This has been one long week. We started the week with election day, which was a normal eight hour shift. Then, I was tasked with escorting a football team to the bi-regional playoff's. Not a hard detail, just gather up fifty players and the coaching staff, load them on buses and move them 100 miles, play a football game and bring them home safely. After a normal eight hour shift. That turned into a nineteen hour day.
Then yesterday, Saturday, the local high school had a couple of events occuring simultaneously, so I was tasked again with providing a law enforcement presence for multiple events that became a 14 hour day. I'm off today and have to be back at work Monday morning.
As I was working the extra details I was listening to the police radio on my shoulder, hearing my brethren all over the parish, working extra details like mine. Providing a presence. When we work those details, we are the Po-Leese, and field all manner of requests that have nothing to do with police work.
Do you have a key to that gate over there?
Where are the restrooms?
Is there a concession stand on this side of the field?
Have you seen a white purse laying around here?
Where's the Coach?
Could you watch my bicycle for me?
What were all those ambulances and first trucks doing in front of (obscure place name) last night?
It's called Protecting and Serving and it takes many talents, not the least of which is tact and diplomacy. Folks come to an event and the first thing they see, the first thing they truly see, is the cop standing out front. They expect us to know all the answers and to immediately serve whatever role they have come to expect of us. Few of those roles have anything to do with Enforcing the Laws of the State. The fans come out to have a good time and a police presence reassures them that order will be maintained.
For all you rookies out there, listen up. Police work isn't about kicking in doors, or solving homicides, or dramatic car chases. You'll get a chance to do all that, but those are very rare occurances. Mostly it's about being there. Trouble doesn't start when the police are present. After a long day when most of the population is playing, you still have to look sharp, be alert, have your gear polished and your boots laced. You will help old folks walk across a bad stretch of pavement, you'll point to concession stands, you'll answer bone-headed questions and you better, By God, be polite and courteous to everyone. You are expected to know everyone and see everything.
It's called Protecting and Serving.