Editor's Note: David Hunter's new columns are usually posted on Mondays. Since the PoliceOne.com newsroom will not be fully staffed New Year's Day we are presenting his column as an early eye-opener for our members.
Cops don't like change
New Year's Day is about to run over us once more, whether we like it or not.
We'll have to learn to write a new date, which always takes me at least three months. We'll all become a year older and most of us will go deeper in debt.
It's been my observation that cops generally don't like new things, not even young cops. And the older cops get, the less they like changes. "We've alwaysdone it like this," is reason enough for most of us to continue doing it this way.
In 1984, I pulled into a truck stop where there was an electronic genius who installed and repaired CB radios and other equipment and asked him to take a look at the malfunctioning tape player in my take-home cruiser. He carried his toolkit outside and opened the door to take a look. After a moment of silence, a pained expression crossed his face.
"That's an 8-track tape deck," he said. "Where do you even find tapes to play in it?"
"Flea markets, yard sales and junk stores," I replied.
"I can't fix an antique!" With that he turned and went back inside. A couple of minutes later he came out carrying an AM/FM car radio with a cassette player built in. "This came out of another car that I just installed a new system in. You can have it," he said. "And here's a tape to play in it."
Soon I was cruising along listening to my one tape, a cheap collection of country music with songs by David Allen Coe, Johnny Cash and a host of others. I still have it somewhere. It was the first country music I had ever owned, unless you want to classify Willie Nelson as a country singer. Personally, I consider him unique.
A year later, I was told to go and pick up a brand new Ford cruiser. I asked my captain if I could keep my 1982 Chevelle another year since it only had 85,000 miles on it and I had just gotten it fixed up the way I wanted it.
He reminded me that some officers didn't have a take home cruiser at all, so I shut up and did as I was told. My new cruiser had a built-in cassette player and radio. To this day, I don't own a CD player, except the one that came in my last computer.
I, and most of my comrades, also complained when we changed badge styles from a shield to a seven-point star; when we changed patches; and even when we went from white tee shirts to black ones. But the mother of all changes — as far as I was concerned — was the change in pistols.
Early in 1990, while I was off having the plumbing in my heart rearranged, all line officers in my department were issued Glock 9 millimeter pistols and sent to the range to qualify with them. When I went back to work, I carried my Model 13 Smith & Wesson as I always had.
For three months I pretended that I hadn't received those letters from the training division ordering me to draw a Glock 17 from the armory and report for qualification. Finally, my supervisor told me to do as I was told or go home.
Mumbling under my breath about "plastic pistols," I showed up with a class of reserve officers and bailiffs to qualify. I was the last holdout among certified officers in the county. Even after I got there, I told my fellow students that I could shoot better with my wheel gun than any criminal who ever lived could shoot with a semiautomatic because I was a trained professional.
It was a lie, of course. I had always been a mediocre pistolero, at best.
About midway through the first day, I suddenly realized that I was actually hitting the targets consistently. After a while, I shot my very first hundred percent in my career and I left the range a confirmed Glock user.
The department changed to .40 caliber Glocks the year I left, but I managed to avoid the change, not because I had anything against the new Glocks. I just didn't want to change again.
Some say that the only sure things in life are death and taxes. They're wrong. Medical science can delay death, maybe even learn to cheat it altogether someday, and we can all avoid taxes if we're willing to take the risk. Change is the only thing we can't get around.
Happy New Year. You all be careful out there.
David Hunter's column, "The Beat Goes On," appears exclusively on the Internet at PoliceOne.com. For information on purchasing Hunter's latest novels, "A Whiff of Garlic," and "The Dancing Savior," or where to obtain Hunter's other works visit his Web page: hometown.aol.com/tnbard/index.html. You can contact David Hunter directly by writing him at P.O. Box 1124, Powell, Tenn. 37849. His e-mail address is email@example.com.
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