I was sitting on campus Tuesday watching all the 18-20 year old girls traipsing around in their mini-skirts, short shorts, knee high boots and flip flops and couldn’t help but think about myself at that age.

I, standing alone outside the Social Science building smoking, watched as everyone passed by.  And then I saw him … the poster child of law enforcement.  You’ve seen him before.  He has a Crew cut, stoic look on his face, somewhat muscular frame and usually wearing BDU pants during his casual time.

At that moment I couldn’t help but think that I was an imposter … an undercover agent in the Law Enforcement world who now knew all their secrets.

Perhaps I’m over simplifying the last 16 years of my life, but I never fit in from the beginning.  I was 20, 85 pounds and female to top it all off when I started the academy. I had decided to apply for law enforcement after being told I couldn’t be a cop by a high school teacher (more than one actually.)  I had a chip on my shoulder and wanted to prove to others that I could be anything I wanted to be when I grew up.  I’ll show them!

Thus began my undercover gig.  From working shift work and being line staff bitching about administration to infiltrating the ranks of Sergeant.  Then my assignment took me to the SWAT team as a negotiator.

All of these things were done as if I were a reporter on special assignment.  I took my role seriously.  I immersed myself in their culture; listened to their stories, cried tears over the horrible things humans will do to one another … I was one of them.

But was I?  There were more times throughout my undercover gig that I was perplexed at decisions made my administration, people who donned uniforms merely so they could punish inmates mentally (and sometimes physically), and the good ol’ boy attitude was in full effect throughout my assignment.  I wasn’t this person!  I wasn’t one to judge others, I wasn’t one to get off on being an asshole and I sure as hell wasn’t one of the “boys.”

It was in November of this year that I knew I had to get out.  I knew that I would completely lose Marcy if I didn’t start detoxing from my undercover work.  Sure I had only 7 years left to gain a retirement, but at what cost?  That fear is what had kept me there … well and the fact that I truly felt like a cop now.  I had given up so much about Marcy that I actually started believing I couldn’t do more with my life.  It took a death of a friend for me to remember that this was only an assignment, one that should have lasted less time.

So after 15 years my gig was up.  My undercover work was complete on April 28th, and to be quite frank, it feels like I’ve been paroled.  Not paroled into a state institution, but one of higher learning.  And each time I see a police car, someone in uniform or a person that has the appearance they could be a poster child for Law Enforcement, I’m reminded of my undercover work and how grateful I came out of it still being Marcy.



Filed under My past, My thoughts

4 responses to “Undercover

  1. Kathlean

    Marcy, when I recall the post you wrote about the friend who’d taken their life, was that the friend whose death prompted your turn-around? Curious, because that post was one that gave me much to think about, and it has been helpful in getting through some things this last year.

    A best friend (who I just lost, thankfully to a move and not to death) was a cop and he lost himself and two marriages before he pulled a bonehead maneuver that, he was grateful for later, got him kicked out. You and he and I all have that in common. We were getting lost–and me as a teacher for similar reasons to what you describe, what he described. “Everyone started to look guilty,” he said. I felt like a cop, resented the kids instead of being excited to meet them–couldn’t even remember the excitement. I turned into someone else, someone who didn’t know who to be but who knew she needed to be someone else, not this Teacher person who was exhausted and miserable. I couldn’t bear the feeling and the fact of supporting a system that was so utterly destructive toward over a third of “my kids.”

    All that to say that I am SO glad for you. So glad you didn’t succumb to the “7 more years” carrot (when the stick is completely capable of beating you and that carrot into oblivion). You are too beautifully full of joy and energy and light to be stuck in a system where your light gets dimmed and yellowed down to nothing. I’m happy for you, and feeling lucky for having run into this post so I can tell you how awesome I think you are. I wish we’d had more time to spend together, closer proximity or something–yay for the Interwebs. Take care, amazing Amazon womon. ~Kathlean Wolf, escapee from teaching in Utah to being a mass of confusion in Wisconsin

  2. Mike Coyle

    Marcy, I totally get what you are saying. This morning one of my co-workers was so excited about an inmate that “got dumped” the other day. It was everything I could do to stand and listen with my feigned interest. Having heard the story 3 times already, I cared even less this morning than I did the last time.

    A part of me felt sad for my co-worker though. For a couple of reasons. First, I thought how sad that he is seeming to get “pleasure” from some else’s pain. To me it doesn’t matter what a douche the other person is, it just didn’t make since to get such joy out of some one getting hurt. Not slapstick, but actually hurt.

    Second, as I looked at him, I wondered if this job is all he really has in life. This has been a question lingering lately. Is this job really all there is in life. To me, absofuckinglotely not. And when I see, talk to, or bump into those that have made this job their life. I feel nothing but pity. Life is too full of awesomeness to allow the ugliness of law enforcement become one’s life definition.

    Love ya

  3. Marcy

    @Kathlean, first, thank you so much for the kind words! I too wish you were closer so that we could swap stories more often! Come to find out that more people than not have strong feelings about losing themselves in jobs! To answer your question, no it wasn’t the woman that killed herslef that tipped this over the edge, it had been happening for a couple years prior … slowly. The woman on the divide actually gave me more reason to want to stay .. I still love that aspect of my old job and miss it immensely!

    @Mike, I know you get it, you do it everyday. Though I’d be lying if I said there aren’t great people in law enforcement, but even some of those great people miss out on human compassion. It’s sad the brainwashing that takes place in that environment! Love you too and I’m glad to know your not included in that mass mentality!

  4. Heather

    So glad you made it out intact! Hopefully the rest of us do. Love you!

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