Variety, the Spice of the Job
by David W. Donovan

"I cracked up watching one drunk walk to the back of his car by holding onto his car to stay upright and simultaneously denying that he had been drinking."

When you spend thirty-one years in law enforcement like the author did as a street cop in California you have a wealth of experiences to share. Some are funny while others are tragic; some involve great personal danger and excitement while others can be categorized as simply routine. Yet taken as a whole, they paint a rich and colorful portrait of what life is typically like for the average, career police officer.

While some might imagine an officer's day to read like a script from an edgy, overly dramatic cop show, Donovan notes that many aspects are closer to what is seen in a sitcom like Barney Miller. True, there are cases like the one where he apprehended a suspicious character hiding in the bushes of a home where the man's estranged wife was visiting. The wife asked Donovan to let him go, but, unfortunately, the next day her husband returned and killed her. However, there are also many calls of a lighter variety such as the one where a witness saw a would-be burglar try to hurl a brick through a window only to have it bounce off the Plexiglas and into his face. Still others show the unique roles officers are sometimes tasked to play in a community, such as what happened occasionally in the 70s and 80s where a beat cop would grant a "divorce" in a common law marriage by having the couple place their hands on his badge and then be pronounced single by him.

Donovan's collection of short vignettes offers a unique and revealing look at the real life of an ordinary police officer. Coupled with the author's wry observations, his tales make for some entertaining reading.

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