I was sitting at a red light watching a California Highway Patrol officer on a t-stop near a freeway off-ramp. He'd positioned himself behind a convenient telephone pole that gave him cover while still availing him a view of the detained motorist.
He was standing there, dutifully filling out a citation and periodically glancing up, not just at the driver, but also at passing traffic. He did not impress me as paranoid, just indulging some very sound officer safety practices.
My light phased green and I continued on my way.
There's not much more to the story.
Except I kept thinking back to the way he'd positioned himself. First, it was obvious that he'd taken the time to dictate where the car stopped. Not around a blind bend where he stood a chance of getting rear-ended, or further down the street where he'd be at the questionable mercy of less friendlies.
He'd also made sure that the cars came to stop in a place where he'd be in a position to exploit the cover of the pole. And there wasn't much in the way of cover to be found in the area.
Did I mention that this was on a day where the temperature was about 110 degrees?
Perhaps most impressive was the fact that he appeared to be a veteran officer, one who hadn't allowed himself a degree of complacency that one sometimes encounters in old heads. I wondered how many of them would have just opted for the air-conditioned interior of their patrol cars. How many would have maybe, at best, taken an open door position in the passenger seat as a half-assed concession to the oppressive heat and officer safety.
I thought about other cops who've embodied sound officer safety practices through the years, and mentally contrasted them with other, more "colorful" types who were invariably good for some colorful anecdote that could only have happened to them.
Sometimes it isn't the flashiest thing that a cop does that impresses. It's the little things.