Friday, October 15, 2010

Piddling cop matters

One of my frequent stops on the Internet circuit is at PoliceLink, a Web site popular with cops that is highly useful for writers of police procedural mysteries.

On it I've learned all about the latest Ford Police Interceptor replacement for the classic Crown Victoria cruiser (it's not getting a very enthusiastic reception), about police careers, about weapons and tactical gear, and half a hundred other items often on a cop's mind.

There are forums on which cops unload their deepest feelings about issues of the day -- for example, whether the Westboro Baptist Church protesters are protected by the U.S. constitution. As with us civilians, cops' opinions on this matter range all over the map.

No concern is too trivial for officers to chew over. Cops are taught never to put their hands in their pockets when on duty, lest a bad guy catch them unguarded at an inopportune moment. But where do they put their hands when off duty? Some of the responses are snarkily hilarious: "Most of the time I carry my daughter on my support side when out in public so my boom stick hand is free to kill zombies."

Each day there's news about incidents involving police officers. Sometimes the headlines can sound right out of the Onion ("Topless Woman, 61, Attacks Officers with Meat Cleaver") but the stories are deadly serious.

Yesterday's home page led with "Bathroom Issues for Law Enforcement." I never knew that a visit to a strange public rest room could be fraught with so many problems for a police officer. Can't turn your back on the door for fear some lunatic will make a grab for your gun. Those stalls don't leave much room for maneuvering with a heavy equipment belt, and the problem is worse for female cops.

For them the article (by a female Naperville, Ill., cop) recommends Quickpants, an extended zipper system for uniform trousers that operates on the same principle as flap-bottom pajamas.

Who knew?

I'll have to write this stuff into my next novel somehow.

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