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20 signs a cop has stayed too long at the dance

It can be hard for a cop to know when it is time to retire – especially when they still love the job


As I reached retirement age I still loved what I was doing, but I thought it was important for me to exit my career positively before I became, “That guy, who I stayed too long at the dance.”

How does a cop know when they have stayed too long at the dance? I have prepared a checklist to give you some guidance. If more than five of these describe your situation, it may be time to leave the dance hall:

1. “Backing up on a call” means that when you arrive first at any scene, you quickly back up around the corner to wait for a second officer to arrive “first,” so they get stuck writing the report.

Loving what you do makes one seem ageless. (Photo/PoliceOne)
Loving what you do makes one seem ageless. (Photo/PoliceOne)

2. The only foot pursuit you engage in is the never-ending quest for more comfortable inserts for your aching bunions. And you say “bunions” a lot.

3. A new recruit checks out your name tag and says, “I know your daughter, Julie. She was my babysitter.” You reply, “That’s nice,” but fail to tell him Julie is actually your granddaughter.

4. Dispatch gives you a hot call and you tell them you’re at the gas pumps, hoping they will reassign it. Instead, dispatch reminds you it is the third time today you have claimed to have been at the pumps and you sincerely wonder, “Really?”

5. You notice the amount on your on-duty lunch check is lower than you expected so you ask the waitress, “Did you give me a cop discount?” Your waitress replies, “No, I gave you the senior discount.”

6. You think social media is that local newspaper guy who says, “Good morning, officer,” when he comes in for the news briefing.

7. When you are asked, “Why don’t you carry spare ammunition?” and you explain your speed loaders don’t fit in those new-fangled pouches.

8. You bring a crudely scrawled “Doctor’s Note” that looks vaguely like your own handwriting to training excusing you from “DT” and “PT” and “AT.” When the trainer reads the note he says, “I know DT is defensive tactics and PT is physical training, but what’s “AT?” You respond, “Anything taxing.”

9. Someone asks, “You are looking chipper today – what put the color in your cheeks?” You reply, “Shingles.”

10. During your yearly evaluation, your sergeant says, “The last traffic stop you made was two months ago. Don’t you have any goals anymore?” You respond, “Yes. My goal is to make that my last traffic stop. How am I doin’ Sarge?”

11. The lieutenant explains that even though you were his dad’s FTO, you should stop calling him Junior in front of the troops. So you ask, “What do you want to be called, Junior?”

12. Your sergeant tells you that your tradition after each successful morning “sit down” of making the radio and transmission, “9:00 BM and all is well,” is no longer funny and you should cease and desist. Out of respect for both your sergeant and tradition, you continue to announce the results of each daily “movement” via a jurisdiction-wide instant message over your squad’s MDT.

13. You haven’t been to a weight room for 35 years; however, you do experience a type of “roid rage” every time you leave your favorite custom seat cushion in your personal vehicle.

14. You have to take three sets of eye glasses to the range. You use your prescription glasses if you want to make out faces, bifocals if want to make out your front sights and “readers” if you want to make out the serial number on your Colt Python.

15. Also at the range, you tell your trainer, “If you make me shoot from the kneeling and prone positions, I can get down there, but once I do you’re going to have to figure out how to get me back up again.”

16. Your perfect shift is one where you exit your squad only six times; once for lunch and five times for PR stops. “PR” has nothing to do with community policing. It stands for prostrate relief.

17. You have graduated from sneaking your airplane pillow into the squad car after line-up to using it during line-up.

18. You have never read “50 Shades of Grey,” but that’s how the other officers on shift describe the various colors of your fading formerly navy blue uniform shirts and pants.

19. When asked, “What you do for a living?” you tell people you are a milkman, because you proudly manage to milk a retail theft report for six hours allowing you to milk your lunch break for two hours and go home.

20. A&E called. They want to do an episode of “Hoarders” on your locker.

The Dance

With all that said, I can now say with all the wisdom that accompanies age that you have not stayed too long at the dance as long as you still enjoy dancing. Loving what you do makes one seem ageless. The perpetual misery of deciding to hate what you do instantly ages you. Try to enjoy your career while it lasts. Sooner than you can ever imagine, whether you are enjoying the dance or not, the music will stop.

By maintaining a proper positive perspective, your law enforcement career can be a “ball.” So all you Officer Cinderellas and Cinder-Fellas out there who are still at the ball, I urge you to enjoy the dance!

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