“This is the proudest day of your life, son. Today you gain not just a job, but a family,” said Commissioner Stevens as he pinned the badge on the rookies crisp new uniform. “Hell, we are even more than a family. The bond between officers is rivaled only by mother and baby. You’ll be riding with Oliviera while you learn the ropes, kid. Now go out there and make your new family proud.”
Curtis was grinning from ear to ear. The nine months he had spent getting his policing certification had finally paid off. He had been an apt student and so he was certain he was prepared for whatever the streets could throw at him. He was young and his reflexes were razor sharp. His aim, well it was impeccable. He was eager to show off all off his skills.
The first week was pretty quiet, but midway through the second week a group of protesters demanding justice for a local killed by an officer gathered outside the station. When one of them began blowing bubbles over the imaginary line that demarcated the boundary of the free speech zone, Oliviera pulled out his taser and ordered the offender to lay on the ground and put his hands behind his back. Does Curtis:
Curtis spends the next month doing desk work and directing traffic while being coldly snubbed by the other officers. Does he:
Apologize for his behavior and pepper his conversations with how awful citizens are to win back their respect.
Stand his ground and spend the next year behind a desk or in a crossroads directing traffic until he finally has enough and joins his cousin Todd in his landscaping business, where he ends up finding a satisfying zen in his work and is glad his policing career was over before it even started.
After breaking up the rest of the protest they haul the kid with the bubbles down to county and head back to headquarters where Curtis is greeted by high fives and ass pats and assured that he has done a great job out there tonight.
Despite the fact that he has gained the acceptance of his new family, Curtis is told that he is not issuing enough citations. When he replies that he did not realize there was a specific quota the chief assures him there isn’t, “There ain’t no quotas, boy, but what good is a law enforcement officer who doesn’t enforce the laws? We have a budget that we have to work within, and that budget is determined from the revenue those citations bring in. If an officer ain’t pulling his share out there, how are we supposed to justify their job or pay them?” Does Curtis respond:
“I think I understand the situation sir, I will try to do a better job. You can count on me sir.” And then he follows through and becomes known as the Brakelight Bandit by his fellow officers, after writing more tickets than any other officer over the next several months, mostly for citations for vehicles that have the third, rear window brake light out.
“I dunno, sir. That sounds just like quotas for me, which along with other policing-for-profit activities has been ruled illegal by the federal courts. Not to mention it is dishonest and creates negative community relations.”
Two weeks after this he is fired from the department for a single petty violation of department regulations regarding the care, maintenance and usage of his squad car. For the next six months he is often pulled over and harassed by his former co-workers for even the slightest imagined infraction, until finally he decides to move to another town. He opens up a bicycle shop which is extremely successful and in his free time volunteers to any willing community members to help settle private disputes without involving the police and the dangers they entail, where he makes a real difference in his community and dies an old, happy, satisfied and peaceful man.
Almost a year has now passed and Curtis has become a trusted asset to his department, according to his superiors and colleagues. One night he is asked to join in a major drug bust, the biggest operation he has ever been part of. He is overwhelmed with excitement and hopeful for the opportunity to see some real action.
Unfortunately the raid goes down without much excitement of any kind. After hauling out all of the suspects and sending them for a stay in jail until the courts can sort them out, he is tasked with helping to secure the crime scene and collect evidence.
He notices the officers splitting up a pile of cash amongst themselves, and when he asks about it he is informed that the money would just go into a civil forfeiture account and be distributed to state and local agencies who will just squander it on bureaucratic activities that benefit those pointless office dwellers. He is handed a wad of cash which he puts in his pocket with some trepidation.
After this he also notices that many of the drugs they are to be seizing are not quite making it into the evidence bags, but into the personal property of his colleagues. Officer Oliviera tosses him a large bag of marijuana, “That’s worth a few grand if you can fence it on the sly, bro. I prefer to keep it myself. Especially when it is this dank, but you do whatever you wanna. You like ecstasy? There isn’t much and its going fast, but I could probably get you a few dozen doses. Works wonders with the ladies, ya know what I mean!” Should Curtis:
Enjoy the perks of his job and not worry too much about it, since everyone else seems to be okay doing it.
