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by Peter Moskos

March 5, 2015

"Frozen Wieners"

I know there's probably more important police stuff to write about, but I can't stand when cops get in the jackpot for joking. A NJ cops is getting heat for making jokes about a dead dog. It's in the Daily News. It shouldn't be. The only story is about an idiot, Andrew Mayer, who "was spinning doughnuts on the frozen river when the ice shattered and his vehicle sank." Mayer is being charged with criminal mischief and reckless driving. His dog went down with his pickup truck, which currently rests at the bottom of the Toms River.

So an off-duty cop writes on with "private social media page": "Truck plunging through ice with a dog inside brings a whole new meaning to FROZEN WEINER or DIRTY WATER DOG." "Why didn't the dog do the Doggie Paddle." "Was his favorite movie Dog Day Afternoon."

To that perhaps I can add:
Too bad there wasn't a horse in the bed of the pickup truck. Then it would have been a real dog and pony show.

Was he an old dog? Getting out of the truck is a new trick.

I bet the driver is going to miss the dog days of summer.
My point isn't whether these are funny or not. I don't give a damn. My point is that it's perfectly all right for a cop (or anybody) to make dog jokes when an idiot gets his dog killed like that (I guess the owner is now in the dog house). Not only is it all right, it's essential for mental health.

Now I don't know if this cop is going to trouble. I doubt it. But this is a fine time for some higher ranking police officers to come to his (and all police officers') defense to point out it's perfectly all right for cops to make jokes about what they see on their job. And there's nothing wrong with a cop cracking wise on facebook.

Christ, if you see routinely see human death on the job, are you supposed to break down a weep over a dead dog? (Though many cops do shed tears more quickly for innocent dogs than guilty people, which I always found interesting.) When you're a cop, of course you joke about dead dogs. You joke about dead people. You joke about everything. You don't joke because you don't care (even though sometimes you don't).

You joke because empathy isn't always a healthy or professional way of dealing with other people's shitty situations. You joke to stay sane. You joke because joking is how you pass time. You joke in deadpan to get your partner to crack up at inappropriate situations. You joke because laughter is good for the soul. Now perhaps maybe you shouldn't make jokes at a crime scene in earshot of the victim's family. That's professionalism. But out of earshot? In private? Let the best crack win. Let every dog has its day.

[Here are my other posts on Cop Humor. I say much the same thing... but the jokes are different!]


Moskos said...

Somebody (OK, my wife) asks: "But then there are all the Ferguson cops making racist jokes, per DOJ. Where do you draw the line?"

There are a few important lines.

1) Something said in private is different than something said in private. (And there's a grey area in between, with social media.)
2) Something said off the job is different than something said on the job.
3) But more-so I think there's an important difference in passing around racist jokes (in which case you're probably racist) and making job-related jokes about real life (which may or may not be racist).

Also, and I think this matters, is the joke actually funny? Do people laugh? If you're telling a "joke" just as an excuse to say something racist, not cool.

And, in private, making fun of the way actual people actually talk is OK. I mean... what kind of person spends most of his or her working hours around people who talk a certain way and manages not to imitate and/or make fun of different patterns of speech? It's not possible.

Reminds me of the time somebody in Baltimore defended an officer arresting her man by saying to her man: "You know that officer has right 'justible claws to arrest you...".

See the joke is that she was confusing "probably cause" and "adjustable claws." If you don't think that's hilarious, well, I guess you weren't there. (For the record, I heard this second hand.)

Moskos said...

For the record, I would find it disturbing if a guy passed around a whole bunch of dead-dog jokes had there been no dead dog.

Joking about tragedy (even when it involves the suffering of others) is therapeutic and healthy.

Joking about fiction? Joking just to put people down? Joking just to be mean? Then maybe we should talk. The less real it is, the more funny it had better be.

Also, racists jokes (however you want to define them) don't actually make the joke-teller become a racist person. Racists jokes let other people know about the joke teller.

I'd certainly prefer to know who I'm dealing with than to have people afraid to tell me a joke. Shun the person. Not the speech.

campbell said...

4) If you're making racist jokes on your govt. email account, you deserve a punch to the nuts on general principle.

It's not a difficult concept. Your privacy on your govt. issued job related email account is 0. You should not write or send anything on that account you would be uncomfortable having read aloud on the evening news.

Moskos said...


I don't want to conflate an off-duty cop making a dead-dog joke on facebook (N.J.) with racist messages send on official email by on-duty cops (Ferguson). Very different.