Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Your Other Right

I'm driving with lights and siren down a four-lane street. This is a high-priority call, so I need to get where I'm going and get there right now. Everyone is doing the right thing - moving to the right and stopping. Until I get behind this moron in a van. Even though the people in the right lane are giving him plenty of room and waving him over, he stays in the left lane and just goes slower and slower and slower, with me practically driving up his tail pipe. I am screaming mad. Finally, he just stops. I have to go left into oncoming traffic so I can continue. As I go by, I give the van driver my best death stare, and he looks back at me like he has no clue what he's doing wrong. I mean, isn't this Driving 101? My mistake: I don't get his license plate number so I can visit him at home later with a ticket.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Bad Word vs. Bad Mom

You don't live at this apartment complex, but you keep bringing your kids over to use their pool. The building manager has asked you three times to leave, but you won't. The manager finally tells you to get the hell out of his pool and don't come back, and you call the cops on him for using the word "hell" in front of your kids. I don't know, but I think he's probably the better role model.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Stop Lying About The Cops

This article by Rich Lowry appeared in the New York Post on December 24, 2014. It exposes the absolute absurdity of the mass condemnation of police officers that's so popular right now.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Thursday, December 25, 2014


It's Christmas, 2014. I'm home with Mrs. Cynical and our dogs. A Christmas tree with wrapped presents underneath. It's perfect.

I hope anyone who reads this will stop for just a moment and remember all those cops, firefighters, paramedics, and other first responders who are out there working today. No matter the weather, no matter the family pressure, no matter any other circumstances, they're out there. And make no mistake: they're out there for you. When you're in trouble, they come. No questions asked.

In this day of anti-cop sentiment, realize that almost everything you've heard along those lines is simply bullshit. Cops are, almost to a person, honest, hard-working, giving members of your community. The last thing on their minds is starting trouble. They much prefer every encounter to go smoothly and without incident. Their main goal every day is just to go home to their families at the end of their shifts. But they have a job to do - sometimes a very grimy and violent job - and they're prepared to do what it takes.

In that vein, also please take a moment to remember the 114 (as I write this) officers who did not go home to their families this year. People just like you - lives snuffed out while doing a very tough job. For you.

Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Old School

I first started police work in a much larger city. In the part of town where I was assigned, there was a bridge maybe 100 feet high over one of the city's main arteries.

One winter, a guy walked out to the middle of the bridge and jumped. I remember his car, still running, parked in the middle of the bridge, and his fresh footprints in the snow on the railing. Anyway, this poor guy landed headfirst, right on the double yellow line of the street below. It was my first such suicide, and it was a pretty shocking sight. One witness, a tough old truck driver who'd seen the whole thing, was crying openly. A crowd gathered quickly while we went about our business.

In charge was a lieutenant, who had been a cop since the Dark Ages. He was gruff and sarcastic, and never without a lit unfiltered Lucky Strike in the corner of his mouth. From about a half-block down the street, one officer hollered to him, "Hey, Lieutenant, should we take him over to the hospital and get him pronounced"? To which the Lieutenant hollered back - in front of about 200 gawking onlookers - "Yes, my boy, but drive carefully - we don't want to lose him on the way."

They just don't make 'em like him anymore.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Immediate Medical Research Opportunity

I really do like doctors and nurses. I respect and honor your abilities, commitment and stamina. But can't you PLEASE figure out some way to keep these people on their medication?

Today, for the millionth time, I got sent to deal with this guy who's off his meds. He's talking 8,000 miles an hour, and ricocheting around his house like one of those paddle ball games with legs. His wife is freaking out, because the guy has made some kind of little sculpture out of paper clips and is convinced it's their kid, but also believes that it's somehow related to a drug gang that's going to kill him.

Can't you just implant a great big slow-release pill in their heads? Or have them pull around a little red wagon full of a lifetime supply of something dripping into their veins? And people wonder why cops have a higher-than-average incidence of alcoholism.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Accent On The "Bitch"

It used to be that people who were being dealt with unwillingly by cops directed words at us that had a lot "ck" and "r" sounds in them. You get the idea: you'd wrestle some dirtbag into handcuffs, and they'd start throwing a string of multisyllabic "ck" and "r" words at you nonstop all the way to jail.

