“Et Luxes In Tenebris Lucet”

Gumshoe early on in his LEO (law enforcement officer) career once heard a burned-out and somewhat jaded veteran street police officer proclaim in a deeply frustrated grumbled tone of voice :

Being a street police officer is like standing at the receiving end of a sewer pipe!

This crusty old salt made this sad soliloquy during a shift-change briefing prior to us patrol knuckle-draggers hitting the bricks to go to our assigned beats. Gumshoe just pondered this morale-killing claim momentarily and just brushed it off as this street monster having a bad day.

Possibly, this ROD (retired on duty) officer was simply embittered due to a recent citizen complaint that was sustained by IA (internal affairs) that resulted in some days off without pay? Bummer! Maybe he was passed over for an anticipated promotion or plum assignment? Maybe one of his ex-wives demanded an increase in alimony? Maybe he forgot his hemorrhoid cream?

Who knows? It might have been one of the too many “can of worms” 911 calls that he had to sort out in the past and he just knew by golly-gee that he was gonna be ultimately be dispatched to handle more of these dreaded  “can of worms” radio calls again and then again . . . ad infinitum to ad nauseam!

Gumshoe learned it was (and still is) a truism that all police rookies (Gumshoe included) initially have a naïve and altruistic attitude when embarking upon their nascent crime-fighting careers. A bunch of “Dudley Do-rights” rescuing a bevy of beautiful “Nell’s” from a horde of  “Snidely Whiplashes”.

This warm and fuzzy feel-good attitude is soon squashed unmercifully to smithereens by the hard reality of working the streets day and day out.

No one ever calls a cop for something good. Gumshoe used to tell his trainees that if they wanted to really be appreciated, become a “nozzle head”. Join the firefighter service.  “Sleep until you’re hungry and eat until you’re tired.  Rescue treed house cats and wax the shiny red fire trucks”.

Personal Note:  This was just good old police humor since there is a friendly rivalry between cops and firefighters whom Gumshoe considers all heroes plus they are good cooks to boot!

Now back to a police officer’s plight.  Boo hoo! Some of you kind readers may shout.

Some of you folks may exclaim:

“You were not drafted to be a cop.  You signed up for it. You get to wear a badge and carry a gun and drive fast!  You always seem to hang out in donut shops and then just write your quota of traffic tickets to us we-pay-your-salary- law-abiding citizens rather than go out and catch real bad guys.  No pity party for you “Five-O.”

Sound familiar refrain gentle readers? Perception is a reality for most folks and it is true and even counts for cops don’t cha know?

Why do some people call 911 if the drive-through place gets their food order wrong? We don’t arrest Ronald McDonald nor grab Jack from his box.

Yes, some cops do become jaded and they experience career burnout; but that’s on them. “The would have’s, should have’s, and could have’s” exist in all walks of life and in all organizations.  Best to stay away from their ilk.

Good cops (the majority mind you) don’t see themselves as standing on the receiving end of a sewer pipe, nor dealing exclusively in the effluent.

**It does happen and cops are definitely the clean-up crew that is ready and waiting.  “Hook ‘em and book ‘em!” is the rallying call.

They honest to God want to make a difference and help folks.  They want to serve and protect the vulnerable and hold the predators accountable. They know they make a small contribution every day by holding firm to that “thin blue line”.   By pounding a beat or racing to the next 911 call.

All of the mother-sons and all of the mother-daughters who put on the blue are indeed the lights that shine in the darkness — “Et luxces in tenebris lucet”.

Always remember to love the ones who love you and really try to love the ones who don’t.

Coram Deo!

PS:  Never fear Nell, Dudley Do-right will be there. Beware Snidely!


Danny Pitocco
Danny Pitocco
RETIRED (as a Detective with the Snohomish County Sherriff’s Department, Washington State), Danny has over forty years of law enforcement experience across city, county, state and federal levels of government, including service as a Special Agent for the DEA, US Department of Justice. He’s a decorated law enforcement veteran, and recipient of the "Detective of the Year" award for Snohomish County, Danny is a certified composite artist and has testified as an expert witness in the field of narcotics and modus operandi of particular crimes in state and federal courts in California, and has given testimony before federal grand juries. Danny served four years of active duty in the US Marine Corps and loves Jesus as his personal savior.

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  1. I agree with the comments from Tom, and its a great article; I just had to tell myself if I could help at least one person feel better about the uniform, it was worth it. That was then and I suppose it would be now too, except that I don’t think I’d do it again, I would stay in nursing.

    • I would have considered being a “nozzle head” or maybe “a smoke jumper” just for the excitement my Nightingale.

  2. We are definitely “brothers from different mothers” my friend Tom. It was always a source of frustration when handling the same calls with the same players over and over again. The best of us persevered for the folks who needed us.
    Semper Fi my fellow Jarhead!

  3. Great Article. I will admit that there were times when I thought why the f–k am I doing this. I see nothing but the worse of the worse. I have to listen to the same bullshit complaints and chase after the same people and sometimes the children of the same ass h–les day after day. Then I would remember that there times when I was in the good old USMC and felt that way about being in Vietnam. It’s like you wrote. You signed up for this Stassi. Nobody forced you to sign on for the job. Quit feeling sorry for yourself, step up and and do your job. My satisfaction was born in the fact that I thought I was making a difference, was helping take bad guys and sometimes bad girls off the street even if I knew that I would probably be chasing them again when they made bail.
    You are right. We are asked to clean up the crap and are expected to be Officer Friendly at the end of the day. Thanks again Gum Shoe for bringing back another long forgotten memory of days past.
    Semper Fi