Saturday, June 24, 2006

Courtesy, Professionalism, Respect, and no more jelly donuts

Came into New York Thursday by way of the GW Bridge, took the Henry Hudson Parkway into midtown, and headed up towards Broadway on W 54th, which took me past, among other landmarks, the studio where The Colbert Report is taped---a small, blank-looking brick building with a bare wooden door and some sawhorses out front for the would-be audience to line up behind---and the Midtown North Precinct House, where there was something odd-looking to me about the crowd of cops hanging out on the sidewalk by their lined up white patrol cars.

They all looked too neat, the cops and the patrol cars, actually. The cops were standing around with the too purposeful attitudes of guys with nothing to do trying to look like they were busy and on the job, and that was normal enough. But they also were all of a type. Well, cops are traditionally all of a type. These cops weren't of that traditionally type, though. They were all youngish, all in excellent shape, but trim and wiry like runners not bulked up like the weight-lifters.

And they all looked short.

Has something changed in the culture of New York City cops? Are there new health and fitness requirements?

Or does only a certain physical type get posted to Midtown North?

And what happened to the blue and whites? And what's with the motto CPR---Courtesy, Professionalism, and Respect? Somehow that's not reassuring to me. It would sound fine as the motto of a long-distance trucking company, the kind of company that wants you think it's serious about the How's My Driving Call 1-800--CAN-MYAS stickers on the liftgates.

But while I would hope that police officers practice courtesy, demonstrate professionalism, and show respect for citizens and their rights as a matter of course, when I call a cop those qualities aren't the foremost on my mind.

Ah well, nevermind. It was a gorgeous day, despite the heat, and even though the precinct house was in the shade, the colors of the flag flying over the doorway and the blue of the cops' uniforms were as bright and pretty as a watercolor.


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