Tuesday, May 14, 2013

What Are Policemen Made Of?

I found this while browsing through old newspapers at the Florence-Lauderdale Library. I thought it interesting that it published just 3 days after my dad died while serving the people of Birmingham, AL.

What Are Policemen Made Of? (Florence Times/Tricities Daily, May 7, 1969)

Don’t credit me with this mongrel prose; it has many parents; at least 420,000 of them: Policemen.

A policeman is a composite of what all men are, a mingling of saint and sinner, dust and deity.

Culled statistics wave the fan over dishonesty and brutality because they are “news.”  What that really means is that they are exceptional, unusual, not commonplace.  Buried under the froth is the fact: less than one-half of 1 percent of policemen misfit the uniform.  That’s a better average than you’d find among clergymen.

What is a policeman made of?  He, of all men, is at once the most needed and the most unwanted.  He’s a strangely nameless creature who is “sir” to his face and “fuzz” behind his back.

He must be such a diplomat that he can settle differences between individuals so that each will think he won.

But … If the policeman is neat, he’s conceited; if he’s careless, he’s a bum.  If he’s pleasant, he’s a flirt; if he’s not, he’s a grouch.  He must make in an instant decisions which would require months for a lawyer.

But … If he hurries, he’s careless; if he’s deliberate, he’s lazy.

He must be first on an accident and infallible with a diagnosis.  He must be able to start breathing, stop bleeding, tie splints and, above all, be sure the victim goes home without a limp.  Or expect to be sued.

The police officer must know every gun, draw on the run, and hit where it doesn’t hurt.  He must be able to whip two men twice his size and half his age without damaging his uniform and without being “brutal.”  If you hit him, he’s a coward; if he hits you, he’s a bully.

A policeman must know everything – and not tell.  He must know where all the sin is – and not partake.

The policeman must, from a single human hair, be able to describe the crime, the weapon and the criminal – and tell you where the criminal is hiding.

But … If he catches the criminal, he’s lucky; if he doesn’t, he’s a dunce.  If he gets promoted, he has political pull; if he doesn’t, he’s a dullard.

The policeman must chase bum leads to a dead end, stake out 10 nights to tag one witness who saw it happen – but refuses to remember.

He runs files and writes reports until his eyes ache to build a case against some felon who’ll get dealed out by a shameless shamus or an “honorable” who isn’t.

The policeman must be a minister, a social worker, a diplomat, a tough guy, and a gentleman.  And of course, he’ll have to be a genius … for he’ll have to feed a family on a policeman’s salary.