Crime. It’s out there. But, I hate to burst your bubble, the public perception that every cop everywhere is turning over every rock and shining a light into every dark corner every second of their shift is adorably incorrect.
I once worked with a guy that summed it up nicely. He said, “We’re like a football team. A team has different members with different assignments. We can’t all be punters. If we were, we’d get crushed in every game.”
My main assignment is traffic. That means I’m not spending my day printing out a warrant list and knocking on doors. Conversely, detectives aren’t spending their day cruising the streets looking for traffic violations. Beat cops don’t spend their days behind a desk dealing with cold paper from a case that is months old.
Believe it or not, there is a method to the madness.
This past week, I was greeted with an oft-used, flippant questions after issuing two citations.
“Don’t you have anything better to do?”
“You’re a real crime fighter, aren’t you?”
After the first one, all I did was chuckle and say, “Really? That’s what you’re going with?” He proceeded to go down a rabbit hole of obfuscation that I declined to follow him down because, after all these years, I know when to shake my head and walk away.
The second one, though? It was too good to let go.
When I stopped this knucklehead, I recognized his name after he handed me his driver’s license. He’s had a number of police contacts. I was fairly certain our paths had crossed before.
The stop was simply for not wearing a seatbelt. Of course, it was on when I contacted him (after he passed by me without it on, mind you). He played the “I had it on” game. He was wearing a white pullover and the belt was black. When he rolled by me, there was no color break indicating the belt was on properly. Not to mention (except I’m going to), the belt was hanging vertically against the B-pillar of the car and I could see the freaking silver buckle glinting in the CA sun. (No offense, East Coast.)
Listen, at the end of the day, a seat belt ticket isn’t a moving violation and all you need do is pay the freaking fine. I’m a pretty big stickler for that particular requirement and am seldom moved to issue a warning (I almost typed that with a straight face) for it.
Predictably, I returned to the car with a cite for the seat belt violation. Dude signed it. As I walked away, I heard him mutter something. Given his history, I couldn’t just walk away without hearing what he had to say.
MC: “I’m sorry, sir, I didn’t catch that. Did you have a question?”
Dude: “You’re a real crime fighter, aren’t you?”
MC: “Actually, you and I have fought crime together, sir!”
Dude just looked at me confusingly.
MC: “I’m pretty sure I arrested you for DUI a few years back.”
Dude (much more subdued and with head hung lower): “You might have.”
Crime fighter, indeed.