5 Things Cops Would Like You to Know

Read Neal Griffin's "5 Things Cops Would Like You to Know," then make sure you're signed in and comment below for a chance to win a copy of his latest Newberg novel, By His Own Hand!

Thirty years is a long time to go without ever really speaking your mind, but that’s precisely what a law enforcement career is. It’s about keeping your opinion to yourself and doing your job. To be sure, Police Chiefs get to pontificate constantly, even though their career path often involves little or no actual police work. Union reps take to the microphone to spout off once in a while, but usually only after somebody really screwed up. But what about a cop on the beat? Good luck trying to get one of them to go on the record about a job-related issue.

What about off the record?

Recently, I reached out to a few of my old partners and colleagues. With a promise of anonymity, I asked them, “What’s something you’d like the public to know about your job as a cop?” Here’s what they said. I’ll bet you can even guess the first one.

Police videos with 10 million views on YouTube DO NOT reflect the reality of law enforcement.

The social media distortion of police work is probably the biggest frustration of modern-day cops. And it should be. Cops get it. They know there are men and women working as police officers who have no business wearing a badge and gun. Police officers are as offended as anyone, if not more so, by what they routinely see on the nightly news. But cops detest the idea of their profession being identified with the worst of the worst.

Several officers I spoke to acknowledged that these viral videos create fear of the police. Police officers understand that sentiment, but some context is needed. Nationwide, more 100,000 citizens have face-to-face contact with a police officer every day. That’s almost 40 million a year. The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that 90% of people contacted by a police officer believes the officer behaved professionally. Being afraid of the police based on a snippet of video is kind of like refusing to get in a swimming pool after reading Jaws. I use that analogy because of personal experience. Growing up in Wisconsin, my buddy had a backyard pool. It was above ground and usually thick with leaves, but on a muggy Midwestern day, it was a little slice of heaven. I read Benchley’s masterpiece in 1974. I didn’t get back in the pool until Carter was President. Silly, right? Exactly.

The more cameras the better.

Most cops I talked to have no problem with body cameras and video because they have nothing to hide. For every one of the “cops gone wild” videos seen on social media, there are a thousand that show police officers doing the right thing. I can attest to this because, as a police lieutenant, I reviewed countless police videos. Most were pretty boring because police work is often routine and uneventful. Some were damn funny. Cops do end up in some comical situations. Many videos recorded heroic actions by officers coming to the aid of citizens caught up in deadly circumstances. Some even captured human tragedy. But regardless of the scenario, in almost every case, the video showed the cop doing their job professionally. Videos like that rarely top the million views mark.

See alsoNaked in Whatcom County: Tales from a Crime Analyst

Please don’t ask me that.

Cops cringe at the question, “Have you ever shot anyone?” Everyone asks, from five-year-old kids to grown adults who ought to know better. For nine out of ten cops (actually, it’s more, but I’m terrible at fractions), the answer they’ll politely give is, “No. Thankfully I haven’t.” The answer they want to give is, “No, and why would you ask me that? Cops help people: resolve disputes, protect, and serve. And no, you can’t hold my gun.”

As a side note, if a cop has had to take a life, they’d probably rather not talk about it at a backyard barbecue.

When it’s on, it’s on.

The use of hands-on force is exceedingly rare but never pretty. When I say “hands-on,” I’m talking about full-on, physical confrontation. Typically, these situations precede a custodial arrest and officers are already on high alert. But on occasion, officers are attacked with little or no prior warning. In those sorts of skirmishes, the goal of any police officer is to win and win decisively. If that means taking advantage of superior numbers and tactics and the use of specialized defensive weapons, so be it. And, yes, it can get ugly. Fortunately, these sorts of confrontations are rare, occurring in far less than 1% of police/citizen contacts. Police officers are trained to “talk people into handcuffs,” and that is always the preferred method.

We know how fortunate we are.

Cops know that to be a police officer is a privilege. They realize the overwhelming majority of folks in all communities, large and small, throughout the country, support and respect their local police. Working conditions, training, and equipment have never been better. The men and women hired as cops in the 21st century come from all walks of life. They are professional and dedicated. It’s a great way to make a living, and cops are honored to have the opportunity to serve.

It was warmly nostalgic talking with old friends about their work and getting them to open up. Funny, nearly every one of them turned the situation around and asked me: do you miss it? That’s an easy one. Do I miss being a 50-year-old police lieutenant riding a desk? Not really. Do I miss being a young-buck beat cop, sitting in the driver’s seat of a black and white, working a uniform patrol shift with my sworn brothers and sisters? Man, put me in a time machine because I’d go back tomorrow.

Comment below for a chance to win a copy of By His Own Hand by Neal Griffin!

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By His Own Hand Comment Sweepstakes: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN.  A purchase does not improve your chances of winning.  Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States, D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec), who are 18 years or older as of the date of entry.  To enter, complete the “Post a Comment” entry at https://www.criminalelement.com/5-things-cops-would-like-you-to-know-comment-sweepstakes beginning at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time (ET) May 2, 2018. Sweepstakes ends 1:59 p.m. ET May 18, 2018. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor: Macmillan, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.


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  1. Joyce Benzing

    Putting this on my TBR list!

  2. MaryC

    Many thanks to the men and women in blue.

  3. Margie Hunter

    Thanks for the giveaway. Always looking for new authors to follow.

  4. Kathleen Scott

    All Great Points and true!
    From your favorite CSO! 😉


    would love to win thanks

  6. Johannah Brookwell

    Love to win ! Thanks for offering a contest!

