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A ride through the valley of death

            While arranging the ride-along, my observations of the Glendale Police Department's young desk officers reinforced the stereotypical cop image. On the two occasions I interacted with them, both were reading the archetypal Joseph Wambaugh-style novel: Helter Skelter and Code Blue -- Officer Needs Assistance. The relevance of this fact bears on the notion of a police mind-set -- a subculture into which these young men were being socialized. The popular literature in which these men were immersed represented, to me, a narrowing of the civil axis of orientation. It was as if they bought the crime-fighting McGarrett paradigm, "Book "em, Dano." .
             Following my arrival at the station Wednesday evening, I was subjected to the standard station tour. (This only after my ride-along patrolman had dictated an arrest report to a female dispatcher trainee.) Corinne, the secretarial dispatcher, turned out to be my escort. (According to G.P.D. regulations, female ride-alongs cannot ride with a lone patrolman.) She provided me with detailed information about the communication department, along with the current "roll call" gossip. Corinne seemed quite sympathetic toward the officers and possessed the kind of information (privileged) about individual cops and routine procedures reminiscent of a Corleone "family member." .
             Like the desk officers, she too seemed to have absorbed and integrated herself into the police subculture. She went out after work to drink with her fellow employees, joked with other officers, knew their intimate life histories, understood them as men who bore the crime-fighting responsibility on their shoulders. Further research should be conducted on dispatchers as components of the police force. As I learned, they too possess discretionary decision-making power. Their particularized knowledge determines which units, if any, respond to a specific call, which calls are "bullshit," "crap" calls that become routine and do not demand action, and which officers get "excited" when calling for an assist or chasing down a suspect.

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