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I write these columns in a time capsule. The point I’m putting pen to paper (or fingers to keys, rather) is several days off from the point it actually goes to print, and this week’s chronological issue is more distracting than usual because between now and the time you get this, there will have been a new U.S. president elected (or re-elected). It’s kind of a big deal to me.
Is this police related? You’re damn right, but only distantly I suppose. Cops are the business of the local elected officials as they were intended to be—and should be (look up “Posse Comitatus Act” sometime)—and not presidents, but presidents can dictate just how much this job will suck in many cases. But the time capsule issue? The responsibility for that one lies only at my feet.
I was in my patrol car on the side of the interstate a few days ago (presumably to run radar, I say with a straight face) and I reached up over my head in a half-stretch and unintentionally tapped an assault rifle that was mounted to the cage that separated the back from the front seats.
Imagine that: An assault rifle just above my head with an electronic locking and quick release mechanism. I punch a coded sequence into a pad and—BAM!—I can charge the bolt of an AR-15 with a double magazine and EOTech holographic sight and be prepared to deal with the next subject of the six o’clock news (and a shit-load of post-incident counseling) in a matter of seconds, as opposed to digging it out of a locked box in a trunk as it used to be, or not being allowed to have one at all just a few years ago.
It seems like only yesterday that there was not only no rifle mounts or release mechanisms. Hell, there were barely functional switches to turn the damn roof lights on. That’s it. And the switches weren’t even electronic—they were pull-cables like the throttle on a push mower. Come to think of it, there wasn’t even fuel injection in that first car … and now this? Madness.
I consider when you will be reading this and I am actually jealous of you, of what you know versus what I do not right now, but thank God that the more I think about this, the sillier it seems.
I used to wonder if the next call would be the last of my shift (or of my life), or if the next guy I pulled over would be some murderous nutbag on an interstate crime spree, calmly palming a pistol with his right hand while he smiled and extended his driver’s license out the window with his left. But now those things are so commonly considered they seem no different than wondering if I should wear a thicker jacket to work as winter approaches or if I left a stove eye on. I still wonder about those things (the bad guys, I mean) mind you, but they don’t seem as important as who will be steering the boat for the next four years, and now that just seems weird when I put it in perspective.
By Thursday, the choice will have been made and cable and broadcast television channels will have to go back to more tasteful means of generating revenue for themselves (since I am certain that political ads must have constituted 85 percent of their overall sales), and exactly 50 percent of the country will be very happy, and the other 50 percent will be very annoyed.
To the happy ones: I am truly grateful for you. Don’t get all “storm the field and tear down the goal posts” happy, mind you, but enjoy. And to the angry ones? Relax, and join me in being upset with what other folks knew that we, apparently, did not. But again, let’s not burn down the stadium or get “pull the truck driver from his truck and stomp him Reginald Denny-Style” angry, OK?
Whoever has won needs to help us all get along. As do we all. Let me know how it works out, will you?
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.