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Asked and Answered

‘People Forget that We Are Human Beings.’

A New York City cop of over 20 years on the media’s ignorance, the benefits of stop-and-frisk, and why he wishes he could live in New Jersey.

Why did you become a police officer?

I became a police officer after watching a good friend of mine get on the job. He would tell me stories, and the job sounded interesting. I took the test and passed, and when I got sworn in, it was the best day of my life.

Have you ever discharged your firearm?

No, thank god. I don't know any law enforcement officer who wants to come to work and use their firearm.

How much of your day is spent completing paperwork?

Case management is key. I am a detective so we do a lot of report-writing, but depending on how you manage your work, it could take one hour, or you can spend a whole day typing away.

What is the best part of your job?

It’s a good feeling to investigate a crime, solve it, and make an arrest on it.

What is the worst part of your job?

Listening to the ignorant people of this city who think they know the law and second guess what we do but could not walk in our shoes.

When do you feel most fearful on the job?

Car stops are one of the most dangerous things to conduct while on patrol. When we stop a car, we always run the plate to make sure it's not stolen or anything like that. But we don't know who's driving — the registered owner is not always the person driving the car. And it can be dark. We can't see the person's hands. So, that's what makes everything a little scary. And its very easy for them to get the jump on us, because we're coming in from behind. So, if they do have a weapon on them, they pretty much can get the jump on us and pull it out and start shooting at us if they want.

What are the most difficult kinds of calls to respond to? Why?

Crimes against children would be on top. Then there are those calls where a body is dead for over a week in an apartment and the apartment stinks to high hell. It’s the worst smell ever. YUCK!!!

What is a common misconception that people have about your job?

People forget that we are human beings and we make mistakes.

Complete the following sentence: Drug sentencing laws are _______________

just fine.

Do you think police officers should wear body cameras?

I think it will prove to the public that we are doing our job and and doing it right.

What is your opinion of stop-and-frisk?

It is a very powerful tool used to prevent crimes and identify perpetrators. The city will suffer without it.

Have you noticed a shift in the public's attitude and behavior towards police officers in recent months?

Yes, and it’s because of the media and the ignorance of the people. It’s the lack of respect that people have for authority. The media will post a video of an officer arresting someone, which may appear to be very physical, and take it out of context. It could look like the officer is using excessive force, when in fact, at the end of the day, if the person being arrested was compliant, he wouldn't be in that position.

Do you believe there is a race problem when it comes to policing?

Not at all. We deal with criminals. Criminals don't have a race. They may be more popular in a particular race, but criminals have no race.

What’s one thing the police should do — but aren’t — in order to improve community relations?

I believe there should be a PR scheme to educate the public about how to deal with a confrontation with the police.

Does your force have residency requirements?

Yes they do. Ideally, the city would like us to live in the five boroughs. Which is great, I would love to live in Manhattan, but I don't make enough to afford it. I could afford Hoboken, NJ, and it’s a nice little town. It’s one mile from work and 15 minutes away. But it’s in another state, so I cannot live there.

Did you receive any training about how to deal with people who have mental illnesses?

We are trained to identify a particular pattern of behavior. If there is a threat of physical injury, no matter who it is, it must be stopped for the person’s safety and ours.

In your opinion, how often do people get off on technicalities?

Technicalities… the technicality is they get off.

How often, if ever, do police officers lie when testifying in court?

There is never reason to.

What three words describe how you feel at the beginning of the day?

I love LIFE.

What three words describe how you feel at the end?

I am tired.

Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

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