One thing I miss about an old-school beatdown by a cop was the consistency. If that police officer didn’t like me, he would break my stuff and black my eye the same way every time I pissed him off. I’d learn my lesson–don’t piss that guy off–and get on with my life.

Now, we have these new booty police officers with their safety vests on the outside of their uniforms. Young women with tight buns and minimal makeup, younger than me, yelling rules from a rulebook. They look like robots.

If you ask their name, they look strange and ask, “Why?”

The cops I grew up with had names. You knew their first and last names, their husbands and kids, maybe even their cars and hometowns. You knew their favorite colors and zodiac signs. Those cops would bring you a free world cupcake on your birthday and sing to you. They may even dance and hug you. The same way they would take off their safety belts and protectors and have an honest fist fight with you after they dismantled the security cameras.


You’d wake up and know Mr. X is here. You’d know not to talk to him for the first thirty minutes of his shift because he needs his coffee before he can be nice. If you do talk to him, he’ll write a report saying you were cussing at him, even if you weren’t. So, no one talks to Mr. X for that half hour, and the rest of the shift is smooth.


Ms. A would be doing night shift. She’d sleep all night and jiggles her keys in warning if she got up. You’d know to get out of the bed with your lady if you heard a racket of keys. If she catches y’all in intercourse she will yell an embarrassing remark that your friends will never let you live down.


These new block cops, they all look, act and talk the same. Like a mass-produced line of talking dolls enforcing rules and swinging write-ups.

I miss obeying human beings. Knowing the cop who is having sex with your best friend will give you a donut when you are hungry and wipe the tears from your eyes when a family member passes away. Knowing they are human and have needs too. They have a face, a story, and struggles. They understood me. They cut me breaks. They wept when I was in pain. They lied for me when I couldn’t make the right decision. 

If I could, I would take every cop that ever socked a girl and got caught, broke a state property item and admitted it under investigation, or smuggled contraband to an inmate — and give them all medals. I would even give the benefit of the doubt to the police who fell in love with an inmate, and maybe even give them a raise.

At least those cops had hearts like ours. I will never forget them. They were the rehabilitation I needed.

Heather D’Aoust is serving 16 years to Life in California for killing her mother at the age of 14.  

Heather D’Aoust  WA4003

California Institute for Women

16756 Chino-Corona Road

Corona, CA 92880