A question posted on Quora asked, “What kind of police officer annoys the average police officer?” Retired Police Commander Rick Bruno gave his opinion on the topic, below. What type of cop annoys you? Add your take in the comments section.
Here are a few that crawled under my skin:
1. Those who take excessive sick days
We had unlimited sick time, and believe it or not, only a few abused it. We had one guy who retired a couple years ago who actually had more time sick than he did on the street. He didn’t have a major illness (thank goodness), he was just very “accident prone” (i.e., injuring his neck while brushing his teeth). The city chose to just let him slide rather than to hold him to task for it. Another guy could be counted on to take his “summer sabbatical” every June – August. He would predictably fall off a roof, or be attacked by wasps, or wrench his shoulder wrangling his Harley Davidson. None of these met the criteria for requiring medical verification, the exact limit of which he knew with amazing precision. When these guys retired, it was hard to tell they had left.
Guys you would see going in the opposite direction while you were responding to a death investigation (because they didn’t like dead bodies) or a crime in progress (because they didn’t like conflict). Excuse me while I spit.
3. Overtime whores
They had risen to the top of the food chain and were entitled to first crack at any overtime. They would sign up for virtually EVERY spot, leaving crumbs for everyone else. And then they felt since they were on overtime (getting paid time and a half) they were just a backup car and didn’t need to pull their own weight on the shift. I remember a time when I was the only patrolman working because sergeants had signed up for all the OT. None of them wanted to do any paperwork, so guess who had all the paper calls? When a few of us confronted one of the sergeants who did this for years, mistakenly trying to appeal to his sense of fairness, he pointed to each of us and said, “I don’t give a f**k about you, or you, or you. I’m taking what I want.” He now wonders why no one will return his phone calls to “stay in touch with the boys”.
Guys who would sit and run radar, and write a ticket now and then just to make people think they were doing something. If they accidentally stopped someone who was wanted on a warrant, it irritated them. I backed one up who had accidentally stopped a driver who had a suspended driver’s license. As he was putting him in the back of his squad car I asked him if he had searched the car, which he had no intention of doing. I found a loaded gun under the driver’s seat, and that really messed up his day because now we had to also make a felony arrest. Or guys who amazingly had not made a DUI arrest in 12 years. Seriously. How do you do that? Now and then you find one even if you’re not looking for one, and they are out there 24/7 (drunks, that is). When I asked one of the sergeants about it he said, “they don’t like to testify on DUI trials because they are stressful.” WTF.
5. Prima donnas
I was training a new officer (who still lived at home and was working his first real job after graduating from college). He was very sure of himself. He looked down his nose at everyone and everything, but he was not responding to training. He pointed out things others did wrong, but couldn’t see the things he did wrong, even when I used them as training points. When he said, “I think I will become bored with this job soon, then I will apply for a federal law enforcement job.” I told him, “I think you actually have to be good at something before you can be bored by it.” He did not appreciate my honesty.
6. Professional students
We had a very good training budget, and though the above descriptions do not reflect it, we had an outstanding police department (with the aforementioned exceptions). So we were able to send people to some very good training schools, in particular the Northwestern University Center for Public Safety. These were usually week-long courses. A couple officers saw these as extra vacation weeks. They seemed to constantly be away at school, and yet none of their training reflected what they were actually doing on the street.
NOT THE MAJORITY
Some things to take away from all this. The people I described above were in the minority on my department. Most of the people I worked with were professional, conscientious, and outstanding police officers. The exceptions were allowed to do what they did due to weak political will, and that was more than just a shame.