I am not particularly impressed by police officers. They do a tough job, and I respect them for that, but I’ve been exposed to cops all my life. I’ve seen the good, and the bad. “To Serve and Protect” doesn’t thrill me any more than “To Serve God.” There’s always at least one who’s anxious to get into the sacramental wine, or forbidden fruit-of-the-loom underwear.
For years, in my youth, my home town only had one policeman. After they ceded the little park/lake to my boys club, that expanded to a chief, and two constables. Tough enough in the winter, but busy in the summer with tourists. For a couple of summers, my brother volunteered for Friday and Saturday-night ride-alongs.
Once upon a time, you could throw a drunk in jail and set him free in the morning when he sobered up. Then it became necessary to have someone to check on him. After he retired, my Dad took that job. He’d get a call, pack a book, a sandwich and a thermos of coffee, and be gone all night.
My brother-in-law wanted to become something political. In his mid-twenties he took some training and became a justice of the peace, because that gave him exposure and contacts. Our town already had two JPs, both real estate agents in their fifties, who didn’t want to be awakened at 2 AM, to sign a warrant for some drunk. The town five miles away had one JP, just as sleepy and grumpy.
Sister and B.I.L. liked to go out and party with the movers and shakers. From 12 to 16 I was drafted to babysit their five kids, Friday and/or Saturday nights. They often partied till after sun-up, but it wasn’t unusual for them to return earlier than that, accompanied by police – our town cop, the one from down the road, an Ontario Provincial Policeman who patrolled local highways, the R.C.M.P. officer who was responsible for the attached Indian reservation, and later, Indian police. I’ve been in rooms with up to five on-duty officers, drinking coffee, beer or whiskey, waiting for paperwork to be signed.
In a small town, at the ass-end of nowhere, most officers were older, and sedate. The young Mountie, however, was sharp, and aggressive. I was walking home from high school one June day, when I heard a hot-rod. Car-crazy, I knew that sound. It turned off the highway, and proceeded up the street I was walking on. At a time when a policeman could just pull you over and give you a ticket for excess noise, this thing howled!
In 1962, this was a ’52 Ford convertible, loaded with paint, chrome and muscle. Bbrraapp, half a block and 30 MPH in first gear. It zipped past me, and I recognized my unfavorite Mountie driving. Bbrraapp, past the elementary school, five minutes before closing bell, at 50 MPH in second gear, in a 30 zone. Bbrraapp, into third gear and still accelerating as he went up the hill towards the B.I.L.’s house.
Sure enough, when I got there ten minutes later, he was waiting to show off the new toy he’d bought. I mentioned the amount of noise he produced, and told him that I’d seen him doing 50 in second gear, in a school zone. Instantly, he went all lawyer on me. How did I know it was 50 in second?? It could have been 30 in first! Because I already saw and heard you do 30 in first. I’m just pointing out that someone other than me might have seen the same thing, and lodge a complaint, especially in a school zone.
A month later, just as school vacation was starting, he showed up one night for a warrant. While others did things in the kitchen, he joined me in the living room. Out of the blue, and purely coincidentally, he wondered if my friends and I might like to party. If I just told him what we liked, he could get it for us, beer, wine, liquor, grass, pills, just name it.
I asked him how he would “just get it.” Oh, he’d just impound it from some guy he caught, and “forget” to log the evidence. The guy would be released. What’s he gonna do, complain?? At 17, I didn’t party like that, and not with a group. If I had accepted his offer, he’d have had something to hold over me. My previous comment about noise, speeding and dangerous driving was never mentioned. I think he was disappointed when I graciously declined.
I wasn’t out to get him, or any advantage, and never mentioned the occurrence to anyone but him. About seven years later, I was reading an article in the Readers’ Digest, about the R.C.M.P. cleaning up the Mob and the drug traffic in Montreal. Guess whose name was given as the head of the Montreal narcotics squad. They shoulda heard him comin’ in that noisy hot-rod.