cops

KN, p. 195 “The Blue Flu”

 

I feel lousy. If I didn’t have to get out of bed to eat, I wouldn’t move. The body aches remind me of what it felt like to be back doing the physical part of basic training at the Police Academy. Everything hurts. Everywhere. Between the coughing, the sneezing, and the sweating, my days are filled with junk. And not the good kind.

 

I am buried under a pile of tissues.

 

Sheila has disappeared again. She brings me chicken soup, drops off a new box of tissues and leaves. She’s sleeping in the guest room and has Hammett with her, so it’s pretty quiet in here. I miss them both. Yeah, I know they’re just in the next room, but it’s not the same.

 

Hammett growled when he heard me honking the first day, so I’m pretty sure he’s away for the duration. I don’t want Sheila to catch this, so she should stay away. Still. A hug and a woof would be good. I admit it. I’m a wimp.

 

At least I’m well enough to read a little and work on the Notebook. Seriously, it’s been four days since I got dizzy and almost fell off a ladder outside. Who knew that 102 fever would knock out a big guy like me? If I was on active duty, I wouldn’t have the strength to hold a gun steady, and it wouldn’t be safe to put me out on the streets. Can you imagine sneezing in the middle of taking a shot? EVERYONE would run for cover. I might shoot myself in the foot if I ever actually had the strength to pull the trigger. I definitely wouldn’t be fit for roll call until the coughing and sneezing stopped.

 

It got me to thinking about the Blue Flu – the pretend flu we hear about every once in a while. The kind of flu that gets rumored about when a contract negotiation hits a snag over in NYC or in one of the other larger communities in the country.

 

Here’s a little history.

 

It all started in Boston, back in 1919. A full 80 percent of Boston police went off the job, leaving the city unprotected for several days. Unions were on the rise and the cops decided that there was no other way to get the boss’ attention. They wanted better working conditions and more pay. But, Massachusetts Governor Calvin Coolidge disagreed with the concept of unions in general and the right in particular of police officers to strike. He called out the militia, and famously declared, “There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, anytime.” Coolidge used this get-tough policy to leverage a spot as Vice-President on the ticket to the White House in the following election.

 

Instead of viewing the police as helpers of the community, for a while at least, Boston cops and unions in general were in disfavor. It became illegal for law enforcement officers anywhere to strike.

 

It wasn’t until fifty years later that big city police officers were back in the news for a job action. In the early 1970s, the NYC Police Department was under scrutiny for corruption, and at first, the 19th precinct was targeted more than the others by the Knapp Commission. The Police Commissioner at the time, Patrick Murphy, sought to clean house before the investigations went any further and started transferring officers as well as demoting some. But the PBA (the Police Benevolent Association) was upset at the way they thought Knapp was attacking the entire force with what the PBA called “unfounded accusations.” More than 60 of the 90 day-shift officers in that precinct sat down on the job for four hours and would not go out on patrol.  First strike ever in the history of the NYC police department. My boss told me that both good and bad fallout rippled across the country.

 

Then, just a few months later, while parts of the NYC Police Department were still under investigation, salaries were up for review. Officers faced a tough reception on the streets and any shift could be deadly. While never an easy job, the level of violence toward cops had gone up a notch and cops wanted to be compensated for that danger. 20,000 officers of the NYC police department called in sick for six days in a row. The mayor at the time, John Lindsay, threatened to fire the entire police force if they didn’t get back to work. Public outcry was fierce, with many in support of the theory of pay raises, but taxes were already high and new money would burst the budget. The union leadership got the patrolmen back on the job, but it took years for goodwill between the public and cops and the mayor to be restored.

 

Cops, firefighters, and hospital workers are sometimes faced with horrendous working conditions in metropolitan settings and while they know what they signed up for, buying the groceries and paying the rent gets in the way of that warm and fuzzy feeling towards management. Full-on Blue Flu sickouts are discouraged when tensions run high, so some unions prefer the work slowdown method. The idea behind it is that the resulting traffic stops and mountains of paperwork will convince the other side to come up with solutions to the issues at hand. It isn’t always about the $$$.

 

Blue Flu has been a last resort job action. Many would say that it should never be used at all.

