What is a Policeman?
A policeman is a
composite of what all men are... a mingling of saint and sinners... dust
and deity. Cold statistics wave the fan over the stinkers...underscore
instances of dishonesty and brutality because they are news.
What that REALLY means is they
are exceptional, unusual - not commonplace. Buried under the froth is the
fact that less than one half of one percent of policemen misfit that
uniform. And that's a better average than among clergymen.
What is a policeman
made of. He of all men is at one the most needed and the most unwanted...
a strangely nameless creature who is "sir" to his face... and "pig" to his
He must be such a diplomat
that he can settle differences between individuals... so that each will
think he won... But if the policeman is neat, he's a flirt. If he's not,
he's a grouch.
In an instant he must make
decisions which require months for a lawyer. But if he hurries, he's
careless. If he's deliberate, he's lazy. He must be first to an
accident... infallible with a diagnosis... he must be able to start
breathing, stop bleeding, tie splints and above all be sure the victim
goes home without a limp, or expect to be sued.
The police officer must know
every gun... draw on the run... and hit where it doesn't hurt. He must be
able to whip two men his size and half his age....without damaging his
uniform and without being brutal. If you hit him, he's a coward. If he
hits you, he's a bully.
A policeman must know
everything and not tell. He must know where all the sin is and not
The policeman must, from a
single human hair, be able to describe the crime, the weapon and the
criminal.. and tell you where the criminal is hiding. But if he catches
the criminal he's lucky... if he doesn't he's a dunce. If he gets promoted
he has political pull. If he doesn't he's a dullard.
The policeman must chase bum
leads to a dead end and stake out ten nights to tag one witness who saw it
happen, but refused to remember.
He runs files and writes
reports until his eyes ache to build a case against some felon who will
get dealed out by a shameless shamus or an honorable who isn't.
A policeman must be a
minister... social worker... a diplomat... a tough guy... and a gentleman.
And of course he will have to
be a genius... for he will have to feed a family on a policeman's salary.