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by Peter Moskos

December 20, 2015

Choose your own adventure! The sick prisoner.

You're a police officer in the big city. This was your life's dream. You like to help people. Once on the job, you realize it wasn't all you hoped, but you still do the best you can.

You have a prisoner in the back in your vehicle. It was a minor offense. But the law is the law.

You're driving to booking when the prisoner starts to act like he's sick. He moans and says he's not well.

What do you do?

Ignore him. You're almost at booking. Besides, he's probably faking it. If you keep driving, turn to page 8.

You took this job to help people. Sure he might be faking it, but what if he really needs help? If you stop immediately to check on his well being, turn to page 26.

Don't ask any questions. The man is in need of aid. You're only trained as a medical first responder. Best to see a real doctor. If you change course, put on the lights and siren, and head straight to the hospital, turn to page 4.

(You know the rules: no pressing the "back" button!)


David Bratzer said...

I would like to leave a helpful, insightful, humorous and wise comment based on my personal opinion and ten years experience as a police officer, but I can't under my true name.

Moskos said...

Email it to me.

Concerned citizen said...

Here's a recent example of a prisoner who said he was sick. The officers opened the car door to check on him. He bolted, and later slipped his handuffs. Now, it's the disgraced officers who are sick... about the damage they've done to their careers.

NYTimes 12/18/15

"suspect riding in the back of a squad car bound for a police station in Lower Manhattan started acting sick"

"the two officers who arrested him pulled over to see what was wrong."

"as soon as they opened his door... the suspect, Magsayo Cruz, 20, bolted into a subway station and at some point freed himself from his handcuffs."

"William J. Bratton, the New York police commissioner, said that the officers had been suspended for 30 days, with their guns and badges taken away. 'They are totally off the streets.' "

“What we have here is a significant neglect of duty,” Mr. Bratton said. “Compounding it was the tremendous upset to the public, shutting those train lines down.”

“Needless to say, this will impact on their future careers in the department dramatically,” Mr. Bratton said.

Moskos said...

Yeah. That's what inspired this post. I link to it (maybe not prominently enough).

john mosby said...

Prof, I think you have found the answer to your earlier piece on general orders:

Just write the GOs in choose-your-adventure format!

Seriously. To save space, they could be flowcharts. But really to be usable on the street, a loose leaf binder of thick pages with color-coded tabs would be optimal.