There are few absolutes. One of them is that there are no secrets on the police department. For a bunch of adults we certainly act like a bunch of high school kids. People are always talking about each other. "Did you hear about so-and-so?" is a common phrase. Or "Do you got any good gossip?" is another. Some units are worse than others due to their proximity and centrality while other units are more out of the loop.
One reason, I believe, that gossip is so prevalent with the department is the competitive mentality. Everyone wants to do better than the other person. They want to make the best arrest. Get the most dope. Get the most guns. Have the best supervisor (which the guys in Watch I, 130 sector happen to have.) Sometimes this mentality to be the best leads to gossip and complaining. Instead of working to be better than everyone else it is easier to put everyone down via either complaining or gossip. Sometimes it's frustration because they are tired of doing more while someone else is slacking.
The truth of the matter is complaining and gossip (even if it's true) is a sin. It's goes against the 5th commandment "Thou shall not kill." This may make you step back and say, "I'm not killing anyone!" But when you speak ill of someone, whether it's true or false, you are killing their spirit. You are harming their reputation. It doesn't mean that the person has to hear you. The story may even be true. But you are still harming them. Anyone who has been on the other side of gossip could attest to how harmful it is. Harming someone is not loving and goes against what God wants.
One of my favorite stories is from "Diary of a Little Flower" which is the story of St. Therese of Lisieux. She tell the story of a nun who is just mean and spiteful. Evidently, she was very mean to the future saint. St. Therese, in turn, treated the sister very well. She always smiled and always had pleasant things to say to her even though she just couldn't stand this lady. Well, one day the good sister stopped St. Therese and asked her, "Therese, why do you love me so?" The lady treated Therese bad and Therese could very well have spent her time complaining about her to the other nuns in the convent telling them how she was wronged. She could have showed contempt to the nun. Instead, she didn't complain and was loving and kind and helped the nun feel God's love.
Being kind to your enemy's may be a stretch, even if we are called to do this by Jesus. But maybe we can start by not causing harm to them. Heck, the truth of the matter is that often times the people we are gossiping about aren't even our enemies. Often times they are our friends!! So, my challenge for you today, if you choose to accept it, is to hold your tongue. Instead of complaining, instead of gossiping, treat your fellow man with respect. Tell your co-worker, "Nope, I don't know anything and I don't want to hear anything.