  7. Laurent Latulippe

    Good list of things to know. Thanks for posting.

  8. Gordon Bingham

    As a retired LEO, I heartily agree with the above. I don’t mind little children asking about shooting a weapon but adults should know better. And no I never shot anyone…..

  9. Gordon Bingham


  10. Tawney Mazek

    Ah, more for The List – I see there are three Neil Griffin Newberg novels so far and all have high praise.

  11. Lois E. Winters

    When a cop orders you to stop, please do. Unfortunately, many do not obey this command and it often ends badly for both parties. Do obey an officer’s commands.

  12. Ted Snoddy

    Another Best Seller!


    will definitely read and share with senior center


    I would love to meet you at a book-signing event!

  15. Linda Harrison

    Sounds like a great book

  16. Julie Barnett

    Can’t wait to read it!

  17. Ginny Fitzwater

    Sounds interesting.

  18. Barbara Bibel

    This sounds like a great read. I hope that I will be lucky.

  19. Kara Lauren

    Very interesting, thanks for the chance!

  20. Whitney Coy

    Thanks for all you do!

  21. Jean Feingold

    nice to get the officers’ side of the job

  22. Deborah Dumm

    What an informative post.

  23. Rena

    That was really insightful.

  24. Jamie Rasmussen

    By His Own Hand sounds really good.

  25. Susanne Troop

    Sounds like a great read!

  26. susan beamon

    I’d like to win that book. I don’t have enough mysteries in my library.

  27. Karen Barnett

    New author for me. Fascinating point of view!

  28. Judi Borowy

    Definitely gonna read this whether I win or not.

  29. Carolyn

    Sounds like a great book!

  30. Melissa Freeman

    I’d love to read this!!

  31. Vernon Luckert

    Looks like a very interesting read. Far too often our law enforcement officers are portrayed in an unfair and unjustified manner.

  32. Mary Woods

    I don’t know if the tv show “Cops” did law enforcement any good! I did like the theme song, tho.

  33. Michael Carter

    Please enter me in this sweepstakes.

  34. Lana Maskus

    Thank you for the opportunity to win this prize.

  35. Pearl Elliot

    This novel sounds compelling andintriguing.

  36. Amy Drees

    As the granddaughter of a former law enforcement officer, thank you for pointing out these five things and respecting those who protect and serve.

  37. Andrea

    count me in

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  39. Cynthia Wetzel

    This sounds absolutely fascinating! I can’t wait to read it!

  40. LuAnn McDaniel

    Love getting lost in a new book

  41. djcminor

    New books are always a pleasure to dip into!

  42. Ellie Lewis

    Enthralling and exceptional. Thanks.

  43. Kathy Ross

    I can’t wait to read it.

  44. John Davis

    As I’m retired from law enforcement, I always like to hear from colleagues!

  45. Margaret Wurth

    would love to read thank you

  46. Karen Mikusak

    Would love to win!

  47. Julie McDonough

    I think it’s really a shame the lack of respect I see towards police officers. I truly respect and appreciate everything they do for the the community. By His Own Hand sounds really good, thank you for the chance to win this.

    • Neal Griffin

      George, congratulations to your son. I’m jealous! Starting a career in police work is an exciting adventure. Wish him well for me and tell him to stay safe! Best, Neal

  48. Pam Walrath

    Sounds awesome!

  49. george ashmore

    This sounds like a great read ,especially since my son just started with the SD here

  50. Andrea Wengert

    This would be a interesting book to read and pass along to share!

  51. Esther Whatley

    No amount of appreciation is enough to sufficiently thank law enforcement officers for what they do for us every day. I wish him great luck with this book.

    • Neal Griffin

      Esther, That’s very kind of you to say. I’ll pass along your sentiments to the officers I interviewed. Best, Neal

  52. Shannon Baas

    Looks like a good book.

  53. Rebecca Booth

    Without the men and women in Blue, we would be in dire trouble! Thanks to the police, we are safer!

  54. Elena Ying

    Thanks for this opportunity! Hope I could know more about “Police World” =)

  55. Darlene Slocum

    Your book sounds like very interesting reading

  56. Linda

    Putting on my to read list

  57. Rick McMahan

    No truer words spoken than those anonymous cops you spoke with.

  58. Rick McMahan

    Neal, No truer words spoken that those anonymous cops you spoke with

  59. Christal Mormann

    Would love to read this

  60. kathy pease

    Thanks so much for the chance 🙂

  61. julie hawkins

    Great book.

  62. trish mckee

    This sounds informative and something the public needs to read! So many misconceptions, and this would clear a lot up.

  63. Buddy Garrett

    Thanks for the great article. It is great information for the public. Sorry some officers give everyone a bad reputation. Like everyone I’ve met every kind. Macho, lazy, crooked, stupid but I remember the ones who left a good impression by being a professional.

  64. Layne Austin

    All great points! Thanks for the helpful post

  65. Lily

    Thanks for the great giveaway!

  66. Ed

    Happy Tuesday!

  67. Jane

    Crime does not pay…

  68. Barbara Ray

    You forgot the one parents use when their small child is disobeying them in public, and you the Officer walks by, and Parent points to you the Officer and says…if you don’t behave I will have that Officer Arrest you.

    • Neal Griffin

      Funny thing, Barb. That happened to be number six on the list! Great to hear from you.

  69. John Smith

    Oh, great, comments are up!

  70. Martha Rodriguez

    You learn something different every day, I still need to read your books 🙂

  71. Sheila Cohen

    I would like to read this.

  72. Karen Minter

    My father was a state highway patrolman so this book is particularly interesting to me!

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