Cop to Cop: Don’t Call Me Grunt

Just as anyone with a computer can access a bunch of lawyers chatting amongst themselves, showing that we are not (as conspiratorial theorists suppose) a cabal with plans for world hegemony, so too can we see into the world of police officers.  And it’s a lot of fun!

Via J-dog on twitter came this post at Officer.com, “where law enforcement officers let their hair down and beat the living crap out of one another,” by a retired cop, Jim Donahue, who now serves as a consultant to police departments on the tactical use of police vehicles.  But this post had nothing to do with his area of expertise.  Rather, he was P.O.’d.


(Author’s Note: I originally wrote this article while I was still pretty steamed-up over the incident. I named names and pointed fingers and specific agencies and people. My always gracious editor suggested that I cool down and reexamine the writing. In the interest of peace and harmony, I’ve removed the specific names while attempting to retain its original fire.)

And what got him so steamed?


As I arrive at the front of the cars, there are two civilians who, like me, have emerged from their cars and are visiting with each other while they wait. There is a grunt cop standing in the immediate area, near his vehicle.


I politely inquire, “Is there an estimate on how much longer the crew will be?”


The cop looks straight at me, but as though he doesn’t see me, turns around, and walks a short distance away towards his unit. To say that I we perplexed at this behavior is fair.


When the cop takes up a new position, I make the same inquiry again. He proceeds to look away as though he doesn’t hear me.


WHAT THE HELL ARE WE DOING?


I was pissed at his behavior. The agency is known as being arrogant, often displaying a smell me attitude with the citizens and other cops, alike, but, this was simply rude and blatant beyond anything I could have anticipated.


Clearly, Donahue is a person of limited anticipation.  The “grunt cop” could have pistol whipped him, arrested him, charged him with attempted murder of a police officer.  There was plenty he could have done to be even “ruder”. 

But as pointed out by one of the commenters, Donahue’s concern may not have been limited to the cop’s simple lack of common courtesy to a civilian.  Donahue describes himself thusly:

I am wearing my only sweatshirt, which has a breast emblem from my previous department in Michigan. I just got my “high & tight” haircut tuned up yesterday. It would not be a great leap of faith to think that I may be a retired cop, a current cop, or minimally, related to law enforcement based upon my appearance and demeanor.

The commenter, in turn, notes:

In reading the article, it appears to me that the writer was more insulted that he was not recognized as a former officer. How many former officers have we known throughout the years that forgets that they are no longer an officer, thus perhaps are not privied to certain information. Seems to me every former officer I’ve ever come in contact with thinks information about whatever should be given to them because of who they were. Yet, thats just it…who they were.

I wonder if that smack mussed Donahue’s “high & tight” hairdo?  And other commenters as well were less than impressed by this critique of one of their own by some former cop.  The lesson, of course, is that a former cop is a former cop, and no longer a member of the fraternity, no matter how much they believe that the mini-badge in their wallet should count for something.

While there aren’t usually many lessons to be learned from these law enforcement websites that we haven’t already learned in spades from the representation of our clients and cross-examination of police officers, it’s always fun to have our best and worst fears confirmed.  There is no situation where a police officer can’t invent some justification to protect a fellow officer, and the bottom line is that, while believing that they are truly the last bastion of order for the civilized world, they really do hate the rest of us, and the rest of us apparently includes former cops as well.

I really hope Santa brings me that Minneapolis Police Department t-shirt for Christmas. 

H/T Kathleen for this very attractive pic of Jim Donahue.  I think the glasses make him look a bit like John Lennon.

18 thoughts on “Cop to Cop: Don’t Call Me Grunt

  1. J-dog

    Which one you want? I’m not sure I can find another “Homocide” (sic) t-shirt, but I can look. (To be fair: the use of that term was a typo, not an intended slur. Honest.)

  2. SHG

    Do you really think that was a typo?  In any event, I’m just joshing.  You’ve been more than generous already.

  3. J-dog

    Yes, honest, I do; while I’m not exactly an MPD badgelicker, I think it was just that, for several reasons. (It screwed up the plan, which was to sell the shirts to raise money for a charity; among the flaws of the local cop community, I don’t think that using “homocide” as a euphemism for a gay-on-gay killing is among them. I could attribute that to virtue, but it’s possibly just because we just don’t seem to have many (any?) such. NYC is so large that no matter how rare something is — good or bad — there’s probably a lot of it. We’re, relatively speaking, a very small town.)

    Not that there aren’t distasteful euphemisms among some of the badged set. “So these three guys — you know: Democrats (in the TT’s Harris County, they’d be ‘Canadians’) — walked in to stick up the place,” frex.

  4. SHG

    Ouch.  Touched a soft spot, did I?  I was just kidding, and harbor no actual suspicion that MPD would ever do such a thing deliberately. 

  5. EB

    “There is no situation where a police officer can’t invent some justification to protect a fellow officer”

    Ain’t that the truth. Try telling a police officer that he shouldn’t be able to park in front of a sign that specifically tells him not to park there. Look at how vigorously other officers defend him.

  6. Jim Donahue

    I read the author’s writing, which included text from my original Officer.com article along with segments of a few comments. I want to respond.

    First, I am not a retired cop. I remain active in the profession and work the streets. But, at middle-age, I have the appearance of someone who could be retired. I consult agencies and I train cops around the country, as well.

    In article I described my attire because, as a cop, my intent was to express that I was did not give off the vibe of being a trouble-maker. In fact, I was on the same side as the cop working the scene.

    The intent of my message was simple: when dealing with members of the public, follow the Golden Rule. Realize how the simplest of actions can be construed in a negative light and affect the attitudes of those around you. An unwitting comment (or lack thereof), a non-verbal action, a glance/glare, etc. can turn an otherwise positive encounter into one that’s negative in seconds.

