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Now ye're talking - to a US police officer Part II

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  • Registered Users Posts: 2,969 ✭✭✭McCrack


    Thanks for these insights

    What is the average salary for police officer and then are there allowances etc payable on top of basic and overtime and if you move up the ranks what salary is paid. Is there much difference across departments?


  • Posts: 6,025 ✭✭✭ [Deleted User]


    Hi there, thanks for doing this Q&A.

    Im curious as to what training if any, you have regarding your vehicle being surrounded by a crowd, that either wont get out of your way and is blocking your way, or is attacking your vehicle. Would you be expected to stand your ground and hope the crowd backs off?

    Do you think if you felt the situation was becoming dangerous, would you drive through the crowd.

    Im asking off the back of what happened in Tacoma, where a police vehicle drove through a crowd.

    Thank you, and I hope you remain safe on the job.


  • Company Representative Posts: 189 Verified rep I'm a US police officer, AMA


    Gang,

    Long day today, I'll answer more tomorrow evening (my time zone of course), but keep the questions coming.

    Be safe out there,


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,402 ✭✭✭Gloomtastic!


    When's the last time you caught yourself doing or saying something typically American?

    When's the last time one of your colleagues said to you, that is so Irish! :p


  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    Do you think the US police are going to far in trying to appease BLM demands? Taking the knee is uncomfortable to watch.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 10,620 ✭✭✭✭dulpit


    Do you think an experienced us cop would be suited to work for the Gardaí or vice versa? Are there fundamental differences between the policing models that you reckon make it impossible?


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,887 ✭✭✭IrishZeus


    What’s involved in moving up ranks, to becoming a detective for example? Is it on the job training / experience/ educational requirements (as in third level/criminology courses etc) / politics?

    You see on fictional shows that a rank and file member will get pulled into being a detective based on merit/some heroic action and it’s always left me wondering how it works in real life.

    Thanks for the AMA - very interesting.


  • Company Representative Posts: 189 Verified rep I'm a US police officer, AMA


    What is the average salary for police officer and then are there allowances etc. payable on top of basic and overtime and if you move up the ranks what salary is paid. Is there much difference across departments?

    Wow, that’s a broad questions all right. It truly depends on the locality, size of department, type of agency and so on. In my patch, we start them at $50K, which is OK, but the cost of living is getting expensive here, it’s Dublin expensive FFS! Some of the smaller agencies are in the $40K range which, around here is barely a living wage. Generally, bigger agencies will do better. The Feds (FBI, ATF, DEA, etc.) start around the $48K range with some special pays. They are on a federal incremental scale. We’re on a similar incremental scale too based on years served. Some of these small cities pay their cops barely more than minimum wage, which is part of the issue with policing in the US. You get what you pay for, right?

    We get OT for late calls, court, extra duty (matches, concerts, etc.) as one would expect. We offer specialty pay for SWAT, Mental Health team, Training Officer, language pay for Spanish or ASL, college degrees, etc. We also get to take our cars home, so that is a benefit too.

    Promotions again vary by agency, for us it is a written exam & interview panel. Most of the respectable ones do some variation on exams, interviews or assessments. Our promotion is officer, detective, sergeant, lieutenant, captain & major. The chief & assistants are appointed. Some agencies, not unlike the Gardaí, have a uniform stream or detective stream where you apply to be a detective, then move up the ranks in the investigative world. A uniform stream means you’ll stay in uniform during your career and promote up that way.

    I’m curious as to what training if any, you have regarding your vehicle being surrounded by a crowd, which either won’t get out of your way and is blocking your way, or is attacking your vehicle. Would you be expected to stand your ground and hope the crowd backs off? Do you think if you felt the situation was becoming dangerous, would you drive through the crowd? I’m asking off the back of what happened in Tacoma, where a police vehicle drove through a crowd.

    I’m not aware of that as a specific training scenario as such. Our cars are reasonably secure, as such. Like all modern cars, the windows are laminated glass and doors lock easily. The Tacoma situation is a difficult one, like any other use of force, and using your car against a person is considered a use of force. I saw a short video, but I’m always hesitant to judge as one has to consider the “totality of circumstances” of the situation. You have an officer surrounded by a hostile crowd with no escape route. Crowds have thrown petrol bombs at recent protests, cars have been turned over, set on fire, so what can one officer do against a crowd to protect his/her life? Do you take a chance & wait for help and hope the crowd goes away? Are you willing to bet your life on that? My initial thoughts are I’d be on the PA telling them to back off and start slowly pushing into the crowd giving lots of warning, use the siren (they are really loud up close) and see if that helps. Again, this is all speculation, I wasn’t there.

