fair."

Mr. Logical: "Fine. Can you hurry up though? I gotta be somewhere."

Monday, December 15, 2014

True Love

While on patrol, my cell phone rings. The readout says it's Mrs. Cynical, so I answer. She never calls me at work, so I figure it must be important.

All I get is an open line. There's some weird background noise, but nothing else. I keep calling out her name, but she doesn't respond.

Now I'm freaking out. It's no secret in my neighborhood that I'm a cop and where I live. There are so many nutjobs out there nowadays, anything is possible.

I call out on the radio that I'm going to do a welfare check at my address, and ask another officer to meet me there. We do a full-blown search of the house, and other than my dogs, find nothing. I spend the rest of the shift bewildered.

Later that day I find out that Mrs. Cynical had pocket-dialed (purse-dialed?) me and had no idea anything had happened. She called my fellow officer and apologized. I made her go pick me up a pizza.

Friday, December 12, 2014

What He Said

This article originally appeared in American Police Beat.

You Got a Problem? Just Dump it on the Cops
Written by Jim Carnell 
As a street patrol officer in Boston, I was recently summoned by radio call to a housing development for a matter pertaining to "the electricity was out." Upon arrival, I discovered that the building was fully electrified and all appeared to be in good working order. Checking further with the woman who had initiated the call, I discovered that she was calling because the light on her phone had gone out. I informed the woman that I had absolutely no expertise in this field and could not repair her phone and asked her why she had thought to call the police for such a matter. She replied that she had been told to always call the police for everything; whether the cable TV was out or the toilet wasn't working. It didn't matter. "You call the police when you need help."

"Help" has a different connotation in 2010 America than when I was growing up in the 60s. "Help" in those days used to mean you needed emergency assistance from the police, the fire or an ambulance. Today, it means "I'm too stupid or lazy to perform even the most mundane task myself so I'll call the police because they don't have anything better to do and after all, I'm a taxpayer and I pay your salary." (Police officers: check here ___ if you've heard that one ten thousand times before.)

When I started on the Boston police force in 1982, we still chased stolen cars and rousted drug-dealing scumbags from the corners. We let the gang-bangers and street maggots know that we - the police - owned the streets, not them. We don't do that anymore, not under the threat of civil lawsuits, IAD complaints, and state/federal investigations. Today, we're not so much police officers who enforce the law and arrest scumbags as we are "social agents." People call us because their bratty nine-year-old won't do their homework, or because they had a simple argument with their teenager. I know there are a lot of cops like me who want to shout, "Grow up and become a parent, you losers. Stop using the police as ‘the big, bad wolf' because you are unable to act like the adult."

We get called because somebody has water in their basement, or because the phone service is out, or because of a pothole or a broken streetlight. I once had a call from an elementary school because an eight-year-old child was acting up. I asked the teacher what it was she expected us to do. "I don't know," she said, "but I've had it with the little bastard, and they told us to just call the police if the kids act up." Ah, the classic "dump it on the cops" theory in action. Thankfully, the experienced, old-time sergeant who responded with me grabbed me by the arm and we walked out of the building without saying a word. I would have liked to have told the teacher to grab the little troll by the neck and give him a good, swift kick in the arse, but then I'd have been writing a report to IAD.

As many cops know, we often get calls because someone's car is disabled or they've locked themselves out of their house. Now, if your car is in a bad position on the open road, I understand why you've called. But why do they call us when their disabled car is in a supermarket parking lot, a parking garage, or safely off to the side of the road? Call a damn mechanic or a tow truck, ya nitwit! Likewise, I understand the issue if you've locked yourself out of your car or house and the baby's inside or there's food cooking on the stovetop. That, I can understand. But if you've simply lost or forgotten your key, guess what? Honey, I don't have a spare, and I'm not kicking the door in or breaking the window, because I can guarantee you, within minutes, they'll be on the phone to the desk sergeant demanding to know "who's going to pay for the damage." Get the yellow pages and call a bloody locksmith. Got a car or building alarm going off incessantly and you can't shut it off? Guess what? Neither can we! Why do people think the police are provided with secret codes that will allow us to automatically shut off wailing alarm sirens, 99 percent of which are false in the first place? And of course, very few alarm companies nowadays actually send an alarm repair/response unit because they prefer to use the police as their unpaid employees.

For John Q. Public, I have some news. If your basement has water, call a plumber or call the water department. If your telephone isn't working, call your local telephone service provider. If you have a pothole or a broken streetlight, call the public works department or the department in charge of street lighting. If your electricity is out, call the electric company.

Jim Carnell is a police officer in Boston and the editor of the PAX Centurion, the official publication of the Boston Police Patrolmen's Association.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Not Everyone Should Be a Cop

We are getting multiple calls about a man with a gun, walking along one of our city's major business arteries. The man is reportedly pointing the gun at passing cars.

The whole shift is going Code 3 to the area. I'm doing about 90 in a 40 zone.

I'm about 2 blocks away when I hear one of ours officers call out that she's on scene and has the suspect in sight. He does indeed have a gun in his hand.

Then, another officer calls out that "since there's an officer on scene, I'll be Code 1".

I just about go nuts. I get on the radio and tell him in no uncertain terms that he WILL continue Code 3 until we get multiple officers on scene and the situation under control.

This is the same officer I observed allowing an assault suspect to put his arm around his shoulder while he spoke with him in a dark parking lot one night.

This is the same officer who, immediately after I called out that I had 2 suspects at gunpoint in a stolen car in the middle of the night in a snow storm in the shittiest part of town, went 10-7 to eat lunch.

This is the same officer who, just after I called out for back-up on a traffic stop on an individual with multiple warrants, went 10-7 at a meeting with a business owner only 2 blocks away.

You dumb son of a bitch!