Once There Was A Zap

A Zap!
This was once an important piece of equipment for every police officer in the world.  In some places it still is, but not so much in America.  A recent episode of Blue Bloods had Danny admit he carried one despite department policy. 

It’s a blackjack and it’s a primitive impact weapon.  Most beat cops, until the late 70’s, were on their own.  They had call boxes which were connected to the precinct, if they could get to them. 
official police call in keys
Keys to traffic control box and police call in box.
They also carried whistles which could summon help, if another cop was in earshot and could find them.  Mostly they were on their own.  A couple ounces of lead on the end of a 5-inch flexible shaft could mean the difference between the morgue, hospital or home.

Things change and we need to keep up.  One change you might have problems accepting is the prevalence of video cameras.  Let me tell you a tale…

When 72-year Philip Snider showed up at home after a visit to Graceland, his children didn’t ask how the trip was.  What they wanted to know was, “Where’s mom, dad?”

Philip told his yarn of mom passing at the hotel and how he flagged down an EMT vehicle.  The EMTs pronounced her DOA, loaded her up in the ambulance and said they’d take care of it.  Sadly, Philip neglected to ask where they were taking the body and mom simply disappeared.

This didn’t satisfy the kids or the local police.  They checked all the possible hospitals, morgues, and funeral parlors and came up with zip.  Then they checked the video tapes at the hotel, at toll plazas, gas stations, hell they probably checked you tube.

They never found an image of mom.  When confronted, dad admitted that mom died on the way from Ohio to Tennessee and he slipped her into a trash bag and recycled her into the Tennessee River.  The holidays this year aren’t going to be much fun for the Snider clan.

So what am I trying to tell you?  Simply there will always be a video camera recording you.  It may be a smart phone that only captures the middle and end of the event.  It may be a video recorder build into a GPS in a truck or built into a car.  It could be the camera over the counter in a store, but if your story doesn’t match the video, expect problems.

The days when you could turn a conflict into he said-I said are going away.  You can’t easily argue that the witness didn’t see or misinterpreted what they saw when there‘s video, sometime from several different angles.  How long will it be, do you think, before everyday Joes are wearing a camera?  Sound fantastic?  Well, they are already carrying cameras now.

What do we do?  Change with them.  You’ll wear a camera or at least a sound recording device.  Be polite, and we know to avoid trouble if possible, de-escalate when you can, and watch what you say before and after.

Because you’re the new candid camera star. 


  1. Boy, that brings back some good memories. Six ounces of powdered lead can be very comforting at times.


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