    When's the last time you caught yourself doing or saying something typically American?

    Well I carry a gun every day, so I suppose it doesn’t get more American than that does it? I don’t know, really, I’m so used to being here, I don’t notice do I?

    When's the last time one of your colleagues said to you, that is so Irish?

    Usually when I use an Irish turn of phrase, expression. Occasionally I’ll put on a Cockney accent and tell someone “your nicked mate” just to confuse a subject, helps deflate the situation.

    Do you think the US police are going too far in trying to appease BLM demands? Taking the knee is uncomfortable to watch.

    I don’t think so personally. Our community where I work is approx. 30% black for example. So if 30% of the people we serve are uncomfortable with how we do our job, then I would submit, we should make an effort to understand and demonstrate empathy to the community. We serve the people, so we should be sensitive to our communities. We also have a dedicated LGBT and immigrant team, does that mean we’re appeasing those communities? I have black friends who have had negative experiences with other cops, so I get it to a point. We have some work to do.

    Do you think an experienced US cop would be suited to work for the Gardaí or vice versa? Are there fundamental differences between the policing models that you reckon make it impossible?

    I think it could work to be fair. Once you learn the laws & rules, to a larger extent policing is policing. I think it would take a bit of getting used to going from here to the Gardaí with us being armed, it’s a different mindset. Spent a bit of time with some Gardaí on the job, and it was interesting for me seeing them just not even having to even contemplate dealing with armed subjects. End of the day, though the job is the job, so I think outside the initial adjustment it would be fine. Want to say I read a news story about a Garda who used to be NYPD, went home and is happily serving with AGS.

    What’s involved in moving up ranks, to becoming a detective for example? Is it on the job training / experience/ educational requirements (as in third level/criminology courses etc.) / politics? You see on fictional shows that a rank and file member will get pulled into being a detective based on merit/some heroic action and it’s always left me wondering how it works in real life.

    See my above about the promotion systems. The heroics, yeah, that’s TV/movies all right. It’s exams, etc. Some agencies (like mine) give extra promotional exam points for a third level degree, and extra courses will help too I’m sure. I can appreciate why people like being a detective, some of my mates have done it for years as they thrive on the process of catching a crook. Our new detectives are assigned a training detective, there are some training courses they get sent on, the rest is OJT and learning the ropes. We start the detectives in property crimes (burglary, theft, etc.) and they have to serve a year there before applying for any of the other CID squads (homicide, auto theft, sex crimes, narcotics, etc.).


  • Registered Users Posts: 197 ✭✭Random Account


    Have any near death experiences or a time where you felt **** might get real here.


  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    If you weren't in the police what do you think you would be doing?

    Do you follow sport and who is your favourite team(s)?

    What is your favourite part of the job?


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  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    Well I carry a gun every day, so I suppose it doesn’t get more American than that does it?


    Maybe if it was a deep-fried gun?


  • Company Representative Posts: 189 Verified rep I'm a US police officer, AMA


    Have any near-death experiences or a time where you felt **** might get real here.

    Been in a few car crashes, been shot at a few times and the usual fights/wresting matches. The car crashes were all thankfully nothing too serious, and obviously the shots missed 😊 Honestly, when something like that happens you are so in the moment, reacting, training & survival instincts kicks in, you don’t really have time to think about it. Afterwards, yes, big adrenaline dumb, and “holy crap” that was dodgy. It’s contributed to the chronic PTSD I’ve been diagnosed with.

    A topic which doesn’t get as much traction as it should is the higher incidence of post retirement suicide and overall mortality in LE. One research project reported a police officer is 50% more likely to die within 10 years of retirement when compared the general population. It shouldn’t come as a surprise though, 25-30 years of rotating shifts, adrenaline dumps, arguments, fights, injuries will take a toll. As a community, we are not healthy either, very high incidence of cardiac disease, high blood pressure, cancers, again, it can be an unhealthy lifestyle. Its rare people are happy to encounter a cop, we get crap from everyone, all that does pile up over time.

    If you weren't in the police what do you think you would be doing?

    Probably in the Army. I like the team-based ethic, the fitness and the discipline. Apparently, I have a thing for polyester uniforms 😊

    Do you follow sport and who is your favourite team(s)?

    Follow the football & rugby to an extent. Never got into American sports, I’d just as soon watch paint dry as American football or baseball.

    What is your favourite part of the job?

    Working with a great team who has your back and just helping he community I live in. I have no lofty ideals about making the world a better place or safer from crime, but there is a satisfaction in serving the people.

