HOW MUCH SHOULD YOU BE PAID TO RISK YOUR LIFE FOR OTHERS EVERY DAY?
It was more than twenty years ago I was a young cop on the streets. Much like the military services, the more junior you are, you are on the frontlines in battle, so we saw it all. When you call 911 the first on the scene is the uniformed cops and then if it is a murder, or a serious assault, or armed robbery, you call in the Detectives. I was 19 years old and I stopped answering people that asked “What do you do?” and mostly when I said “I was a cop” got the answer “I hate cops”.
When I asked why? The answers varied from “Because I got a speeding fine” to unfair treatment.
MY FIRST WEEK ON THE JOB AND FIRST PUNCH IN THE FACE.
I was Twenty years old and full of excitement as I arrived at South Melbourne police station for the tour of my first training station. I was greeted by the ‘local mentally unstable but harmless man’, who every morning when the Constable on duty that day went out front to raise the flag, he would wait for the occasion, salute, and then be on his way.
From the outside the police station looked very nice, bright fresh white paint, a two story spanish mission looking building with a pretty little garden, green lawn and flagpole out front.
Not so nice on the inside. I was shown around. At ‘the watch house’, where prisoners were entered into ‘the watch house book’, I noticed dried splattered blood on the pages. There were two holding cells, stark concrete, heavy bars, two iron beds with thin mattresses, folded heavy grey blanket and thin pillow on each. A dull silver toilet base in the back with a roll of toilet paper sitting below on the floor. No privacy. It began to sink in, what I had actually signed up to do and I had to give myself ‘a good internal talking to’. “What did you think it was going to be like? This is the real deal, so you better get on with it.”
Our first afternoon shift I was on the Divisional van with a Senior Constable and our first order of the day was to serve a warrant for arrest in the local high rise commission flats. (Social welfare housing). As we pulled up to the high rise low income buildings , the SC said , “Never park in the driveway.” “Why not?” I asked. He said, “We will get pelted with pot plants and whatever else they can throw down on us and also wear your hat in the elevator.”
“Why?” I asked. “Because when they see us coming they put spit on the inside roof of it to fall on our heads.” This location I ended up visiting many times for various reasons, calls to domestics, more warrant serving etc.
I also worked with a cop who immigrated from Sri Lanka with his family. He looked more like a hot male model from GQ Magazine than a cop. We became good friends, and once when driving past this building he said, “That’s where I first lived with my family when I came to Australia”.
I had only been out of the Academy a few weeks when I got my first punch in the face and it was by a woman!
It was Melbourne Cup day, the horse race that “stops the nation” and a public holiday. Even if you don’t bet on the horses normally, most people are in some sort of office sweep for this race.
I had just started day shift and it was only 10am when we got a call to go one of the local pubs to assist with a drunken woman customer. On the way to the pub, the Senior Constable driving informed me that “Women drunks are the worst”. I should have paid more attention. Upon arrival at the local pub the Bar Manager pointed out to a woman,in her 50’s, teetering on a bar stool, a bag of groceries at her feet. “She’s wet herself too.” My partner, nodded and muttered “Charming” as we approached her. He seemed to know who she was and said to the disheveled woman with a beehive hair do and lipstick smudged above her top lip, “C’mon Annie, you’re starting a bit early today!”. As we helped, Annie out of the pub and into the divisional van she slurred at us, “Mee Grocereezz”. I retrieved them for her, broken eggs and all and popped them in the van too.
When we arrived back at the station I stood by her helping her to stand as the watch house sergeant entered her details in the watch house book saying, “You can just sleep it off here for a few hours and you will be as good as gold.” Then to me said “Search her pockets.” As I motioned to do so, Annie pulled away from me, clenched her fist and punched me full force in the cheek. I reeled backwards into the wall and think I actually saw stars like in a TV cartoon.
Annie ended up being my first court case also. She was charged with ‘assault police’ and it turns out she was one of the oldest prostitutes in town and she had about fifteen pages of prior convictions.
The day I went to court as I got up and began to give my ‘evidence’ as to what occurred, she had a huge fake coughing fit and the Judge had to call a short recess. When Annie finally got up to give her story she told the judge that I stole $50 from her and that she only ‘accidentally brushed my cheek’. I was furious and mortified at her blatant lies but all the other cops in court that day thought it was hilarious free entertainment.
It was a great lesson to learn though, before that I thought women didn’t punch people, but from that day on I was very wary and managed to avoid getting punched again.
This is an excerpt from Sex, Love & Cops Order my memoir “Sex, Love & Cops” now at Amazon prime http://bit.ly/sexloveandcops
Things haven’t changed that much since then.
With the recent “Defund police” cries, coming from a voice of actually having been on the streets and risking life cops and military should be paid more, not less!! Instead of “defunding” , better educating, more female cops and higher pay would make a positive difference. Cops that use undue force and prejudice should not be cops. Generally females don’t lead with violence.
Did you know that female officers make up less than 12.8 percent of the numbers?* I am speaking from experience and most of the time was able to talk through a situation, instead of leading with force. I knew I was not physically as strong as most of the men I worked with, however I was able, through communicating clearly to detain several suspected criminals who were double my weight and twice my size.
Who else thinks there should be more female cops?
*Source: Gender distribution of full-time U.S. law enforcement employees 2019 Published by Erin Duffin, Oct 1, 2020 statista.com