Why Being a Cop Probably Sucks

bodycam cops

“Resistance is Futile.”

To be police officer. Got to be the worst job you can have. Really. Not that it’s not a noble and important profession where you get to eat a lot of donuts—it totally is. Cops are a good thing. Batman is a lousy alternative, if for no other reason than he keeps getting himself captured by Joker and the Penguin and is therefore not always available. No, if my house gets broken into or a bunch of dudes jump me and give me the what for, the cops’ll be the ones I call. But damn, if those guys don’t have a rough gig.

Being a cop would probably suck.

At least for me.

Some people would doubtless get a thrill at carrying a gun and a badge and giving people tickets all day. Even getting into the occasional 7-Eleven shootout. But me, I’m more of a life-let-live type dude. Very much so. In fact, if everyone on the planet were exactly like me, I’m pretty sure we’d all die off in a few years from trying to let everybody else have their way, and so, as a result, nobody has their way and we all eventually die of starvation. You know what say the philosophers of old: it takes all kinds. We need the dicks.

Besides, a lot of jobs—most jobs—require you to be the bad guy every once in a while in order to get things done. Even a librarian. If you get caught trying to have sex by the window at the back of the non-fiction aisle, just watch how fast your mild-mannered librarian becomes a dick!

No. The reason being a cop probably sucks is because everything they do is scrutinized to high hell by anyone who knows how to get to YouTube, and if you’re doing your job right nobody will bother watching the video, but if you had a bad day? One million hits! Cops these days are scrutinized to point of impotence or self-incrimination.

This is the one job I can think of where your boss is always over your shoulder scratching his chin, shaking his head, rolling his eyes. He’s there inside your car’s dashboard camera, your high tech “body cam”, the smartphones of anybody standing around. You get out of line during a routine Quickie Mart arrest? You’re finished pal.

Think about how a nervous schoolteacher feels on the day the school principal is scheduled to come and observe her class. It’s freaking difficult enough to corral those cats, and now you have to do it in front of your steely eyed ex-frat boy principal. You better be on your A game.

No more letting things slide or looking the other way in order to avoid the threat of defiance. All infractions of any size must be addressed, all violators disciplined, even little hellchild Sally Appleseed, whose shrewish mother is on the PTA. You must play with fire. And if you get burnt in any way, your principal will jot it down in his little pad.


“Step AWAY from the poodle balloons!”

Well, for most cops, that’s probably how it is every day.  Or at least that’s how it will be in the coming years, once body cams and dashboard cams are standard in every police district in every state, and its mandatory to keep them always on (even when you’re trying to draw a picture of a penis in the police HQ bathroom stall). That’s the direction it’s obviously going. You’ll be in a position where you can’t bend the rules without fear of reprimand. No more letting poor widows off with just a warning. No more letting the old man free who’d simply shoplifted a single Werther’s Original candy.

All these body cams and dashboard cams will basically turn policemen into dysfunctional, glitchy Robocops. They are expected to function with Robocop’s excessive dedication to justice, except they’re not machines. They’re human. They’re going to f-ck up, just give ’em some time. And the cameras are going to get it all on tape.

The worst part is, I totally agree with the need for body cams and dashboard cams. For every righteous Serpico there’s a seedy, trigger happy Alonzo Harris. I’m not going to go into the subject of self defensive/excessive force. Being a cop doesn’t even need that touchy issue to suck! No, I’m not saying police districts should do away with body cams. I’m merely saying being a police officer has to suck. Big time.

You ever hear the mantra of roller coaster engineers? “If it doesn’t shake, it will break.” Roller coaster structures need to be able to wobble and vibrate and bend just a little as the cars torpedo up and around and upside down, or the stresses of constant use will wear the structure down and it’ll topple. That’s how it is with professionals too. You can do a good job without having to become the Borg. No matter what your profession, you should be able to say, every once in a while: “We’ll let it slide this time.”

In the very near future, cops won’t have this inalienable human privilege. They’ll have to swing for the fences on every pitch, no matter how wild or fast. Not only that, but the minute they strike out? Yoouuuuu’re out!!!!

Yeah, being a cop probably sucks…

This post was based on a Daily Post writing prompt: Nightmare Job—In honor of LaborDay in North America, tell us what’s the one job you could never imagine yourself doing.


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11 Responses to Why Being a Cop Probably Sucks

  1. Doobster418 says:

    I agree with you. Being a cop is a tough and often thankless job. Now, that said, I found this sentence of yours to be very disturbing: “If you get caught trying to have sex by the window at the back of the non-fiction aisle, just watch how fast your mild-mannered librarian becomes a dick!” Ewe.

