Friday, July 1, 2011

Close Enounters with Cops

On our walks, the Babies and I came across cops on several modes of transportation. Some were in cars, on motorcycles, Segways, bikes, horses or foot. The cops on Segways and bikes could sneak up on people easily. The Segways were surprisingly fast. I guess they could go well over 25mph.

The Babies and I had two close encounters with cops during our walks in the park. The first one took place in the first year I was living downtown. I didn’t see these guys until they were a few feet from us. They were young guys and were wearing shorts, but not the Officer Dangle Shorts. Most cops would go past us, maybe nod but wouldn’t stop to talk. These guys did.

One cop wanted to pet Andy. Everyone wanted to pet Andy because he was so damned pretty. Andy cowered away. I felt embarrassed so I told the cop Andy was scared of the bike. The cop got off the bike, and then Andy let the cop pet him. I made small talk with them. I asked them how long their shifts were, how far their patrol range was and about how miles they went on a typical shift. I asked them what it was like after their first day riding around on a bike and if they had saddle sores the next day. One cop said “I felt like I had spent a day in the federal penitentiary.” It was a vivid description but the point was made. After a few minutes, we all went about our business.

The next close encounter took place a few weeks after Abby moved away. We were taking our late evening walk and were a little over halfway through our walk. A few dozen feet away, I saw two guys on the circular walk but didn’t think much of it. We had encountered and passed by many others who were standing around on the sidewalk. I didn’t give much thought to these guys.

However, when I was almost within arm’s reach of them, I was jolted to realize a cop was making an arrest. The suspect was standing, legs slightly apart, with his hands clasped behind his neck. I startled the cop because I got too close to him. He didn’t say anything to me but he did glance my way. I guess he correctly surmised that we were of no threat to him or the arresting process. I immediately turned around and went another way. The cop could have chewed my ass out for coming so close to him during the arrest, but I guess common sense and civility won out.

What stood out to me was how quiet and orderly the arrest was. The cop didn’t display overly aggressive hyper-masculine behaviors. For example, the cop didn’t yell at the guy, wield any weapons, force the guy on the ground and force a knee on the perp’s back. The suspect didn’t mouth off, resist, back talk or otherwise act a fool. Everything was so orderly and choreographed.

That was unlike a scene in Cops or To Catch a Predator where the cops man-handle the perps. They throw the guys on the ground, pounce on them and overwhelm them. When I saw the park arrest, I compared it to TV arrests I had seen. Were the TV cops hamming it up for the cameras? Could it have been a regional issue where cops from places such as Florida, California or New Jersey are dicks while the cops in North Carolina are more professional and even-handed?

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