Bad Cop
New York's Least Likely
Police Officer Tells All

Paul Bacon
If you think you would like to be a policeman in New York City, stop; do not pass go. Instead, go off and become a scuba instructor on the Big Island in Hawaii.

That's what Bacon did after thirty months in service to the community of mankind. If you think police work is "to Protect and Serve" you may be right. Work to protect your head from getting "air mail" --- objects thrown at you from the tops of buildings in the ghettos; and, as onerous, serving up paper. Lots of it.

Bacon stops a Nissan on Lexington Avenue. Turns out the driver is wanted for selling drugs. "What ensued was a kind of lost weekend, except that much of what took place was fastidiously recorded into the public record. Over a fourteen-hour period, I performed no fewer than 120 separate tasks, most of which resulted in some kind of official documents." On this arrest, known to the men in blue as "a collar,"

    I had to account for three different types of drugs, two pocketfuls of hundred-dollar bills, two cell phones, and one car.

What was most time consuming: a marijuana cigarette: "The joint alone required forty minutes and seven kinds of documentation to process: a quadruplicate voucher, a paper security envelope label, a plastic security envelope label, a handwritten property log entry, a typewritten property log entry, a letter of transmittal, and a request for laboratory analysis."

§     §     §

The most doubtful perk of the job for Bacon was getting maced by a fellow officer while trying to subdue a shoplifter, and, more grisly, having to deal with a DOA. The "Dead on Arrival" was to be found in a hot Harlem third floor walk-up with closed doors and windows (and the stove going full-blast). It had ripened for over three fat, rich summer days.

Let me tell you, if it was unnerving to Bacon, it was almost as bad for this reader. Take my advice, start to speed read when you get towards the end of Chapter 28; when you reach to page 229, you might want to hold your nose; page 230, close your eyes; page 231, lie down and let it pass.

Outside of that biggie, Bad Cop can be a ball. Especially as we watch our bleeding-heart Gore-rooting ecologically-sound rookie start changing colors. At first, there was the pleasure of ticketing a "nice, juicy brand-new Lincoln Navigator with expired temporary tags."

    If I disliked writing tickets in general, I lived for the chance to penalize SUV owners for their bad ecology and monstrous taste. I happily wrote up the summons, whistling the whole time.

But then, his bleeding heart turns, slowly, copper-colored: "Eventually, the entire driving population became my enemy. My early focus on SUV drivers widened to everyone on the road --- that is, except professional drivers. I gave cabbies and movers and anyone else who worked behind the wheel a blanket amnesty of the little things."

§     §     §

A critic named Bacon the "David Sedaris" of the bluecoats. It's a fair call. The buildup --- a year in the police training academy --- may go on too long; his attempts at love for a fellow lady cop drags out (she's the one who maces him); but the devil is in the details. He comes down with pneumonia, and hard-hearted police doctors don't want to help him get time off, despite the fact that "pneu -mo- nia" (as he calls it)

    used to be the leading cause of death before the invention of antibiotics? It killed more Civil War soldiers than gangrene.

And what does a butterfingered cop do when he accidentally locks himself in a police car with no way out, no radio, parked in an abandoned lot, on a dark night. Why he picks up his cell-phone and dials 911.

And what is it, after thirty months, that forces a good-hearted liberal like Bacon to stop being a cop? His body. Recurring sickness, recurring sleeplessness, recurring infections, "chronic fatigue, hypertension, intolerance, love handles."

    Breaking out of the police department was the best decision I'd ever made, curing everything that had ailed me.

--- Lolita Lark
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