The Cop’s Gestalt Test

All of my kind readers will surely remember the old adage, “You can’t always judge a book by its cover”. So be it. Along that line of thought folks, you have often heard an opposing adage, “If it walks like a duck, acts like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck!”. So be it.

Well, guys, we coppers kind of think that both of these maxims are both correct at the same time.  Puzzled? You must understand dear readers that we flatfoots and gumshoes develop a “gut instinct” during our crime fighting and detecting over the course of our law enforcement careers.

The commonly use term “criminal profiling” probably comes to mind. Somehow, this term seems unsettling and possibly racist. The “DWB” (driving while black) acronym has been used by black race-charlatans, liberal media pundits, and sophisticated Lilly-white urban elites just because they can get away with it. The end result is to further separate the community from their cops.  This propaganda stokes the flames of mistrust that raised the insane cries to defund the police.  Capital idea!

Gumshoe wonders just how is that movement working out for the minority communities of Oakland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, California; Detroit, Michigan; Chicago, Illinois; New York City, New York, Austin, Texas, etcetera. Morons all. One-way U-Haul trailers are getting out of Dodge!  Pity the ones who are trapped.

Effective patrol cops definitely seek out known criminals and they quickly recognize the elements of criminal activity. That’s called police work folks. Citizens support is critical. Gumshoe says that you cannot police a community that doesn’t want to be policed.  Police are not an army of occupation!

Okay guys, some “inside baseball wisdom” from Gumshoe.  We all mostly drive cars to get ourselves to and from places. Crooks drive cars to do the same thing except it is from or to a crime scene. Hitchhiking and bus routes just don’t work for their nefarious activities.  However, bicycles do work occasionally.

Crooks have a tendency not to obey traffic laws; have suspended or not have driver’s licenses but do have outstanding arrest warrants; are on probation; possess illegal drugs and/or weapons; or are under the influence of alcohol or illicit substances.

A good patrol cop constantly makes car stops within his or her assigned beats for the above-listed rationales.  It’s called “owning your beat”.

Capesh? Comprende?

Gumshoe would conduct car stops on folks who met these standards.  The driver would quickly play the race card:  “You’re stopping because I’m black!” (Or brown or Mexican or female or —fill in the blank for the victim flavor of the day). Gumshoe would simply reply, “Yes!” Gumshoe would take a momentarily pregnant pause. This caused them to be downright shocked that this “Five-O” would readily agree with them.

Hey Bro!  Ay Caramba!

Gumshoe would then follow up with the appropriate race-related or gender-related response:

“You’re the black guy who ran the stop sign.”

“You’re the Mexican who was speeding.” (Sometimes entirely in Gumshoe’s fractured Spanish if they didn’t speak American)

“You’re the female weaving all over the road.”

Once this streetwise formality was initiated, Gumshoe would take the appropriate positive police action that could constitute a warning, a citation, a field sobriety test, or result in a physical arrest.  Period. End of story. The beat goes on.

Gumshoe also learned that some cops can develop a bad case of narrow vision or narrow-mindedness on their crime on the streets or working a detective caseload.

To wit:  If you have a bunch of cops inside a briefing room and write the word “scoutmaster” on the chalkboard; some of them will automatically think “pedophile”.  Gumshoe wonders why?

Until next time folks, always remember to love the ones who love you and really try to love the ones who don’t.

Coram Deo!

PS:  Maybe just a few of the cops would define a scoutmaster as an adult male who unknowingly misleads naive youths (as well as themselves) to their untimely demises in the great outdoors.


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. Listening to your story Tom, based on this article that certainly has generated thoughts, opinions, etc, I include my thoughts as well. First, being retired from LE, I too agree you cannot judge a book by its cover, which propels me to rely on my instinct, which comes and goes for handing out a quarter or two when suddenly I am trying to get through the light so I am not the one within arms reach of the person standing with a sign, hoping for whatever is given.

    In my faith as a Catholic, a Christian, who believes in angles, I sometimes, after handing out that quarter will tell myself, maybe this was God, testing me to be charitable and that person is an angel. Rarely do I hand out to panhandlers, and “once bitten, twice shy”, if I get stuck as the first car again near the same person, my quarter stays put.

    As for your comment Mike, thank you for your thoughts as many times in my career, I would allow one person a free-get out of jail/ticket each day during my shift. When asked by John Doe, why I am not stopping others, as I write the ticket, because he ran a red light and could have slammed into someone, my response was, “how many fish can you catch with one rod and reel”? their answer was “one”…..

