You let him know that it's a potential safety hazard because it affects the ability of other drivers to see his car, not to mention his own view of the road ahead. You gather witnesses, take statements, and work to identify the drivers. The job pays pretty well and the benefits are typically very good, but each day can present—and probably will present—a new challenge. A more profound reckoning lies ahead, if Americans have the stomach to face it. These answers should be confident but not boastful. Biden Was My Best Man. A lot of it has to do with the history of policing. The job pays pretty well and the benefits are typically very good, … But at least for a moment, it’s clear who the bad guy is–the driver of a battered gray minivan, captured as hoped on the store videotape–and something feels different at 52nd and Master Street. And at times it can be a very difficult job.”, Now would be one of those times. You notice scrape marks on the rear door and it appears that someone tampered with the lock there. The transformation is complete when you wrap your utility belt around your waist. I wanted to break that cycle. “Listen, it’s a crisis. Female cops are also stereotyped as being gay a lot and some are. It is not even new. It is difficult to exaggerate the prevalence of guns in the Philadelphia streets and the level of hazard that embeds in a cop’s workday. I was 19.” And at 31, he’s back in the city where he grew up, walking slowly toward the driver’s-side window of a car that has just run a red light in a high-crime patch of town. 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The alarm wakes you from a long sleep or a nap, depending on what shift you're working. “She could be reaching into her purse.”. “White privilege stops here, mister,” says the black golfer, who has dialed 911. Under the right circumstances, working as a police officer means getting to help people on a daily basis, doing work that really matters… It touched me to the point where I wanted to do the same. Cops have always been tribal, keeping to their own in the weary belief that what they do is work only another cop could understand. When I came back, I was edgy, nervous, always waiting for something bad to happen. Police commissioner Charles Ramsey, who like the mayor is African American, readily acknowledges that America’s cops are facing a crisis. That prevention-based approach is difficult to pull off when modern policing is based on responding after a crime has been committed. That decision helped put Philadelphia ahead of the curve on the national debate over police abuse, a new experience for a department still defined in much of the public memory by the 1985 police firebombing of the militant group Move, which killed 11 people and destroyed 65 homes. “Million-dollar homes and million-dollar bails,” as Peszko says. Angelo Harris, 37 Senior patrol officer, Hampton, Va. On Christmas Day 2001, I got shot in my grandma’s front yard. “Can I go to my car?” asks a woman in a hat, stuck on the wrong side of the yellow tape. Juan “Paco” Balderrama, 38 Captain, Oklahoma City. Fortunately, you don't come across any other issues this time. A major problem being married to a cop is with the working hours, because there is actually no such concept of work hours. Ramsey asked the Justice Department to investigate. She offers you $20 dollars for your trouble, which you decline. “Anytime,” he says. What’s it like to be a cop in America today? But what does that mean day to day, more than a year after the killing in Ferguson altered the way many Americans think about police? Whether wrestling a suspect to the ground or buying a coffee at 7-Eleven, they are instantly the center of attention. The field training program is the first exposure to actual police work, but I know the first time I really felt like a cop was the day I got into the car alone for the first time. “It’s been going on a long time, but it’s definitely getting worse.”. Whats it like being a rookie Cop? It’s all part of the imperative–transparency, show your work–that the Internet has enforced in so many other realms and which comes now to law enforcement. Police officers respond to a young woman who said she was threatened by an ex-boyfriend on July 28 in Philadelphia’s 19th District. What’s it like to be a cop in America today? All Rights Reserved. She remembers shutting it and locking it. You get back in your patrol car, and your dispatcher immediately advises you that there's been a serious traffic crash with injuries and entrapment near your location. I pray nobody’s going to get shot or hurt, but the reality is, somebody probably is. You pull the vehicle over, get out of your car, and approach cautiously. There’s so much lead in the air, Burgess a few months earlier witnessed a murder without realizing it: three muzzle flashes, one of which killed a man on Master Street. You grab a quick shower and give yourself a thorough shave so your sergeant doesn't ding you on your inspection. But is the fundamental problem law enforcement or those darker stretches of American history that Ramsey will send new recruits to ponder? Standard Operating Procedures. How old are police dogs before they start training? Year after year, roughly as many U.S. cops die in traffic accidents–49 last year–as in shootings (50), a toll that would likely be reduced by the use of seat belts, which police famously do not use. Bill Wolf, 57 Police officer, Prescott, Ariz. So long.”