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The Dirty Dozen

By Wyatt Earp | October 17, 2006

Today is my not-as-important anniversary. (Cue the streamers and party balloons.)

On this date in 1994, I entered the Philadelphia Police Academy as a fresh-faced recruit. I was ready to save the world, catch the criminals, and single-handedly clean up the mean streets of Philadelphia. It was one of the happiest days of my life, because I was living my dream, and doing what I wanted to do since I was 14 years old.

What a difference twelve years makes.

Don’t get me wrong; I still love my job – and Detective is the best rank in the department – but that youthful idealism left town eleven years ago. Instead of worrying who my partner for the tour will be, now I worry if any officer works with a partner anymore. In twelve years, the number of uniform personnel dropped substantially. So much so, that if the public found out about it, there would be riots in the streets. Of course, our last two mayors (Ed Rendell and Jon Street) and an inept City Council have classified “hiring new police officers” somewhere between a smoking ban and wireless internet.

Additionally, the criminal justice system in this town is a disgrace. Incompetent judges are the rule rather than the exception. District attorneys and detectives cannot even win a conviction with a signed confession, and gun violators get nothing more than a slap on the wrist. The homicide rate is climbing at an alarming pace, and instead of blaming the suspects, those in power are blaming the guns. As if they shoot people by themselves.

The fact of the matter is that in this city, crime will always be rampant, poverty will always be pervasive, and people will still kill each other for looking at them the wrong way. It reminds me of a terrific line from the television series “The Equalizer:”

“I sometimes think that if rains hard enough, it will wash away all of the filth; but it never does.” And it never will.

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