    Maybe if it was a deep-fried gun?

    But then I’d have to be fat, while that is very American, it’s not for me 😊 (the fat or the deep-fried part)


  • Posts: 6,025 ✭✭✭ [Deleted User]


    Thanks again for this AMA. You really seem to have your head together. Fair play to you. I couldn't do your job , so I appreciate those of you who do

    Once again, stay safe


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,401 ✭✭✭HBC08


    What's the protocol with dealing with armed groups like we see sometimes in open carry states?


  • Company Representative Posts: 189 Verified rep I'm a US police officer, AMA


    So, here is a generic "how it goes" for a domestic assault.

    Call comes in, assault in progress. It's a Code 3 response (lights & sirens), EMS will be concurrently sent, they will stage a few blocks away until we secure the scene. Arrive same time as another unit, make entry. Female victim crying on couch, perp ranting & screaming. Get her outside, we start calming him down, he's not buying it, waving a bottle around. He gets tazed, goes down, we pile on, get the cuffs on, drag him outside to the car. Partner keeps an eye on him tries to get information from him. I clear the rest of the hosue to make sure we're safe, bring vic. back inside & radio EMS to attend. Start getting her info, she has some cuts & bruises to the face & neck.

    Beer bottle is seized as evidence (its a weapon) as are the expended tazer cartridges. They are bagged up & sealed.

    Paramedics evaluate her, she'll need stiches, so she elects to go with them. Not life & death, so I have time to grab a few pictures of her & her injuries. EMS & vic. leave. Back outside to perp. he's calmed down. He is also evaluated by EMS, and refused transport. He's calmed down enough to talk, we get his details, take pictues of him , no injuries, but he does have a few scrapes on his hands, possibly form striking her. Those are photographed. As he's calm, we do all this in front of the car so it's on video.

    We load him up & off we go to jail. Other unit goes to the hospital to interview vic. He'll get a few more pics, get a written statement from her, and (usually) get her to sign off on filing an Emergency Protective Order on him where he has to stay away from her for five days.

    I drive to jail, he's babbling on in the car not aware he's being recorded the whole way. I don't say much, just 'hmmm" sort of thing. Book him into jail, if he's calm, he'll be processed in and put in a cell. If he gets silly, he'll be restrained, and put in a restraint chair & cell.

    I head back out to my district, then, when I get a bit of time. I'll meet my district partner, get the paperwork from the vic. I start writing my report, fill out about five different forms relating to domestic violence. Fill out a use of force report for the tazer, meet my SGT to get some extra cartridges. I'll ring our Victim Services who will sent a rep. to the hospital to meet with her and ensure she is OK, help her with basic needs. maybe give her a lift home, whatever. I'll also ring the on call judge to talk him/her through my Probable Cause Affadavit (the basis for the arrest & charge), and hope he/she will agree with me and set a higher bail with conditions to protect the vic. I can only suggest this, but judges do what judges do.

    Report complete, email it to SGT for approval, all good, it's entered in the database. Pictures are dropped in the shared drive. Video and audio for the whole call are tagged in the system and downloaded at the station via hotspot. I put the evidence in the evidence locker. That's more or less it from the patrol POV.

    What happens next:

    Within 48 hours, the case is assigned to a domestic violence detective. He/she will review my report, pictures, etc. They'll make contact with the victim, do some forms to get her medical records from the EMS & the ER. Victim Services will follow up with her every couple of days, see if she needs counselling, whatever. The detective will arrange for an interview at the station, and maybe write some subpoenas for phone records, texts, emails, social media. Anything that shows threats or the likes from the perp. it usually takes six months to get some of this stuff back as this is considered non-urgent. banks are pretty good with records, usually only takes about 60 day, but the social media companies are just awful. Detective will meet with an Asst DA (ADA), they'll go over the case & the ADA will decide if it's a prosecutable case or not. If we still have a willing victim (by now it's nearly a year since the event), it'll go to court.

    So, its not quiet like in the movies (shock, no, really?), its detail oriented, and can be frustrating especially for the victims. And there ya have it. I'll see if I can dig up a redacted report next week and give you a flavour of what a report looks like.

    Wash those hands, wear those masks & stay home folks!!!


  • Company Representative Posts: 189 Verified rep I'm a US police officer, AMA


    Forgot to add, my report and video (both car & tazer) from this call will be reviewed by my SGT and my shift LT to ensure my use of force was compliant, proportionate and necessary and in accordance with policy & the law. It will also be reviewed by our training academy (they are the tazer trainers) and IA for the same reasons as above. If there are questions, I'll be called in to talk about it. All to make sure we are doing what we are supposed to do.