  2. I see what you’re saying and agree with you. I must also say that, before we evoke too much sympathy for police officers, they can be real idiots too, like the time they pulled my husband over at 12:30 AM when he was trying to come home from work, tore apart his car, questioned him relentlessly and tried to accuse him of speeding all because he is heavily tattooed.

    • Bill Carson says:

      totally, that’s why I think body cams are the way to go, even though they suck for the officers who have to wear them. The public needs some kind of protection against power-mad law enforcers. Dirty Harrys. I wonder if those cops who messed with your husband had body cams. Maybe if they did, they wouldn’t have taken such liberties (unless they were merely following standard protocol—which it doesn’t sound like they were doing)

  3. A law enforcement officers perspective says:

    I know I’m about a year and a half from this original post but I feel the need to give you my first hand experience about the less attractive side of policing in the eyes of being scrutinized. To start I’ve been a police officer for going on 10 years. I am use to the dashboard cameras, you must mind your P’s and Q’s at all times due to it constantly in 30 second record mode prior to its activation. That means everything you say and do is recorded and it will save the previous 30 seconds, up to 2 minutes depending on its settings, once you activate the camera. The camera auto activates once the lights are turned on or you travel faster then 60mph or you press record or you’re in an accident. Somehow I have gotten use to this… You learn just to be quiet and if you must take a phone call or anything step out of the vehicle and take a few steps back. I have been burned on this before. I was having a personal conversation with my wife on why I didn’t get the promotion, yes I was venting, then a 911 call occurred. Two weeks later I’m sitting in my patrol commanders room having to give my badge and IDs up for a 3 day suspension for conduct unbecoming an officer and failure to effect policy.

    Now onto the body cams… I dread those things… Every call you must have it on to the end… It will be reviewed by the shift sergeant. One of the biggest freedoms of policing has been stripped away from us and that’s discretion. If there’s not a policy against what action you took like letting go an offender for the lowest of misdemeanors based on if you think your contact with them was good enough to correct behavior in the future and if there are not any victims, you better believe in about 2 weeks there will be a new policy stating you must take corrective action in the future, ticket/jail or both…

    I’m a huge advocate on more people need your help more then your handcuffs, but with this digital age and all the scrutiny we get it is harder and harder to patrol by that motto. I’m to the point where I’m looking for a new profession because I don’t feel like I can make much of a positive impact in peoples lives. Plain and simple most police departments are wanting PR friendly but law enforcing robocops and this cannot be done. Sure every profession has their bunch of bad eggs, policing is no different, but society has now begun a witch hunt against anyone who wears the uniform. Every police officer you see destroyed on TV is brought into the light of the media and portrayed as the scum of the Earth. No one knows that same officer has done 100s of good deeds and has gone the extra mile helping those who cannot help themselves. They just grab their pitch fork and burn them for a single error or do yellow journalism to sell a story. Again, I know there are bad cops out there, but I know that they do not wake up in the morning thinking G’ Golly I’d like to shoot an unarmed person today out of mistake and be strung up and portrayed as a monster while the news only shares half of the story.

    The simple fact is policing is stressful, dangerous, low pay, long hours and personality changing. Once you have been an officer working a beat for over 5 years, you change, sometimes for the good sometimes for the bad but you change. Maybe you become more callus, maybe understanding, maybe you see the system for what it is, maybe you have hope that society will change for the better.

    Then you get to the point I am at 10 years after I first put on the uniform. I’ve begun to think is what I’m doing worth the potential life changing crisis I may endure if I one day make a mistake that is caught on camera then broadcasted to millions with their pitch forks waiting. While the public does not realize I was summoned to the location by a member of the public calling for desperate help.

    I guess Sheep Sheepdogs and Wolves put it best, the sheep (public) fears the sheepdog (law enforcement) because they like the wolves (criminals) have teeth and have the capacity to do harm. However; if the sheepdog harms even the lowest of sheep then forever will the sheepdog be banished from guarding the flock and the sheep will begin to lose their confidence in the sheepdogs. The entire time the sheepdog only wanted to help the sheep but its intention will forever be forgotten.

    So, back to wondering if I want out or stay in the only profession I know, being the sheepdog guarding the flock.

    • Earl Hatsby says:

      Thanks for the detailed insider info! Certainly sounds like a tough, trying profession, perhaps even more so for the officers who truly care about making a difference. But thanks for getting out there and keeping us safe despite the profession’s mounting hardships.

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