By Ed Meckle, Retired LAPD

I am male/female or any gender. I belong to all ethnic groups. I am early to mid-20’s. About 5’6” to 5’10”, proportionate weight. Excellent health and faculties. I was active in high-school sports, probably a scout and possibly a veteran.

I am a police officer.

 

I am remembered from school as a “nice” person, pleasant personality, polite and helpful. Some might use the adjectives caring, respectful and a good kid. I am smarter, more diverse and better equipped than my counterparts of a generation ago. I am better armed both weapons and technology; I have a higher level of education and am probably bi-lingual. I am more prepared to fulfill the duties of an officer than my predecessors. And I am much more likely to be killed or injured. I am more likely to face a gun /knife/rock/bottle/be kicked/punched or assaulted by various means.

I am a police officer.

 

I am chameleon like in my ability to change personalities to deal with any variety of situations that I encounter. I am friend, confidant, confessor, inquisitor, father-figure and any roles that may be needed.

I am a police officer.

 

The only time I am called “officer” is when I ask for your license and registration, or you need help or I am in court. Otherwise, I am a pig, the man, five-oh, Mountie, the fuzz, party-killer or any of hundreds of others. I work all hours, in all weather. I work holidays and weekends and don’t make long range plans. I do things others wouldn’t or couldn’t.

I am a police officer.

 

 

I am expected to counsel persons old enough to be my parents or grandparents, I advise on marital problems and I am single. I am called upon to do distasteful tasks. I must tell a mother or wife that her child or husband is not coming home. I must tell the victim that I will do my best to catch the person who did this to them knowing even if caught the bad guy will escape any “real” punishment.

I am a police officer.

 

When asked why I became a police officer I might offer the stock answer “to help people” or “job security,” but actually, remembering that character, an “old beat cop,” from one of my favorite novels, Signal Thirty-Two by MacKinlay Kantor, tells his rookie partner, “police work is like having a front row seat to the greatest show in the world.” Let the quote sink in and read the line a second time. My God, how true, how succinct and how very well put. A reviewer reported “you will find a world you never knew existed that makes a police officer a breed apart, this world exists right next to your own but as far out of sight as if it were in another dimension.” It can’t be said any better.

I am a police officer.

 

I have been chosen. I am no longer citizen or civilian. I speak in measured tones and remain calm in the face of adversity. I remain in control and control every situation or it will control me. I am no longer a face in the crowd asking “what happened?” I am out front. I am in charge and whatever happens depends on me. Good, bad, or indifferent, it is my responsibility and, God, do I love it.

I chase the person as he runs at night throwing items into the hedge. We enter the open back door of a deserted building and skate on the blood, vomit and whatever until I catch him. I must then wait years for nine elderly persons with a combined age to rival Methuselah, split 5-4 to tell me I did something wrong.

I am a police officer.

 

I read the news or watch it on TV and not recognize the reported version of events even though I was there. Most of you coppers reading this will hopefully identify with some of my words, but there are some who never “got it” and spent their entire careers making themselves and the public miserable. Despite all this, the “great seduction” slowly begins as “the job” becomes all.

 

I am a police officer and will be one until the day I die.