    This happens for any use of force, be it stick, pepper spray, tazer, hands (blows, strikes, etc.), or of course firearms. Grappling & a bit of struggle just to gain compliance or get the cuffs on usually won't get looked at unless there is an injury to the perp or an officer.

    Our new tazers have a small day/night camera & audio recorder built into them. It comes on once it's un-holstered, another means of documentation FYI.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,277 ✭✭✭poisonated


    Thanks for doing this. I’m not sure what state you’re based in but if it’s one where marijuana is decriminalised/legalised, is this something you agree with? Do you arrest people for doing it in public?


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,524 ✭✭✭finisklin


    Hi again, and this is very informative Q&A.



    What's your view on the war against drugs? How prevalent are narcotics in your area?



    I think you indicated that you are in Texas. Given that a large part of Texas covers the Mexican border is drug smuggling something that comes up?


    I am really surprised by how prevalent it is in Ireland and not juts in the big cities.


  • Company Representative Posts: 189 Verified rep I'm a US police officer, AMA


    Thanks for doing this. I’m not sure what state you’re based in but if it’s one where marijuana is decriminalized/legalized, is this something you agree with?

    I’m in Texas, in a large metro area. MJ is still illegal in TX, our past few legislative sessions at the state level trend conservative. There is an ever-growing movement to legalize it like in other states, but we’re not there yet. I’m not opposed to it really as such because I’m a realist. If its legal, it generates business and tax revenue (Colorado makes millions in state tax (VAT essentially) every year. And it takes money from the drug cartels. Why buy it from some shady guy on a corner & run the risk of being robbed, arrested, etc., when you can pop into a shop and get your fix? There still isn’t a legal standard for “MJ intoxication” as regards driving when compared to alcohol, so that needs work. None of the breath test devices the Gardai use have survived legal scrutiny here, the gold standard is the blood test.

    Our new DA, who like most DA’s is an elected official, ran on a platform of progressive issues such as that. So, our current guidance is to only write tickets for small MJ procession as opposed to jailing people. Fine by me, the juice isn’t worth the squeeze in my mind of locking someone up just for a joint. I’ve better things to so with my time.

    Do you arrest people for doing it in public?


    I have, and like most things it's situation dependent. Remember, we have discretion but to a point. I can't just ignore illegality either. I prefer to write a ticket, or even just crush the joint into the ground and tell them to go home. However, everything I do is recorded, so I have to be able to justify what I do or don't do because I am accountable for my actions. As I mentioned above, we can write tickets now, but it's still the same offense with the same potential punishments, the law hasn't changed, we just ticket you as opposed to booking you into jail.

    What's your view on the war against drugs? How prevalent are narcotics in your area?


    The famed “War of Drugs” was a misguided attempt to arrest our way out of a social problem. And it has been an epic failure. Sure, we have locked up more people per capita than any other country in the world, and yet, drug crime & deaths shows no sign of abatement. It was a fundamental misunderstanding of the problem. If we’d spent half that money on education, substance abuse education & prevention, we’d be years ahead of where we are now. But, no one ever runs for office saying “vote for me, it’ll be better in 10 years once we hire more social workers & counsellors”. Lot easier to get attention by saying “vote for me, I’m tough on crime”. You get my point I’m sure.

    From a LE point of view, instead of investing War on Drug money in SWAT teams and high-speed task forces, we should have invested in intelligence gathering, community policing and engagement. Give us the information (intelligence) to target the big dealers and actually make a difference.

    I think you indicated that you are in Texas. Given that a large part of Texas covers the Mexican border is drug smuggling something that comes up?

    Yes, in the Lone Star State indeed. We have several major highways (motorways) running through our patch, so we do catch the occasional dope shipment. The closer you get to the border, the more of that you find as it is an industry in of itself. We have officers on secondment to some of the federal task forces, so they handle that working with the State police & the Feds. I spent some time on the TX-Mexico border working with the Border Patrol & Customs. The scale of this problem beggar’s belief. The cartels have resources like Amazon or Apple or some small countries. In their mind, the cops are just like shrinkage in retail, cost of doing business. I don’t have an answer, I’m ok with secure borders, every county has a right to secure their borders. And I’m more for prevention & recovery programs than large scale incarceration.


  • Company Representative Posts: 189 Verified rep I'm a US police officer, AMA


    So, todays call... a drunk driver.

    We have a team dedicated to this, they prowl the roads looking for drunk drivers. They are certified in the Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST). Not every officer can give this, it's a 40 hour class with an bi-annual recertification required.