    Be careful. The person you piss-off today could be the one that might save your backside tomorrow.

    I don’t protect bad behavior. I try to help a guy see the error of his ways and take corrective action. Some accept the constructive criticism and some don’t.

    Here’s the one thing that sets me/us apart from others: last Tuesday, May 13, 2009, I stood in Judiciary Square in Washington D.C. with 25,000 other cops. We each lit a candle and listened to Bag Pipers play Amazing Grace as we mourned the loss of 133 of our brothers in 2008. They died. Their families, their friends and their co-workers hurt with a pain greater than I can imagine.

    That kind of risk and loss doesn’t give us behavioral Carte Blanche, but it’s something that is unique to policing. God bless all of those who put their lives on the line each day to protect people that they don’t even know.

  7. Jdog

    Yup. It’s horrible. Police work can be a dangerous job; a good friend of mine was, well, crippled.

    That said, when I note that loggers, fishermen, pilots, steelworkers, drivers, salesfolks, roofers, electrical installers, and farmers — all of which are more dangerous jobs than being a cop is — rarely play the pity card, I don’t tend to cut a lot of slack for ‘tude-ridden cops, like yourself, who whip it out thinking it’s a trump.

    No, that kind of risk and loss isn’t unique to you folks — it’s a higher risk, and more frequent loss, and the colleagues of fallen truckers and loggers and salesmen don’t wave the bloody shirt like you do, sir, nor do they pull out the same buttery piety in their platitudes when they’re called on it.

    Have a nice day.

  8. Jim Donahue

    Maybe you missed it: I don’t condone bad behavior. And, I never will.

    As for other professions, yes there are risks. The difference here is that cops usually die protecting folks that they don’t know.

    Bad behavior is still unacceptable. That won’t change.

    I was particularly troubled by an incident in New Orleans where a miscreant took a female officer’s weapon, shot her, and when she was on the ground, stood over her and again shot her repeatedly through the head.

    Other professionals just don’t see that kind of action. And, I’ll do my best to ensure that they never do.

  9. Jdog

    I know you don’t get it, but you’re not the audience. You’re just the idiot who, upon being called for waving the bloody shirt, looks for another one to wave and wonders why it’s not working.

    As to New Orleans, I see what troubles you there, and it should. Sounds pretty bad — but you brought that up, interestingly, and not, say, the cops during Katrina running away . . . after they went on a looting spree, so arrogant that they didn’t even try to ask to stop it being filmed.

    Sheesh. Get a smaller badge, guy; it’ll take you more time to dig yourself in deeper.

    Hmm… long as I’m thinking about it, you didn’t happen to “consult” and “train” the Minnesota Gang Strike Force, did you?

  10. Jim Donahue

    No, I did not train the Minnesota Gang Strike Force.

    I am a strong, staunch, patriotic guy. My Dad fought through the Battle of the Bulge to defeat the Germans in Eurpoe. I was raised listening daily to the Star Spangled Banner.

    I hold the Constitution and the Bible as being sacred. I prefer to encourage the positive rather than focus on the negative. I try to live life with a positive mental attutide.

    I am not digging myself into a hole, rather, I am elevating myself to the level of most law-abiding Americans. And, I didn’t need to resort to calling you any names to do it.

    I have deep respect for anyone who defends me, my country, my family, or my God. If you don’t, so be it.

    I may not agree with your statements, but I would die defending your right to say them.

    It sounds as though you’ve missed most of the positive aspects of being a solid American citizen. But then, may you aren’t one.

    We’ll see …..

  11. Jdog

    Well, I think you’ve already shown your ass, as well as your badge. Figures.

    And, no, the folks who don’t don their tactical kneepads when some little badge-buddy waves other folks’ bloody shirts haven’t missed out on what’s great about being an American; some of us fucking revel in what’s great about this country.

    But, yeah, you sure seem to be trying to do a lot of “elevating” yourself, Horst.

  12. SHG

    While I see that Joel has already fill the breach, I nonetheless venture a blind leap into the water, since it’s my pool. 

    Cops, even when they offer the slightest criticism of another, resort to the same nonsensical flag-waving to defend themselves from valid criticism.  Most cops never fire a weapon on the job.  Most cops will never stare down the barrel of a perp’s gun.  Yet they all wrap themselves up in the handful of stories of hero cops who suffered for their service.  It’s disingenuous.  It’s deceitful.  These are the time tested lies that are used to protect them from their beatings, egos, screw-ups, lies, crimes, abuse. 

    You insult us, and diminsh cops, when you wave the bloody shirt.  That might work with scared old women, but you’ve come to the wrong place to treat us like idiots.  When you describe your attire, do you tell us that it’s fine to abuse some kid with sagging pants who’s done nothing wrong aside from dressing  in a way that didn’t please you?  Who are you kidding?  You wear you prejudice and ignorance on your sleeve with your non-trouble-maker clothing. 

    Yes, cops get shot.  Yes, cops do heroic things.  That’s part of the job.  If you can’t take that in stride, be a garbage man.  But when you use that as an excuse to deflect responsibility from wrong-doing, and suggest that only people who are on “the same side” are worthy of not being treated like dirt, beaten, abuse, you show your colors.  Your intent was simple, as was the depth of your understanding of what’s wrong with it.

  13. Andrew Rothman

    I am elevating myself to the level of most law-abiding Americans. And, I didn’t need to resort to calling you any names to do it.

    *  *  *

    It sounds as though you’ve missed most of the positive aspects of being a solid American citizen. But then, may you aren’t one.

    Phew. I’m glad he doesn’t need to resort to name calling.

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