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Bob Sutton

I count Nick as a friend too, and a much more sensible and competent one than most people I know. Nick has great values and gives so much of himself it is always impressive. He also is a lot more fun than most people. But I still can't quite understand how it feels to be a cop in quite the same way his fellow cops do.


And, yes, I am honored to count Bob as a friend. Imagine that! A cop with civilians for friends....


I guess it's time for Captain Nick to weigh in. Like everything in life, this "Cops vs Civilians" piece is filled with generalizations. Generalizations exist because the items listed are generally true. I have many excellent friends who are not cops. Balance in life is critical for a police officer's long-term sanity...without it, a twisted sense of reality and "us vs them" mentality is inevitable due to the bonding born of facing life-threatening danger with your brother cops. And whether you like the idea of it or not, violence is one of the things that we get paid to do in order to protect people from danger and remove criminals from the street. We carry a number of tools to defend ourselves and inflict violence on those who would do harm to innocents. The training, equipment and responsibilities cops have are different from any other job for that reason. We run towards danger when everyone else is running away. That is what society expects us to do. It is what we have sworn an oath to do. Cops in this country are calmer, more highly educated and less violent than our counterparts in most places on earth, and we like it that way. Just remember that when you call 911 in the middle of the night because a career felon is breaking into your kid's window, you are PRAYING that we show up very quickly and do lots of violence. "People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." George Orwell ...
The person who posted the ignorant anonymous quip will never understand this simple truth, unless he or she is victimized. Then the light bulb will come on. Generally speaking, the following analogy is illustrative: Civilians are sheep, criminals are wolves, and cops are sheepdogs. It is our job to protect the sheep from the wolves whether the sheep like it or not. Sheep generally don't like the sheepdogs...until the wolves come around.

J. Reed

To SK and "Anonymous for safety reasons", First of all thank you for taking the time to first read and then comment on an article that deals with a little insight to police culture, but it's your comments and similar comments of others that sustain the "US vs. THEM" attitude. The riff comes from the scrutiny and violence police are confronted with everyday. No other job in our nation or the world, for that matter, faces more negative press or has more hatred directed towards it. I would imagine that 99% percent of "non-law enforcement" people reading this article don't go to work with the nagging fear that they may be taken from their family in a violent act while protecting someone they don't know or be sued for an act, while lawful in nature, offends the sensibilities of a citizen.

Please don't get me wrong, there are many cops who shouldn't be allowed to launder a police uniform let alone wear one. But the majority of officers/deputies raced to the opportunity to "protect and serve" knowing full well what was in store for them, yet they still perform their duties with pride, honor and a sense of customer service that is unrivaled. But all the positive attributes of law enforcement officers are lost in the main stream media and unfortunately that is where a majority of society gets their information that shapes their opinions.

You as a non-law enforcement member of our society ask officers not to profile or "judge a book by it's cover" then please do the same for the police. Just because he or she is wearing a uniform and badge doesn't make them a "jack booted thug" or a "racist". There are real people under those uniforms with real problems like anybody else.

Yes there is a fraternity that exists and what's left of the "Blue Wall" or the "Thin Blue Line" but if you truly are interested in police culture and the job... just ask an officer. Tour a police station, become a citizen volunteer or take a ride-a-long so you can have a feeling of walking a mile in their shoes. Cops love nothing more than having a normal conversation with a citizen. It helps all involved to remember that there is a real person under the uniform that, luckily in today's economy, has a job to do. If you are not breaking the law then you should not fear the police.

On a final note...I am a cop and my best friends are other cops. Cops are best friends not only out of necessity but these friends are really great human beings. I also have many, many great friends who aren't cops. Those are the friend's we need to treasure the most and for me, my "non-cop" friends have welcomed, with open arms, into my police family. Please take the time to look past the uniform and badge and get to know one of may be pleasantly surprised.

Anonymous for safety reasons

What a bunch of hokey, self-congratulatory malarkey.

Bob Sutton


No doubt that racism and excessive violence are bad things. But I think the us versus others is understandable as we call on cops to do some mighty nasty thing. Nick and his SWAT team have been involved in some nasty hostage situations, and they have used that bullet-proof truck and their guns to save the lives of kids. So although I acknowledge and deplore some of the unsavory things that some cops do, I understand the bond between them, and it is nice to know that -- in my area -- I've got Nick and his friends so call if something really ugly happens to my friends or family. Nick, by the way, as as open-minded and giving a guy as I know, and doesn't suffer from a trace of the things you worry about -- but I understand that not everyone in his profession is so good, but then again, that goes for every profession!


Bob, what does this piece indicate to you about the culture of police and how that affects the psychology of individual cops? I see a few things that might not be healthy.

1. There is a bit of a martyr's attitude that comes through in this piece. A cop is always a cop, whether active or in retirement. The civilian friend will never understand them. The civilian friend will treat them poorly in comparison to police friends, even though the cop is a "peacemaker" and a "child of God".

2. The civilian friends vs. police friends contrast shows an unhealthy "them vs. us" attitude, with the obvious implication that the police are superior to civilians. It is not comforting to know the police think they are superior to civilians since they given privileges by society to restrict the freedoms of other citizens.

3. "POLICE FRIENDS: Will knock them the hell out for using your name in vain" romanticizes violent anti-social behavior as a norm for cops. Of course, this is all the worse since this kind of illegal behavior is policed by those who feel it is only right for a cop to "knock them the hell out". I find it disturbing how this piece asserts police to be "peacemakers" and "children of God", yet in another it holds out violence as a righteous way to settle a verbal dispute.

The nature of police work sets a natural divide between the police and civilians. The culture of their workplace can either help them bridge that divide or widen it. For me, this piece romanticizes and widens the divide.

Your interpretation may vary. I am biased by my time as martial arts instructor to policemen, during which I got a partially inside view into police culture. I saw this "them vs. us" attitude pervading just about every conversation that involved relationships between policemen and civilians. I also heard racism interwoven into their mythos which often glorifies the use of violence.

So, Bob, I believe you when you say Captain Nick is a great guy. I've known some cops who are great guys also. But how do you square the "them vs. us" and romanticizing of violence in this note with "The No Asshole Rule"?


Does this make you (last line)a police friend, at least an honorary one? Thank so much for sharing that - echoes of Henry V and Band of Brothers.
It reminds me very much of W.E.B Griffins novels, particularly his series on the Philly police.
For any of your readers this resonated with highly recommended.
This is the part that's mostly missing in business IMHO but should be there - at the end of the day "we stand alone together".

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