 

If you’d like to read more about the history behind the “Blue Flu,” click on the links below.  🙂

 

http://www.nydailynews.com/archives/news/blue-flu-cops-strike-december-1970-january-1971-chapter-384-article-1.911985

 

https://www.themarshallproject.org/2015/01/06/a-short-history-of-police-protest#.qaqzR8evc

 

Check out a more recent use of Blue Flu as a job action, in September, 2016: http://www.fox10tv.com/story/33261705/blue-flu-hits-prichard-police-department

 

 

 

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KN, p. 193 “An Garda Siochana, the Irish National Police”

An Garda Síochána

Ever wonder what it would be like to be an Irish cop? Not a cop of Irish heritage living in the USA, but a cop who lives and works in Ireland. Is the job more glamorous or grittier than the U.S. version? Take a look at some of the aspects of the job as well as the requirements for becoming a candidate for the two-year training program for the Garda.

 

An Garda Síochána is the national police service of Ireland. Back in the 1920s, Ireland had just become a free state and needed a strong national police force. Almost 100 years later, it has over 14,000 members, has offices in every county, and is now considered to be a community based law enforcement agency.

 

A Commissioner heads the agency, assisted by Deputy and Assistant Commissioners. Ireland is divided into six geographical regions for the Garda’s purposes, with 28 divisions, each headed by a Chief Superintendent. Superintendents oversee the 96 districts scattered throughout the divisions. Inspectors and Sergeants conduct investigations, with the help of the Garda trainees and civilian employees.

 

A statement on the Garda website reveals current philosophy: “Modern policing entails much more than crime fighting. Reducing the fear of crime and working in partnership with communities are the keys to making a positive difference and improving quality of life for all citizens.”

‘Reducing the fear of crime’ is a terrific goal and one that many hope is reflected in the Garda’s daily community interactions. Very little is worse for a civilian than being afraid to leave one’s house because of terrorism, or of local hooligans taking over the streets. We, as citizens, want to feel safe in our own homes and neighborhoods, wherever we live in the world. Bravo to the Garda and the community for making that a stated objective as they work to reduce crime, both locally and across Ireland.

 

What else does the Garda do?

In 2016, over 200 million Euros was earmarked to provide upgrades to the Garda training and equipment. That investment was made so that they could “attract, develop and retain the best people.”  It’s a tough world we live in, and we all need hi-tech support and well-trained personnel to catch the bad guys and help the community.

 

Cyber crime is here to stay and the Garda is working to create groups throughout the country that can address the issues involved, with specially trained officers at work.

 

Drugs, organized crime, sex crimes, human trafficking – all require a different type of scrutiny, investigation, and partnerships with other agencies and departments than ever before. Intensive training in these areas is supplied during Garda college.

 

An effort to address the problems of the victims is reflected as well in the establishment of Victim Service Offices.

 

Crime prevention and detection is foremost in every law enforcement agency, but the Garda also works to improve road safety, reduce local “anti-social behavior,” and maintain Irish national security. Part of their strategy is to be more visible in the communities they serve.

 

They might also:

 

  • Investigate road fatalities
  • Investigate suicides
  • Testify in court
  • Notify next of kin of deaths or injuries
  • Write reports of investigations
  • Provide protection for dignitaries
    How
    many people applied?

    When the Minister for Justice, Equality & Law Reform in Ireland opened up applications to the public in September 2016, LOTS of people applied. The Garda website even has updates on how many forms have been processed out of the many thousands received. According to data on the site, during the first two months of 2017, over 63,000 applications had been reviewed for their suitability to continue in the vetting process.

 

What does the vetting process entail?

The initial application is filed online by most applicants and eligibility requirements must be met before moving to the next level of screening.

 

Candidates must:

 

  • Be between 18 and 35 years old
  • Have successfully completed the Irish Leaving Certificate (similar to the U.S. High School Degree)
  • Be proficient in two languages (one of which must be Irish or English)
  • Be a resident

 

Sounds reasonable, although I would have trouble with the two-language requirement. I just don’t have the ear for languages, but I do know that it helps to have that second language in many parts of the U.S.