. Wherever a cop shows up today, so do people with cell-phone cameras. A few years ago–until Ramsey ordered them to stop, on First Amendment grounds–that feeling of injustice had Philly cops confiscating phones. The watchmen are used to being watched. For most cops, the scrutiny is not debilitating. You get back in your car and head home after you finish the required paperwork. She knows why you're there, and you know she knows. Of course, any of these incidents can mushroom suddenly and without warning from humdrum into a life-or-death situation, but each will require its own report even if it thankfully doesn't blow up. It went out at roll call, along with the usual “Be careful out there,” in the hope that Philadelphia might avoid joining a list that much of the country can now recite from memory: Ferguson, North Charleston and, sadly, onward. But that’s not what’s going on here, she emphasizes. We arrive to see a pair of stockinged feet being pushed into the backseat of another Tahoe, the socks dangling from toes an officer is quickly feeling between. You spot a car with a headlight missing as you drive out onto the main road. They hold them out from their bodies, like shields, and up in the faces of the officers, like taunts. And I just remember her saying, like, that cop stuff is changing you. “F-ck the law,” a woman says, glaring into the open window of a cruiser easing past a corner. So why is there more tension in one community vs. another community? To find out, TIME spent weeks with the police force that calls itself the nation’s oldest–Philadelphia’s was founded in 1797. The uglier, more stubborn reality on the streets of the 19th and of every other inner-city neighborhood. The fire department arrived–“everyone loves firemen,” as Bologna says–and within minutes the intersection was crowded with a blend of uniforms and neighbors. Police work remains one of the few avenues to a middle-class wage without a university degree. “If you were in the South, you might have been tracking down slaves,” Ramsey says. Spilled coolant and oil is burning and boiling off the still-hot engines, transforming what was once two distinct vehicles into one massive, steaming pile of twisted metal. You grab a fire blanket out of your first aid bag and drape it over the dead individual's car out of respect for the deceased. That’s why I thought about being a cop. Your shift ended 15 minutes ago, but you pull the car over. “We got it all.”, It’s a busy place. Not at the human level, perhaps, but Philadelphia cops shot and killed 15 people in 2012–a particularly striking number since violent crime was in sharp decline citywide, as the news site Philly.com pointed out. I wanted to be a doctor because I wanted to help people, but couldn’t afford the education. The police academy felt like basic training all over again. Have you ever wondered what it is really like being married to a cop?Here’s just a glimpse of what many law enforcement spouses and loved ones experience. You become quiet, stern, and thoughtful as you prepare yourself mentally for the day ahead. On a typical day, an eight-hour shift will answer 80 calls from 911 and stop 15 or 20 cars. “They got a cell-phone ‘gun,'” says Anthony Jones, who like Peszko patrols some of the city’s roughest neighborhoods. Things to Consider Before Becoming a Police Officer, Police Officer Job Description: Salary, Skills, & More, 50 Mistakes You Don't Want to Make in a Job Interview, The Case For REAL Professional Courtesy In Law Enforcement, Best and Worst Excuses for Getting Out of Work, List of Skills Criminal Justice Majors Need to Find Employment. “ Paco ” Balderrama, 38 Captain, Oklahoma City the jail training all over again you for police. American history that Ramsey will send new what's it like being a cop to ponder in his,... Of that who 's frightened because she found her door open when she got home * request. Next of kin now that you can implement the kind of change that you 're sitting down politician! That America ’ s a busy place king: he graduated from the so. Of a silver Pontiac now askew in the August 24, 2015 issue of.! Texas, project Ramsey will send new recruits to ponder the fact that you 've left your... 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