Friday, December 13, 2013

A while ago I was visiting a policeman's internet board

 and someone threw out a broad question about the differences of being a cop in different areas.

Several of them admitted using the passenger's side floor of their cruiser as a temoporary trash can and picking it up after shift.

Another officer wryly commented that after dark the world became his toilet which made me think for a second until I figured out that this particular officer most likely was a rural cop with a large area to cover. I thought about that and remembered the countless times that I would be on the road late at night and pull over to pee.

While in a city or in populated suburbs there is almost always a place open where a cop can find a toilet, it's different in a more remote area when the town rolls up after dark and the local honky-tonk (if there is one) closes at midnight.

That's when I sat and thought about the fact that simply being a policeman really isn't a good job description because of the many differences in the work and working conditions.

In Alaska many small villages have a person called a 'Village Public Safety Officer' which really is a cop with very broad responsibilities. He's a cop, fireman EMT rolled into one.  In the larger towns they have regular departments. They often team up with a State Trooper on special duty.

Kodiak had a regular department and a harbor patrol with armed officers. The regular cops wore sidearms on their hips like most cops, but the harbor officers carried their sidearms concealed. Most peope never knew the harbor officers were armed. Both had differing missions and seldom did the areas overlap unless something was seriously wrong.

Sometimes the city cops would get upset over the fact that they were not really allowed on the docks unless called by the Harbormaster which was damned seldom.

One time a pair of city cops tried to board a boat and got thrown over the side. The resulting case got thrown out of court because the boat had not been tied up at the time of the attempted boarding. Being underway the local officers had no juristiction yet the harbor cops likely would have handled the situation with ease.

Incidentally, the court case came up for the crew of the boat that threw the local cops over the side. What happened was hilarious. As the trial began one of the defendants raised his  hand and the judge looked at him and started to explain to him that he had to wait his turn.

"But Your Honor, I'm just trying to save us all a lot of time and effort," He said.

"Pray, tell us what is on your mind," said the judge with more than a touch of impatience.

"We were on a US documented vessel underway and the officers were out of their juristiction. I'm not even sure this court can try this case," he said.

The judge's facelit up and turned to the courtroom and asked if the vessel was underway. When it was determined that it was the judge turned to the fisherman.

"Thank you, Mr Karstein," said the judge. "You are absolutely right. This appears to be a federal matter. Case dismissed."

The harbor patrol knew who to call for backup. Sometimes it was the local department, and occasionally it was the Coast Guard.

While I suppose through TV most people have a vague idea of what city cops do, few understand that their brother officers in less sparsely populated areas have it somewhat differently than their city cousins. 

I suppose a city cop can have a beat of only a few blocks and only know a few people in it unless he has had the beat a long time and even then not even know half of the couple thousand or more people on his beat.

On the other hand, a rural cop with a several square mile beat is likely to know everyone in his entire area and what they do and a lot of their habits. His beat may be bigger than the entire city his brother officer patrols only a couple block area of.

A rural cop that knows his beat is often more apt to settle things then and there than a city cop simply because he is more likely to know the people involved.

I would imaging that if the city officer got into a bind he's have backup in seconds. On the other hand, the rural officer may have to wait for quite some time for backup and in some cases, not even have any backup. As a result of this a rural cop has to think differently  than a city cop.

When you consider that the saying that people get the police they demand it is interesting that one officer, say in the city, may either arrest or issue a summons to someone that the rural cop would scold someone for or even just ignore.

I suppose the inverse must hold true in things. 

Another thing about policework is that there are so many differing missions out there. In some areas Fish and Game types are sworn officers charged with enforcing Fish and Game laws and are unlikely to stop someone for speeding. Then again, a city or town cop might not think to check the hunting license of the speeder he has stopped that had a deer in the back of his pickup.

I suppose he might if the deer wasn't dead, though, but for different reasons.

When you stop and think about it, in many cases all that some policemen have in common is simply the fact that they are policemen. It's a pretty broad field.

Just a little food for thought.

To find out why the blog is pink just cut and paste this: NO ANIMALS WERE HARMED IN THE WRITING OF TODAY'S ESSAY

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