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Excuse me, sir, can I please arrest you? Police cursing comes under fire

Peter Dasilva / EPA

A protestor gets arrested by riot police in downtown Oakland, Calif., in 2009.

The police officers in one of California’s toughest cities are being asked to fight crime with a little less of a potty mouth.

The Bay Citizen reports that several police officers in Oakland, Calif., have been reprimanded for swearing on the job.

The crackdown is apparently part of Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts’ efforts to focus more on community policing in a city that has been plagued by homicides, poverty and gang problems.

But some police officers are crying foul.

“I’m sorry. I’m not dealing with librarians. I’m not dealing with P.T.A. moms,” Sgt. Dom Arotzarena, the president of the Oakland Police Officer’s Association, told The Bay Citizen. “I’m dealing with criminals, guys who are in San Quentin, guys who are in prison. The last thing I want people to think is that I’m some softie.”

Of course, even those of us who aren’t arresting gang members for a living have been known to drop an F bomb or two.

Former Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz is at least as well-known for being fired by phone as she is for her salty language.  Some observers noted that her swearing may have gotten more attention because she’s a woman.

Other workplaces also have attempted to crack down on swearing. The investment firm Goldman Sachs reported instructed employees not to swear in e-mails after the company’s curse-laden e-mails were referred to repeatedly in Congressional hearings following the financial crisis.

Even this writer has admitted to occasionally being driven to curse.