    Anyhow, on patrol, officers witnesses a traffic violation (crossing the line, failure to stop, etc.). Camera on, follow them for a bit to capture video of "a drunk car" (weaving, speeding, etc.). Showing a "drunk car" to a jury is a great way to get a conviction. The traffic violation is your probable cause (PC) for the stop, so you pull them over. You ID the driver, ask them are they a diabetic or some other medical condition which could impair them. All good. You observe glassy eyes, slurred speech & the odor of what may be alcoholic beverages on or about their person. That's PC to get them out of the car for the SFST. A this point you'll have a backup officer there too (we're generally one officer units). We make the stop on a safe place, try and get into a car park of something.

    The SFST trained officer then administers the test. You've seen it on YouTube (or you can look it up), its the alphabet reciting, heel-toe walk, checking the eyes, etc. All this is done on level ground, you've made sure they dont have a limp, understand English as a language, no other weird medical condition. Test is administered on camera. Subject fails the test, I now have grounds to arrest for DUI (Driving Under Influence), cuffs go on, into the car you go. My partner will check their car and take pictures of any relevant evidence, empty beer cans/bottles etc.

    Their car is towed, partner usually does the towing paperwork for me. I take the perp to jail. Here the SFST is administered again (after they are booked in), in a nice, comfy, well lit room by another officer and this too is recorded on video. Subject is also breathalyzed via machine. While this little game is going on, I'm furiously typing on my laptop to generate a search warrant for the duty judge to sign. If I want their blood for a test, the courts here have ruled that is a search, ergo I need a warrant. Given I'm trying to articulate they are intoxicated, any consent given would be challenged by an attorney and the case thrown out. Warrant in hand, usually done by the time the second SFST is done. One of the nurses assigned to the jail will draw the blood.

    Blood is then submitted as evidence for analysis and off I go for a nice long report writing. Then, as in previous calls, reports are reviewed & submitted as is the video. I'll write the perp a warning for the traffic violation as opposed to a ticket. Why? Because a warning holds no penalty or sanction, therefore it cannot be challenged in court. This preserves the legality of my initial traffic stop. If I write a actual ticket, an attorney will try and get that thrown out for whatever reason. If the stop is throw out, then the rest of the DUI is as well as, under law, if it was not a lawful & proper stop, then anything I do after that is "fruits of the poisioned tree" and can't be used.

    An average DUI from start to finish takes about 2-3 hours to process. Its good to get the drunk s off the road, but man, it's paperwork intensive.

    Be safe. I'm off this weekend, so keep the questions coming, I should have the time.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,161 ✭✭✭OEP


    What's the need for the sobriety test over just breathalysing and then blood test at the station?


  • Registered Users Posts: 10,943 ✭✭✭✭the purple tin


    Did ye ever have a serial killer/rapist in your juristiction?


  • Registered Users Posts: 24,647 ✭✭✭✭punisher5112


    Do you plan on coming home or are you there for good?


  • Registered Users Posts: 10,620 ✭✭✭✭dulpit


    Does the fact you're not American affect how people deal with you as a cop? I've wondered before how foreign police officers (be it Gardaí or whatever) would be treated. My guess is most wouldn't care one way or the other, but the fringe elements would use it as an excuse to kick off?

    Secondly, with race relations and America first ramping up in the last few years, does your irishness get held against you? Or is the fact you're White (i assume, sorry if I'm making a leap) outweigh any foreignness?


  • Company Representative Posts: 189 Verified rep I'm a US police officer, AMA


    What's the need for the sobriety test over just breathalyzing and then blood test at the station?

    DUI’s are a very well-worn path in the court system. It has been litigated to death over the years as it is such a common offense. There are whole firms of defense attorneys who do nothing but DUI cases. In my patch, even if you get it kicked out of court, it’s going to cost you neatly $10k in fees & court costs. Lawyers have picked apart every single part of the process, so the process is designed to be as watertight as possible. I had one case where the defense attorney tried to argue the alcohol swab the nurse used to sterilize the site for the blood draw could have tainted the sample, therefore the case had no merit. The judge overruled it, but the jury heard it. Despite that, we got a conviction. This is the sort of thing we’re up against, painful. But now, the medics use a alcohol free wipe just in case…..

