Ask a Cop – March 2010


Dear Cop,
While perusing the Salt Lake City Police Department’s website, I stumbled upon a very interesting section: Tips for Cash. I’m not sure what I expected to find there, but when I realized that the crime tips deemed cash worthy by the SLCPD (homicide, drive-by shootings, toxic dumping, etc.) are far more serious than what most common citizens encounter, I was slightly disappointed. I have never witnessed any such events and likely never will, making my chances at being rewarded for reporting a crime very, very low.  I understand the motive behind offering a reward for information about these most serious crimes, but why is there not a way to report less serious, but far more common crimes? It seems like I’m caught behind a clearly drunk driver at least once a week (usually on my way to work on an early Saturday or Sunday morning), and I can’t count how many goddamn times I’ve seen a person (usually a woman—sorry ladies) texting while flying down the freeway. I know that these crimes are relatively minor and they don’t lead to serious consequences as often as, say, aggravated arson, but these are the kinds of crimes most people encounter every day and would likely be willing to report. I, for one, would be more than satisfied without a cash reward—the knowledge that I had ruined someone’s day and cost them money because of their own poor decisions would be satisfactory enough. Plus, we’d be doing your work for you—just show up and write a ticket and you’re one more pissed off citizen closer to your quota. It’s win-win!

Wow.............You asked, “Why is there not a way to report less serious, but far more common crimes?”
What an excellent question!  Recently, a couple of other very brilliant people (like you) asked the very same thing. What did those experts come up with?  Well, very soon you’re going to hear about a remarkable new system being implemented, not just in this country but in many places around the world.  In the U.S. you will shortly have the ability to dial just three numbers from any phone and instantly be connected with the cops.

They’re proposing the numbers 9-1-1 for this service, but I personally don’t know if this will fly.  Can you imagine how things will change?  Instead of surfing the internet to discover how to report your ass being kicked, just dial 911 and describe your salad toss.  No need to locate a cop at the station, 7-11 or local watering hole.  They’ll actually be sent to you when needed.  Simply amazing!

Regarding your desire to obtain employment as a professional, less serious, common crime reporter (snitch, “brave tough guy/gal,” loose lips, tweaker, tattletale, narc, etc.), I doubt it’ll fly.  For the chump shit, you’ll probably need to dial 911 out of the goodness of your heart.

Personally, I hope this 911 bullshit goes away.  The last thing I ever expected when I became a cop was to actually have to help people, serve my community, or be excited about pursuing fun and danger.  Change some ol’ lady’s tire in a snowstorm?  Hell no, that’s neither safe nor comfortable.

Your idea of doing my job for me, and getting paid for it, well that sounds like a lot more work for me. I see your 911 fiasco as destroying my pleasant career of sitting in a donut shop or Denny’s, not being around when needed.  Let’s see, you propose that instead of sitting safely in a coffee shop, where nothing bad ever happens to cops, I should be summoned to your 16-year-old girl texting on the freeway report. I think that meeting the “man’s” quota might be far safer than the coffee shop, and especially, of course, with your help, “brave puss.”  Sign me up!