Advice wanted on dealing with a possible ticking time-bomb of a cop

At the gym today, I witnessed an exchange between a county police officer, about 30 years old, and an elderly man.

The officer was working out with a heavy barbell, and was slamming it down on the floor with considerable force. (I think he was either deadlifting, or doing some overhead press.)

I was about ten feet away doing floor exercises when I heard the elderly man walk up and politely ask the officer to not slam the bar down so hard. He explained that he had a sensitivity to loud noises, related to a stroke he had suffered.

I didn’t hear the cop’s initial reply. But after a few exchanges, the cop told the man to mind his business, and that “this is a gym”. The man seemed shocked. He said, “You’re a police officer”** and asked if they could discuss the matter. The cop said “We’re not discussing it”, and again told him to mind his own business.

Regarding the cop’s assertion that “this is a gym”: I’m familiar with hardcore gyms where such a request would indeed be brushed off. But this is a small, casual, family-owned place. Members include novices, women, children, and handicapped and older people.

Additionally, the cop was slamming the bar down on the bare carpet in an area with no protection. The gym has two power lifting stations which have padding and reinforcement on the floor, both of which were available at the time. So the cop wasn’t just rude, he was disrepecting the gym owner’s property. (The gym employs a token system to control access, so there are no employees present unless someone is there to do maintenance.)

The cop’s behavior would have been inappropriate coming from a civilian. But I think it’s downright disturbing for a cop. I couldn’t help but wonder how he would handle a more dangerous confrontation related to his job.

I am friends with a retired state cop who works out at the same gym. He’s in Florida for the winter. I’m thinking about talking to him about the outburst when he gets back later this month.

Thoughts? All welcome, LEOs especially.

**It’s common knowledge that he’s a cop because he arrives in his marked vehicle.

This sounds like a problem for the owners of the gym to be made aware of and adjudicate, particularly if the person in question is doing something that may damage the facilities or disturb other clients.


I have no special love for cops, and what you’re describing definitely sounds like bad gym etiquette (as you noted, powerlifting should be done where there is padding on the ground), but some people try to psych themselves up when working out, or get in a zone, so that they can have more intense workouts. It might include loud noises or macho posturing. I’m not saying it’s good, or should be done. But, it doesn’t necessarily reflect that persons “typical” behavior - it might just be gym machismo.

My point is simply that this guy may not act like this while on duty.

(Of course, he could be an asshole in all walks of life - cops aren’t immune from that, by any means)

I don’t think being a cop has anything to do with anything. The only thing I think could/should be done here is dropping the owner a note and the owner putting up a sign.

He’s either working out when he should be patrolling or is it common for officers to use the patrol car for off-duty personal use?

He’s obviously not using the designated platforms for the sole purpose of being an asshole.

I’ve had neighbors who are county police offiicers who have their patrol cars parked at their homes. So I assume it’s permissable. It may also be that they are allowed to exercise on the clock, like military personnel often are. Or he may be stopping at the gym on his way to work.

Agreed. I have a feeling though that it may be a hard thing to set a limit on. I.e., how much weight on a barbell is too much to work out with on the bare carpet? To paraphrase Potter Stewart, it’s easier to know how much is too much when we see it than to specify a limit. And the force it’s lowered with comes into play. FWIW when I deadlift, I have always lowered the bar very gently. Bouncing it hard would rile up my arthritic shoulders.

“No dropping the barbell at this station.”

I had a neighbor who like to drop heavy barbells, which would shake the entire wing of the building and apparently knocked loose some light fixtures in the shop below him. That lasted about two days and then he apparently decided to move, hopefully to someplace on a ground floor.


If you can’t control the bar to the floor, it’s too heavy.

I would say the officer should have handled it better.

But as described I don’t see the “ticking time bomb” part. Was he yelling and screaming? Being threatening? Using extreme profanity?

Telling someone to mind their own business and being rude hardly a ticking time bomb make.

No yelling, screaming, threatening, profanity.

But the old man was frail, unfailingly polite, and wouldn’t have intimidated a mouse. Here’s hoping the cop has better self-control when dealing with someone he feels threatened by.

Slamming a barbell to the floor makes it everyone’s “business”. It’s about basic consideration for others when out in public.

There is usually a list of rules, including “no slamming weights”, “wipe down the machine after use”, and so on, so if it comes down to it the gym management can tell someone to knock it off.

Some agencies allow their officers to use patrol cars for commuting to and from work.

He disagreed with another patron. How is that a lack of self-control? I would not slam weights in a gym but others do. What do you think should happen? You are going to report someone for being a ticking time bomb for having a conversational disagreement with someone? What do you expect his boss to do?

It’s shit like this that’s makes me pretend I’m a florist when I’m not at work.

Drop a note to management and keep your cellphone handy when he’s there.

Really? The guy is just dropping it down every rep like it’s gonna bounce on concrete?

Cop or not and really that’s irrelevant but it is an Etiquette breach of the muscle head variety.

Agreed. Maybe this guy is a dick. But there are many lawyers, florists, plumbers, secretaries, construction workers, and airline pilots who are dicks. I don’t understand why a police officer who has a disagreement with someone, not yelling, screaming, or using profanity, is somehow dangerous and shouldn’t be a cop.

Yes, what does his being a cop have to do with anything?

How many lawyers, florists, plumbers, secretaries, construction workers, and airline pilots carry guns, tasers, nightsticks, and other implements of physical violence? I’m not taking sides here, but we should be clear that what is being questioned is this guy’s temperamental suitability to having the privileges and responsibilities of being a cop, a position that involves constant interactions with other people from a unique position of authority.

In my state, almost anyone can carry a gun. But my point was that nothing here screams “ticking time-bomb” to me.