BAD COP by Paul Bacon

Book Quote:

“When the man wouldn’t budge, Clarabel threatened to write him a summons for disorderly conduct. He called her bluff by rightly pointing out that she had no authority to do so as a recruit. Undeterred, Clarabel took a practice summons out of her duffel bag and pen from her breast pocket. This was serious. Even though it was a practice summons, she was using it like the real thing, which could get her fired, thrown in jail, and possibly sued. I imagined her going to court. Then I imagined myself going to court to testify against her. I quickly turned away so as not to be a witness. I knew better than to try to stop her, so I just kept an eye on the man and hoped I didn’t have to restrain him.”

Book Review:

Reviewed by Dean Murphy (JUN 11, 2009)

A humorous view of cop life and fast-paced action introduce the reader to “New York’s least likely police officer.” What, Jeff Foxworthy as a cop? Close. Only Foxworthy or Paul Bacon could get away with plastering on the cover of a book: Duty called. I couldn’t find the phone. That, and the cop cliché of a partially eaten doughnut. Though this thought-provoking, hilarious reality cop tale appears to be mostly fiction, it is a memoir. “Some incidents have been combined, and all criminal suspects and NYPD members of service are depicted as composite characters, except the narrator and the cat.”

Bacon has the crap-magnet attraction of having the wrong job at the wrong time. “First I’d been fired via cell phone by someone in a taxi, and now I was being fired with a mass e-mail.” Bad Cop begins with Bacon being blown out of the Dot-Com bubble onto his ear, taking a survival job as a clerical temp in Lower Manhattan. Munching a chocolate croissant (before he discovered doughnuts), he notices with casual New Yorker indifference smoke billowing out of the World Trade Center. Ugly reality creeps into the cracks of his brain like bathtub tile mildew—an indelible stain.

Feeling flush with pride at being a post-9/11 New Yorker and needing a job, Bacon discovers that he’s five years over the age limit to become a firefighter—no chance to stand with Mayor Giuliani at Ground Zero. NYPD qualification requirements fortunately for Bacon are more lenient. “As long as I had two arms and two legs, no felony convictions and could tell red from green, I was almost assured a place on the force.” He becomes “New York’s least likely police officer” in a series of events that seem to be taken from the script of a television cop sit-com. Bacon draws a thin, blue line with philosophy and reason—and straddles both sides, favoring the one most economically viable. After four pitchers of margaritas, Bacon indicates to a friend about an obnoxious bar mate, “Let’s lose the guy.” His friend “Dave leaned in and whispered, ‘He’s buying.’” Bacon nodded. “A few more rounds couldn’t hurt.”

At the rookie induction ceremony, Paul Bacon is introduced to his partner, Suarez. “Cops go by last names, you know. What’s your name?” When Suarez thinks he says “Baker,” Paul replies, “Bacon. Like in breakfast.” Suarez responded, “‘Like pig?’ she laughed. ‘Man, you’re gonna get a lot of shit for that.’” Suarez later accidentally “pepper-sprayed me right in the mouth. In that instant, years of good intentions went up in flames, along with my lips and taste buds.”

Becoming a rookie for New York’s Finest is not cheap. Bacon had to shell out more than seven hundred dollars to buy police basics, such as uniforms—and handcuffs. Bacon stared in awe at the “shiny pair of handcuffs. They seemed intimidating even inside their plastic bag. I held the pack between thumb and forefinger and shook them out onto my bed as if I were discarding a dead rodent. It took a few minutes before I got the courage to pick them up.” With cat-killing curiosity, Bacon, of course, snapped on one cuff, then discovered that he couldn’t unlock it with the key provided. Searching two hundred thousand hits on the Web about how to unlock handcuffs, he learns that the key has to be turned three-hundred-sixty degrees in both directions, to unlock the offending bling. Of course, he could have called 911, but his blue uniform would have clashed with a red face. Lesson to be learned: Unlock anything in life as a test, before using it for the purpose intended. Don’t put okra seeds in your ear, just to see if you can get them out. Don’t touch your tongue to a frozen metal pole.

