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Posted on Thu, Sep 5, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

Police work: Sometimes it's a crappy job, but somebody has to do it

By Rich Kinsey

The cable guy, plumber, electrician and heating and cooling guys all do it, but cops will not. There is usually no time and it would not be safe for a patrol officer. Those other professionals who come in your home may put surgical booties on when they walk on your fine carpet, but the first responders that come in will not. They do not have the time, and usually when they are there it is an emergency, and at that point you will not care.


Two canines enjoy a summer afternoon at Ann Arbor's Swift Run dog park last August.

Ryan J. Stanton | file photo

This subject comes up because three times during the past week I have seen or been given the rendition of Jerry Seinfeld’s bit about what aliens would think seeing people walking their dog and being responsible pet owners.

Seinfeld’s question revolves around who the alien observer would deduce is the leader of the planet—the furry one on four legs or the one being dragged carrying the furry leader’s waste products in a little plastic bag .

Being the proud owner of two dogs rescued from the shelter — they are actually number three and four who have escaped the pound and weaseled their way into Semper Cop’s sometimes hard heart — I know the lengths we will take to please our pets.

My pound mutts, Tracy and Savannah, have a fenced in backyard to make their deposits. On those occasions however when they insist on widening their horizons, as a responsible pet owner I, too, must take the humbling and subservient walk behind them with a plastic poop bag.

In Ann Arbor, as in most every community, you must pick up your dog’s deposits and dispose of them properly. Properly in the City of Ann Arbor being double bagged and placed in your garbage cart. Not all pet owners are responsible.

In the course of doing business as a police officer, there will be times when your spit-shined shoe or tactical boot will land in a squishy pile of smelly organic solids deposited by a canine whose owner failed to follow city ordinance. Invariably it comes at a time when, as an officer, you are trying to be stealthy while responding to a potential crime in progress.

I remember the first time my oxford found its way into such a pile of depleted and digested Kibbles N’ Bits. I was interning from the Michigan State University Criminal Justice program—lighten up there Wolverines my first two years were in Pharmacy School at the University of Michigan before I decided to disappoint my parents and follow my dreams—and riding with an officer I would come to work with nicknamed “Buster.”

Buster and I had been dispatched to a barking dog complaint late one night. We got out of the car and walked along the sidewalk. I being on the passenger side got out onto a lawn extension. Buster came up on the sidewalk near where I was standing and whispered, “I don’t hear anything, do you?”

“Nope, but I know they have a dog here,” I deadpanned.

“How can you tell?”

I shone my flashlight down on the bottom of my right shoe, which contained roughly a half-pound of Fido’s feces. Buster began a belly laugh through his great gap-toothed grin. He could barely catch his breath while telling me to clean it up before getting back in the cruiser. Buster had a ball retelling the story throughout the night to other officers we met.

Sometimes you have no idea you have stepped one of Rover’s land mines until you get back in the patrol car and you or your partner take a sniff. What the…then the flashlight search of the shoe bottoms confirm what the olfactory senses have reported. Who is the lucky winner in tonight’s Rover Roulette? Both officers then laugh, but the unscathed officer laughs louder.

I am scarred by an incident that happened one nasty rainy spring night. A woman in a well-to-do neighborhood had been plagued by neighborhood kids harassing her and her husband, who was away. While she was home alone with her two large dogs, they started barking and then her burglar alarm went off. The poor woman was terrorized and called 9-1-1.

My partner and I were backing up another officer. He checked the front with my partner while I checked the backyard. The woman and her dogs were locked in the master bedroom on the main floor. After we had checked the exterior, police dispatch called the woman back and she let the primary officer and my partner in the front door. The woman was still scared and wanted the interior of the house checked.

The two other officers had the woman go back in the bedroom and stay with her dogs. I was on the rear deck tapping on the doorwall to get let in by the other cops. Did I mention it was raining and blowing outside? I gave the other cops a "hey you, gonna let me in or what?" look. The other cops being cops shrugged and mugged, maybe we will and maybe we won’t, chuckled and let me in the sliding glass door.

