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Ned Ludd, Where Are You?

The textile apprentice, Ned Ludd, from that not so jolly old 19th century England at the time, is missing.  Ned was the fictional symbol of the secretive “Luddites” who decided to smash industrial looms that destroyed their private cottage weaving livelihoods.

Nowadays the label “Luddite” is a term used to describe anyone who is against technology.

Now, my dear readers, you may wonder if good old Gumshoe has gone completely off the proverbial reservation or simply “bat-guano”? Not really, I think but then again do crazy people know that they are crazy?  “To be or not to be, that’s the rub” paraphrasing Bill Shakespeare.  Let me proceed dear readers.

What does mythical Ned Ludd have anything to do with my police tale?  

Well, in a way he does, and in another way he doesn’t. Gumshoe’s diatribe is about separation and isolation brought on in part by technology. Gumshoe loves the good things brought by technology— indoor plumbing, microwave popcorn, color television, mobile phones, refrigeration, toilet tissue, sliced bread, the internet, and the GPS just to name a few.

When Gumshoe was a freshly-minted uniform police officer back in the ’70s (1970’s mind you!); the technical tools of the street cop trade were pretty basic:

  • One department-issued .38
    .caliber (Colt or Smith & Wesson) blue steel, 4” barrel revolver also called a “wheel gun”.
  • A leather pistol holster with a thumb snap.
  • 6 rounds for the pistol with an additional 12 rounds for the belt dump pouch.
  • One wooden baton (nightstick) with a handle and attached lanyard.
  • One set of 12 oz. stainless steel Peerless handcuffs with two keys (one cuff to be hidden on your person just in case you are the one “cuffed”.

Note:  It only took the open end of a regular paperclip to defeat the cuff locking mechanism.

  • One metal police whistle for traffic directing.
  • A leather “Sam Browne” duty belt with a silver buckle.  Four leather keepers to attach to your trouser belt.
  • A keyring holder.

Note:  All of these articles were attached to the Sam Browne for ready access.

Additional note:  There were no ballistic vests issued and if you should happen to buy one, you were considered “paranoid” by other officers.

That was the “field technology” that us grunt flatfoots used to confront the evildoers. Period. We did have police (two-way) radios inside our “shops” (patrol units) but no portable radios.

Note:  All officers taped at least two silver dimes inside our Sam Browne’s just in case we had to use a pay telephone.  We also wrote our blood types inside the belts.

Gumshoe learned to deal with all sorts of street challenges by using a lot of common sense. The art of listening and effective speaking were definite street survival tools. Communication on a one-to-one basis was the key.

“Hands-on” techniques consisted of “come along” wrists and arms restraints and body take-downs when words failed and there were no other options to pursue.

Gumshoe learned to “own his beat” by knowing the neighborhoods, the people, the culture, the businesses, and especially the “frequent flyers” (career crooks).  Citizens got to know you and they actually came on the scene to assist you with a physically assaultive knucklehead.

The .38 pistol and nightstick were rarely used, but they were both effective when displayed and employed under lawful circumstances.

The Remington 870 pump-action 12 gauge shotgun was an effective crowd control tool especially when the unruly ones heard that unmistakable sound of a double-aught round being racked into the chamber.  Many a sphincter muscle could be simultaneously heard slamming shut I imaged as miscreants dispersed.

Now dear readers think about it.   Basic street tools utilized on occasion by the coppers. Simple personal techniques and technical tools that got the job done.

The future decades of street policing technology evolved:  mace, tasers, bean bag rounds, portable police radios, body cameras, issued ballistic vests, computers, advanced CSI collection, semi-automatic handguns, AR-15’s, etc. Now some of these new techniques and newer technologies were really good and effective. But something was lost me thinks — that human touch. When that past beat officer said that you matter and that I give a damn!

Sadly, no more police foot beats— officers were given larger beats that prevented that “personal ownership” and that shared that vital “partnership” with the locals.  Strangers policing other strangers.  More 911 calls pending than there are cops to respond.  No time and no ownership.

Gumshoe thought that hitting the streets was more like going on a combat patrol for the newer officers.  The blue army of occupation perhaps?

Then came “Rodney King” “The Christopher Commission”.  It became the unofficial motto of officers to “Smile and Wave” rather than to “Protect and Serve”.

The war on police continues . . . that human-to-human touch has been lost.  Where are you Ned Ludd?  Damn the isolation!

That’s my story for now gentle readers and I am sticking to it.  Please remember to love the ones who love you and even try to love the ones who don’t. Coram Deo.

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.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Right on my friend Vincent. The neighborhood “beat cop” was the “heart” of community policing at its best. Once the heart is removed, it is the sense of community that slowly withers and dies. Dedicated and professional Police Officers were always “My brothers keepers”. Thanks again for your comment.

  2. Loved the article. I became a police officer before all this technology. I remember having to use a call box if we had to call the station. We didn’t have dash cams or body cams. Up to a point we could make decisions based on the nature of the situation. In other words we could be Police Officers who took an oath to protect the citizens of our community without the fear of retribution and I am not talking about over stepping our authority but being able to actually do police work.

    • Amen my brother in blue. We were lucky that we served under police leaders rather than police managers. We had plenty of discretion in our police actions along with 100% accountability. Police departments were a genuine family who were supported by the community. That “thin blue line” kept the barbarians from storming the gates. Thanks for your comment Tom.

  3. I agree with your assessment, Danny. The personal relationships of cop/civilian has been a victom of technology in that the tech has contributed to a larger patrol area and thus the loss of meaningful interaction. Throw in the occational “bad cop” and a few radical/violent prone organizations like BLM and we have the present sticky stew. A few hundred leftist judges and political hacks stay busy stiring that stew.

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