Taking a cold, hard stand

About a thousand years ago, when I became a police officer and started walking the streets of Brooklyn, I believed in the system of justice. I felt that being a cop meant being one of the good guys.

It didn't take long before I began to experience the seamier side of life, not only in the street, which I expected, but in the department itself. Sometime during my first few weeks on the job I was paired with a veteran officer in a radio motor patrol car. During the evening he stopped a motorist for a traffic violation. He told me to stay in the car while he handled it.

A minute or two later, he came back to our vehicle, sat behind the wheel and threw a couple of dollars on the seat between us. 'Here's your share, kid!' he said. That was my first encounter with corruption. I refused the money and he gladly shoved it into his pocket while telling me I'd soon learn that the job 'was not on the level.' I remember driving home that night in a trance. I wasn't sure if I should have turned in that cop or ignore what had happened.

It was about 1am when I got home and I remember going to the bedroom and looking at my sleeping wife and newborn son. I was all of 21 years old and I already had the responsibility of raising a family, paying the bills and putting bread on the table, while trying to respect the person I saw in the mirror.

I decided it was too risky to take on the system, so I would simply stay far away from those who used their authority to line their pockets. I requested that I not be paired with that cop again. That decision resulted in a lot of foot patrol during many cold, blustery nights. In addition, I seemed to be getting an inordinate amount of attention from superior officers on patrol.

One guy in particular went to great lengths to get something on me. He was a uniformed sergeant who had been busted from detective sergeant in the 'silk stocking' district of Manhattan. There was a ton of graft being shared in the Big Apple and this sergeant was found with some of it stuck to his greedy fingers. Any other cop would not only have lost his job, he would have been indicted and imprisoned. But, having been in the thick of the corruption for so long, this guy knew where the bodies were buried, hence, the powers that be didn't want to test his singing voice.

Not content to escape jail and keep his job, this embittered excuse for a public servant hated anyone who wouldn't go along with the program. As soon as the word got out that I didn't want to work with certain cops, this sergeant decided to make an example of me. He would sit in his car during those icy evenings and have his driver pass by me slowly several times during the night, making sure I didn't stop walking, or didn't stop for a hot cup of coffee.

Several times during those nights, he'd pull over to the snow encrusted sidewalk and beckon to me through the steam—covered window. When I walked over and saluted, as was required, he'd not give me the courtesy of a return salute, but would roll down his window about an inch. 'Gimme ya book!' he'd bark.

I'd hand over my memo pad, barely able to squeeze it through the slit. The heat escaping from the car was a welcome treat against my face for the few seconds I could enjoy it. He made me stand there with the wind whipping against me as he took his time looking over my notations before scratching his initials on the page and pushing the pad back through the tiny opening.

This was how they put pressure on all the honest cops to go along with the culture of corruption that was as much a part of the system as the badge that made it all seem legal.

That sergeant was never able to break me or get anything on me. Ultimately, his political clout got him a cushy job in another department and he became nothing more than a bad memory.

Be aware of those in authority who find ways to make the immoral and the unethical, acceptable; even legal. They are far more dangerous to society than the ordinary thug because they masquerade in the benevolent cloak of decency, while the trusting, unsuspecting public thinks the job 'is on the level.'

Bob Weir is a former detective sergeant in the New York City Police Department. He is the excutive editor of The News Connection in Highland Village, Texas. BobWeir777@aol.com

About a thousand years ago, when I became a police officer and started walking the streets of Brooklyn, I believed in the system of justice. I felt that being a cop meant being one of the good guys.

It didn't take long before I began to experience the seamier side of life, not only in the street, which I expected, but in the department itself. Sometime during my first few weeks on the job I was paired with a veteran officer in a radio motor patrol car. During the evening he stopped a motorist for a traffic violation. He told me to stay in the car while he handled it.

A minute or two later, he came back to our vehicle, sat behind the wheel and threw a couple of dollars on the seat between us. 'Here's your share, kid!' he said. That was my first encounter with corruption. I refused the money and he gladly shoved it into his pocket while telling me I'd soon learn that the job 'was not on the level.' I remember driving home that night in a trance. I wasn't sure if I should have turned in that cop or ignore what had happened.

It was about 1am when I got home and I remember going to the bedroom and looking at my sleeping wife and newborn son. I was all of 21 years old and I already had the responsibility of raising a family, paying the bills and putting bread on the table, while trying to respect the person I saw in the mirror.

I decided it was too risky to take on the system, so I would simply stay far away from those who used their authority to line their pockets. I requested that I not be paired with that cop again. That decision resulted in a lot of foot patrol during many cold, blustery nights. In addition, I seemed to be getting an inordinate amount of attention from superior officers on patrol.

One guy in particular went to great lengths to get something on me. He was a uniformed sergeant who had been busted from detective sergeant in the 'silk stocking' district of Manhattan. There was a ton of graft being shared in the Big Apple and this sergeant was found with some of it stuck to his greedy fingers. Any other cop would not only have lost his job, he would have been indicted and imprisoned. But, having been in the thick of the corruption for so long, this guy knew where the bodies were buried, hence, the powers that be didn't want to test his singing voice.

Not content to escape jail and keep his job, this embittered excuse for a public servant hated anyone who wouldn't go along with the program. As soon as the word got out that I didn't want to work with certain cops, this sergeant decided to make an example of me. He would sit in his car during those icy evenings and have his driver pass by me slowly several times during the night, making sure I didn't stop walking, or didn't stop for a hot cup of coffee.

Several times during those nights, he'd pull over to the snow encrusted sidewalk and beckon to me through the steam—covered window. When I walked over and saluted, as was required, he'd not give me the courtesy of a return salute, but would roll down his window about an inch. 'Gimme ya book!' he'd bark.

I'd hand over my memo pad, barely able to squeeze it through the slit. The heat escaping from the car was a welcome treat against my face for the few seconds I could enjoy it. He made me stand there with the wind whipping against me as he took his time looking over my notations before scratching his initials on the page and pushing the pad back through the tiny opening.

This was how they put pressure on all the honest cops to go along with the culture of corruption that was as much a part of the system as the badge that made it all seem legal.

That sergeant was never able to break me or get anything on me. Ultimately, his political clout got him a cushy job in another department and he became nothing more than a bad memory.

Be aware of those in authority who find ways to make the immoral and the unethical, acceptable; even legal. They are far more dangerous to society than the ordinary thug because they masquerade in the benevolent cloak of decency, while the trusting, unsuspecting public thinks the job 'is on the level.'

Bob Weir is a former detective sergeant in the New York City Police Department. He is the excutive editor of The News Connection in Highland Village, Texas. BobWeir777@aol.com