Hard to Find: A Tribute to the Cop Show “Adam-12”

Honor’s hard to find.

You won’t get it

When you’re on foot pursuit and you trip and fall over garbage cans—

When you get hand cramps from writing tickets on illegally parked cars—

When you try over and over to get some drunk to tell you his name.

And you won’t get much honor, Jim, even when you risk your neck to chase armed robbers at Code 3.

Most people who watch will be disaffected.

They’ll probably think you have better things to do.

They won’t see heroism in you. They’ll rarely feel thanks.

Sometimes they’ll only see how your outdated vehicle is spattered with mud—

and splattered up even more with people’s curses and mockeries.

They won’t see the horror of the crimes ahead of you, and how disgusted you are by them:

They’ll only see you’re part of the crimes.

And so they’ll roll you up—the crime and the cop—together,

And they’ll act like those crimes stain the front of your shirt . . .

They’ll act like you stink because of them.

Honor’s hard to find, Jim.

Peace is hard to find.

You won’t get it

When gunfire spits at you,

chips the concrete around you,

screams against your soul that you’re going to die,

and die hard.

Peace doesn’t come with maniacs, or the parents of missing kids, or hostages—

Or even dumb teen joyriders who blow past stop signs and curse you for pulling them over.

And you won’t ever find peace when you’re with a policeman’s widow.

Here’s the thing: Everyone else can fall apart, Jim.

They can scream, shudder, sob, get sick,

And no one’s gonna think much less of them,

because it’s human to be terrified.

Are cops human?

Crazy few seem to think we are.

Even though we’ve got beating hearts under our brass,

And we’ve got heaving stomachs under our crisp uniforms,

We can’t show it. You can’t show it.

You have to be cool-jawed and unequivocal in the face of every atrocity you can name,

And humans can’t often be like that.

Maybe that’s why they call policemen ‘pigs’ instead.

Peace is hard to find, Jim.

Hope is hard to find.

You won’t get it

When innocents are murdered—

When politicians go corrupt and bribed witnesses lie—

You won’t get it from the stream of weakness, filth,

Anger and addiction that’s gonna flow around you in the streets—

And sometimes you won’t get even hope from the law.

Death happens all too often.

You glance into your partner’s eyes

And a bullet keeps him from responding.

So often, simple justice seems to get trumped by money, by power, and worst of all,

By your own inability.

You know it’s dirty work

When the cleanest thing you ever do

Is fold up the flag at a policeman’s funeral.

Sometimes it’s too hard to keep your head over the surface.

Sometimes the filth starts to cling to you.

Sometimes you can’t stay clean.

But here’s the facts: here’s what sticks

When you’re edging close to despair.

In your gut, you’ll always be convinced

There’s wrong and there’s right.

There’s crime. There’s a good deed.

There’s black. There’s white.

That’s not gonna change.

So you’ll keep on showing those colors—

Flying the flag—carrying the gun

And defending the law, even though

Hope’s hard to find, Jim.

Honor, peace and hope—

I guess what I’m trying to tell you

Is that you can’t go looking for them.

Not on this job.

You can’t break down if you don’t find them, Jim,

Because the fact is, they’re always gonna rely on you.

You’ve got to bring them with you

And leave them on your trail . . .

Only then will they be easy for other people to find.

Even if it’s after you’re gone.


By Mary Faustina