    The initial traffic violation gives me the PC for the stop. You want a good, clear legal violation on camera. Can’t argue that illegality. Next step is me articulating the odor of alcohol, bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, etc. Those give me the PC to get you out of the car and take the test. The sobriety test gives me the PC to arrest you for DUI. The blood test & station breathalyzer are my “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” you are drunk.
    The sobriety test is a science based; court tested means of determining a degree of intoxication in the field. It requires no special equipment (other than a week-long training course) and has stood the test of time and court scrutiny. Here, for reasons not entirely clear to me, the portable breathalyzers like the Gardai & UK cops use have not stood up to the scrutiny of a court challenge. I’m sure those were kicked out in a case or two, and that was the end of that.

    Did ye ever have a serial killer/rapist in your jurisdiction?

    Yes, had both. It’s unnerving for the public & people get on edge. We get more calls for suspicious persons, suspicious cars, prowlers’ sort of thing. Day to day it doesn’t affect us on patrol as such other than the call volume rises. Depending on the situation, we may get extra patrol officers on the street. It reassures the public to see the cars out there. Honestly, the majority of these cases fall on the detectives doing the investigation. The public & policy makers get impatient, their opinions shaped by the TV/movies, expect we get answers back in hours as opposed to the reality of weeks & months. DNA for example, a “rush” DNA sample still might take 2-3 months to come back from the lab. Likewise, with phones, social media companies, etc. Getting that stuff back takes ages. Frustrating. Detectives will get pulled off other cases to help with this, but their workload still keeps piling up. It’s not like the rest of the criminal world takes a holiday. Public pressure can shake loose extra OT for the investigators, but there are still only so many hours in a day. Good news is we did bring the last few to justice, although we do have a triple murder from the mid 1980’s which remains unsolved.

    Do you plan on coming home or are you there for good?

    Really don’t know. Wife & I talk a lot about retirement as it is only a few years away. As much as I miss Ireland, I’ve been over here a long time & sadly, Ireland is pricing itself out of my market.

    Does the fact you're not American affect how people deal with you as a cop? I've wondered before how foreign police officers (be it Gardaí or whatever) would be treated. My guess is most wouldn't care one way or the other, but the fringe elements would use it as an excuse to kick off?


    Not really, my accent is a bit diluted at this point so it’s rarely noticed. Those who want to kick off were probably going to do it anyhow, regardless of the cop’s accent. Lately the fringe elements are trending towards white nationalists, and they are only interested in their very weird interpretation of the law, not so much our accents. I did meet a fellow Mick in Washington DC who is a cop up there, and he owns an Irish pub there too!

    Secondly, with race relations and America first ramping up in the last few years, does your Irishness get held against you? Or is the fact you're White (I assume, sorry if I'm making a leap) outweigh any foreignness?

    Yes, I’m white and sunburn easily, but at least I’m not a ginger 😊 and no the Irish thing really doesn’t come up. The race relations thing is a complex subject for sure, I spoke to this on the previous AMA if interested. The White nationalists/MAGA types tend to be vocal about supporting the police, but then only when it suits them as evidenced by the US Capitol riots. For a group that claims to support LE and cops, they had a remarkable funny way of displaying it.

    Cops tend to bear the brunt of unpopular laws & policies; you saw this in Ireland with the water protests. I mean its not like the Gardai made those laws about water meters, but they sure took it on the chin about it. Same over here, yes, we have some work to do as a society, and as a subset of that in LE, on race relations, and I vehemently support your right for lawful, peaceful protests, even if you are protesting the police themselves, just don’t start throwing stones & petrol bombs. It won’t end well for either side.


  • Company Representative Posts: 189 Verified rep I'm a US police officer, AMA


    Serious traffic accident....we'll be dispatched concurrent with fire & EMS. We all arrive, lets say two vehicles on a major road, serious injuries. EMS & fire will have priority of effort to save lives. They work on medical interventions, patient extrication & transport.

    We'll block traffic as needed to allow fire & EMS to work. Our primary officer, which is usually the first LE on scene, will coordinate the efforts of the other cops, request more units, whatever. We'll close lanes, put out cones, whatever we need to do. We'll say I'm primary for this one for the sake of discussion.

    I'll quickly ask the paramedics how critical is it. If its serious injury with possibility of death, I'll notify a SGT and request a Traffic Corps unit. They are the accident investigators, which is a sub-specialty derived by attending a specialist course. Depending on how busy the medics are, I'll try and at least get a drivers license off each driver to ID them. One of my partners will make arrangements for towing the wrecked cars (contracted to private towing companies) and another will start taking pictures. Pictures usually start generally away from the scene & move closer, capturing things like road conditions, street signs, traffic lights, skid marks, etc. Each car will be photographed from all angles to document damage, orientation, any anything inside of evidence value (alcohol bottles, etc.). One of us will identify any witnesses, get their names and statements if we have time.