 

The candidates must also demonstrate good character, be certified that they are healthy, of sound mind, and be physically fit to do the job. With the many thousands of candidates, competition is fierce and only the top applicants will move on for the interviews and other assessments.

 

What’s the pay scale?

The yearly pay for a rookie cop is close to 24,000 Euros, with an additional 4,600 Euros for housing. On March 7, 2017, the rate of exchange was 1 Euro=1.06 U.S. dollar. The Garda candidates have no choice of assignment, so the housing allowance is an incentive to get qualified applicants to apply even if the assignment might be to an expensive big city. The Commissioner has the right to place the successful candidates anywhere within Ireland.

 

On this side of the pond, law enforcement pay scales might not be broken down so visibly, but we know that the bigger cities offer more money to their officers to adjust for the steeper cost of living. After 20 years of service, members of the Garda can make 50,000 Euros, which includes the same housing allowance. There is a possibility for overtime in some areas, but as everywhere else in the world, sleepy little villages never seem to have as much crime as the big cities.

 

Next up:
Physical Competency Test for pre-entry testing plus information about the training program itself.

 

*Photo credits and quotes:  www.garda.ie

Visit them for more information about An Garda Siochana.

 

 

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KN, p. 156 “Why become a law enforcement officer?”

 

WWetLiftComparatorIMG_0392-2 copy

Police Officers have as many different backgrounds as the general population these days. Depending on where they live, candidates can come from poor neighborhoods as well as better ones, arrive fresh out of high school or (increasingly) college graduates, and they have all types of ethnic backgrounds. Except for the male/female balance, the mix is becoming more representative every year of our culture as a whole.

http://www.criminaljusticeschoolinfo.com/women-law-enforcement.html

Just as educational, economic and ethnic backgrounds differ, so do the reasons for applying to the academy. Take a look at a few of them:

 

Help the Community

Some of the candidates reveal in their preliminary interviews that they just want to help make their towns safer. Growing up, they may have witnessed crime in their neighborhoods and now want to protect or defend law-abiding citizens. And, it’s not uncommon for younger members of police families to want to carry on the family tradition.

 

By becoming a police officer, they will be able to:

 

  • assist in evacuations before, during, or after natural disasters.

 

  • keep the peace after power outages (guard neighborhoods from looters, patrol the streets, keep riots from breaking out when tempers flare).

 

  • search for missing persons.

 

  • take over traffic control at dangerous intersections when traffic lights don’t work.

 

  • investigate and solve crimes

 

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Have an Exciting Job

For some, even the thought of a 9 to 5 desk job is out of the question. TV shows and movies with their inaccurate portrayals notwithstanding, the idea of being on the streets and solving crimes can be a real draw. Depending on the department or the size of the city, the level of real excitement might range from that 9 to 5 desk job they didn’t want to actual street time on the narcotics squad. The assignments may not be glamorous to most people, but to a dedicated police officer, investigations are what gets them up in the morning (or more likely, middle of the night).

 

Authority

Some potential candidates are looking for jobs with a bit of authority, where civilians will look to them for direction or guidance every day on the beat. In most areas, the police are treated with respect.

 

Military Feel

Many potential police officers prefer a life that resembles the military, with its department ranks and orderly chain of command. Careers in law enforcement are actually fairly easy transitions for men and women who are leaving military duty and moving into civilian life. The mental and physical training they’ve already received during military service is very helpful during the specialized training they will receive at the various law enforcement academies.

 

Once the initial decision is made to become a Police Officer or other Law Enforcement agent, the next step is to decide which area is the best fit.

 

Here are links to posts that give overviews of the requirements for a few different types of law enforcement. A smart potential candidate takes a look before he/she makes career plans.

 WPOTrainingDSC_2295_2-2

Police Academy/State Trooper: http://bit.ly/14vISns

 

 

TexasRangerBadgeIMG_3560_2_2Texas Ranger: http://bit.ly/1dvnoAj

 

 

SniperSecretServiceWhiteHouseWikipediaSniper: http://bit.ly/1Kal2lz

 

 

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Detective: http://bit.ly/1CfG3IR

 

If somebody you know wants to become a cop, please pass this along.  🙂

 

 

*Photos by Patti Phillips with the exception of the sniper photo.

Sniper photo from Wikipedia

 

 

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