I’ve been a supervisor for a number of years. I find it easier to laugh at the things cops do now than I did early in my career. The unique experiences only we, as cops, can share with each other through war stories can circulate for years during choir practices. It’s all about Cop Humor.
A perfect example is when my patrol car was stolen and wrecked by a suspect. It was an awful experience and a terrible punishment. Several years later I was able to laugh about it when I was presented the rear view mirror from my stolen and wrecked patrol car for a going away gift from my previous department. My friend held onto it for all those years just to present it someday.
Then there’s the time my husband passed out from a medical condition while at a friend’s house (another cop) and was forced to wear a football helmet from that point on when we visited.
The time I caught two of my officers making traffic stops and writing tickets on Halloween with scary masks on.
Whatever the story is cops have an innate ability to find the humor in just about anything making the horrors of the job easier to endure.
I once had a Sergeant who was terribly mean but taught me so much about police work. He went through a tough period of being down and it was hard to watch. I thought I would cheer him up by getting him angry. Who does that? I was young! I used words in my police report that I knew would drive him insane, like “fixin” or on the radio say I was “10-60 in the area” because as he constantly harped 10-60 meant in the area and I was being repetitive. It made him mad and he finally snapped out of his funk.
Another Sergeant that I served with would carry a small bottle of whiteout in his speed loader case and yes – I know I’m dating myself. He also wore a homemade gift of a coat hanger that was bent to hold a cup of coffee and a donut. Who made the gift for him? Another cop, of course.
Cops can find the wiggle room in any policy or rule. Like when you tell your officers you only want two cars in a restaurant parking lot at any given time. They will adhere to that policy but load 4 to each of those cars.
Cops can turn a small event into a circus because we get bored easily. I remember, on a long midnight shift, when several officers on my shift toilet papered the firefighter’s cars that were parked in the parking lot, outside the station while the firefighters were sleeping.
Cops will go “supervisor shopping” in order to find someone who will tell them what they want to hear to skirt the chain of command in a way that they can have plausible deniability.
Cops subscribe to the philosophy of it’s easier to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission. They cite random laws that they make up or no one has heard of in order to argue their case…whatever their case may be.
There are the narcotics officers who spend their careers chasing the high. Not the high you’re thinking of but describing the high when chasing the big drug bust as “like heroine.” The police administrator who for the most part sits around and wishes they were still on the street. “Those were the good ole days.” The field training officer who gets to school new officers. Like the time two rookies chased a juvenile suspect while I calmly drove to his house and caught him walking in the front door. “Working smarter not harder.”
Here’s the bottom line. In this day and age with the way things have changed in law enforcement make sure that wherever you are, whether it be in narcotics or a rookie in field training, have fun. Enjoy yourself and create your own stories. Be able to laugh because it’s a great stress reliever. Always hold onto your Cop Humor.
Cathy Bustos is a law enforcement officer in Central Texas. She is one half of “That Peer Support Couple” with her husband Javier. Together they are strong peer support advocates speaking about surviving critical incidents and marriage. firstname.lastname@example.org
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