Thursday, April 09, 2009

Another Selection from our Collection of Terrifying Nixon-era Children's Books: What It's Like to Be a Policeman

This week's selection comes from the career shelf in our library of photo-illustrated Nixon-era children's books (published 1971). As always, some of the captions are real.

Charles Lawrence is a Chicago police officer. There are 13,000 policemen in the city and 500,000 policemen in the United States. The main job of a policeman is to enforce the laws of his city and state. Charles is going to show us what it's like to be a policeman.

It takes a lot of training to become a good policeman. After applying for his job, Charles had to pass several tests. When he was accepted for training, he was sent to the Chicago Police Academy, a school for policemen. "You chewin' gum, rook?" his teacher asks. "Do it again and I'll give ya detention.

Policeman school is a lot like regular school, except that at Policeman school you get to shoot guns all the time. Charles says shooting guns is as much fun as he always thought it would be. “It makes me feel powerful,” he says.

Charles learns to wield his night stick in formation. "Hippies show no mercy," his instructor barks. "So neither can you."

Man, Charles thinks, I hope the Tear Gas final examination is multiple choice.

Charles inspects some recently-confiscated weed. "Now that's some good shit," Charles notes.

Charles passed all his tests. He's a real cop now. "I can't wait to start waling on some hippies," he says.

Charles attends his first roll call. "That had better be powdered sugar on your jacket, Wakowski, or your days in the evidence room are over!"

Charles likes to go to the gun room and look at all the guns. "This room is cool," he says to the guy with the pocket protector.

"Yeah," the guy says.

Many big-city police departments have policewomen on duty. Although they do not have to chase after suspected car thieves very often, the women who are accepted for police work have to take the sane sort of physical and classroom training as their brother officers. Women police officers do all kinds of jobs---from investigating drug offenses to finding lost children and getting them home. [ed. note: I wish I had written that one]

Sometimes when Charles and his partner are on patrol, they spot a known felon, in this case a crooked Certified Public Accountant.

"You should know better than switching from the accrual method to the cash method!" Charles shouts in hot pursuit.

Charles brings the CPA into Central Booking. “What have we got here, Patrolman Lawrence?” asked the Sergeant. “Another book cooking swindler? You no good dirty piece of scum. You make me sick.”

The Sergeant congratulates Charles. “That’s another great collar, son. But dispatch just called in about some investment bankers loitering down on E. 119th. Be careful, though: they scatter like cockroaches.”

“Yes Sir.”

“Now book this mope, boys.”

Charles used to think those CSI shows were phony with their attractive investigators and non-conformist lab technicians, but not after meeting Ms. Peeples and seeing Harvey’s sideburns. “You guys could use some ambient lighting in here, though,” Charles told them.

If you're lousy at catching criminals or you don't listen to your superior officers, you may end up directing traffic like Officer McNulty here.

Traffic cops hardly ever get to shoot anyone.

Charles knows that if he always follows orders, respects the chain of command, and maybe catches a break, perhaps one day he’ll be asked to join the ranks of the Chicago Police Department’s elite Motortrike squadron.