She wanted the world to know that he was unique, that he wasn’t just a soldier. She stated, “My boy was more than a name on a wall.”
That brings into sharp focus that none of us are one dimensional, like the robo-cop depicted in the movie. We are all flesh and blood, multi-faceted people. That deputy that you might come into contact with is all business when he or she stops you to let you know you have a light out, or points out to you to slow down.
This same deputy may head off to the ballpark at the end of the shift and watch his son play ball. The Corrections officer just getting off duty will head to a church business meeting. This is after he or she has answered calls from prisoner’s family members all day and after having a physical confrontation with another inmate, just before leaving.
The SWAT Team sniper who has his high-powered rifle aimed at the window, searching for even the slightest movement from the barricaded suspect/hostage taker, awaits the command to take a shot, if he has to do so.
After it is all over, he then leaves to go home to celebrate his little girl’s birthday. He wonders if that guy has a little girl waiting for him, somewhere.
Another deputy has the thankless task of delivering an eviction notice to someone. As he goes about this task he remembers there are four more days to payday, and that his own house payment is due in two days.
Then you have the detective on the witness stand presenting the evidence he or she worked on for countless hours with the prosecuting attorney laying out the case by asking a series of questions. Of course, the defense attorney has the opportunity to ask questions of the deputy, hoping to find something that would undermine the credibility of his or her testimony.
Much too often, the questioning becomes a form of verbal battery. Sometimes questions have no relevance to the case, and most judges won’t tolerate it and will put a stop to it.
The detective takes the brow-beating, then goes home to be with his or her family to hear…. “How was your day, Honey?”
Our people often have to ride this fast running roller-coaster where the emotions run very high and then come crashing down to bottom out to a very, very low. Worse yet is when the deputy has to deal with the violent death of one of their own. Such was the case recently within the Chattanooga law enforcement community.
Many of us do not look past what is immediately in front of us. A preacher touched on this in a seminar, when he told a group how people apparently saw him and treated him just as the “preacher.”
He said on his birthday and at Christmas, people gave him gifts like praying hands, religious literature, sacred music or a picture of Jesus.
He said that he appreciated these things very much, but he liked Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton and Ricky Skaggs. He, also, told them he had other interests as well. Many were shocked when they realized that they were only seeing him as the one dimensional “holy man.”
It is certainly a very delicate balance in being an effective deputy and not becoming cynical. They are not supermen or superwomen. Yet, if I were picking sides to engage in any kind of physical confrontations, there are a number of them that I would choose to be on my team.
Our people here at the Sheriff’s Office are involved in the community in many ways. We have musicians, singers, those who work in their churches, and those who participate in civic activities such as cooking and preparing food for the poor every week. I am very glad to see them involved in so many ways.
Almost everyone in the Sheriff’s Office family has to juggle schedules to accommodate jobs, children, needs, involvement in the community and the care of an aging parent, etc.
We are just like the rest of the population with our hopes, dreams, ambitions and fears. We are seeking a better life as we do our part trying to keep our community safe.
For most of us it is much easier to put these thoughts on paper than to openly verbalize them. But, our people bleed, cry, laugh, mourn and rejoice just like everyone else. We try hard not to make mistakes, but we sometimes do as we go about protecting and serving.
Our confidence is too often mistaken for arrogance or smugness, yet we are neither. When two or more deputies are trying to subdue a suspect, a witness may think we are bullying the suspect, when we are actually trying our best not to get hurt and at the same time trying not to hurt the belligerent suspect.
That is a very dangerous situation. In years past I have been physically hurt and have been in some brutal confrontations.
I know first hand of the dangers faced by our deputies.
Deputies sometimes engage in dark humor or jokes to break the tension in some situations. But, they realize much of their work is very somber and they try to hide their emotional feelings.
In saying these things, I wanted to part the curtain, so to speak, and show you another part of who we are at your Sheriff’s Office. Yet, all is not so serious in nature — we also have our joys and good times, as well.
As sheriff, I want to create and maintain an atmosphere where our people are happy to come to work every day. I want to keep them putting forth their best efforts and attitudes. It is always gratifying when I hear that one of our men or women has done a good deed or is doing a good job for our neighbors.
Thanks for reading and listening to me.
As always I appreciate your comments and suggestions, etc.