There is no other occupation, save the military and then only in times of war, that comes closer to being a true brotherhood than police work. It's a family that is often closer and more tight-knit than your own. I learned this early and often during my service with the Tulsa police department. This concept was so important and vital it was even taught in the Tulsa police academy. We were taught to care about our fellow officers more than anyone else because our safety was in each other's hands and that our obligations to fellow officers and them to us was the only thing we could absolutely, positively depend on.
This theory became reality soon after I graduated and went out into the field. People changed their behavior when I was around, even personal friends I had known for many years. They didn't act, talk or behave the way they did before I became a police officer and so I found my circle of friends slowly contracting until it contained only other officers and their spouses because we could only truly be ourselves when we were with each other.
This has always been a difficult concept for the general public to understand. A motorcycle cop wrecked his cycle one day causing him serious injury and a phalanx of police cars and motorcycles escorted him to the hospital with sirens blaring. Doctors, nurses and a stretcher were waiting for him in the emergency room driveway when we arrived and as he was being placed on the stretcher, one of the nurses said to an officer standing next to me that we really looked out for each other. The officer replied that yes ma'am we do, because nobody else gives a damn.
That's a common sentiment for police officers to have because it often seems that way. We didn't come in contact very much with respectable, law abiding people. Instead, we patrolled the cesspool of crime and criminals and because of that, a sentiment developed that crime and criminality was what the world was all about because it's all we ever saw. And that made us even more dependent on each other.
An officer would never snitch on another officer and that included testifying in court. In fact, if a police officer even thought about doing such a thing, he knew he would immediately become an outcast in the department. The spirit of dependency and camaraderie was so high that this was simply not an option and so a code of silence permeated the entire structure of rank and file police officers.
Once a patrol officer stopped at a downtown bar after work, still dressed in his uniform, and began to drink. The drinking became heavier with time and when it was suggested that he go on home by the owner of the bar, he became belligerent and confrontational. When that happened, the bar owner called the police department and an officer was dispatched to the scene but wouldn't go. Several more attempts were made to send an officer to the bar but everyone declined. Finally, the shift commander, a captain, had to go because no patrol officer would.
I know this concept is difficult to grasp for those who have never been in law enforcement or the military because we tend not to have intense relationships like that with anyone outside our family but for law enforcement to work effectively for all of us, it's a spirit that's absolutely crucial. Regardless of the size of the city, an officer never knows what other officer might be in a position to save their life someday or vice versa.
That's why the story of a local cop arresting and handcuffing another cop for a misdemeanor offense was a very peculiar thing indeed.