Reporter-Turned-Cop Says Professions Are Very Similar


Brian Shields, who covered the police beat for the Beacon News in suburban Chicago, decided to become a patrol officer with the Aurora, Il., police department. In an article for his old paper, he said, “If you took away my gun, badge and uniform but still said I was a police officer, there would be no way you could distinguish me from a journalist, except for the power of arrest, the danger of the job and the rights that I’m sworn to uphold. Major differences, no doubt, but the two professions are more alike than even I bargained for.”

Says Shields: “reporters and cops can count on being lied to, often about silly things that we can find out about anyway. No one wants to go to jail, and no one wants to have their names in a negative news story, so many people do not tell the truth initially when they’re in trouble.” Any journalist, Shields said, can talk about the stress in juggling a long feature story and shorter stories at the same time on a tight deadline. “As a cop, I also do a lot of writing, more than I ever imagined,” Shields said. He quoted Kane County Sheriff Ken Ramsey as saying that “the most important weapons in a peace officer’s arsenal are the pen and notepad, because the job is all about information.”


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