    The accident investigator arrives he/she will get a quick briefing, and they'll set to work taking measurements, drawing diagrams, getting angles, etc. Medics will let us know which hospital the patients are going to and they'll transport. Once we have everything we need, we'll let the tow trucks haul the cars off & open the road. This (aside from the medical part which goes very quickly) could take over an hour, so those of us directing the traffic, in 45 degree Celsius heat wearing a Kevlar vest and polyester get to hear all about it from the good citizens about how we've caused a traffic jam, and "all we're doing is directing traffic and holding them up". Lovely people, eh?

    Once the scene is secure, we'll compile all our information, and pass it on to the accident investigator. They'll get emailed all our pics, etc. They head off to the hospital to get an update on the status of the victims. If they are able, he/she will get statements, if not, note how serious it is for follow up. I'll go find a spot, park up and jam out my report along with some state required data entries. The investigator will write up their report and draw a digital sketch of the accident using software which renders really cool sketches of the scene. They will also draft up a subpoena for their medical records to include their blood work to see if there are intoxicants. If based, on what we observed on scene & witness statements, a violator will be issued a ticket for any traffic code volitions (lets say they ran a light) we can articulate on scene through witness statements, etc. A subsequent finding of a high blood alcohol level can lead to a DUI charge as well.

    All this gets entered into the data system to be followed up by the traffic investigators. If one of them dies, it goes over to homicide for investigation and a detective will be assigned for follow up.

    If no one dies, at this point, assuming no more tickets are issued, then it's done for us. They can go to court over the ticket or not, up to them. Now they can all argue over fault, insurance, medical bills and so on. This is why you never see a starving lawyer on the side of the road with a sign saying "will work for food" :)


  • Registered Users Posts: 15,382 ✭✭✭✭rainbowtrout


    Given the centralised recruitment set up here in Ireland, which to the best of my knowledge is competitive, given that there are lot more applicants that places when Garda recruitment does take place, what is recruitment like in America? Is wanting to become a police officer in demand? Is it seen as a desirable job? Do you see many sons and daughters of police officers follow their parents into the job? Do you get many people from a wide variety of backgrounds and experience and education applying?


  • Company Representative Posts: 189 Verified rep I'm a US police officer, AMA


    Given the centralized recruitment set up here in Ireland, which to the best of my knowledge is competitive, given that there are lot more applicants than places when Garda recruitment does take place, what is recruitment like in America?

    Given that each LE agency is an island, each agency recruits their own officers based on what they need. Very broadly, the larger agencies will have an ongoing recruitment campaign and start a class each year. Most police academies are about six months long, so a class a year is manageable for most departments. This keeps up with wastage for retirement, separations, resignations, etc. and expansion of the department due to growth. Smaller agencies who aren’t big enough to run an academy will recruit as needed, the applicants will have to be already trained either coming from another force or from a stand-alone academy run by a college (roughly equivalent to a regional Institute of Technology in Ireland).

    Is wanting to become a police officer in demand?

    In the US there is a shortage of police officers nationally. A combination of a hot economy, LE seen as a less attractive career due to civil unrest, and a generation of younger people who don’t feel wedded to a single career. There has been a slight uptick in earlier retirements this year due to the unrest as well compounding the problem. Previous criminal record, bad driving record & poor credit disbar a lot of people too, so the pool gets smaller just with those restrictions too.

    Is it seen as a desirable job?

    For some yes, others no. In the US there is an overall trend away from traditional blue-collar jobs, for the past four years we’ve had an administration demonize the idea of public service, and the civil unrest has turned a lot of people away. You’ll never get rich being a cop, and depending on where you live, its hard to start out on $50K/year when that won’t qualify you for a loan for anything bigger than a shoebox. You can go into the private sector, in some cases, especially the IT world, nearly double your money, not work nights & weekends, not fight with people & get hurt…just saying’.

    Do you see many sons and daughters of police officers follow their parents into the job?

    Yeah, to a small extent. One of my colleague’s daughter just graduated, he is proud and we have a few more like that in my agency. Cops marry cops a fair bit too, not uncommon to see police couples. It’s murder on the family life, childcare, & holidays, but they make it work.

    Do you get many people from a wide variety of backgrounds and experience and education applying?


    Absolutely, applicants are as varied as the day is long. We seem to attract a fair few ex-forces types, which doesn’t surprise me. There is a lot in common between the structure of the military & LE. We have the range from college graduates, trades, career changes, teachers, the full gamut. A varied background and a broad life experience generally helps on the application.


  • Company Representative Posts: 189 Verified rep I'm a US police officer, AMA


    I'm sure this will be of interest...a broad look at a homicide call.

