Interview with a Police Officer

Interview with a Small(er) Town Police Officer

In the township of Rock Island they have three types of undercover police officers narcotics, gangs and metro enforcement group (this is specific to the area due to the close proximity of other towns). In Rock Island narcotics would cover cases involving prostitution. Generally speaking police officers would find out about prostitute rings through snitches or other officers (through encounters, i.e. running into a prostitute on the street). Usually they are able to makes arrests through implication as both johns and prostitutes will generally give information to cut a deal for him/herself. If the police force isn’t finding a snitch then they will generally try to oust the ring by writing numerous tickets, basically finding any and everyway to make the prostitutes lives as hard as possible.

Narcotics officer’s job is 90% paperwork and only 10% out in the world fighting crime. They wear street clothes to work and generally try to look as nasty and grubby as possible. All other officers are required to wear a suit and tie daily. The sergeant dictates the hours the officers are to work, hours will vary depending on what tasks need to be done. Often times narcotics end up working long hours and at odd times. In Rock Island the narcotics officers, as well as the other undercovers switch out every three years. This is to keep the work interesting, give everyone a chance to do it and to switch partners among other reasons.

In Rock Island the rankings go as follow from highest to lowest:

1 Chief

3 Captains

4 Lieutenants

12 Sergeants

Patrol Officers/Detectives

Field Training Officers

Patrol Officers/Detectives and Field Training Officers are the only positions that do not have any authority over other officers. However, Sergeant and up have authority to those underneath them.

Key points in trying to catch a prostitute in Illinois:

  • police cannot ask for sex or offer to pay for it

  • girl has to offer sex and money

  • any mention of sex or paying for sex by prostitute is good enough

If the police are watching the “place of business” when they obtain enough information they need to obtain a search warrant from the States Attorney (referred to as the DA on Law and Order). Once they obtain the search warrant they will go and search with the SWAT team.

The phrase “The Thin Blue Line” really rings true. Police Officers become very, very close to their fellow officers. The amount of time spent with each other in their line of work creates automatic bonding between officers. They do not rat on each other, with the understanding that this guys watching your back, you don’t want him mad at you. In cases that officers are doing things they shouldn’t (i.e. dating prostitutes) they will confront each other about the wrong doing but will never go to the captain or sergeant.

Unlike what you see on television or in the movies there are not many crooked cops.

The biggest differences between being a small town cop and a large city (Chicago) cop are the following:

  • big city cops tend to get jaded a lot faster

  • big city cops see much more violence and crime

  • there is not as much commandeer in larger units

A good movie to check out to see how cops really act with each other is Super Troopers. This movie portrays the behavior of police officers well but don’t take the events in the movie to seriously or take it to be accurate.

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