In Case You Think Police Officers Are Overpaid…

I just finished Edward Conlon‘s memoir Blue Blood, about a Harvard-educated writer who joins the NYPD. I found it highly enjoyable — and I’m not the only one who thought so.

Whenever Conlon addressed a topic that I know something about (like the economics of the war on drugs — see p. 170 of the book’s paperback version), his analysis was always right on the money — which gave me confidence in his accuracy when discussing issues I know nothing about.

Among his many interesting insights is the following, which takes place on p. 239: Conlon has been getting information from a homeless heroin addict named Charlie, regularly paying Charlie small sums of his own money in exchange for tips. Charlie has a homeless friend named Tommy. One day on the street, Conlon runs into Tommy, who tells him a location where crack sales occur. Conlon writes:

I handed Tommy some money, he held up his hands and said, “C’mon, Eddie, you don’t have to, it’s okay.” I said, “It’s all right, you guys work, you take risks for us, you should get paid.” He took the money, but he shook his head.

“Don’t take this the wrong way, but I feel a little funny, since you guys pay out of your own pockets. Do you know how much we make out here, panhandling, during rush hour?’

“No, how much?”

“About a dollar a minute.”

“Oh.”

I didn’t take my money back, but I saw his point. Charlie and Tommy made more money than us. I should have realized that earlier, as the math was not complicated — we took home less than a hundred dollars a day, while their habits were at least that. I tried not to dwell on the fact that, economically, a New York City police officer was a notch down from a bum.

Does this make anyone want to change their answer to last week’s beggar/hot dog vendor discussion?

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  1. crimepays says:

    Hmmmm,

    You seem to be surprised that criminals make better money than the cops who don’t arrest them.

    And I’m supposed to feel sorry for the cop?

    A heroin addict wiht a $100 a day habit who makes $1 a minute panhandling is just the type of criminal the cop should be taking off the street.

    I’m now GLAD we don’t pay this guy more.

    He’s a moron.

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  2. crimepays says:

    Hmmmm,

    You seem to be surprised that criminals make better money than the cops who don’t arrest them.

    And I’m supposed to feel sorry for the cop?

    A heroin addict wiht a $100 a day habit who makes $1 a minute panhandling is just the type of criminal the cop should be taking off the street.

    I’m now GLAD we don’t pay this guy more.

    He’s a moron.

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  3. Mrs. Conlon says:

    And for this my son went to Harvard?

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  4. Mrs. Conlon says:

    And for this my son went to Harvard?

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  5. Mike S says:

    While the excerpt can be interpreted to say “Tommy” does some kind of illegal drug, he’s making his money from panhandling (begging) which I’m pretty sure isn’t illegal in New York City.
    It’s quite possible there are a lot of panhandlers who don’t do anything illegal, so your suggestion that “criminals make better money than the cops” isn’t relevant to the excerpt.

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  6. Mike S says:

    While the excerpt can be interpreted to say “Tommy” does some kind of illegal drug, he’s making his money from panhandling (begging) which I’m pretty sure isn’t illegal in New York City.
    It’s quite possible there are a lot of panhandlers who don’t do anything illegal, so your suggestion that “criminals make better money than the cops” isn’t relevant to the excerpt.

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  7. RedRat says:

    Well who’s the fool here? Last time I noticed, no one was putting a gun to your head to give money to the panhandler. The easiest way to break this cycle is have people quit donating money to these guys on the street.

    Here is where Christian Charity actually is contributing to drug addiction. As much as I don’t like organized charities, because many have bloated management, they do more good because there is usually some semblance of determining what kind of help they can provide the down and out.

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  8. RedRat says:

    Well who’s the fool here? Last time I noticed, no one was putting a gun to your head to give money to the panhandler. The easiest way to break this cycle is have people quit donating money to these guys on the street.

    Here is where Christian Charity actually is contributing to drug addiction. As much as I don’t like organized charities, because many have bloated management, they do more good because there is usually some semblance of determining what kind of help they can provide the down and out.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0