Back to business, I told the primary that my partner and I would check the upstairs and he could check the main level. I remember thinking, "Wow this is some really nice white carpeting on the stairs and our raincoats are dripping wet," but we had to get upstairs and check for intruders.

We checked upstairs and were coming back downstairs when I looked down the stairway and was mortified. Every other step had remnants of her dogs’ backyard landmines I must have stepped in. I looked at my partner in terror, “Oh no... follow my lead.”

The primary officer was now taking the report, chatting and generally playing the role of knight in shining armor for the attractive homeowner. “We’ll check the basement,” I yelled to Officer Community Relations. We went down the basement, cleared it, came back upstairs and made a beeline for the front door. “It’s clear we got another alarm to handle.”

“Okay fellas, thanks.”

My partner said, “Hey shouldn’t we tell….”

“Yeah we shoulda,” I said with a mischievous grin, “but I didn’t want to interrupt the Blue Knight there. He can explain it since he has such good rapport with the damsel in distress.”

OK I'm scarred, but not that scarred since the Blue Knight had to explain it. Sorry lady.

Lock it up, don’t leave it unattended, be aware and watch out for your neighbors.

Rich Kinsey is a retired Ann Arbor police detective sergeant who now blogs about crime and safety for



Fri, Sep 6, 2013 : 3:02 a.m.

Sorry, when a empty golf bag is found on the side of a road, the bomb squad does not have to be called in. The police go out of their way to create work to do. Some of the stuff they do, nobody has to do it, they just want to rake in the dough.

Frustrated in A2

Fri, Sep 6, 2013 : 3:54 p.m.

Talk about going off topic. Can you share a link where golf bag was found on the side of the road and the bomb squad was called in, I don't recall hearing that. Or if you can pull up some articles where the police created work that they didn't have to create I'd love to read those as well. I'll wait while you look for those.


Fri, Sep 6, 2013 : 1:53 p.m.

No, they don't go out of their way to create work. The police have enough on their plates without needing to do this. And how exactly do you know that that golf bag doesn't have a bomb in it? Better safe than sorry!

Ann English

Thu, Sep 5, 2013 : 11:08 p.m.

The first two paragraphs called firefighters to mind; they, too, don't have time to put on surgical booties. They, too, will leave dirt (of any kind) on stairs as they head upstairs to put out attic insulation fires.


Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 1:12 p.m.

You directly questioned whether Paul had the guts to do the things you list. Insinuating he didn't have the guts to do what a police officer does. To claim anything else is disingenuous at best. But I'm glad you've acknowledged you don't know enough to teach me anything.

Matt Cooper

Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 7:38 a.m.

I never said anything at all about anyone being gutless, I simply asked a question of him that you chose to answer for him. And perhaps you need to be a lot more educated as to why they do what they do instead of assuming you know something you most likely know nothing at all about. But then it's hard teaching someone that already knows everything.


Mon, Sep 9, 2013 : 2:02 p.m.

You're the one speaking of guts Matt. No one assumed he was gutless. But you felt like expressing the idea that Paul was more gutless than a police officer, with really no evidence either. So you're making all the assumptions. Maybe you just need to be a little less naive on why police do the things they do.

Matt Cooper

Sun, Sep 8, 2013 : 12:30 p.m.

So M, you automatically assume that makes that officer gutless? Did you ever bother to think that maybe that's their protocol? " matter what was going on with my wife". Sorry, but I don't believe that for one second (without benefit of having been there). If the cop had heard your wife screaming or otherwise thought she was in imminent motral danger I have no doubt he would have done something. Instead of assuming cops are gutless, why not you ask why they do what they do. Too many people think they know all about what a cops job is without having a clue.


Fri, Sep 6, 2013 : 3:19 p.m.

Well, I can't speak for Paul, Matt, but last time the police arrived at my house becauase my wife thought there was an intruder in the house I wanted to go in, but the police officer wouldn't let anyone go in till his backup arrived, no matter what was going on with my wife. I beat them getting there too.


Fri, Sep 6, 2013 : 1:50 p.m.

