Thursday, August 19, 2010

guest blogger: Steve H

Bad Cop, by Paul Bacon, Twentysomething Readers, and yes that’s his real last name
If you’re looking for a funny yet eye opening book, this is the read for you. This memoir chronicles the humorous 3 years Bacon spent in the academy and on the streets serving on the NYPD. It is very often hilarious, yet still retains some substance, giving the reader an inside look at the bureaucracy of the force. Insight is given to those cops who manipulate the system to their benefit, called “hairbags,” racking up overtime hours when the situations suit them, but letting other offenses go when they have a hot date or other plans and don’t want to get bogged down in a potentially time consuming situation, requiring them to put in extra hours to document the offense and book the perp. Bacon is a guy totally unsuited for a career as a cop, a fact that looking back he freely admits. After 9/11 he looks into joining the NYPD, (after finding he is too old to get onto the FDNY), and makes it through the academy and onto the force. He doesn’t have the street smarts and he ultimately resigns after locking himself in the backseat of a cruiser while napping during a particularly long and strenuous shift. Bacon’s a likeable guy who just doesn’t fit the cop mold, as he is just too trusting. When he gets his first arrest, he asks the suspect if he has anything sharp in his pockets and is about to plunge his hands in when a fellow officer asks Bacon if he is going to trust the guy, to which Bacon responds why would the suspect lie, only to find the suspect had a hypodermic needle and a dozen knives on him. Bacon also lets a lady double parked in front of a bar off without a ticket, and while basking in his good deed of letting the woman go, states “Then for some reason, the nice woman drove through the next traffic light. The light happened to be red at the time…”. So although Bacon does not have a real good sense of the streets, he does have a sense of humor and a knack for storytelling. And he uses it well to let us in on a lot of day to day things the public does not see. One of which is air mail, or the junk that people throw at cops from high up ledges when officers are responding to a call. Although Bacon is never hit by any, one of his colleagues is struck by a clock radio. He tells of many fake calls of “officer down” placed from anonymous phones to get all the police to one area, so muggings can then occur in unsecured areas elsewhere. He tells how truly difficult it is to get a crazed suspect under control, requiring special teams of highly trained respondents and a body sized bag that they toss the uncooperative person into. Bacon fills us in on a hilarious situation in which a fellow officer, if you can believe it more unfit than Bacon for the job, attempts to settle down a suspect. Bacon states: “As the man continued to rant about his taxes paying our salaries, the kindhearted Haldon reached out and gently stroked his upper arm... it’s okay. It’s okay, continuing to pet the man as though he was a cocker spaniel.” This is just one of the many hilarious scenes that Bacon recounts. And his insights really got me thinking about what the police go through. I was recently downtown and looked up at the surrounding buildings and had the thought of oh man, what if I were a cop responding to a call and people were throwing junk down at me, I just couldn’t imagine how rotten that would be. It’s this unique blend of Bacon’s humor with serious insight that he excels at and uses to get you thinking about the life of a cop in the city. And I must say Bacon’s a very gracious author, as he responded to both of Mentor Library’s book groups that wrote him with some questions, the Profilers and the Twentysomethings. He updated us that he is currently working on his second book while he is pursuing a career in law; he is less trusting of those who claim they have been wronged, based on his police experiences; he has given up his gun, which he had fallen in love with the moment he saw it; and he has kept his handcuffs so one day he can look at them and just laugh. Treat yourself to some laughter too and get this excellent book now!

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