  2. Well Gum Shoe another great article. So I am going to tell you about “Not judging a book by it’s cover”. This story goers back about a year or a year and half ago well after I had been gone from the job.
    My wife Deb and I had just left our favorite Italian Restaurant here in Saint Augustine. A man approached us an struck up a conversation. He told us that he had driven up from Palm Coast and that his father was in ICU and he felt he didn’t have enough gas to get to the hospital in Jacksonville and return to Palm Coast. He asked if we could spare some money for gas. Now normally I would have said no as I felt this was just a ploy for money. I looked over to where he was parked and noticed a beat up car with a female passenger and two small children. I started to reach for some money but instead I told him there was a gas station across the street and I would follow him there and put gas in his car. Well I put 20 dollars worth of gas in his vehicle, he thanked me and was on his way.
    The very next week this same man in the same car with the same set of people was in the parking lot and for some reason he approached me again with the same story. I said to him do you not remember me from last week? I told him that no, no money, and I would suggest that he move his scam some place else. I did feel a little twinge of remorse cause I wasn’t sure if he really need gas or not. My gut instinct was that what if he was really telling me the truth and I had denied him what he needed. My police back round had kicked in but then again my conscience was that I should have just gassed him up again.
    Fast forward to two weeks later and I am coming from 4 a clock mass at Corpus Christi and guess who is standing the the church parking lot talking to parishioners coming from church? I see that one of my friends reaching in his pocket and giving some money.
    I approached the man and my conversation was not conductive to someone who has just come from church and receiving Communion.
    I walked up to him and it went like this!!! He went through his spiel “Do you not remember our conversation from two weeks ago”? I told you back then to move your scam some place else. I will not allow a piece of shit like you to come to my Church Parking Lot to scam my fellow parishioners and friends for money. I suggest you and your family move on down the road. He started to protest and it was at this point that I told him that I was a retired police officer and I would not hesitate to call the law and have him arrested for trespassing and pan handling. That I had no problem signing a compliant. Three strikes and you’re out!
    I have always been reluctant to give money to those standing on the corners of highway exits, store exits as I always felt that I was just enabling those buying booze or drugs.
    This first time this happened to me I said to myself how could you be so naïve? Moment of weakness or just trying to feel good about doing the right thing?
    Although I thought I was pretty savvy, sometimes you can’t judge the book by it’s cover.
    Thanks again for another memory!!
    Semper Fi

    • The old “police instincts” never leave you Tom. Once the “hinky button” is pushed it tells you to immediately reevaluate the situation. One of my favorite comedians, Dennis Miller, put it this way: “I have no problem helping the helpless, but I have no problem not helping the clueless”. In your particular case dealing with this charlatan, you saved fellow parishioners from being scammed.
      I always appreciate your comments as well as your shared stories . Semper Fi Leatherneck!

  3. Many love to stoke the flames of racism (especially during election years) by using the term ‘profiling’, when in reality it is (I believe) in the vast majority of cases the employment of BASIC COMMON SENSE and GOOD POLICE WORK! And on a personal note, I’d like to thank Gumshoe and his lovely wife (also a former LEO)…..and the rest of the LE community for their diligent and professional enforcement of the law, which led in turn to many successful prosecutions, followed by the imposition of required sentences – which in turn resulted in the expansion of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and a very interesting, challenging, rewarding and fruitful career for myself and many other correctional professionals! Soli Deo Gloria!

    • One hand washes the other so to speak my dear bro. We pop ‘em and youse kept’em! Job security for us since evil doers self-perpetuated themselves. No God for sure until a few came to know God.

  4. While it does sound contradictory to agree to both your opening adages, they are both true. However, more often than not the cover does give a good clue as to what is likely inside the book. It is a matter of probabilities. Likewise, if it quacks like a duck, walks like a duck, and looks like a duck the odds are heavily stacked that it is a duck, not a chicken or a goat.

    If I were a cop that pulled over a car for a minor traffic violation, or to tell the driver that his left rear tire is going flat, and am greeted with abuse and accused of bias by a youth sporting spiked purple hair, dilated pupils, and no drivers license, I would be justified in thinking this guy is probably not an honor student at the local high school. More likely he is going to be a problem. Looks like a duck issue.

    If that is profiling, then so be it. When a cop’s life is on the line I think a certain amount of profiling is justified.

    • Ken, great reply to the above article, and your description would definitely prompt my same response, and I have arrested many ducks!