“Days at the academy began with ‘morning muster,’ our routine dose of inspection and humiliation.” Bacon is instructed by a sergeant, “a plebe like the rest of us, [to] open and close ranks—a series of verbal commands which, if not perfectly executed, could turn us all into bowling pins.” Bacon couldn’t remember the second of two dozen commands, after Attention! “Just then, I heard our platoon commandeer crowing behind me like a two-hundred-pound rooster, ‘De-TAAAIL! AH-ten-HUNH!’” Bacon’s fellow rookie/friend whispers in “a low, gravelly voice, as if in super-slow motion: ‘You are so screwed.’”

Inevitably, rookies are issued—omigod!—handguns. Bacon visualizes himself as Dirty Harry, name-drops Smith & Wesson, Sig Sauer “and the lightweight Glock, which looked like a watergun.” Selecting his service weapon, Bacon is in love. “This was not a casual first date…the handgun you picked first would be yours for the rest of your career. Like that ill-advised biker tattoo, you would have years to regret the wrong choice.” Bacon asks friend Bill Peters how much ammo the guns held. With the response of 16 rounds, “‘Then where does the CO2 cartridge go?’ I said with a confused look—as if his weapon was designed for paintball.” Peters responded with choice four-letter, multi-meaning, suggestive expletives.

Upon being promoted to sergeant while still at the academy, Bacon is advised not to be too dictatorial. Another officer advises not to let subordinates bowl (well, another four-letter word, anyway) him over. “I gave their suggestions only a moment of thought before deciding I would just be myself and see how that worked.” It’s easy to understand how Bacon was a successful cop. He had perps laughing so hard he placed them into custody without using any cop paraphernalia. Bad Cop is not just a humourous take on wearing NYPD blues. In a particularly touching scene, Bacon does not enforce closing a playground at winter’s early dusk, when a four-year-old on Harlem’s meanest streets has no other form of entertainment. Good cop!

Being New York’s soon-to-be-disgruntled finest begins to wear on Bacon. New York’s least likely becomes less likely, NYPD blues become jaded. His first “collar” (arrest) leaves him disheartened, when he believes what a shy, 48-year-old sheepish man tells him, despite multiple felony possessions. “Searching my first prisoner…was a long and nerve-racking experience. Dressed for winter in four jackets, two windbreakers, and three pairs of pants, the man had more pockets than a politician.” Truth be told. Bacon is ready for Suarez’s pepper spray, something to give him a reason to turn it in—even his true love, Smith & Wesson. This is the difficult part, watching enthusiastic youth learn that there is a real world out there, a world filled with those who mostly don’t share enthusiasm for anything, except escape from reality. And, also, because of the few “hairbag” officers who milk the system with excessively unearned overtime pay, truly bad cops.

Stop reading halfway through, if you want to retain good feelings about those who are supposed to serve and protect. Bad Cop, after all, is a memoir, reality. Bad Cop deserves a galaxy of stars, from Amazon’s 5-Star rating.


Reviewer L. Dean Murphy was introduced to Bad Cop in what could be a scene from Bacon’s book. Forty-thousand feet over the Pacific, a flight attendant saw Murphy marking up an advance review copy of Cemetery Dance. “It’s sacrilege to write in a book,” she said. Murphy explained that he was a writer and book reviewer. The attendant said, “My son just published a book.” Oops! Murphy thought. He didn’t have a parachute, he’s not a good swimmer and it’s a long way to Tokyo. He relented, smiled when he learned that she “just happened to have a copy of Bad Cop.” Forty pages into it, he gave the author’s mother his card, asking the publisher to send a review copy. Murphy says the book is a fantastic read on its own merit, not just because Bacon’s mother bumped him up to first class and kept refilling his glass with the airline’s best Pinot Noir, and served an extra portion of barramundi with saffron cream sauce.

AMAZON READER RATING: stars-3-51from 5 readers
PUBLISHER: Bloomsbury USA; 1 edition (March 17, 2009)
REVIEWER: Dean Murphy
AMAZON PAGE: Bad Cop: New York’s Least Likely Police Officer Tells All
EXTRAS: The Boston Phoenix review of Bad Cop
MORE ON MOSTLYFICTION: For more funny cop stories in fiction:

Flipping Out by Marshall Karp

Avalanche by Patrick McManus


June 12, 2009 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: Humorous, New York City, Non-fiction

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.