But things have changed. Nowadays, all those fancy words have been reduced - perhaps for the sake of efficiency or expediency - to one: BITCH! Note that I capitalize it for emphasis, because that's the way it's always used.

"Get away from me; I don't wanna talk to the cops, BITCH!"

"I ain't goin' nowhere with you, BITCH!"

"Get your hands off of me, BITCH!"

"Take these cuffs off and fight me, BITCH!"

"I'll kill you when we get to jail, BITCH!"

I pine for the good old days, when dirtbags could really cuss.

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!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Strunk White, Idiot Weatherman: Let's See If I Can Guess...

"We've had a warming trend recently, but that's about to change. I'll tell you how when we come back."

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall

I would be out of a job if it weren't for alcohol. Sometimes I think the whole damned world is drunk 24 hours a day. I'd venture to say that 80% of the welfare checks, neighbor disputes, assaults, suspicious persons, domestics, loud parties, and suicidals we deal with involve alcohol. I worked a bank robbery a few months back in which the robber, who we caught less than 5 minutes after the call came out, had a BAC of .15.  This guy even wanted to know if we could charge him with just attempted robbery, since we caught him and took all the money back. More recently, I stopped a DWI who was a .27 at 8 AM. WTF?

The biggest headache are the alcoholic transients, who used to be concentrated downtown but now seem to pop up everywhere. We constantly get calls to remove these schmoes from sidewalks, railroad tracks, park benches, bus kiosks, apartment hallways and laundry rooms, and restaurant booths. Often they are so far gone they have to go to the ER instead of our detox facility. It's not unusual to find that they've pooped and/or peed themselves. In those cases, I try hard to get them to an ER, because the ambulance transports them and I don't have to clean their residue off the back seat of my squad car (apologies to all you EMTs). Some want to fight. Others want a hug. They invariably stink. I hate putting my hands on them, and itch psychosomatically for the rest of the day.

To all of you who justify what you did because you were drunk and your judgment was compromised, I'm sorry but my sympathy meter is stuck at "ZERO".

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Power of Meth

We respond to a suicidal female, who we learn had run from her probation officer the day before when she was sentenced to 4 days in jail for flunking court-ordered drug tests. When she refuses to open the door for us, we finally kick it in. She then begins a meth-fueled bout of hysteria - shrieking, crying (with real tears), flailing, swearing - the likes of which I've never seen before. I mean 9.5 on the Richter scale, and still going full force 90 minutes later when we left her, restrained to a bed in the ER. I was genuinely impressed at her single-mindedness and endurance. I would've been exhausted in half the time.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

December 7, 1941

1st Lt George Cannon was the first Marine to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor during WWII. 


Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, U.S. Marine Corps. Born: 5 November 1915, Webster Groves, Mo. Entered service at: Michigan.


For distinguished conduct in the line of his profession, extraordinary courage and disregard of his own condition during the bombardment of Sand Island, Midway Islands, by Japanese forces on 7 December 1941. 1st Lt. Cannon, Battery Commander of Battery H, 6th Defense Battalion, Fleet Marine Force, U.S. Marine Corps, was at his command post when he was mortally wounded by enemy shellfire. He refused to be evacuated from his post until after his men who had been wounded by the same shell were evacuated, and directed the reorganization of his command post until forcibly removed. As a result of his utter disregard of his own condition he died from loss of blood.

/S/ Franklin D. Roosevelt

Friday, December 5, 2014

Running in Circles

Here's an example of a call that makes me want to slit my wrists:

I'm dispatched to an apartment building (no apartment number given) because an internet-based phone service called police to say that they had received a text message from someone (no name given), who they believe lives at that address, claiming that another person (no name give) who might live at that address was yelling at a cat. I am not making this up.

To recap: Two cops dispatched to an unknown person, in an unknown apartment, at a possible address, where another unknown person, in an unknown apartment, is sending text messages to an on-line company, saying that the first unknown person is yelling at a cat.

