After twenty years on the job, Officer John Cooper has been wondering how his fellow officers will remember him. But right now the only thing he can think about is hanging on.
Cooper, like all people and things on this earth, will eventually reach the end of the line. A hand is on the switch, slowly turning the dial toward dim. His experience is vast, and his knowledge, priceless. Will anyone care after he pulls the pin and retires? Doubtful.
You see, Cooper is realizing that he’s officially one of the “old guys,” a hush-hush title given to officers who’ve been around a long time. The guys who’ve seen and done it all. And it’s a title that even follows a retired cop to his grave.
The old guys have paid their dues, earned their battle scars, and they’ve loved every single minute of their careers, even the outlandish practical joking that occurs among the ranks.
Their years have flown by, and to them it seems like just yesterday when it was they who were telling war stories about “the old guys.” Stories that grew more exciting over the years with each telling. Now it is they, the new generation of old guys, who are subject of the stories.
Cooper is witnessing the changes all around him. The new guys have taken over the role of pranksters, as we saw between Ben and Sammy. Coop’s reached the point where he understands the reasons behind the crimes, instead of merely reacting to them. And we saw this as he talked to the kid standing on the ledge of a highrise, a young man ready to end his life because he couldn’t handle the difficulties and uphill battle of being gay in a largely straight world.
The “old guy” has come to terms with much of his life as a gay police officer, and he summed it all up by saying this to the jumper, “I’ve got a lot of problems, kid. Being gay isn’t one of them.”
Cudlitz plays his role quite well. He delivers the feel of many years of experience as a cop, and the others on the show actually seem to draw from it, just as younger officers do in real life. Now that’s good acting.
Okay, on to the practical joking between Ben and Sammy. First, I must say that sort of thing goes on behind the scenes in every police department. And yes, to the extent we saw in this episode.
Well, unfortunately for you, it’s time for my weekly “I remember when” story. So, like it or not, have a seat in the time machine. I promise, this won’t take long…
Many police officers I worked with thought of themselves as the ultimate practical jokers.
After all, what could be funnier than squirting a thick cloud of pepper spray under a locked restroom door while your partner is in there with his uniform pants around his ankles?
Taking, and hiding, a fellow officer’s patrol car after he left his keys in the ignition while in foot-pursuit of a fleeing suspect, was another favorite trick. Watching him frantically search for the missing vehicle, while wondering how to explain the loss to his supervisor, was hilarious to the pranksters. There were times, however, when the last laugh was on the comedians. Like…
One particular night, a couple of the guys borrowed a department-store mannequin and quietly smuggled it upstairs inside the county jail. There they dressed the mannequin as an inmate, in orange, jail-issue coveralls. The plan was for two of the deputies to make their way down the steps while pretending to fight with the dummy. The scuffle was to end at the office of a graveyard-shift dispatcher who thought of herself as the queen of all jokesters, whose most famous prank was baking homemade Christmas cookies laced with a very strong laxative (being on patrol in the far reaches of the county when “the urge” strikes is no joke!).
The mannequin idea was supposed to scare her into sending out an officer-needs-assistance call; we all expected a good laugh when she realized the joke was finally on her.
So the officers began their descent down the stairwell, yelling and screaming and “fighting” with their prisoner as they neared the dispatcher’s station. When they rounded the corner and were in full view of the poor woman, the “fight” became more intense. The dispatcher stood to see what was causing the disturbance and, as they expected, she panicked—big time. Just as she reached for the microphone to call for assistance, the head fell off the mannequin. The wide-eyed dispatcher watched in horror as it tumbled down the steps and rolled to a stop at her feet.
Thinking the deputies had decapitated the poor inmate, she promptly fainted and struck her head on the concrete floor. An ambulance had to be called, an accident report had to be completed, and the sheriff had to be notified—at 3:00 a.m.
The dispatcher was fine, but when the sheriff arrived, real heads rolled.
So there you have it, this stuff is how cops keep their sanity in check after dealing with the horrors of society. And Sammy and Ben sure gave us a great peek into that side of the job—stealing Sammy’s towel, the “I’m pregnant” girlfriend, birds in the car, and the “Squeeze my hand.” Classics!
