By Hal Collier, Retired LAPD

More irony: The sights, smells, sounds of police work

How do cops deal with the irony of police work, the sights, sounds and smells of police work? [This will also apply to all first responders, fire personnel, EMT and some hospital staff.] We all deal with horrific sights in our own manner and I’m going to describe just a few of the ways. I’m not an expert or have any type of psychology training but I am a product of my environment. For thirty-five years I’ve seen things that would make Edgar Allan Poe cringe, and he was crazy!


I’ve seen countless homicides, suicides, traffic accidents and way too many natural deaths with delayed discoveries. The sights are the hardest to forget but more on that later. The easy ones are the sounds. Huh, what sounds? Have you ever heard the crash of a major traffic collision that happens right in front of you? Have you ever heard the thud of a body hitting the ground from a four story jump? Have you ever heard a person take their last gasp of air? The cry of a mother as she holds her dead child (SIDS) will never leave you!


Smells: Have you ever smelled a long decomposing body? It’s an odor that you’ll never forget, or get used to. I was once in a deadly four-story apartment building fire. Some of the tenants jumped from their windows to escape the fire. For years after I associated the smell of smoke with their deaths. Any fireman and some cops can tell you about the reek of burned human flesh.


And last, on a lighter note, the smell of fresh dog shit that your probationer stepped in and then spread on the inside of the floorboard of you police car?  That’s a trip to the police garage to hose out the floorboard. My wife says I’ve lost my sense of smell.

I think of it as evolution.

Come back next Sunday, May 29th for more cop irony from Hal Collier.