When I was in Police Academy…

Posted on October 31, 2012

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Earlier this year I was in training to become a cop–a Baltimore City “PO-leese,” if you will. No joke. I felt a calling to return to my hometown and put in some civil service; perhaps even earn a living being what I thought could be an intelligent and compassionate police officer who was equal parts your best friend and worst enemy. I found it just wasn’t how I wanted to spend my day-to-day. I admire the men and women who can put on that uniform and muster up the energy to step in and out of that patrol car five, six, or seven days out of the week (most of them, anyway), but I feel a different calling in life, and I have no regrets about trying it out or leaving it behind me. I’ve already found a far more fulfilling and appropriate path for my well being in Los Angeles. My experiences in the academy and preliminary hiring process will influence whatever I do for years to come, though. And even now I’m completely over-simplifying my true feelings about it all…

I kept an anonymous blog at the time, but quickly tore it down in fear of the Department finding out about it. They were looking for any reason at all to fire new recruits. In a city like Baltimore they have to scrutinize those they hire. But I stumbled on this old entry that fascinated me. Who I am as a writer and as a citizen living in a community is always at odds…

Searching for guns, getting down with Psychic TV, and feeling at odds with my path in life…

Posted on March 24, 2012

Yesterday was the most interesting one I’ve had in a while. I scored fairly high on a written test at the police academy last week, and it landed me a position on a detail helping the homicide unit search for handguns in two neighboring alleys. I was stoked for this opportunity because 1) it was time away from the academy, and ANY time from the academy is good time, and 2) it would provide my first real glimpse of actual police work.

About a dozen of us trainees were shipped down to the scene in our geek-y sweats and baseball caps to comb over the areas. Apparently the shooting occurred a few weeks ago, and from what I gather the police were following a lead that one of the guns was still lingering around. The search was uneventful, but from a trainee stance the experience was invaluable. Residents of the neighborhood greeted us warmly and encouraged us to search their yards, which kind of surprised me given all my assumptions that people in that particular area of the city generally hate cops. The detectives handling the case were some of the warmest and coolest I’ve met in the department yet, and were more than happy to field our questions about what to expect in the course of our careers. Given that the search for our gun is now still ongoing, I assumed that quick and easy results were not to be expected.

After returning to the academy and performing enough push-ups and sit-ups to the point where it was physically impossible to do more, followed by a class on fire extinguishing training, followed by having lunch with a group of high school students who were serving as cadets for the day due to a special program in their school, I then headed off to a show and saw the performance art/experimental-punk band Psychic TV–who were mind-blowing-ly phenomenal: think Swans meets Acid Mother’s Temple and you’ll get an idea of what direction songwriter Genesis P. Orridge is taking the band these days (if none of the artists I listed in this sentence ring a bell–use that google search at the top of your screen!).

Life is very full and filled with contradictions for me lately. I’m hyper aware of the fact that my *possible* becoming a cop is kind of strange considering my interests in obscure music, film, and literature; not to mention that nearly all my close friends make their predominant living from these things. Maybe “strange” is the wrong word for it, but I definitely feel alone and at odds. I’m willing to bet I’m the only person who has both received a check from this police department and owned a copy of Slacker on DVD. To be perfectly honest, some days it’s hard to find any solace or happiness at all. I just feel like I’m walking a very complex and uneven path in my journey to both help people and indulge in the arts.

But I am learning some incredible skills through police training I never would have otherwise. And I’m learning far more about life than I ever thought I would. As a dedicated writer, I’m starting to believe the uneven path is the only one worth choosing–but one should know if they are approaching the edge of a cliff…

Addendum to last post… What’s a ‘strange’ place to find a gun?

Posted on March 24, 2012

“What’s the strangest place you ever found a gun?” I asked one of my instructors at the police academy. We were assisting the homicide unit in recovering a lost weapon used in a recent murder. When I saw his reaction I immediately knew it was a dumb question.

“I don’t know,” he replied while casually scratching his chin. “There aren’t any strange places. I found one in a tree once. It was tied up there because the guy was planning to get back to it and shoot at the police if he needed to.”

I’m not sure what I expected as an answer to my question. It came from that part of me that only knows police work from fiction. What’s “strange” isn’t given much thought by police in real life. What could possibly result from something that happens, however…

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Posted in: Writing