Even the humor while dealing with an out-of-control subject, a less-than-tall man who strongly resisted arrest, was spot on. “Where are you taking me?” Ben, “We’re off to see the Wizard.” Politically correct? Of course not. Realistic? Yep.
By the way, Ben’s change in attitude is absolutely normal. Rookies tend to be on their best behavior when riding with their training officers, as was the case with Ben and Cooper. However, once the training is over and their jobs are more secure (a rookie-in-training can be dismissed at any time), rookies tend to spread their wings a bit, letting their true personalities emerge. That’s what we’re seeing with Ben. Also, rookies are sort of like kids, they tend to mimic the people they’re around. And Ben is definitely becoming and extension of Sammy.
And let’s not forget Ben’s comment, “Badge Bunnies are predators. I don’t go after them, they come after me.” Now where have you heard that before? Yep, right here on this blog. I tried to tell you guys…
Lydia and Ruben land a murder case involving a father who killed his own son and then attempted to cover his tracks. The crime scene clues all pointed to dear old dad who’d done a poor job of concealing the evidence and his guilt. Actually, this looked like a case of the suspect wanting to be caught. Happens all the time.
I worry, though, that Lydia’s pregnancy is going to slow the story. This show’s own legacy is its intense wall-to-wall, nonstop action. Lately, though, Lydia’s “I’m sick and I’m not admitting why” scenes are taking us out of the excitement that normally keeps fans on the edge of their seats. Still, she’s great. I’ll say it again. Regina King is great, and she’s playing the part well. I’m just a little concerned. It’s in the back of my mind that this an unnecessary stumbling block for the viewers. We’ll see how it plays out. I have immense faith in the writers, directors, and producers. Notice I didn’t mention the actors? Goes without saying that they’re all fantastic.
The CoopTang duo is flagged down by a frantic woman claiming her son has been abducted. Doesn’t take long to learn that she believes her son is none other than Jesus Christ. Coop’s “old guy” response when the woman revealed the identity of her precious child was priceless. He calmly said, “You must be very proud.” Who wouldn’t be, right?
By the way, have you noticed Lucy Liu/Tang’s habit of resting her right hand on her weapon? I told you she’s a natural for this role. But don’t worry, she’s not trigger happy. It’s just that the gun is right there in that perfect location, and cops have a tendency to take advantage of the built-in armrest.
– Sammy and Ben respond to a murder case where the victim is found dead behind the wheel of a car. When they ask for assistance from bystanders, of course no one offers anything, not a peep. This is how it really is. People just do not want to get involved. Of course, when you get them off to the side away from everyone, then your chances of locating a witness improves quite a bit. It’s the “snitches wind up in ditches” theory that keeps most mouths zipped tightly closed.
“I’m hormonal and I’ve got a gun. Don’t mess with me,” says Lydia Adams.
Ask any male cop who’s ever worked around a female officer just how many times he’s heard that statement, and I’ll bet he couldn’t count the number on his fingers and toes.
– Cooper and Tang stop a car for speeding. The driver instantly starts spouting the same old speech that cops hear day-in and day-out. “Don’t you have more important crimes to investigate?” No, Buddy, there aren’t. You see, cops are busy all over the country working car crashes involving dead pedestrians because the drivers were speeding, texting, eating bowls of cereal, applying makeup, and reading the paper.
And, as usual, we’ve come full circle. Cooper and gang are unwinding at a bar, and everyone is having a great time. But it’s late, especially for one of the “old guys.” So Cooper is the first to leave. Tang follows him outside to tell him that the kid he saved from the suicide attempt had made another attempt and that time achieved his goal. Well, Coop’s already heard the news on the radio, so it wasn’t a shock. He tells Tang that his job was to save people, and that he couldn’t dwell on what they did afterward. That’s great advice for any cop. If they did otherwise they’d probably wind up at the end of a dirt road sucking on the end of their service weapons.
Tang returns to the crew inside the bar leaving Cooper standing outside. He hears Dewey telling a war story, one of his. A notable moment in his 22-year career (8 more and he’ll earn that 6th hash mark/stripe on his sleeve—one for every 5 years served).
The day you hear that first tall tale about some remarkable or crazy thing you’d done during your time on the job is when you know you’ve officially been tagged as “one of the old guys.”
Welcome to the club, John Cooper.