Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Great Moments In Cop Talk

A colleague of mine told a story once about a story he heard on NPR about a women the NYPD had brought in to be a language consultant. The problem? They were drowning in "cop talk." As the consultant put it (I'm paraphrasing, of course) "every day, millions of people in this city get out of bed, get in their cars, and go to the office, except for the members of the NYPD, who arise from their slumber, egress from their domiciles, and proceed to their place of work."

It really can be that bad. My personal favorite is the euphemistic "escorted the subject to the ground," which really means "we beat him down and jumped on him." As proof of how tortured the language can get, consider this gem from a transcript I was reading this afternoon.

To set the scene, the cop (actually a DEA agent) is testifying about responding to a report of drugs being sold on a street corner. He and his partner have driven up to the area and sighted the suspect. Then he testified:

Once I seen him, I asked to be exited from the vehicle.
Now, c'mon, do you really think he asked his partner to be "exited from the vehicle"? I seriously doubt it. Good for a chuckle, though (and it will be quoted verbatim in the brief).

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