November 28, 2008

Steve Pomper

How Many Cops does it Take?

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     “How many of you does it take?” I’ve sure had that hurled at me more than a few times. I’ll be on a traffic stop, or detaining some suspicious person and either the person, or some nosey passer-by, snorts the above statement.

     This explanation is offered not for them, but for those folks who legitimately wonder about such things, but don’t snottily distract officers while they’re trying to work.

     First, there is the situation where the dispatcher will send multiple units dependent on the type of call. Most of these are two-man calls, but some “flags” on the address or person automatically designate the minimum number of officers required to respond. Next there’s the incident where, for whatever reason, the officer requests additional units to accomplish his goal, or most importantly, for officer safety reasons.

     The other occasions are more fluid and out of an officer’s control. Officers routinely head in the direction of another officer who’s gone out on a traffic stop, or to investigate some suspicious situation. This is simply prudent because any “routine” situation can go sideways without warning.

     There’s another time you may wonder why so many damned cops have shown up after you’ve been stopped for a traffic violation, making you wonder if they’ve pegged you as Osama bin Laden’s second cousin. For one thing the unit stopping you may already be a two-man car. The next car showing up may also be a two-man car or a car with a field training officer and a student officer, and voila, you’ve got four of your town’s finest surrounding your car all paying attention to lil’ ‘ol you.

     Hopefully you’ll never find yourself in this position, but if you do, don’t take it personally if you attract more, attention-in-blue, than you’d bargained for—it’s just the way we do things.   


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