Trending Topics

15 signs you’re ‘retired on duty’

You consider it a “Terry stop” when you pull into the gas-n-go where your buddy Terry is working the counter

Light bar on vehicle.JPG

One sign of a “retired on duty” cop is when your squad becomes a portable drive-up window as you never exit the squad to make contacts.


Do you know any officers who are “retired on duty” (ROD)? While these cops are a minority in our profession, they have existed since Sheriff John Behan managed to sit out the gunfight at the O.K. Corral.

Most RODs were great cops at one time and then something happened. Gradually low motivation overtook their enthusiasm like a Tsunami.

They became avoiders – satisfied that no matter what they did or did not do, it all counted for eight. If they were a baseball player stepping up to the plate the perfect game would be, “no runs, no hits and no errors.”

Symptoms of a retired on duty cop

Do you work with people who have a perpetual “no activity, no problems” philosophy? Has somebody you know acquired a voluntary passivity, which makes them dangerous to themselves and other officers.

You may be retired on duty if:

1. Your personal squad check regimen is to disconnect the GPS, turn off your radar, turn on your favorite FM station and set your computer to your personal Facebook page. You are able to perform these tasks one-handed and with more admirable smoothness than a firearms instructor demonstrating a tactical reload.

2. Your first stop of every shift is at Flo’s Diner for the six-egg omelet with extra cheese. This does not preclude you from enjoying a lunch break in a few hours, because you call it in as a “community policing” stop.

3. Your second call of the day is from nature, and your back up is Bass Fisherman’s Quarterly. This operation takes longer to finish than the six-egg omelet.

4. You consider it a “Terry stop” when you pull into the gas-n-go where your buddy Terry is working the counter. Terry allows for unlimited free coffee and soda. You stay only long enough to drain, refill and drain your bladder again. You log in another “community policing” stop.

5. Your day-off calendar has your scheduled days off circled and the adjacent day you plan on calling in sick each month squared. You square them because you say, “A square has four sides and it’s four times as much fun to be off when you are not supposed to be.” You have more spare TASER cartridges on your belt than accumulated sick days.

6. You set your squad on cruise to respond to hot calls. This is not to ensure that you arrive safely, but second.

7. You deliberately tie yourself up and dawdle on minor calls while “Rome is burning.”

8. At every evaluation your sergeant asks, “What are you doing out there?” and you reply, “Suppressing terrorism.” The sergeant counters, “We have never had a terrorist attack in this town.” You respond, “See. It’s working.” You leave chuckling to yourself while thinking, “This never gets old.” Your sergeant takes three chewable antacids and says, “This is getting old.”

9. Instead of counting sheep to get to sleep you count the saps on the PD who work hard and get paid the same as you. This technique puts you right to sleep every time. Then your alarm sounds and it is time to maneuver your squad car out of the cemetery to end your shift on time.

10. Your personal goal is to never make more arrests in a month than your hat size and you wish you had a smaller head.

11. Your squad has become a portable drive-up window. You never exit the squad to make contacts. You park and make people approach you. When someone asks you to do anything you sarcastically reply, “Do you want fries with that?”

12. Your mantra is, “A good cop never gets cold, wet, or hungry,” and you believe you are a good cop because you don’t.

13. You have been counting down the days to retirement for 13 years and you still have five years, six months, 22 days, four hours and six minutes left to go.

14. You are a line supervisor who is always the last to arrive at a bad scene (if at all), but the first to accept credit when it goes well. When it goes badly, you are a master at assessing blame and avoiding responsibility.

15. You have done all of the above and have still been promoted to become an administrator who walks about the building carrying a sheet of paper in your hand going no place in particular. You are one of the highest-paid people on the department yet no one in the department can explain what it is that you do, including you. You are not just a ROD, but the Yoda of RODs.

Good News: It’s Reversible

The condition of ROD is a dangerous malady. It is a creeping voluntary paralysis brought on by the internalization of negativity that can alter an officer’s once-stellar performance, their survival attitude and even their ability to enjoy life.

The sins of the RODs are sins of omission rather than commission. They are the training unattended, the stops not made, the actions not taken, the requests for assistance unanswered and life potential unrealized.

The career of the ROD is an endless series of “coulda-woulda-shoulda.” The career of a ROD often ends upon that long-dreamed-about retirement. On that day, the entire shift has a grand party in honor of your retirement, but they do not invite you.

The good news is the condition is totally reversible. All the ROD needs do is to decide, “I can do better – I will do better.” (By the way, an officer does not have to be a full-blown ROD to decide to do better.)

To all RODs out there, this decision can not only improve your life but also save a life and you never know, the life you save may be your own.

This article, originally published 12/13/2012, has been updated.

Lt. Dan Marcou is an internationally-recognized police trainer who was a highly-decorated police officer with 33 years of full-time law enforcement experience. Marcou’s awards include Police Officer of the Year, SWAT Officer of the Year, Humanitarian of the Year and Domestic Violence Officer of the Year. Additional awards Lt. Marcou received were 15 departmental citations (his department’s highest award), two Chief’s Superior Achievement Awards and the Distinguished Service Medal for his response to an active shooter.

Upon retiring, Lt. Marcou began writing. He is the co-author of “Street Survival II, Tactics for Deadly Encounters.” His novels, “The Calling, the Making of a Veteran Cop,” “SWAT, Blue Knights in Black Armor,” “Nobody’s Heroes” and “Destiny of Heroes,” as well as two non-fiction books, “Law Dogs, Great Cops in American History” and “If I Knew Then: Life Lessons From Cops on the Street.” All of Lt. Marcou’s books are all available at Amazon. Dan is a member of the Police1 Editorial Advisory Board.