There Is Nothing Routine About Being a Cop


Routine! It is a word that should be stricken from the law enforcement vocabulary. There is nothing routine about police work.

Routine traffic stop

Unless you specifically work traffic enforcement, many car stops are actually investigative detentions. Consequently, routine is not part of the equation. And even those exclusively working traffic, each red-light violator is not simply a banker going to work.

Routine crime report

Police officers will converse with people having the worst day of their year, if not their life. Because talking to victims that have had their homes burglarized, businesses vandalized, and private-areas traumatized are not run-of-the-mill conversations.

Routine foot pursuit

Good street cops will learn to govern on-duty food intake, since a foot pursuit can occur with little or no warning. Hence, it’s pretty embarrassing to vomit pizza after a hundred yard dash trying to catch a suspect that has no desire to be arrested. Most noteworthy, there are no foot pursuits that are the same!

Routine commute

Municipal police officers can travel about 50 miles per shift in a patrol unit working a serpentine path in their beat. Moreover, you can double or triple the distance for highway patrol and state troopers. Not withstanding, when you activate lights and siren responding to a life or death emergency, ordinary is out the window.

Now let’s double-down in the excitement category during a vehicle pursuit, and there is no land-based profession that can relate. Seems like Indy or Stock Car drivers are in this category. Yet people that are racing travel approximately the same speed, albeit extremely fast, and drive in the same direction. Driving Code-3 in a pursuit on city streets is like being a pinball (remember those?), except you are not allowed to hit anything.

Routine authority

Police officers have the legal authority to invade constitutional protections and liberties when citizens violate the law. As a result, when a person is about to lose freedom due to arrest, anything can happen. Merely placing handcuffs on a suspect accused of committing a crime is like striking a match in a hayloft. Therefore, caution is required since many things can go wrong.

Routine work environment

The workforce is filled with Alpha Dogs—male and female. These assertive personalities can mentally and emotionally compete with any professional sports locker room. Spreading them out over shifts demanding coverage 24/7/365 isn’t a typical work environment.

Furthermore, the demand to deal with tragedies in society, natural disasters, and other human ills make each day different than the last.

Routine burials

For anyone that has attended the funeral of an officer killed in the line of duty, you know there is nothing routine about it. The eulogy will accentuate a life of service and the graveside flag ceremony will mute the world. Consequently, nothing can be heard except the breeze through the trees and the occasional bird whistling as the stars and stripes are ceremoniously folded. Most noteworthy, the grieving family is unique since death descended in such a painful manner.

If the missing man formation doesn’t increase your heart rate, the 21-gun salute will. Yet that’s not all. You will develop a lump in your throat and perhaps a tear in your eye as Amazing Grace is played on the bagpipes.

Extraordinary honor

Respectfully, Law Enforcement Today (LET) pays tribute In Memoriam to every line of duty death. These words from Latin are translated to mean, “In memory of.” Hence, we believe there is nothing ordinary about the life, death, or memory of peace officers working as gatekeepers in their communities. As a result they are indeed extraordinary!

Jim McNeff, partner and managing editor, Law Enforcement Today

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