When I first read that article, my personal opinion was that this was an misinterpretation on the part of the Belleview officer who arrested Weinstein. People are drawn to cop culture, and things that convey a connection with the police for a variety of reasons. I had a conversation with Danny Smith, author of “On the Job,” about this topic. For any of you who are unfamiliar with Mr. Smith, he is from a Chicago Police family, with six members in his family who either have served or are serving. Daniel is also available for media interviews and public speaking engagements. For anyone who has been intrigued with cop culture but lacks the inside connections to our men and women in blue, his book is a must read.
I asked him, “Why do you think anyone would try to impersonate a police officer, especially by wearing a Tee shirt that says “POLICE” both on the front and on the back?” Danny responded that, “I think of it more as being a “fan” of police.” And added that he thought that there’s an element of individuals who enjoy the casual perception from others that they might be the police as well as others who might be “fans” of police and wish to show their “support” for that team.” I do have to concur, since Mr. N has given me stickers to put on my non-existent car that is from one of his CPD associations (not the FOP) to show my support. In this manner, it is similar to when I wear a Loyola Jacket or baseball cap, since I am an alum.
Danny did make the distinction that there is an issue, “when one goes beyond that and leads others to believe that they truly are the police through conversation or other actions. That’s simply dishonest.” Agreed. That is not only dishonest, it’s tacky and it’s fronting. It is as offensive as when someone represents themselves as military veterans who have served, when they have not, in order to gain some momentary perceived status or admiration. It is not earned, and it is certainly not deserved in my book.
My second question was this: “Is it your personal opinion that just walking around with one of those tee shirts conveys that a person is a PO?” Danny shares the same viewpoint that I have (maybe this is why I liked his book so much!), “Indeed, walking around with such a shirt might convey one is a PO to the casual observer, but I certainly wouldn’t assume that anybody wearing such a shirt would unquestionably be an officer. For me, it would likely be little more than a conversation starter. Let’s say I’m walking around with a CPD shirt. I can’t control what others think or assume; however, I can control my response if they come to me and engage in conversation.”
My last question to him about his topic was, “Do you think that this could cause confusion? In business, when there is a copyright infringement, one of the major issues is whether something would cause confusion in the marketplace. If it has that capacity, it would be deemed illegal. How do you view the tee shirt issue I’ve asked about?”
Danny’s response, “I suppose it could cause confusion, but a simple question–ie. Are you a police officer?–paired with an honest answer should squelch any uncertainty. I do know that many police departments, particularly in cities, aren’t terribly excited about regular folks walking around with NYPD or CPD clothing because such clothing does lead to that assumption.
Still, these clothes are also eagerly distributed by officers to their family members and available for general purchase at a number of uniform stores, none of which say “Hey, you can’t buy that shirt unless you can show me a badge.” My bottom line: what’s the big deal? Just don’t be dishonest if confronted with a question.
There was a time when this Chica was given one of the Homicide Tee shirts (Our Day Starts when Yours Ends) from a Chicago Police Detective who spent many years in Homicide. When I first wore the Homicide Tee shirt, I had just moved into this building in Andersonville. I didn’t know that there was some kind of work release place down the street, and these gang banger looking girls made it known that they did not approve of my support. If looks could kill I’d be channeling this blog from the other side.
For awhile, every time they saw me, they’d try to start something with me. Eventually the main aggressor began to cool her Habaneros, since she was beginning to waddle down the street looking ever so pregnant. Later she surprised me when, upon encountering her as she was pushing her baby buggy, she actually said “hello” in a semi-friendly manner. So that was one reaction to the tee shirt. Other people used to just think it was a cool shirt, except some of the more squeamish who apparently didn’t appreciate gallows humor. The detective that gave it to me said something like, ‘you should see what is on the shirts that my buddies in the Bomb and Arson Squad wear!’
Some people seem to use the symbol of the police to convey, “Leave me alone, I know a cop” as if they believe they will be protected in some way. While in a jewelry store on Montrose, I noticed a Chicago Police Officer’s Dress hat sitting on the table on the owner’s side of the counter. I commented that Mr. Novio is a Chicago Cop. I was staring at it because it looked out of date, and then one of the owners acknowledged that a friend of theirs gave it to them to display and it was very old.
Perhaps the most offensive reason is the last comment that Danny shared with me, “Frankly, I feel the greater issue are the folks with a PD supporter sticker on their car who point to it when pulled over, as if a $20 donation should give them a Get out of Jail Free Card.”
I knew someone who was given a variety of shirts that said “Chicago Police” by someone he knew who sold them. This person once wore it to a restaurant. I think that he enjoyed the attention it garnered him, but the fact is that he accepted “love” meant for the real po-leece, instead of paying his tab.
And yes, some people think that making their donation and getting one of those little stickers gets them some type of “in” with the entire Chicago Police Department, especially during traffic stops. There are also those who believe that if they try to offer the Officer incentive money, that this will also help. Well, the latter can help change things, especially since they could be arrested for trying to bribe a cop and it will be on camera.
As for Mr. N, when he’s not on duty he never wears anything that says he is the Police, except when he carries. I guess that says it all.