The Los Angeles city controller has recommended that more than 400 desk jobs assigned to sworn police officers be performed by less expensive civilian clerks. That includes some front-desk positions such as the one held by Nazik Halburian at one of the department’s busiest stations, says the Los Angeles Times. Such a change is viewed favorably by Chief William Bratton and probably will be welcomed by officers, many of whom detest the confining desk assignments. Officers often are placed there after injuries or because they face disciplinary proceedings, which gives the job the taint of punishment.
Rarely is the job conducive to heroism. Much of the work is routine, and about the only time front-desk officers make the news is when they are being scrutinized for their unwillingness to take complaints against fellow officers. The Times spent an afternoon observing what it is like at the desk, underscoring why such jobs may never be relegated entirely to civilians. In more ways than one, said Capt. James Craig, the desk is “like a patrol car.” Like patrol, a long day’s shift there “wears you out and is sometimes heart-wrenching,” says Halburian. That afternoon, all manner of misery was on display: Robbery victims. Identity-theft victims. Wronged lovers.