Machine Gun Mouth

Police officers deal with “machine gun mouths” every day. For many patrol officers, it’s nearly every call for service. I’m talking about the caustic person who runs his or her mouth with ignorant and indiscretionary rapid fire. Do you know the kind of individual I’m talking about?

When I retired, I thought I’d be free of this nonsensical person. But as I dove into the world of writing, and by necessity, social media, I’ve received appreciative praise and fiery critique.



Just like being a cop, thick skin is required when placing thoughts into written form for pubic consumption. Everyone has an opinion, and many are convinced their quips—one liner zingers—are the wittiest words of all time.

But are they? … Or do they actually display the condition of a person’s heart?

I believe the latter to be true.

First, let me clarify that I am not talking about humor. I appreciate a good laugh as much as anyone.

cop humor


Rather, I am referring to caustic retorts aimed at demeaning other people, perhaps a writing contributor or larger group of individuals.

We should know, online prognosticators sting cops all the time.

“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.” This quote has been attributed to Abraham Lincoln as well as Mark Twain.

Regardless of who said it, the words are a paraphrase of the proverb, which says, “Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.”

threatening situation

(Photo courtesy Olichel)

At Law Enforcement Today, we do our best to aim high. As a result, we try to stick to facts and/or articulate concrete opinions based upon pragmatic logic. Although we may not always hit the mark, it does not discourage our effort.

Consequently, we believe the same is true for our base audience. Nevertheless, we cannot control the trolls and haters that act like dogs roaming from one location to another looking for a fire hydrant to “piss on.”

Moreover, name-calling does nothing to influence people. Cops have plenty of enemies simply by the nature of the job. We do not need to create more by slinging mud unnecessarily.

I once heard wise advice from a mentor who reminded me to T.H.I.N.K. before speaking. He challenged my words to be:

  • Truthful
  • Helpful
  • Inspirational
  • Necessary
  • Kind

If one element of this criteria is not met, it is highly likely things should be left unsaid.

While we (law enforcement) should never be afraid of a justified fight, instigating one through verbal assault is nefarious and should be avoided if we expect to be held in high esteem, as organizations and individuals.

Jim McNeff, partner and managing editor, Law Enforcement Today

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