And people wonder why cops have a higher than average incidence of alcoholism.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Time Warp

Officer Cynical: "So, you want to report that your boyfriend stole your pain meds?"

Mrs. Gad: "Yes. This whole thing started back in 2010. Here - listen to this recording of him from back then. It's him threatening my bodyguard."

Officer Cynical: (hears Looney Tunes theme starting up in his head) "Well, I'm here to talk to you about this medication theft. When did that happen."

Mrs. Gad: "That was sometime last year. But we've been living together for 20 years, and he's done it lots of time and he has PTSD. So, if you listen to this you'll see what I mean."

Officer Cynical: "Please, ma'am. Let's try to focus on why I'm here. Tell me about your boyfriend stealing your meds."

Mrs. Gad: "He took my oxycodone last April. He's addicted to them and he huffs paint thinner and threatens my bodyguard and yells at me. This all started in Washington, D.C., and you can check with the police there."

Officer Cynical: "OK, well, I can't help you with any of that. Anything else you can tell me about this theft of your oxycodone?"

Mrs. Gad: "He's in prison now, and the prosecutors wanted me to call you and report this theft so they can add that to the charges. Call the state prosecutor and he'll tell you. Listen to this recording. It'll show you what kind of person he is and why he stole my meds, which I need for my back surgery from 2010."

Officer Cynical: "I have to go. Have a nice day."

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Strunk White, Idiot Weatherman: As Time Goes By

(Note 1: This is the 10 PM newscast)

"Morning showers continue to move through our area."

(Note 2: It has not rained a single drop the entire day)

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

My New ER Hero

For various reasons, cops spend a fair amount of time in ERs. Not long ago I had to take a guy there because he claimed to have been hit by a car while walking down the street.  Once we found him, he was obviously drunk and/or high, and was alternately crying (literally) for us to help him and squaring off to fight us because he didn't want us to touch him.

Once at the ER, they put one of those plastic horse collars on him because his chief complaint was head and neck pain. He continued cursing and threatening the ER nurses and doctors, and they went about their business in an outwardly cool and calm manner. Finally, the guy sits up and starts pulling at the collar, saying he doesn't want the collar on, doesn't want the nurses or docs to touch him, and he's leaving.

Dr. St. Francis of Assisi, who up until then had been just quietly gliding in and out of the room and speaking in low, soothing tones, suddenly grabs the guy by the shoulders, shoves him down on the exam table, sticks his finger in the guy's face, and hollers, "Hey! Knock it off! You are NOT taking that collar off and you are NOT leaving! So lie down, shut up, and stop acting like a dipshit!" And the guy did!

Epilogue: We found out later the guy had not been hit by a car, he'd been beaten up by his girlfriend and was covering for her.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Video Doesn't Lie

I went to traffic court for a STOP sign violation. The driver, a 16-year-old girl, hadn't even slowed down at a 4-way STOP, and I wrote her a ticket for it.

She shows up in court with her father. They sit together at the defense table, her holding onto some big rolled-up cardboard poster, which I assume has a diagram of some kind on it showing how I wrote her a ticket for absolutely nothing.

I get called to testify, and after I do the City Attorney asks that my squad car video be played. The judge actually has it played twice - probably because he can't believe this kid is contesting such a blatant violation, which is clearly shown in the video.

I look down at the defense table, and the girl's father is death-staring his daughter with an expression that, had my father given me the same expression, would have caused me to run away from home and join a traveling circus.

Judge (to the girl and her father): "Do you have any questions for the Officer?"

Father: (still glaring at daughter and with venom nearly visible in his voice) "No, Your Honor."

Judge: "Do you have any testimony that you want to give?"

Father: (still glaring, more venom)  "No, Your Honor."

Judge" Do you have anything at all that you want to say in your defense?"

Father: (continued glaring, yet more venom) "No, Your Honor."

The judge dismisses me, finds the girl guilty, and fines her. She and her father exit the courtroom, with him still giving her the I'm-going-to-murder-you stare.

I never did get to see what was on the poster.