Officer Dummkopf #2: Directions


Note: This is the second post in our series of misadventures for poor Officer Dummkopf. Things just never seem to go his way.

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Officer Dummkopf has just been cut loose.

He is riding solo for the next two weeks working downtown on the day shift as a patrol officer. He is still technically on probation, but the chief decided to end the training officer period for most of his class so that the agency has immediate access the newbies to meet current personnel demands.

For the patrol division, it was a never ending cycle of being short-handed.

A new class of officers would finish their training, a few weeks later transfers out of patrol would be made to fill detective and other slots (reducing the number of officers available to work the streets), and then attrition, illnesses, vacations, and various other personnel issues would make scheduling for patrol supervisors tense—just in time for a new class of pups to fill slots.

In another two weeks Officer Dummkopf will be assigned a much less popular work shift, and would not have seen a day shift in patrol again for at least seven years—that is until after five years he transfers to another division.

In any event, Officer Dummkopf sits with the gray-beards through roll call, gets his assignment, and is ready for some real policing.

“Dummkopf,” the grumpy balding sergeant says.

“I need you to handle a special assignment for me first over at First and Blair. The law breakers in your zone will wait until you check back in service."

“Go there and ask for Ms. Shelly. She’ll tell you what she needs.”
The eager yet careful Dummkopf does his pre-shift car check on his extra car, disposes of the remains of a what looks to be like a chicken dinner pushed well under the driver’s seat (still waiting on the carbon dating report to come back for an exact analysis), and exits the parking lot with the odd realization that new officers get—“Wow, I am really armed and alone in this cruiser.”

The marked unit travels east through light traffic and makes it four blocks into the city before the officer sees a man and woman sitting in a vehicle pulled alongside a building. The female waves requesting him in a non-threatening manner.

The officer pulls closer, sees two young children in the backseat, a filled luggage rack on top of the car, and two or three maps unfolded laying on the dash. A quick glance to the rear of the vehicle reinforces what he already knew: an out-of-state-tag.

The man, looking concerned yet embarrassed, asks: “Can you tell us how to get to The Henry Monument?”
Officer Dummkopf frowns and then shot a look that resembled a white-tail deer in a headlight.

Now our hero officer is thoroughly trained in his state’s legal codes. He knows domestic violence law like the back of his hand. He is comfortable in ground fighting. He finished first in his recruit class in physical fitness and is ready at a moment’s notice for a foot pursuit, but…um…well…directions?

Officer Dummkopf, seemingly prepared for any police matter, had sort of forgotten to be ready for this simple yet common request of law enforcement: the “How do I get to…”

Previously, his training officers had always taken care of it. Duh…

It did not help that Officer Dummkopf had only recently fell of the manure truck from Oklahoma, landed in the big city, and with the time demands of the academy, had not exactly visited a few, or well any of the jurisdiction’s tourist attractions.

The officer quickly considered his options: 1) call someone else to help with directions and lose any self-respect with his veteran colleagues (all of which was imagined); 2) confess his ignorance; or, 3) try to figure it out himself.

It was then that Dummkopf’s genetic code began to kick-in. “Never ask for directions,” the manly voice screamed inside his head. The officer decisively chose Option #3.

“Sure. Let me see those maps and I can try to help,” Dummkopf directed.
After a few moments of getting his bearings (also known as looking desperately at the map to see if the historic site was marked), the officer finds the monument, locates where the travelers are, and turn-by-turn directions are hastily developed.

After pleasantries are exchanged, our friendly newbie officer is back enroute to his special assignment—feeling good about helping the visitors.

Later that evening, Dummkopf reviews his tourist maps of the city and compares them to the directions that he had disseminated earlier.

“Wow, I gave only one wrong exit number and a left when I meant right.”

The officer then had the sinking feeling that his less than stellar directions had left the visitors in a similar situation as Chevy Chase lost with his family in the movie European Vacation. You know the part where Chase, as the incompetent father Clark Griswald, repeatedly quips: “Look, Big Ben kids…” as they drive in a circle in London.

As part of Dummkopf’s maturation process and until he could navigate the city’s tourist areas better, he decided to select “Option #2: Ignorance” when stopped again for driving directions.

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Note: My department recruited heavily nationwide and the result was a large percentage of academy classes that were certainly not comprised of locals. In addition, new officers were assigned as extras and moved around within a sector/station regularly—making it tough to learn a new area.

Though this strategy allowed the agency to meet their high-level of hiring standards, tourists paid a hefty price in frustration when asking fresh-faced officers for directions.

2 comments:

Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt said...

Hee hee. I guess there's nothing wrong with saying, "I don't know." I've had cops say that to me.

I guess if you gave the tourists verbal directions, they might think it was their fault and not yours. That doesn't assuage your conscience, however. I would obsess over that mistake for weeks.

You know, of course, that these entries are funny but don't inspire confidence whenever I see a newbie who looks like he could be my kid brother.

J. J. in Phila said...

Once I was pulled over. The police officer asked to see my paperwork, which I had.

They looked at it, went back to the patrol car, came back and handed it to me.

I said, "What's wrong."

Officer: "Ah, well, we typed in the wrong license plate number and it came back stolen."

We both laughed and I said,"Ah it happens all the time at the office." :)