FLOWER MOUND, TX — May 10, 2021 — When I look at the news today and see the way police are being vilified by left wing America-haters like Antifa and Black Thugs Matter, I think back to the New York Police Academy where I trained for 4 months in the middle sixties to get prepared for facing the world as a law-enforcement officer. During the academic portion of the training, we had an instructor named Lieutenant Levine. He was about 50 years old, with more than 20 years on the job. I had just turned 21 and was probably the youngest in the class of approximately 35 recruits under the age of 30. Having been raised on the lower east side of Manhattan, I had no connection to the middle class until I began training with guys who grew up in single-family homes in Queens, Brooklyn, Long Island and Staten Island.
In addition, many of them were motivated to be cops because of family members who had been, or were still, working for NYPD. Most of my family members were actively trying to stay away from cops. It’s not that they were criminal types, but the neighborhood lent itself to activities that would not be viewed as legal to the local gendarme patrolling his beat. When residents of that tenement-filled district needed a quick loan, but didn’t have the collateral to impress a bank manager, they simply turned to the shylock, aka, loan shark in the area. They knew the rules and paid the exorbitant vigorish, realizing that failure to do so would result in a visit by some burly characters with bent noses. Moreover, the Louisville sluggers they carried had nothing to do with baseball.
Then there were the bookies and numbers runners who were always keeping an eye out for the patrol car as they were taking 2-dollar bets on the horses and quarters on the 600 to 1 odds that someone would pick the lucky number that day. Although these were low-level misdemeanors, cops had the job of enforcing laws that were essentially “victimless.” As a result, people would occasionally get arrested and become embittered toward cops for stopping them from enjoying the extraordinarily little recreation available in those depressing urban zones. Similarly, when cops turned off fire hydrants, being used to lower the temperature of the multitudes of city-dwellers during scorching summers, they were despised for merely doing their job.
Anyway, to get back to Lt. Levine, he not only taught us about the penal law, he gave us a healthy dose of his philosophy about police work. He told us that our lives were about to dramatically change from everything we’ve experienced prior to becoming a cop. “When you put on that uniform, badge and gun,” he said, “you will have entered a realm in which people will view you with suspicious eyes. Your family, friends and neighbors will suddenly think of you as an official authority figure, causing them to refrain from speaking freely around you.” He went on to tell us that everyone who ever got a traffic ticket will bring it up at social functions and add how innocent they were of the charges.
“Generally speaking, people don’t like authority,” he said. “They feel resistant to anyone who they perceive as having power over them,” he added. He went on to say that we’d only be popular when we showed up at a scene in time to assist a crime victim. However, if we got there too late, we’d be chided with the old adage, “there’s never a cop around when you need one.” He wanted us to know that there’d be times in which we’d be exposed to mild aggression and even hostility at social gatherings by those who see an opportunity to show their contempt for cops without risking consequences.
His comments were discouraging and unexpected from a superior officer who was, ostensibly, preparing us to do our job as reasonably as possible. Maybe he was trying to test our resolve to continue, or maybe he was just unloading decades of his own unpleasant experiences on a new crop of rookies. In any event, I learned how right he was when I began to see the looks on the faces of older family members when they heard I had become an enforcer of some of the laws they were used to violating. When I walked into a room occupied by my aunts and uncles, some of whom had encountered brief visits to the hoosegow, the robust chatter suddenly morphed into a morgue-like reticence.
It didn’t take long before I viewed it as more humorous than troubling. Yet, as I recall the prophetic words of our pessimistic lieutenant, I can’t help appreciating how right he was about the public’s instinctive resistance to authority. It was pretty bad during my 20 years, but thankfully, that was before the iPhone intimidation being forced on cops today as they deal with vicious invective from those who feel they have law-enforcement on the ropes. I don’t believe cops have changed much since I was chasing the bad guys. What has changed is the leftist admiration for lawbreakers and the concomitant contempt for the guardians of public order. God willing, that will change when sanity is resurrected in our country.
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Bob Weir is a veteran of 20 years with the New York Police Dept. (NYPD), ten of which were performed in plainclothes undercover assignments. Bob began a writing career about 16 years ago and had his first book published in 1999. He also became a syndicated columnist under the title “Weir Only Human.”