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Sunday, March 05, 2006

Walking a beat.

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Our precinct has two lieutenants, who I will refer to as Lt. Spitpolish and Lt. Slipshod.

Lt. Spitpolish, the Operations Officer, has been in New Orleans, presumably with a mop and a bucket, until last week. This has meant that Lt. Slipshod and Sergeant Halfassed have been in charge of stuff like the APS 10 forms, the logbook, and organizing patrols.

We also have a Captain Rambo and a Deputy Inspector Methuselah, but they do not concern themselves much with the day-to-day operations of the unit.

The practical upshot of all this is that Lt. Slipshod has spent most of his time in the office on the computer or watching TV, leaving to Sergeant Halfassed the job of field supervisor.

Now, the precinct has a new CO, Captain Harassment, who wants to be Chief Harassment one day. Thus, he has decreed that the Auxiliaries will do more foot patrols, which should have (hope, hope) an impact on the crime rates in the precinct, thus making El Capitan Harassment look good.

Lieutenant Spitpolish, already pissed at the slipshod, half assed state of the paperwork, has seized this directive of Capt. Harassment as an opportunity to reinvent our little unit. Henceforth, foot patrol is the order of the day, with smartly turned out officers, shiny shoes, well maintained memo books, mandatory platoon assignments, and so forth.

What this means is that this past Tuesday evening, instead of cruising around in our half dead but lovingly used RMP, I was freezing my tuchis off on a foot post.

In case you’ve never walked a foot post before, here’s what you do:

Go to one end of your post.

Place your right foot in front of your left foot.

At a leisurely pace, put your left foot on front of your right foot.

Repeat as necessary.

When you reach the end of your post, turn around and go back the way you came.
Look around you as you walk. If you are unlucky, and you have been assigned to a busy spot, you will soon see something that will cause you to walk a lot faster. On the other hand, if you are unlucky, you will be bored out of your skull by the end of the second hour of this, and you must look around for something to entertain yourself. You and your partner will have run out of things to talk about by the end of the first hour, unless your partner is Jon, who never says anything at all. So look for hot girls, not so hot girls, ugly girls, double parkers, druggies, homeless people, and foreigners, in that order. Properly handled, all these people will entertain you for free and make your tour go by a little quicker. Don’t forget to keep one eye out for lawbreakers or, heaven forbid, superior officers. Both of them will soon cause your tour to be full of incident, but nothing good can come of it.

Listen to your radio. Listening to a police radio is like listening to a baseball game early in the season with the score tied at zero in the bottom of the sixth inning. Nothing has happened the entire time you’ve been listening, but there is still a low-grade tension in it- you don’t want the other team to score. Also, there are always some entertaining tidbits. For example, last Tuesday night we got a Jamaican dispatcher, who told of a “call for ‘elp”, and of “twee-one-one”. And I will always treasure my memory of the “vicious squirrel” job.

At some point, you will get yourself something to eat. If you go to Dunkin Donuts, some idiot will pull out his or her cellphone camera and take pictures of your, chortling at the thought of it- cops in a Dunkin Donuts! Ignore them. The donuts are worth the idiots.

Come back in one piece.

Jon, my partner, got a cellphone with a camera, so I amused myself by taking pictures and emailing it to my self. Here are some of the non-crappy ones.
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Me in Dunkin Donuts. Hey, clich├ęs come from somewhere.
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Me in a train station. The subways are a good place to get out of the cold.
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Jon in front of the turnstiles, looking for fare beaters, terrorists, super villains, and people with boomboxes.
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Jon conscientiously fills out his memo book for Lieutenant Spitpolish.

Now, don’t go thinking Lieutenant Spitpolish is a bad guy- he isn’t. I genuinely like him, and he seems to take an interest in us rookies and our ability to stay alive on the street. He’s constantly giving us advice and telling us little stories. He just takes himself a little seriously, that’s all.

Maybe one of his little tips will prove useful one day, and if they never do, at least it’s better than Lt. Slipshod’s penchant for watching TV.