Friday, January 14, 2011

The Deuce and Cops

In the wake of the mass murder in Tucson I was struck by the repeated comments made by Pima County (Tucson) Sheriff Clarence Dupnik (D). Before the shooting I don't recall ever having heard of Sheriff Dupnik, despite the fact that I was living in Tucson from 1977 to 1982 ( Dupnik first became Sheriff in 1980 ). Since the shooting we've all heard way too much from him. Listening to his rants regarding 'violent rhetoric' inciting crazed gunmen to go nuts and slaughter innocent people got me to thinking of good cops and bad cops. My first thought was that southern Arizona used to have lawmen like the Earps (R), the famous brothers who helped tame Tombstone, 'the town too tough to die', in the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. The trail from Earp to Dupnik is long, and unfortunately, depressing.

Sheriff Dupnik's comments are egregiously political ( Sheriff being an elected office in Pima County, like most other jurisdictions ) and have little to do with law enforcement. Dupnik is political to the point he refused to enforce the recently passed Arizona law regarding illegal immigrants. Nice that a law enforcement officer refuses to enforce the law because he thinks it's 'racist and bigoted', despite the fact that a majority of Arizona residents think it's perfectly fine.

But to my main thought. Who are the 'Best Cops.'

It's late on a Saturday night. You've been over at a friend's house watching the NFL playoffs with several friends. You've had a bit to drink over several hours and are borderline legally too drunk to be driving. You're a middle-aged man with no criminal record, or at worst one or two misdemeanor arrests 25 years ago when you were young and stupid. Now you're driving home. You're driving fine, but you're left tail light is out and you don't know it...but the cops do. They pull you over. Your license, registration and proof of insurance are all up to date and in order. You obey all the officer's commands and are courteous. The cop runs your license and plates and finds that you nor your vehicle are wanted, and that your driving record is clean over the last five years. Now, what kind of cop is he? Good or bad? Are you going home to bed, or are you going to jail?

Who are the cops you want to be dealing with? Cops with judgment; cops not looking to advance their careers by meeting arrest quotas or to jam you up just 'cause they're in a bad mood; cops with an ingrained understanding of human nature who know that good guys occasionally deserve a break and bad guys never deserve a break. In other words, cops who are looking for the seriously dangerous...the bad actors who kill, rob and rape...the guys who burglarize your home or entice little girls into their vans; guys with four previous DUIs; cops who don't want to waste everybody's time dealing with that which they can truly let slide with no danger to the general public.

By that criteria, here are my Best Cops. Note: Seriously dirty cops are disqualified, i.e. Training Day, The Shield, etc ( punching out lowlifes who 'resist arrest', sleeping with the occasional hooker or placing a bet on the big game are okay ). Overt parodies and/or comedies are also disqualified, i.e. Police Academy, Naked Gun. Western lawmen will be a separate poll.

1. Andy Sipowitz ( Dennis Franz, NYPD Blue ). Broken more laws than your average felon.
2. Jim Malone ( Sean Connery, The Untouchables ). No blood, no foul.
3. Axel Foley ( Eddie Murphy, Beverly Hills Cop ). Car thief before becoming a cop.
4. John McLain ( Bruce Willis, Die Hard, et al ). NYPD, no time for small fry.
5. Harry Calahan ( Clint Eastwood, Dirty Harry, et al). Robbery/Homocide, would never pull over any car for a tail light out.
6. Martin Riggs ( Mel Gibson, Lethal Weapon, et al ). Don't try and sell him drugs and you're cool.
7. Jack Cates ( Nick Nolte, 48 Hours, et al ). Too lazy to deal with your misdemeanor ass.
8. 'Popeye' Doyle ( Gene Hackman, The French Connection ). Driving 100 mph in the city "might" get his attention.
9. Frank Bullitt ( Steve McQueen, Bullitt ). Too cool to mess with your misdemeanor ass.
10. Mike Lowery ( Will Smith, Bad Boys, et al ). Too busy being entertained by his partner to mess with you.

Here are the Worst Cops.

1. Joe Friday ( Jack Webb, Dragnet ). Wouldn't cut God a break.
2. Robocop ( Peter Weller, Robocop ). Can't cut God a break.
3. Nicholas Angel ( Simon Pegg, Hot Fuzz ). God maybe, but Jesus gets busted.
4. Bud White ( Russell Crowe, L.A. Confidential ). Every arrest advances his career.
5. Freddy Heflin ( Sylvester Stallone, Copland ). The law is the law.
6. Frank Serpico ( Al Pacino, Serpico ). He'd like to cut you a break, but Internal Affairs is all over him.
7. Sam Gerrard ( Tommy Lee Jones, The Fugitive ). As he so famously said, "I don't care!"
8. Steve McGarret ( Jack Lord, Hawaii Five-O ). "Book 'em Danno" is just too easy.
9. Rick Deckard ( Harrison Ford, Blade Runner ). "The computer says you're busted...nothing I can do."
10. Vincent Hanna ( Al Pacino, Heat ). "You're busted just for wasting my time."

Here's to good cops. I've actually known a few. God bless 'em.

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