Monday, June 22, 2009

Couldn't cut it?

"funnylibs" also took a couple of jabs at me in the Northwest Herald comments to today's Jail article about how I couldn't cut it as a "real" cop, and so I thought I might provide some information about my long time interest in law enforcement.

As a college senior I applied to the Border Patrol and took the written test, which was a snap for me, because I was a Russian language major in college. The test was a combination of law enforcement questions and a mock language. When I got to the oral interview, the first question was, "Where did you miss that one question? We never had anyone score a 99 before."

Life as a Border Patrolman sounded pretty glamorous (had I been single), but I had a wife and small daughter, and I didn't think they'd like living 50 miles from the nearest running water or finding rattlesnakes or scorpions in the house all the time. The Border Patrol interviewers explained that many applicants were eager in the first year but quit during to family pressure.

When I was a college senior (1964), I was offered a fellowship at the University of Florida for a masters in criminology. At the time I was also offered a Ford Fellowship for graduate study at the University of Chicago, and that's the one I chose. Once I got there, though, I realized my mistake, because I didn't want to study Bulgarian and logistics, and so I resigned the fellowship and suggested they give it to someone who would appreciate it more. Later, when I looked back on those days, I wondered why I didn't contact the U. of Florida and express renewed interest.

In Colorado in about 1975 I applied to the Littleton Police Department and was #3 on the written test. They refused to process me further, saying I made too much money as a life insurance salesman and wouldn't be happy on a police officer's pay. I figured I could push them on it and win, but then I would have been washing police cars instead of driving them.

I also applied to the Colorado State Police, but I was 1/4" too short, wore glasses, and didn't have a Hispanic last name. I decried the vision requirement, because I knew several patrolmen who wore glasses, but the eye-guy assured me that NO state patrolman wore glasses. Little did he know.

And even later, in about 1985, I applied for a job with the Lakewood (Colo.) P.D. That department was one of the first in the country to outfit its officers in grey slacks and blue blazers. That was the uniform in 1971, when I moved to Colorado. I still have the nice letter from then-Chief Pierce Brooks, thanking me for helping them apprehend some kids who were stripping a car.

So maybe all this helps explain my interest in law enforcement - good law enforcement. I was always a citizen first, cop second. Police should be the first to obey laws, not the last. Maybe now you know why I complain as I do about some of the cop things going on in McHenry County.


QuitWhiningAlready said...

You are definitely an intelligent guy, and it is clearly evident in your writing. I'm sure anyone who reads your blog seriously has already formed that opinion, even without the school rundown. However, what you lack is the current perspective. Yes, you've studied and evidently scored exceptionally well on tests, but it's not the 70's anymore.
"Roadside counseling" is not the worst idea ever and I am a firm believer in providing good "customer service" in law enforcement across the board, however, long gone are the days of grabbing a gun and BULLET (singular) to go out on patrol, even in the most "Mayberry-ish" sections of McHenry County. People are not the same, Gus, and it is not as simple as saying that law enforcement is its own worst enemy with roughneck service, etc...There is a much larger social climate change that's transpired over the past few decades and law enforcement has challenges that were unthinkable in the McHenry County neck-of-the-woods thirty years ago. If you would have told me even twenty years ago that heroin would be the drug of choice in McHenry County in 2009, I would have told you that you'd lost your mind.
YOU are a law-abiding citizen. YOU have respect for law in general. Unfortunately, you are not the majority of what law enforcement officers encounter on a daily basis.

Karen30036 said...

People are not the same? Sure they are. People haven't changed. The attitude of law enforcement has.
Drugs have always been around. There are people that are going to take them, and people who aren't. Some use for recreation in their youth, others become addicts. "The war on drugs" is a joke. Everyone knows it. Alcohol is a drug and I'm reading more and more cops partaking in it's use, getting into bar brawls, getting passes left and right when caught driving under the influence. I'd NEVER get a pass!
Anyone that has encountered law enforcement in the past 20 + years may have noticed, as I have, that law enforcement have become arrogant, rude and full of themselves over the "power" they have over citizens. Citizens are viewed as "the enemy" and civilians can't possibly understand what officers have to encounter daily, and the risks they take. Sure we do! That is your job! You signed up for it, took the position not only willingly, but with enthusiasm.
Many get off on the "power trip" and became officers for the wrong reasons. This is NOT saying ALL cops, let me make it clear, but many.
I don't know why the attitude of law enforcement has changed. Maybe because government is more intrusive in our lives, maybe because it's all about revenue, maybe it's about competition and the "winner" issues the most tickets, or maybe a little bit of all?
To be a truly great public servant you must respect the public you serve.

Zane said...

Karen, it is good to know that people like you will make up the jury in my up coming federal trial against the McHenry County Sheriff's Department.

Karen30036 said...

Zane, I hope you get like minded people on your jury.
I've been driving 30 years, and have experienced harassment by cops.
When I was young, I was being pulled over DAILY. Never ticketed, just made to sit and wait, many times making me late for work. When I complained, it got WORSE. Then the cops started ticketing my car in MY parking space at my apartment. It got to be a daily joke, I'd see the ticket, crumple it and toss it. Got fed up, broke my lease and left. I was pulled over in Prairie Grove shortly after, and there was a warrant out for my arrest for all my "parking" tickets. I hired a lawyer who was reluctant because it was out of his county, but he took my case. We went to court and the judge stated he didn't want anyone else to speak, just me. I told him everything I was put through. He was outraged! He dismissed all of the tickets, and the cops got a tongue lashing like you wouldn't believe!!
My lawyer? Judge Gordon Graham.