Officer Merry O’Cleary
10 Years On
Current: Patrol and Hostage Negotiations Team

What is it like being a police officer?

You’re on the edge of people’s lives.  You’re seeing them at their highest point of crisis and also in the little intimate moments that other people don’t see.  There are so many things that the public doesn’t realize that officers do and are involved with.

Every person that dies, if they’re not in a hospital or a medical environment, a police officer is there.  We are the ones that call the coroner.  Radio calls for “C and C.”  Cops and coroners.  We’re the ones usually helping the coroner carry out the body.  We are, more often than not, the first ones there.  We are the last to leave.

After you’ve worked in the city for a number of years, you cannot pass by a block without a memory of something that happened there, maybe even something that happened in every house on that block.  There are all these images that go through your mind.

There was a woman, a call.  It was called in as a disturbance.  It was a mother and her teenage son.  He was upset, yelling and screaming, and he stomped out of the house.  I just remember being in there and they had nothing, no furniture.  There was just nothing.  It was right before Thanksgiving.  When I finally was able to talk to her about what was so upsetting, she told me she had a can of pineapple rings she was saving for the little Thanksgiving ham she was going to cook.  Her son was thirsty and he opened the can and drank the pineapple juice out of it.  She didn’t have the money to go buy another can of pineapple for her ham.  The images of that situation stick with me.  I can remember looking at the floor and her crying and just this can of juiceless pineapple sitting there.