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March 1, 2012

Do you like this?

I carried a stapler in my car, when i first started The Job. Not for the reason you’re thinking of; sure I used it for wardrobe repair, too, but the real reason I stole it from my sergeant’s desk was to staple my run logs together.  

They had room for 20 calls to be listed per sheet and on a busy night in Hixson there would be as many as 18 empty spaces on that form, but that same piece of paper didn’t work in different parts of town. You didn’t leave the office without spare log sheets and overtime carbons any more than you would leave without a pistol and Pepto.

On one call I may be asked to remove my footwear as to not scuff the new imported carpet, and 30 minutes later I may be in the projects considering cutting those same boots off in case the baby cockroaches swarming the dog food bowls had gotten inside them as I walked past. (The author has just involuntarily shuddered merely thinking about this experience.)

Did I have it bad? Maybe. It’s not like that now, but that’s because like most good cops I learned to stop trading safety for efficiency and actually began “handling” calls instead of “attending” them. (I’m speaking to a few of you, my eager younger brothers and sisters.)

Then I read articles about the Detroit Police Department, which has in the last 10 years gone from 5,500 officers to 2,800 serving and protecting a population of over 700,000.

So no, I didn’t have it bad after all.

Quick show of hands: Who thinks a rotten shit-box like Detroit laid off nearly half its force because it suddenly got “safer?”  

Excellent. Good answers. Now, if there are any business majors out there, who thinks this really saved money on the long term? OK. How about short term? Again, excellent.  You pass.

Despite your own intelligence, it seems that over the last few years Chattanooga’s leaders (ever visionaries) had apparently been trying to emulate “The Detroit Model” with the same results, and I can’t help but compare it to making sweet love to a Mini Cooper after eating a gross of Tabasco Slim-Jims: Damn amusing at the time, but filled with regret and pain in the end.  

No worries. If Detroit were a complete loss we wouldn’t have ever had Kid Rock or Eminem, and if it ever were lost they’ve always got “Weapon X” (aka Ted Nugent) keeping a watchful eye from less than a hundred miles to the west, but who is our “Weapon X?” Who the hell is sitting on Monteagle Mountain watching over us as we improve fuel economy by throwing out the damn steering wheel like our neighbors at the end of I-75?

I’m fearful, folks. And I’m not talking about “dropping your keys on the floor of the porn theater and you’re going to have to touch them again” kind of fear; I’m talking the deep-seated “sitting as a guest in the back row of an Abba’s House sermon and you have no other ride home” kind of fear.

The radio crackles as dispatchers call for cars, and I’m still wearing cheap sunglasses after the sun has gone down, my signal that I should consider trying to eat dinner between (or during) calls. I am passing restaurants, but I suspect the best I’ll do is an oatmeal raisin cookie (or three, who am I kidding) from the desk of the Courtyard by Marriott I’m en route to. Thank God for small favors.

I pull into the lot and park in the space directly in front of the main doors under the covered awning, and toss my shades in the passenger seat. I hear a “chink” sound as I do so and dismiss it quickly, realizing my glasses must have hit the stapler.  

It’s been that kind of night …with many more to come.    

Alex Teach is a full-time police officer of nearly 20 years experience. The opinions expressed are his own. Follow him on Facebook at facebook.com/alex.teach.

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March 1, 2012

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