It develops pretty quickly in some of us, and others take quite a bit of time to acquire it. Some can’t get it no matter how hard they try and eventually filter out to do other things.
Once you have it, it’s almost impossible to shake regardless of your surroundings. It can keep us alive and drive our friends and family insane. The only thing that seems to make it go away in the Donut is to be promoted to a command staff position, because apparently it is not allowed in the exclusive star and oak leaf cluster club.
You may be thinking that I’m referencing common sense, but you can’t really claim to have common sense when you regularly head in the direction of shots fired calls, violent disturbances and traffic crashes on a busy interstate. Common sense would dictate that you head in the opposite direction of those things. If your job requires you to wear something ballistic and carry a firearm to protect yourself, you hopefully have it. It’s a “cop brain.”
As a child of the 1980s, I vividly remember the old “this is your brain” public service announcement. The difference here is that once that egg is cracked and it hits the hot frying pan, the sizzle isn’t as a result of drugs. Dump a rookie cop in an unfamiliar scenario and that sizzle is because he or she hasn’t developed the “cop brain.” Given some experience and confidence, the sizzle point is harder to reach for the young copper, and eventually the pan has to be pretty damn hot to induce any sizzle at all.
Cop brain can be a great thing while you’re on duty, but it can make you look pretty silly while you’re not at work. Check out the list of 10 symptoms and see if you have this unique condition:
Symptom 1: The Phantom of the Radio
After wearing a lapel microphone attached to a portable radio for hours on end while on duty, it becomes second nature to lean your head in the direction of the mic in order to hear what is being said. It’s a totally normal behavior while you are in uniform and actually have the lapel mic on, but if you’ve ever done it while you weren’t in uniform and the mic was nowhere around you, welcome to the club. I’m not only a member, I’m the president.
Symptom 2: The Cop License Plate Game
Like a lot of others who patrol the beat in between calls for service as a police officer, I pay some attention to the license plates near me just in case there’s one that is expired and begging to be stopped for a simple equipment violation. Sometimes I may even say the license plate number out loud to make it easier to remember as I type it into the computer to check the plate’s status. If you have cop brain it’s hard to shut this off, and you’ll likely drive your family crazy on long trips as you consistently point out all of the expired plates around while sometimes muttering them aloud.