As cops become more experienced their confidence inevitably grows. Confidence can lead them to take more risks. That’s when they’re in real danger.
Overconfident. Complacency. Two words that easily roll off the tongue. Two words that don’t sound so bad, right? You know, they even have a certain “coolness” about them. But in a cop’s world, they’re two words that’ll get you killed. Yeah, been there, seen that—the bloody results of overconfidence and complacency. And, unfortunately, on Fridays you sometimes read about it right here on this blog.
A badge is called a shield, not a suit of armor. It’s not hanging on the chest as a means to stop flying lead. Yes, confidence is a great thing when used in conjunction with experience, training, and common sense. But “bulletproof” confidence alone, well, it can land even the best of cops in an ocean filled with bubbling and boiling hot water.
Common sense is probably one of the most important tools of the cop trade. It’s even more important than guns, Tasers, handcuffs, and radios. Did our Southland heroes use their common sense this week, or were they victims of an overdose of confidence? Well, let’s see. Why don’t we hop into the backseat of a few of SL’s patrol cars and eavesdrop a bit.
Partners. Sounds so carefree and happy, doesn’t it? But, let’s put that word in perspective. Cops ride together, eat together, carry on conversations, breath the same air, fight the same fights, argue the same arguments, talk to the same people, experience the same things, day in and day out, month after month, year after year. The same two people are crammed inside the jam-packed front compartment of a patrol car. And they do this on good days, bad days, happy days, sad days, grieving days, sick days, well days, and all while wearing a ton of gear, uncomfortable shoes, and a steaming hot Kevlar vest.
So think about it for a second. How would that same atmosphere be if one of those two people no longer trusted his partner? How thick would the air be inside that snug-as-a-bug-in-a-rug front compartment? Not so nice, huh? Well, that’s what it’s like inside the CoopTang Mobile. Tensions are high, to say the least. And Tang’s about to be promoted to sergeant? Coop’s blood has to be boiling beneath that “iceman” exterior.
Cooper and Tang at the range is a good example of the icy conditions between the two. Tang says she thinks she’s going to get the promotion. Cooper’s cool reply, “Good for you,” had enough frost on it to chill a tall glass of freshly brewed iced tea. This partnership is done. Stick a fork in it.
Lydia…what can I say. All my bellyaching over the past few weeks came to a head tonight. Lydia (Regina King) belted out that money-making high note at the end of this week’s performance. Lesson learned…keep my hands and feet inside and my mouth tightly shut, and let Cheo Coker and Regina King drive this car, because they certainly knew where they were headed. Holy cow, what a scene—a gang member trying time and time again to stab Lydia, and almost succeeding until Ruben runs in to kick a three-pointer with the thug’s melon-size head. I was on the edge of my seat, reaching for my weapon. Hell, a rock, a stick, my fists…anything to stop the attack. But, the best I could come up with was a DVR remote and an ink pen. At least hitting the pause button gave Lydia a little breather between punctures.
Still, the scenes with Lydia, prior to this week and last night, were perfect examples of “confidence.” Well, they were good examples of overconfidence and complacency. Last night, for example, when Lydia (with child) does a few stupid things, like poking her little cop head inside a building where armed gang members are known to hang out. There’s a better way and that wasn’t it. Neither was Ruben running off to chase a fleeing bad guy, leaving Lydia all alone inside the rundown house. Never leave your partner in danger. Bad guys are a dime a dozen, just reach inside the barrel and grab another. There’s plenty to go around.
Sammy and Ben seem to be mending their differences. Sammy, however, tells Ben that he hopes there are no repercussions from the “pimp pounding” he delivered last week. An excellent example of common sense taking a backseat overconfidence—wanting to save the world in a day, and stupidity.
Let’s take a moment to point out a few high points of the show before moving on.
- Lydia and Ruben are at a murder scene. While gazing at the dead body, they’re talking about food—what to have for lunch, etc. Nothing unusual here, folks. I’ve seen people eat while standing around dead bodies. I remember one officer standing at the scene of a traffic crash and while waiting for the coroner, he had a snack of Pop Tarts, a cops’ instant meal. I’ve even seen a coroner and his crew eating donuts while standing not two feet away from their “guest of the day.”
