Four Easy Steps to Identifying a Person’s Role

All the world's a stage

All the world’s a stage…

William Shakespeare, in As You Like It, wrote, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.”

Ol’ Billy wasn’t far off in the least. Each of us plays a role. Some of them are easy to identify. I play many roles. I’m a husband, a dad, a son, a brother, a friend, a cop, a writer, and a financial coach. Some times, the roles blend together and occupy space at the same time. Other times, I’m 100% [insert role] depending on the situational needs or desires.

In my role as a cop, part of my job is defining other people’s roles in any give situation.

Those roles can change at the drop of a hat. They can constantly be in flux. One second, I may be talking to a domestic violence victim, but as soon as the ‘cuffs go on the suspect, the victim may take on the role of the aggressor towards me because I’m taking their spouse to the hoosegow.

That’s one of the biggest challenges in being a cop. Not only do we have to identify potential threats, but we have to constantly reassess previously identified roles.

One of the secrets I’ve learned (and was reminded of on the very day I write this) involves a specific role: The Shady Subject.

The Shady Subject can easily be the mask worn by a straight up suspect, so be on your guard. If you encounter a Shady Subject, it shouldn’t take you more than a few questions to peel back the mask’s layers to discover what’s really going on inside. And here are the simple quandaries to use:

  1. What’s your name? Think about that for a second. If I ask you what your name is, you should be able to tell me right away, should you not? If someone is evasive about their name, it’s incumbent upon the copper to do some more digging.
  2. Where are you coming from? This question is a bit of a trap and should be utilized in a two-part role (See #3 for the second part). Odds are the answer will be something along the line of “my friend’s /girlfriend’s/Auntie’s house”.  You’ve tossed the softball and they’ve begun their swing. Often they’ll actually point in the vague direction from which they’ve just come and say “It’s down there.” Totally specific, right?
  3. On what street does your [insert relationship here] live? OR What is your [insert relationship’s name here]’s name? Nine times out of ten the answer will be something akin to either “I don’t remember” or simply a first name. Now, I don’t expect every Tom, Dick and Harry to know the street address of their friends. Hell, the only addresses I have committed to memory are my own and the PD’s; however, I can damn sure tell you the names of my friends and my kin (I’ve been binge watching Justified).
  4. Where are you headed? Be prepared for a vague answer. Things like “Down the way”, “Home”, and “My other friend’s house” are not uncommon. If you’re quick on the uptake, you’ll notice that last one can easily lead back down the rabbit hole of #2 and #3.

There you have it, my friends. Four simple questions for which Upstanding Citizens have definitive answers. If I were asked these questions, my answers would be quickly and confidently delivered. The Shady Subject will beat around the bush as his lizard brain tries to fabricate any number of tales that will get him/her out of trouble as quickly as possible.

I know some of my first responder friends on the EMS side of the coin can learn something here as well and no doubt have their own kinds of questions to determine what kind of role their “patient” may be playing and if perhaps PD should be notified to confirm the “patient’s” true role.

Bonus Question: How many drinks have you had? If the Shady Subject says, “Two” or some variation thereof, you more than likely have yourself a suspect, my friends.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic. Snark is encouraged. Being a prat is not.

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One thought on “Four Easy Steps to Identifying a Person’s Role

  1. MC I can tell already that I’m going to like this blog. Two reasons. #1 – I have two kids I would do anything to protect, so learning how to read situations and people helps me a great deal. #2 – I have friends and family who are police officers, so even though it wasn’t my calling, you all are the cool kids in my book.

    P.S. I love your “Bonus Question” to the Shady Suspect.