Saturday, March 16, 2013

Life On The Beat In The Real World

    Russell Rowley is a real cop. Actually, he’s a police officer or a Law Enforcement Officer (LEO). “Cop” is a cop-out word used most often by anti-social types who think the world is out to get them or that the world owes them something. To take the time to use a five syllable term - Police Officer - instead of Cop shows that you respect the officer and the job he does.

    I have enjoyed watching police shows on television beginning with Jack Webb in the original Dragnet, Broderick Crawford in Highway Patrol and Tom Tully and Warner Anderson in San Francisco Beat.

    At one time I even considered going in to a Law Enforcement career but decided I lacked the guts and the motivation so after the Navy, I returned to Penn State as a Chemistry major (initially).

    I never lost my interest in the law or law enforcement so when an opportunity arose to attend a local Citizen’s Police Academy I jumped at the chance. It was a public relations type of program which allowed civilians a glimpse inside a REAL police department.

    It was during this period I bought a radio scanner and was able to hear actual police calls. The local County-Wide Communication center was most accommodating in sharing with me their frequency assignments and the ten-codes they used. Since I had completed an enlistment in the Navy, I was familiar with the pronouncing alphabet the police used. (That alphabet was a modification of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) alphabet used by pilots.)

    Back to Russell Rowley — It was during the early days of my self-taught police scanner education that I came upon officer Rowley’s website which at that time was “Life on the Beat”. He has changed his web location but not the quality of the REAL stories about his work. His blog now titled Last Night’s Shift is available at:

    Officer Rowley’s site allows civilians an opportunity to witness and interact more satisfactorily with an officer than might be achievable with local police who, in maintaining a proper degree of control, need to be somewhat aloof. Officers (pointed out by one of the presenters at the Academy) have only two types of people in their lives — other officers or bad guys. Getting too close to a civilian might lead to a favoritism which could upset the professional equilibrium.

    The TV shows I mentioned earlier were, for that era, about as realistic as could be allowed. Moving forward to the more recent past, Hill Street Blues; Homicide, Life on the Street; NYPD Blue; Law and Order; Law and Order, SVU and Law and Order, Criminal Intent seem to have brought police drama realism to a new height. When intelligent, police-related humor was part of the picture we could always rely on Barney Miller and his squad.

    Whatever your experience with the law or law enforcement, I think you’d find last night’s shift a worthwhile read — sometimes funny, sometimes poignant but always true.

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