Slip his ‘shares’ back into the evidence pile without being noticed and later report the situation to the state police in hopes of exposing the corruption in his own department, who then not only do not act on the information, but inform his department superiors that they have a snitch that needs to be dealt with. Weeks later Curtis is dead and the other officers at the scene all testify that he was shot by a suspected drug dealer during a chase into an abandoned apartment building, who was able to get away when afterwards when police turned their attention to their wounded and dying colleague. Nobody questions the story.
At his funeral his pregnant wife is inconsolable, nonetheless one of the attending officers does his best to calm the grieving widow, and later marries her. Her son from the first marriage listens to the story of how drug dealers killed his father all of his life and grows up determined to become a cop and match as many drug dealers with bullets or jail cells as possible.
Curtis has now been on the force for five years. During this time he has learned a lot of things about policing he could never have guessed. The first few years he felt a lot of anxiety and guilt about the things he and his fellow officers did. Yet after awhile it begins to seem normal to him and he becomes accustomed to the extra spoils and privileges granted his position. At the same time his view of humanity declines and he begins to see the world as a division of those who ‘serve and protect’ and those who are weak or unworthy.
One day he is called to the home of a family whose adult son is threatening to commit suicide and is possibly high on some kind of narcotic. Standing outside the residence he uses a bullhorn to order the mentally ill man out of the house so they can speak out side. The man yells some nonsensical stuff out of a window, but after about 15 minutes the front door begins to open. The man steps out, disheveled and crazed. As he does so he begins raising his left arm from his side and there is obviously something in his hand. Does Curtis:
Fear for his life and immediately put a few rounds into the man, killing him instantly.
Remain calm while another officer fears for his life and puts several rounds in the desperate man.
The reason Curtis did not shoot is because he noticed the man was holding a banana and was simply bringing the fruit to his face to gnaw on it, as unlikely as that would seem at such a bizarre scene. He is later asked to testify in court about the incident. Will he:
Implicate his colleague for acting too impulsively and agree with the dead man’s family that the shooting was unjustified, helping to end that officers career, at least in this department.
Repeat the official narrative that the man’s actions and inability to follow orders led to his death, and not any wrongdoing on the scene by responding officers.
“You know, son, you showed a lot of promise in your five years with us,” says Commissioner Stevens to Curtis. “But you still do not seem to get the concept of a family. We stick together no matter what. It is Us-vs-Them out there and since you cannot seem to get that, you are a danger to those you serve alongside. Now there are two ways we can do this. I can make your life hell until you quit or have another officer take care of you, or you can hand in your badge right now, walk away clean, and live with the shame of being a bad cop the rest of your life.”
He hands over his badge and leaves town, knowing he will never be safe from his former employer and colleagues after having betrayed them, even when they were so clearly wrong. A long lost dream involving a guitar and country ballads that sizzle the panties off young women begins to re-coalesce in his mind and he begins writing his debut masterpiece while doing groundkeeping work at a baseball spring training facility. His superstardom never happens, but he does become a favorite local musician. In time he mostly forgets the regretful period of his life that he spent as a cop except for two distinct memories, that of the banana wielding man falling to a heap on the front steps of his parents home as they watched helplessly from a window, and the final admonishment that all of his attempts to do the right thing had earned him the moniker ‘bad cop’ by his fellow officers.
After crossing all the t’s and dotting all of the i’s the incident with the crazed banana man is ruled a justifiable homicide, as his sudden movements and inability to follow specific orders to keep his hands above his head caused the officers to fear for their lives. After this Curtis feels invincible. He has seen himself and his fellow officers get away a number of crimes over the years, while blaming other criminals or the victims themselves. His acts of treachery become more bold over time, allowing him to amass a small fortune while ruining countless lives.
He retires after 35 years, just a few shy of his sixtieth birthday. At his retirement celebration his son becomes intoxicated and begins making accusations against his father, calling him an armed thug and professional crook who drained their community for nearly a third of a century, while abusing his own family through fits of rage and dominance. Unable to withstand this offense against his character he calls for Officer Oliviera, the son of the man who showed him the ropes when he first began policing, to come and have him hauled off to jail to sleep it off.
On the way to booking the young man continues his tirade in the back seat of the cruiser. The officer, who grew up with the young mans father as a close family friend, tires of the ranting and decides to taser the kid unconscious in the back seat. “I won’t listen to these kind of remarks about such a great man who served this community almost his entire life. You got a lot of growing up to do, and when you do, you will see that through it all your old man was just doing his job. He was a good cop.” ZAP!