by Lea Anne Weil (shared with permission of the author, the wife of a cop)
Anyone ever wonder why cops are such ‘pricks’? Every shitty, rotten, horrible, scary situation that exists in life, cops deal with it. Repeatedly. Every friggen’ day. Your ‘worst day ever’ is just another tour. Car accident, homicide, rape, robbery, baby mama drama, baby daddy drama, family dispute over who gets the last pork chop that winds up with a dinner guest sporting a steak knife in the chest, a kid that goes missing or runs away, a Dad who gets tanked up and uses Mom as a speed bag, a drug overdose, hostage situations…every despicable thing that one human being can do to another is what the police are immersed in every day.
Just this week, police in Newburgh, NY were at the scene where a wonderful upstanding citizen was holding others hostage. Earlier this year, this young man’s brother charged the police with a knife (it was the last thing he did on this earth…) and the present hostage situation put the lives of 2 people in peril as the perpetrator ranted and raved. The police charged him and subdued him. What does his family do? Why, they charge the police of course! Listen, one family member was a savage who tried to kill the police and just a few months later his little brother is threatening the lives of others while he holds them hostage. Just after minimizing the threat from this psycho, they have to hold off his family who tried to rush the police. Just a little note, when your ‘emotionally disturbed’ family member is off his/her meds and is a danger to himself or to society and the police have to be called to the scene, try to remember they are the POLICE. If you wanted a social worker or a psychologist, you should have dialed one directly.
This past month, a young NYPD officer gained some notoriety when he bought a pair of boots for what appeared to be a homeless man down on his luck on the streets of Manhattan. It was a selfless gesture and the story went nationwide. It was an opportunity to see the police in a kinder, softer light and quite a human interest story. Of course the media wanted to know all about the recipient of the benevolence – who was he? What was his ‘story’? Well, it was learned that Mr. Hillman was not (and is not) homeless. He has a nice apartment in the Bronx, he receives Social Security and Veteran’s benefits and has a loving supportive family in Pennsylvania. When asked what he did with the boots, he claimed that he hid them because he didn’t want to be robbed and that they were valuable (bullshit – he sold them). Mr. Hillman also claimed that he intends to sue the photographer because he didn’t give permission for his picture to be taken and he wants a ‘piece of the pie’ . So Mr. Hillman is a straight up ‘playa’, yo. Officer DePrimo said that he was going to keep the receipt in his bulletproof vest as a reminder that no matter how hard a day he was having, he would know that someone else is having a harder time and that he would always be grateful. Officer DePrimo did an honorable thing, but the death of his innocence and naivte has begun and in it’s place, cynicism and disdain may have begun its germination.
Stuff like this happens all the time. You call, they come. When they come, it is likely that someone will be leaving in handcuffs. You cannot call the police to a violent situation and expect that in the end, everyone’s tears will be dried, hot chocolate and cookies will be handed out to be enjoyed by all and “Kumbaya” will be heard in the background. They are law enforcement officers. They enforce the law. You do not get to determine how they execute their duties. If you could have handled the bag of shit you called them about, you would have. You couldn’t, so just shut the hell up and deal with the fact that your husband/wife/brother/sister/baby mama/baby daddy/child/BFF could very well be spending time as a guest of the municipality who came to answer your call for help.
Cops hang out with other cops. They get each other; they don’t have to explain themselves. They laugh at things other people think inappropriate. Their humor is dark, but they love to laugh. They work second jobs and they are Boy Scout Leaders, lacrosse, football, soccer, hockey and baseball coaches. The divorce rate in the United States is over 50%, for cops it is significantly higher, and with good reason. They spend twenty –plus years being tired and grumpy from the commute, the crazy hours, the job and pain in the butt bosses. When they walk in the door and the kids yell, “Daddy!” (or, “Mommy!”) they ‘re ready with a big hug, a smile and a “What’s up guys?” How, you ask, do I know these things? I have spent twenty seven years being married to one of them. He is one of those big-mouthed tough guys who know everything. He trusts no one. He is a cop’s cop. He has an amazing memory and eye for detail that is astounding. Anyone who has ever worked with him will tell you he is probably a little crazy, but that he is the best cop they ever worked with. For twenty years, I watched him walk out the door and I always prayed that he would come back. There were some really close calls, but he always made it home. I have never taken that for granted, I know too well the ache and emptiness in the eyes of the survivors of the shield. For twenty years, I lent my husband to New York City to patrol the streets and to keep the wolves at bay so that the people of that city could live under the blanket of security and safety that his existence provided; all the while knowing that the very citizens he protected resented his presence. In 2010, our son took the oath of office and wears the shield his father wore before him. Again, I wait each night until I hear the key in the door before I fall into a deep sleep.
Cops are pricks. It’s what keeps them alive and whole, because if they let all the crap they deal with actually sink in, it would destroy their souls. So they will deal with the things you don’t want to believe really happen. They will be physically and emotionally bruised, battered and bloodied. And at the end of each tour when they take off the uniform and close their locker they say a brief prayer of thanks for making it through the day safely. There is one thing that a cop wants every day when he or she goes into work – just one thing. At the end of tour, they want to go home. That’s it, just to make it home where things are normal, boring and safe. When all is said and done, that really is their job – to make it through the day and arrive home safe and sound.