How not to be 'Officer Schmuck'

I want to stand in the shadow of your greatness, not under the dark cloud of your skillful sloth


Hey, Officer Schmuck, do me a favor and don’t send me your mess. One of your satisfied customers — Citizen Bob, the guy who was three over and you wrote him a ticket because your numbers were down — can’t tell a star from a shield from a campaign hat. 

To him a cop is a cop is a cop, so the way you treated him reflects on me.

Now that he’s in my jurisdiction and I have to pull him over for a violation, he thinks he is the target of a quota campaign. 

Thanks, Slacker
Remember that girl who cried and blinked and had you wrapped around her finger on your last car stop? She had a .32 in the console and a crack pipe still hot under her seat. You couldn’t get past her tube top, so now she’s on my beat and she’s still packing.

Thanks, slacker. 

Remember ten years ago? That kid whose bike got stolen and her mom told her to call you because she thought it would be a teachable moment? 

You couldn’t muster up enough fake interest to keep from rolling your eyes. 

“Sorry kid,” you said without even opening your mouth. “I’ve got more important things to do.”

You didn’t even write a report. You just called it “community policing” and went back in service. 

I get it. You’re busy. But now that little girl is on my city council. Your inability to spend ten minutes acting like you could do some police work just cost my budget royally. 

Ripple Effect
Remember that partner you had who always enjoyed getting in that last kick? The one who laughed at creating the face prints on the squad car’s trunk? The one who always carried a little dope in case he couldn’t come up with something to bargain with on a gang banger? 

The guy who always stepped into a perp’s personal space so he could get a push-back and make an assault on officer case? The guy who wanted to read all of your supplementals to make sure both stories matched? 

Thanks for putting up with that. Very loyal. One of the dirtbags he screwed over has an uncle in our prosecutor’s office. Guess how often our assault-on-officer cases get dropped? 

I want to stand in the shadow of your greatness, not under the dark cloud of your fragile ego or skillful sloth played out on the public. I want kids on my block to expect that I’ll care, not just suck it up being a victim because they think I can’t or won’t do anything. I want bad guys to fear me because they are guilty, not because I can randomly screw with their lives. 

Idealistic? Yes. Unashamedly. We all get tainted, cheated, assaulted, lied to, lied about, passed over, and deeply hated. You knew that going in, or at least soon after. 

Unlike you, when I told my interview board that I wanted to be a police officer so I could help people, I actually meant it. I still do. Even Barney Fife knows that his badge is a lot bigger than him. 

You really want to be a brother or sister to me? Then don’t make messes and send them to me. 

About the author

Joel Shults operates Street Smart Training and is the founder of the National Center for Police Advocacy.. He is retired as Chief of Police for Adams State University in Colorado. Over his 30 year career in uniformed law enforcement and in criminal justice education Joel has served in a variety of roles: academy instructor, police chaplain, deputy coroner, investigator, community relations officer, college professor, and police chief, among others. Shults earned his doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis from the University of Missouri, with a graduate degree in Public Services Administration and bachelors in Criminal Justice Administration from the University of Central Missouri. In addition to service with the US Army military police and CID, Shults has done observational studies with over fifty police agencies across the country. He has served on a number of advisory and advocacy boards including the Colorado POST curriculum committee as a subject matter expert.

Follow Joel on Twitter @ChiefShults.

Contact Joel Shults

  1. Tags
  2. Officer Misconduct / Internal Affairs
  3. Patrol Issues

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