The best training to be a reporter is to work the police beat because every story you cover is the worst moment in someone’s life. If you can learn to get the right information under those circumstances, you won’t be fazed by the high and mighty and certainly not by the on‑the‑make politicians and spin doctors—which is why I want to add a paragraph or two to the rash of stories lately about cops gone wrong.
This is not about them. This is about all the cops you don’t read about. They deal much of the time with the dregs of our society: the schemers, the murderers, those who prey on the weak. And most of the time, the police deal with them humanely, and as they should.
What we overlook is just how difficult that can be sometimes. It’s not easy to remain passive when a child beater looks you in the eye and tells you—you have to understand, the kid was keeping him awake. It takes a lot of professional training and strong character not to respond in anger. I know because I spent my early years listening to some of these awful people. Sometimes I wanted to hit them myself. I didn’t, but it helped me understand how hard it is to do a cop’s job right. As hard as it is, the great majority of our cops still do just that.