Is it possible that when entering someone's home(could be yours someday!) to put out a fire, sweeping the stairs MAY NOT be the first(or only)thing they think of?! REALLY?!

Matt Cooper

Fri, Sep 6, 2013 : 3:52 a.m.

Paul, speaking of guts, I'm wondering how many times you've had to enter a dark home where an intruder is present and attempt to make an arrest. Or how many times you've had to do combat with a criminal in the dark knowing that he wants to kill or main you. Or how many times, you've...well, you get the point.


Fri, Sep 6, 2013 : 3:03 a.m.

Firefights have more guts then many police officers of today.


Thu, Sep 5, 2013 : 7:37 p.m.

Thanks, Rich. I enjoyed the article. M.


Thu, Sep 5, 2013 : 4:34 p.m.

LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAP: I enjoyed reading this story. I had seen several times at our various Ann Arbor District School buildings, people bringing their dogs for a nightly walk after the buildings are closed. People have the impression that they are entitled to the use of School property after the building is closed in the evening. I never met a person who has come prepared to collect the accidental poop if the walk is strictly meant for exercise, or recreation. Sometimes, I had encountered the dog owners in the early morning hours before the School buildings open for the School day. These are the properties where our children play while they attend the School during their recess or other activity. Just like this Police Detective, my visits to School buildings was in response to burglar alarms, and other alarm events. I had done exterior checks of entire buildings and the grounds several hundreds of times in darkness. I carried a flashlight, but had never used it to avoid alerting the intruder. I had never stepped on one of these landmines. The reason is, I had served in Army. Unlike Police, Army trains people to watch the ground before putting the step forward.


Thu, Sep 5, 2013 : 4:05 p.m.

I just wish I could get over my memory of Rich Kinsey's recent article about bullying the bully. I'm sure some of his columns are heartwarming. Every time I see the police, I think of his article on bullying.


Fri, Sep 6, 2013 : 1:47 p.m.

Oh get over yourself and quit painting every cop with the same brush!!!


Thu, Sep 5, 2013 : 2:49 p.m.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! Oh Rich that was an absolute wonderful read this morning. You should have ended it with "pick it up" too...


Thu, Sep 5, 2013 : 2:05 p.m.

Before I forget.....Rich, I've enjoyed your stories immensely but seeing that is moving to!!)this is the last time I'll be responding because I WILL NOT be back. Take care of yourself, your family and your Furry Leaders. WRITE THE BOOK FOR PETE'S SAKE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! warm regards and goodbye, Madeleine L. Baier

Rich Kinsey

Fri, Sep 6, 2013 : 3:02 p.m.

Mady- Thank you so much for all the kind words. They always meant a lot to me--as for the book it has not been started yet, but nothing is impossible. Rich


Thu, Sep 5, 2013 : 2 p.m.

It was an accident, I understand, but as a professional 'protecting and serving' the citizens, the responsible thing to do would be to admit the mistake and apologize to the woman right then, not in a guest column many years later.


Thu, Sep 5, 2013 : 2:22 p.m.

Yeah, too many of these articles are turning into "see how I've messed with a citizen" rather than helpful advice. And was it supposed to be "attractive homeowner" or "attractive home owner?" The latter confirms part of the story, the former is kinda inappropriate.


Thu, Sep 5, 2013 : 1:48 p.m.

Another good story Rich! Poop-poop-a-doop! BTW, going off-topic here but why are there supposedly "5" comments when my comment is #3?


Fri, Sep 6, 2013 : 1:45 p.m.

Thanks for clearing that up for me, Boo!

Boo Radley

Thu, Sep 5, 2013 : 2:34 p.m.

The first comment was deleted, so my reply to the first comment was also deleted.


Thu, Sep 5, 2013 : 12:19 p.m.

This whole article is like an episode of Seinfeld, especially the later seasons where it got increasingly irreverent and ridiculous.

Matt Cooper

Fri, Sep 6, 2013 : 3:47 a.m.

You know, it seems to me that if it's so ridiculous, you don't have to read it. Just a thought.