Military and Police

The Hazards of Police Work: You Have No Idea

You never know what to expect in police work, right? Everyone’s heard that, and a few of us live or have lived it. One second, you’re writing a boring report, and the next second, you’re evading a hailstorm of lead (bullets, for you civilians). You know…cause that stuff happens all the time. Okay, maybe not all the time. But for cops, stuff seems to pop up out of nowhere—when you least expect it.

First, an advisory: if there are any children or squeamish adults present, here’s their warning to leave the room. I only relate this because these kinds of stories are necessary for people to understand the onslaught of absolute awfulness (sorry to get so graphic) that cops face daily.

I recall one watch that began like any other: I conduct my pre-shift vehicle check. I scan for new damage to my patrol car from the previous watch. I check the trunk, back seat, test my video and microphone, sign onto my car’s computer, and log into service via radio. All seems normal—seems.

Heading out to my beat, I make my first necessary stop at, where else (this is Seattle, and I’m a cop), the coffee shop. I chat with the barista, grab my breakfast, and then head out the door to my patrol car. Then, as if the universe itself wants to show just how unpredictable a cop’s job is, it happened—catastrophe strikes.

While holding my coffee cup, I deftly open the door, turn my back to the car, bend my knees, and begin my descent. But momentum doesn’t want the universe to play alone. It also wants to help teach me a lesson. As I hurtle butt first toward the driver’s seat, I suddenly face that tragedy all cops dread. It’s all happening as if in slow motion. My hand hits the spotlight handle, and I’m unable to stop my downward momentum. The little paper bag in my other hand slips from my grip. There’s nothing I can do now. They’re goners.

I spill my coffee and sit on my donut—my jelly donut!

Well, I warned you this story was not for the squeamish.

Seriously, though—or perhaps, not so seriously, humor (or at least, as in the above, an attempt at it) is necessary for cops, especially these days when stress relief from the onslaught of anti-cop forces is so badly needed. Most cops thrive on humor, and that’s a good thing. However, problems can arise because what cops and society find humorous aren’t always in-sync. Something we’ll discuss in a future article.

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Steve Pomper

Steve Pomper is an OpsLens contributor, a retired Seattle police officer, and the author of four non-fiction books, including De-Policing America: A Street Cop’s View of the Anti-Police State. You can read a review of this new book in Front Page Magazine and listen to an interview with Steve on the Joe Pags Show. Steve was a field-training officer, on the East Precinct Community Police Team, and served his entire career on the streets. He has a BA in English Language and Literature. He enjoys spending time with his kids and grand-kids. He loves to ride his Harley, hike, and cycle with his wife, Jody, a retired firefighter. You can find out more about Steve and send him comments and questions at www.stevepomper.com.

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