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Paul Clinton

Paul Clinton

As the POLICE Web editor, Paul Clinton contributes posts about patrol cars, motorcycles, and other police vehicles. He previously wrote about automotive electronics as managing editor of Mobile Electronics. Prior to that, he was an award-winning newspaper reporter.



William Harvey

William Harvey

William "Bill" Harvey is currently serving as chief of police in south central Pennsylvania. He retired from the Savannah (Ga.) Police Department where he worked assignments in training, patrol, and CID. Harvey has more than 25 years of experience working with recruits, rookies, and FTOs.
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Cop as Social Worker

You hate being called a social worker, but you're a social warrior in disguise.

February 07, 2008  |  by William Harvey - Also by this author

In today's law enforcement community we use the term "warrior" proudly. We are the homeland's warriors who defend and secure Hometown, USA, today and tomorrow. Today's warriors have trained and will continue to train for whatever pending evil is on the horizon; we accept this challenge without misgivings. Young warriors in today's police academies are being trained in topics that were unheard of 20 years ago, but which today are common place. Yet this is not all we do.

A Helping Hand

There are still those who call upon us and feel that we, the police, are great social workers. Often police responders are the ones who fill in social, governmental, or philanthropic voids. This is especially true after hours, during weekends, and on holidays. You are stuck with a situation and those who should fill the needs are off with their families while you are on the scene wondering what the next move will be.

This is what we do: take care of those who cannot take care of themselves, during the worst of times. When everyone else runs, evacuates, or does not want to help, young warriors go into action. We become the solution providers for the needy, distraught, and disadvantaged.

I pine for the day when children are once again taught to seek a cop when they are lost or in trouble. Unfortunately, some today are told to not snitch, to run if they see a cop, or are told that we are the ones who will put them in jail.

Some warriors get offended when called a "social worker." I don't see why they should see it as a slap in the face. There are some from the past generation of community orientated policing who are proud of their role in helping out when needed. In their era, this was the great salve of the masses from the police. We were at times more social workers than cops, but still we wore the title with pride.

Social Police Work Today

Being a police officer is not always about chasing down a bad guy, guns blazing. The way I was taught to view this is simple.

If you remove an intoxicated or aggressive driver from the highway, you have performed a social service to the motoring public. If you arrest a pedophile before he or she harms another innocent child, you have performed a great social service for the youth. If you arrest a violent commercial robber and remove him from the street, you again have performed a great social service to the business community.

If you bend down to take a crying child's hand at a domestic violence call and bring a bit of safety and sanity to her life, you have performed a great social good for that child. You may have just become a role model and made a great difference in her life. You never know whose life you will touch in some little way.

Embrace Your Inner Social Worker

The entire point of this column is to remind young warriors that a warrior can bend down to hold a child's hand. It is not all the rock'em and sock'em world. Cops every day make a tremendous difference in this complex world we live in.

Do not ever take umbrage when someone refers to you as a social worker. You are making a difference, one radio call at a time or one child in need at a time. The rhetorical question to the person making the statement is, What greater good have you brought to the world today? I know young warriors who do this daily and with finesse. And I thank God every day for young warriors who make this difference.


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