My wife is an honors student at UMass Lowell, soon to graduate with a degree in Literature, but they fool you sometimes in academia, and instead of just making you read books, they make you watch movies.
So for some class or another, Kristina had to watch the 2014 Robocop, and I watched it with her, because at our house, if there’s a movie, there’s popcorn.
In Robocop, they connect a guy’s brain to the entire database of the Detroit Police Department so he can pull up any criminal case in a nano-second, complete with grainy security video, but of course there’s a problem, because without a problem, there’s no movie.
The problem for the Robocop occurs when the upload of the police database cases gets to his own case — when somebody tried to murder him, but ended up only mutilating him, which is how we got to this charming story in the first place. Robocop freaks out, he can’t handle absorbing the awful details of his own near-death, he melts down, chaos ensues.
Here in Ipswich, we have no Robocops. We have only Chief Nikas and his band of merry men.
They do superhuman work, but they are humans.
They don’t work in a place as tough as inner-city Detroit, but they certainly do work in a human-unfriendly environment: Our Ipswich police station was built during the Great Depression. And it looks it, in spite of our fine public servants doing their best, under daunting circumstances, to keep the place in tip-top shape.
Years ago, I toured the decrepit police station, and found police files stuffed into old beer boxes. There was literally no place else to keep the stuff.
Our current police station was not even originally built as a police station. It was a storage facility for the Electric Light Department — a place to park your inventory of light bulbs and extension cords. (Wait. Did they have extension cords in the Great Depression? Maybe everyone was so poor, they only had short cords?)
The reality is, even cops in the middle of the Great Depression would have shown up for work in Ipswich only to say, “What the ****? I can’t work this way.”
You’ve seen enough police movies to know that police work isn’t just cruisers on the streets and sirens blaring and blam-blam-blam. It’s been a long time since we had blam-blam-blam on Heartbreak Road. Police work requires a basic workspace, just like you and I require during our ordinary everyday jobs. A floor you can roll your office chair across. An electrical outlet in a reasonable place because you have to plug in. Need wi-fi? Yes. Duh.
Ipswich, come on. It’s been more than a century — 100 years — since we built anything for our public service people, police and fire and the teams that support them.
God forbid Hollywood makes another Robocop movie, where that guy uploads the Ipswich police records, because I can tell you, he’s gonna choke when the upload finally comes to 2021.
He’s staggering out of the Ipswich police station, choking and falling down and writhing on the floor, and finally he gasps:
“I can’t — I can’t — [more choking] — I can’t find my records in those catacombs!”
And the bad guy smokes him.
Ipswich melts down, chaos ensues.
(Fade to black.)
Years from now, some UMass grad student will find my wife’s honors thesis online, and read about Robocop, and the light will go on.
“Oh!” they’ll exclaim. “So that’s why Ipswich looks so much like Detroit!”
Doug Brendel lives on outer Linebrook Road, which is way, way out there; but he depends on the Ipswich Police Department to be there for him. Follow Doug at DougBrendelcom.