During the summers of the late 1970s, early ’80s, I remember getting up in the morning, having some scrambled eggs and a pop tart or two, then as soon as the Flintstones was done, I’d go outside to play ‘cops & robbers’ with my neighborhood friends all day – the only break would be for a sandwich (usually a couple slices of cheese-impregnated ham with a slathering of yellow mustard) and a cold glass of cool-ade (I don’t know what flavors, but it seemed like it was always red).
Whenever we’d play CHiPs, there’d be the standard argument over who could be “Ponch“.
Back in those days, to become a police officer (or at least to play one on TV), you really had to have the appearance of being an outstanding citizen and in good physical condition (Don’t even try to convince me that Barney Fief, Rosco P. Coltrane or the aforementioned motorcycle cops from CHiPs weren’t all in the their physical prime).
Looking back, I suppose I could even give some credit to those fictitious law enforcers as my early inspirations to exercise as I’d run around chasing bad guys and patrolling the neighborhood on my ‘motorcycle’ all day. (Okay, so maybe Ponch & Jon were just convenient excuses to put baseball cards in the spokes of my bike…)
“Being well-rounded, having some life experience, makes for a better person and patrolman…” Fast forward to the present day, non-televised world of cops: Police standards are sinking fast.
Minor crimes like drug convictions (“experimental use of cocaine and marijuana” or “ecstasy… as long as it was more than five years in the past“) and gang related activity (I can only imagine what this includes) are no longer the barriers to wearing a badge and carrying a service revolver that they once were.
You now have the right to a jelly donut. If you cannot afford a deep fried mound of flour covered (and filled) with sugar, a donut will be provided for you by the taxpayers.
The physical standards for new recruits are falling, too (why else would I have brought the subject up in the first place?).
One police department in Alaska now allows for an additional 21 seconds to run 300 meters – giving them a full minute and 17 seconds to cover the track. Should I assume they’re running in snowshoes?
The L.A.P.D even loosened the body fat requirements to 24% for men and 32% for women. I could understand these levels in the corn-belt states, but in Los Angeles? Judging by the cover of People magazine, I was under the impression that being overweight there was a crime!
In everything else in life, standards get tougher. Why would something as important as protecting and serving go the other way?