    We'll say the calls comes in as a shooting, so priority response. We'll get there, enter the scene, watching for the perp & to provide assistance to the victim. For this example, it'll be a suburban house, shooter has scarpered. Victim is dead, we'll clear the house, get anyone there out hands up, they may get cuffed until we sort this out. Backup will sort through who they are.

    Once its safe, we'll call EMS in, they will do the field pronouncement, and leave. At this point, we know it's a crime scene, so we'll back, post an officer at the door and no one else goes in. Outside we'll sort out witnesses, get a description of the perp, get that out over the radio and start figuring out what happened. our SGT will most likely be here by now, he'll notify the on call detective and get them moving our way along with the Crime Scene Team (CST) and the Medical Examiners Office (ME). We're getting witness statements, protecting any evidence we may see outside, shell casings, vehicles, security cameras, etc.

    The primary officer will start working up a search warrant for the house & get that to the duty judge. CID, CST & ME are here by now, probably about 90 minutes later depending on where we are & time of day. We'll do a briefing with all them on what we know, CID takes over. Once we have the warrant (we have a 24 hour on call judge), CID and CST will do a walk through of the house, just two of them. CST will usually video this and of course they are all suited up in bunny suits. The detective will coordinate with CST for what they want photographed, recorded and so on. Any evidence will be protected & tagged. Once all that's secure, picked up & bagged by the CST techs, they will focus on the body, pictures, etc. They'll take measurements, draw sketches until CID is satisficed. At that point, the ME will be allowed in, they take some basic evidence on the body, temperature, location of obvious wounds, etc. They'll use the CST for any additional pictures, evidence required etc. Once CID & the ME are happy, then the body will be removed for autopsy.

    At this point, usually a few hours in, we'll all confer again, answer any CID questions and hand any evidence over to the CST. If, for whatever reason, CID wants to maintain the scene for further investigation, we'll seal it up and keep a officer there to secure it. Even with a warrant, we usually can't go past 72 hours without a judge signing off.

    At that point, we'll write our reports, upload all our pictures, send everything in and get on with our shift. The investigation then reverts to CID for their part of it. These calls take hours and get tedious & hot but part of the job.


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  • Company Representative Posts: 189 Verified rep I'm a US police officer, AMA


    Things the movies get wrong (which is most of it really).

    Rooms full of uniforms wombling around looking at things. That destroys evidence, we control who goes in & out to protect the scene and preserve evidence. Once we secure the scene & confirm the vic is dead, we wait for CID etc. CID & CST will process the scene, we stay out. Any subsequent arriving detectives, captains, etc. stay outside until they are cleared to enter. More people in there is more evidence lost and they'd all have to write a report too.

    Cops picking up guns & evidence and drawing conclusions. We leave evidence in place until it has been photographed, measured, documented. Then is it carefully picked up, placed in a paper evidence bag, tagged and sent to the lab. Sure, we'll note, "This 9mm Glock may be the weapon" but the lab makes that determination later.

    Why a warrant? A warrant gives us the right to search the whole building. It's not required as such, however, it gives us the right to search anything. If the victim is downstairs, other than a brief safety sweep to make sure no one else is up there (second storey), LE doesn't have an inherent right to be up there. If we went up there, secured evidence, it could be thrown out in court. So a warrant gives us the right to search the house and any containers therein.

    Medical Examiner coming up with "well he was probably stabbed by a 6ft, right handed person standing over there". Yep, if there is a body there with a knife in the chest, they'll say "likely cause of death stabbing" but beyond a no-brainer like that, they won't say much. Sure, they'll say they see blood pooling, bruises & so on, but generally won't speculate as to the cause of death. In our patch, the ME team are technicians, the actual ME rarely if ever comes to the scene. They do the autopsy back at the morgue, no real need for them to be there.

    Family members allowed to see the vic. Nope, never happens, no one is allowed in, regardless of how upset & emotional they are. Our Victim Services will deal with them, but they are kept away. As the ME team are working, if they find ID documents on the body, we'll use that to ID informally until the vic. gets to the morgue. If the family says, that was my son Johnny, and the license says it's Johnny, the neighbours say its Johnny, its rare the family will be brought to the morgue for the dramatic pulling back of the sheet.

    If it's a John/Jane Doe, we use DNA, fingerprints, photo matching software for driver license pictures for ID. Family may be shown photos, but its rare they'll be allowed see the body. it unnecessary trauma for them and dead bodies, especially post autopsy don't look so good.

    Back to work tomorrow, so hopefully I'll have a bit of time after work for more questions


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