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Thread: Only A Cop
11-30-07, 09:56 PM #1Corporal
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Only A Cop
Harry O' Reilly, known to his friends as "Harry-O", is the Director of Investigative Training for the Multi-Regional Criminal Justice Training and Education Project, Aurora Illinois. He commutes frequently from New York City, where he is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Law and Police Science at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Since his retirement in 1977, he has been affiliated with the Criminal Justice Center of John Jay College and serves as the Director of Investigative Services.
A 20 year veteran of the New York City Police Department, Mr. O'Reilly served as a Detective Supervisor in robbery, burglary, homicide and sex crimes units, and was decorated 23 times for outstanding police work. He has published and edited numerous articles, texts, movie and television scripts dealing with police related subjects, and he lectures to college and police audiences thoughout the country.
This article originally appeared in "Police Badge" magazine , of which Mr. O'Reilly was an Associate Editor.
Only a Cop
Harry T. O'Reilly
I was at a cocktail party recently in Manhattan and my host, in efforts to get conversation going between people with mutual interests, introduced me to a shiny, well-groomed young man who had recently earned his master's degree in criminal justice. When he learned that I was a retired cop who was now teaching at John Jay College, he remarked that his father was a cop. When I asked where his father worked, he replied, "Oh, you wouldn't know him. He never did anything important. He's only a cop in the 32nd Precinct." My host saw the look on my face and before I could put my drink down so both hands could be free to choke him, he whisked the kid off to a neutral corner to protect him, rushed back, and begged me to forget about it. I couldn't, so I'm writing this column in the hope this message will reach that young man and so many people like him who are so quick to minimize the role of the working policeman in our society.
I've never worked in the 32nd Precinct, and I don't personally know any cops who do; but I've visited there a few times, much against my will, when I was "flown" in to supervise a detail of men who were supplementing the precinct's manpower during various crises over the years, and I know what it is like to work there. I don't know that kid's old man, but I do know policemen, and I know that whether your beat is in New York City's Harlem district or in 3 suburb of Los Angeles, the nature of the job doesn't vary that much. The volume of activity may be greater or less, and the surroundings may appear to be different, but the dangers and the problems and the stresses and the heartaches are very much the same.
Listen closely, son, I'm going to tell you about your father. Your reference to him as "only a cop" upset the hell out of me, because "only a cop" implies a sense of failure or lack of achievement because he's not a sergeant or lieutenant or higher. How many brothers and sisters do you have? Did grandpa die and leave you a ton of money? If not, are you aware of the financial realities of raising and educating a family? Do you have any idea of how difficult the competition is to be promoted in an occupation where there are limited vacancies and opportunities for advancement? Are you aware that if you have a second, and sometimes and third job to make ends meet, that maybe you are too weary to study or to attend promotion-tutorial classes? Are you aware that for many men, being "only a cop" can be so fulfilling that there may be no desire to be promoted?
Have you ever noticed those green, white and blue bars over your father's shield? Have you ever asked what they represent? I can assure you, he didn't get them in a Cracker Jack box. Each one of them represents a superior achievement in a job where bravery, courage, danger and brilliant police work are considered routine.
While the chiefs and bosses were sitting in headquarters sending down orders to "use restraint" and while the sociologists were trying to explain (if not to justify) why people were rioting and looting, he was more concerned with staying alive as boards, bricks and rifle fire came down from the rooftop. Despite his own fears, he was very careful as he fired his revolver towards the rooftop not to hit one of the innocent, curious, decent people who struck their heads out of the windows of the apartments where they had barricaded themselves in fear.
He never told you about the time when half a cinder block thrown by a "social protester" crashed through the roof of the radio car, narrowly missing his head as he and his partner drove along a side street on patrol.
He never told you about the rats, the pissy hallways, the fights or the dead babies. You never knew that when you were a kid he wrestled with you on the living room floor while the Popeye cartoons blared out of the television set, that a few hours earlier he he was wrestling around on a filthy sidewall; with someone who was intent on taking his pistol from him and blowing his head off.
You wonder why he didn't show too much emotion when you cut your hand playing ball and had to get stitches. Perhaps he has become jaded to pain and suffering. Perhaps he felt that your hurt was small in comparison to the accident which he handled the night before where he saw brains splattered across a windshield and a severed arm and smelled firey death. Perhaps you should be proud and grateful that after that he still had enough feeling left to kiss the boo-boo and hug you and pat your head, brief though the moment of tenderness may have been.
When you complained of him "never being home", he was usually out moonlighting to make the extra money required to pay off the house that he couldn't afford, but bought anyway, in order to get you away from the old neighborhood when he saw the violence and crime increasing. When you complained that he "wasn't there when you needed him," it wasn't his choice-he was out earning the money to pay your tuition while you whined to your friends about how he didn't care about you or understand you.
To be continued...
11-30-07, 10:09 PM #2
Send the rest, Illiy!!
Car 4I would like my country back. I used to believe that one man could never destroy this country. Not so sure anymore!
11-30-07, 10:19 PM #3
11-30-07, 10:30 PM #4Corporal
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12-01-07, 02:32 AM #5
BRAVO.........BRAVO....!!!Never Search Alone !
In memory of Captain Robbie Bishop
*Can someone explain to me why the heck I should have to Press 1 for ENGLISH ???
12-01-07, 02:43 AM #6
This makes the football story look like small potatoes. To me anyway, the disabled boy didn't have a choice. This turd's dad did.
Meanwhile, fishing in Russia:
"When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that justifies it." -- Frederic Bastiat
"Certainly there is no hunting like the hunting of man and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never really care for anything else thereafter." Ernest Hemingway
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