- Cooper and Tang stop a car. Cooper approaches on the driver’s side while Tang stops at the rear window of the passenger side. Good technique. Tang could then observe any and all activity not visible to Cooper or the passengers inside.
- Ben offers a prostitute money if she’ll quit the business and go home to her family. But Sammy speeds off before Ben can complete his sentence. Rookies sometimes fall prey to folks like prostitutes, drug users and abusers, etc., wanting to save them from their pitiful lives. It’s easy to do, but the results are seldom positive. The users and abusers usually wind up taking advantage of the officer’s pity, leaving the rookie a little lighter in the wallet and a little more bitter in the heart.
- The scenes with Lydia and Ruben and the gang members were good examples of “playing the game” while interrogating suspects. Lydia’s promissory note stating that she would not arrest the kid was priceless. It’s a classic and is used quite often, as are many others. Separating the thugs is always a good idea too. And always, always, always cull the weakest from the herd. They’ll talk first. Doing so also makes the remaining suspects a little nervous, so they’ll often start snitching on their buddies to try and divert to attention away from themselves.
- Cooper and Tang are once again interviewed by internal affairs investigators. This situation is eating at Cooper’s “Do Right” nerve. He wants Tang to do the right thing. He wants to tell what he thinks happened. But he’s a patrol cop, and patrol cops rely on facts.
- Tang…well, she’s a liar and will do anything to get that extra stripe. Coop’s done with her. And good for him.
- Lydia finally admits to Ruben that she’s pregnant.
- Lydia was stabbed several times. Vests do not stop penetrations from knives, ice picks, screwdrivers, and other sharp objects. However, there is a trauma plate (steel or ceramic) that covers the center of the chest. The removable plate (it’s removable to allow for washing the cloth carrier) is inserted into a pocket for added protection against the impact of a round to that area. And that’s where all but one of the punctures were delivered to Lydia’s vest.
And that brings us to this…
The recipient of the pimp pounding drives up to Ben and Sammy and begins to unload his semi-auto into the car. The result is a reverse high-speed pursuit with the cops being chased by the bad guy.
Bullets are flying, Ben is frantically calling for assistance, when suddenly…
Then we see this, the end-result of Ben stepping over the line.
Can Ben live with the consequences of his overconfident rookie mistakes?
This was probably the best episode of Southland to ever hit our living rooms. The acting was stellar, and the story was superb, starting like a train leaving the station, chugging, and puffing, and blowing clouds of hot smoke everywhere until the engine was booming our way at 100mph. And it all ended with a crash that spun to a stop at our feet.
All I could say at that point was…WOW!
This episode is a shining example of why Southland is best darn cop show on TV…ever.
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*I’m issuing a BOLO (Be On The Lookout). Be on the lookout for an all new look for The Graveyard Shift. It just might take place sometime today. Check back often, and please tell all your friends!
*The Writers’ Police Academy announces renowned forensic anthropologist Dr. Elizabeth Murray as 2012 Special Guest Speaker.
Dr. Murray is an author, researcher, and media consultant whose work has taken her around the world as a forensic anthropology consultant for local, regional and national agencies and organizations. She brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the 2012 WPA, including:
- Forensic Science Specialist for the Department of Justice/National Institute of Justice’s National Unidentified and Missing Persons System (NamUs)
- Author of two recent science books for young adults
- Numerous peer-reviewed presentations before the American Academy of Forensic Sciences
- Regular cast member for the Skeleton Stories TV series on the Discovery Health Channel
- Scientific Consultant and on-camera personality for the four-part mini-series, Skeleton Crew/Buried Secrets for the National Geographic Channel
- Visiting Scientist to the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, U.S. Military Central Identification Laboratory, Hawaii and Laos
- Forensic Anthropology Lecturer and Mass Disaster Team Member for the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology
- Appearances on Forensic Files, New Detectives, Unsolved Mysteries, America’s Most Wanted
- Historic and prehistoric skeletal analyses, including principal investigator for Cincinnati’s Music Hall skeletal collection.