We interview the author of copsalive from the United States

February 4, 2010
Back to interviews; its been some time since we conducted any sort of interviews. This is one we’ve meant to do for some time. John Marx is a retired police officer form the States. His views here may shed a light on the differences and similarities between policing in the USA and policing here.We also ask a little bit about his site, it’s aims, and his views on some of the issues affecting us here. There’s also a funny story that John tells us about from his days in policing.
More importantly he sheds some lights on some of the issues not talked about in policing; issues that could affect serving  colleagues, from pressure, to stupid decisions by bosses, and silly PDR targets which cause stress, we need to be more aware of the real other threats.
Marx’s site is an excellent one. Have a read and let us know what you think? John talks about camaraderie in the service, and that is something the public forget about us. John’s email address is below, UK cops, please feel free to make contact with him.
Tell us which are your favourite USA police blogs, just one or two and why?
My number one favorite is http://www.spartancops.com – They write about officer survival issues and provide an excellent set of ideas and resources.I show a tie for number two with http://thethinblueonline.com/ and http://copcast.net/ as they are podcasting and video podcasting and I’m trying to learn that technology as well.

What does your website offer police officers? Tell us a little about what the site is about?
CopsAlive is about Cops helping other Cops, stay alive! When you read all the statistics, it’s not about the bad guys killing us, it’s about other things like heart attacks, suicide, alcoholism and stress.  Some of the other side effects of this career that help to ruin our quality of life are elevated rates of divorce, domestic violence and maybe even financial disaster.  Law enforcement agencies around the globe spend millions of dollars each year to train their officers to survive armed or hand to hand combat, but most of them do not spend any money, or time, on telling officers what the real threats to their lives are and how to defend themselves from these threats. CopsAlive.com was founded to provide information and strategies to help police officers successfully survive their careers.  We help law enforcement officers and their agencies prepare for the risks that threaten their existence.We do this by Helping Law Enforcement professionals plan for happy, healthy and successful lives on the job and beyond.  We think the best strategy is for each officer to create a tactical plan for their own life and career.

Would you mind recounting a funny moment that you will always remember from your police career?
It was Halloween night and I was a fairly new rookie police officer working swing shift.  I was assigned to escort a pretty young college student who wanted to learn about police work.  I  was absolutely strutting my stuff all evening trying to impress her although it was a very quiet night and we didn’t get very many radio calls.  Late in the evening I decided to do a drive by business check at a local jewelry store.  The business had a circular driveway that rose upward above the street and had a 2 1/2 to 3 feet retaining wall in between the two ends of the circular drive.  I drove into the circular driveway from one end and used my alley light (bright spotlights on either side of the car that would point directly sideways from the police car) to illuminate the front of the business.  I looked into the store through the windows while telling her about how we “took care” of our businesses in my city.  I finished the circular arc and drove out into the street where I turned my car completely around and went back through the circular driveway with the other alley light illuminating the building.  I was going on and on to this young girl about catching burglars and really trying to impress her.  I circled the car in front of the building but in my desire to impress the young woman I didn’t notice that I was going to miss the other end of the driveway and instead drove my patrol car off the retaining wall.  The car didn’t receive much damage but was hopelessly high-centered on the wall.  In my total embarrassment I was forced to call for the Sergeant and beg for forgiveness.  Fortunately for me the worst I received was a minor scolding from a laughing Sergeant who called for a tow truck to rescue my car from it’s predicament.  My beautiful young rider was taken home by the Sergeant while I waited for the tow truck to arrive.  I never saw her again and that was the last time I let my ego do the driving!

Please tell us your thoughts from America on single crewing?

Most of the agencies I am familiar with in the United States work one-person cars.  All throughout my career in patrol I worked solo in a car unless we were training someone else or short on cars so we doubled up with the next shift officer for our patrol beat until our shift was over.  I’ve only seen a few major large city departments where they work with two officers in a car every shift.  Even when I started my career working for a rural sheriff’s department, when we needed a cover car in the mountains of Colorado that other one-person car might be over 30 minutes away.  We just learnt to be very self reliant.

Tell us a little about family?

I have a step-son from a previous marriage who is 26 years old and works as a chef.  I currently live with my girlfriend and her two teenaged sons.  We live right near the foot of the Rocky Mountains and spend lots of time playing in the outdoors.
What do you miss about policing?

I miss the camaraderie of the other officers the most.  I think most officers when they retire feel that way.  You become part of a team of people who deal with some of the most horrific things that happen on this earth and only someone else who has been there can understand how you feel about things.
Do you think policing in the UK is so different to the USA? If so,why?

I had a chance several years ago to be hosted by some friends in the Suffolk Constabulary.  I spent a week touring with them and experienced many sections of the police force from communications to the school liaison officer; from walking a foot beat in Ipswich to riding with one of their armed vehicles.  I offered training to them on the types of batons we carried in the states and compared them to the truncheons that they were carrying at the time and they offered me an opportunity to participate in their public disorder training.

The main difference that I saw then was the fact that most of us in the States were always armed and most of you were never armed.  I know that is changing but it was a big difference.  I had a chance to respond to a bar fight one night and assist in the arrest of a car thief another afternoon.  One of the things that impressed me most was the dignity that the officers maintained and the respect that was shown them by MOST members of the public.

They dealt with many things alone that we would have sent several armed officers to handle here in the States.  It is a matter of attitude.  I never worked unarmed and many of the officers I met had never carried a handgun.  In many respects I think your country is better off without as many guns as we have here in the States but at the same time I respect our right to bear arms.  The other thing that I noticed was that coppers are the same all over the world.  When we shared a beer together after our shifts our stories, beliefs and values were just the same. I hope these answers give you some idea of who I am and will help you with your audience.  I look forward to interviewing you sometime in the near future.Stay safe,
John Marx
Executive Director
The Law Enforcement Survival Institute
“Helping Save the Lives of Those Who Save Lives”


  1. […] Police Sergeant from the U.K. who writes and english police blog called “The Twining Chronicles” has interviewed our Editor in Chief: John […]

  2. Very interesting article TC and an interesting subject. Some time ago I became was interested in how the job differed between the US and UK so I followed the two shows John Marx mentioned. I’m still following Rich, Mack and Morgan and have become involved with Rich’s Copcast myself, after he asked for a weekly contribution from the UK.

    Obviously I’m biased but I heartily recommend listening and watching the work of all three of them for a broader view of our jobs in other countries.

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