TRIBUTE TO THE SILENT SERVICE
This article is contributed by Martin "Mike" Ramey. Mike is a Bible believer and journalist in Indianapolis. We are delighted to join him in honoring the honest cop, and other civil servants in the USA, who do their job daily with little of no notice. Mike is interested in Black folks here because of his own origins, so we would also want to add that there are thousands of White and Hispanic civil servants who are faithful and equally unnoticed.
Perhaps the worst thing about America's attitude is when Whites assume the Black cops are prejudiced, or when Blacks assume White cops are prejudiced. The few bigots in the civil service are raised as examples as if all cops are racists. Let's be careful how we deal with these people and show them our appreciation when they do a good job.
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THE TRUE SILENT SERVICES
Recently, I was reflecting upon the plight of the criminal justice system. Not from the point of view of the prisoner, but from the point-of-view of the police officers, parole agents, probation officers, and judges who are men and women of color.
Many of us have not given them their 'props'--the respect that is due them. Throughout my career in journalism, I have had the pleasure of meeting, working with, and--in some cases--crying with more than a few of them. Some of them have gone into retirement. Some of them have advanced in their careers. Some of them have moved into other vocations, and hung up their robes, badges, and log books.
We owe them a major debt of gratitude, because many of them have worked hard, made sacrifices, and endured racism and insults from all sides. During the 1970s, comedian Richard Prior once quipped that it was 'just us' in the courts and in the jails. However, there are more men and women of color in the 'system' than we would like to admit who are performing their law enforcement and corrections tasks without much in the way of community appreciation.
It has been said that those who serve aboard submarines were a part of the 'Silent Service'. You know that they are there, but they perform their tasks without much in the way of fanfare.
I beg to differ on that; because there is more than one silent service. So, before I go much further, I'd like to dedicate this column to the men and women of color who serve in the following vocations:
*Police Officer, Sheriff's Deputies, and State Troopers.
*Prosecuting, Defense Attorneys and Paralegals.
*Probation, Parole, and Corrections Officers.
*Judges and Court Staffers.
*Fire, Public Safety, and Paramedics.
*Secret Service, U.S. Marshals, Revenue, and other agents.
You have our thanks, and respect, for making our communities safer. If I didn't mention your particular area of expertise, forgive me for the oversight.
A THANKLESS, BUT HONORABLE PROFESSION:
While I will focus mainly on the men involved in these vocations, let me say that I will attempt to cover all those who wear the badge, and wield the gavel. There are some courageous sisters on the bench and patrolling the streets!
We do need more of you, because crime does not take a break. Brothers, like it or not, there are some of those among us who have broken the law, and--in some cases--are serving time for those actions. In far too many cases, we can't blame the 'white man' for putting lawbreakers behind bars. We have to say, albeit reluctantly, that there are those from the 'hood who are taking community protection to the max, and are doing the job in the true silent services--law enforcement and corrections. And what do those in these silent services have to show for their actions? I mean, besides the pension.
Not very much--except the deep, personal satisfaction of knowing that they have changed a more than a few lives, and help a few more who may have 'strayed' from the right side of the tracks.
In the arena of juvenile crime, there are countless hundreds of us who are on the job. From the judges in juvenile hall; to the youth manager who makes sure the young are housed in conditions that won't exploit or abuse them; to the probation and parole officers who work the streets, the schools, and the courts to make sure that our young men and young women learn their lessons from the crimes they have committed, and focus their attention on school, grades, and growing up--rather than the streets, gangs, and not growing at all.
AN HONEST CHALLENGE:
Now, for those of you who think that everyone should be allowed to 'do as they please', I'll give you an honest challenge. Ready? Here it is--sign up to take a ride around your particular area of town with a man of color who wears a badge. Brother, I'll bet that one tour with the policeman/policewoman of your choice will give you a truer picture of your neighborhood than you ever dreamed.
Want to know how the youth of your particular house of worship act during the week? Check with your local juvenile court and ask to spend a day with a probation or parole officer! By lunchtime, I guarantee that you will know more about truancy, drug patterns, and gang activity in your son or daughter 's school--surprisingly involving some of the same youth who show up 'clean' on Sunday morning!
Think that this is the end of the challenge? No way! The last part is even the trickiest--spend a half day in one of your local criminal courts. Watch who comes in and who comes out. There are cases where the judge, prosecuting attorney, and public defender are ALL of color, and the defendant is white! While on the subject of jury duty, take a good look and give ear to the excuses some make for avoiding jury service. If anyone wants to be a citizen in this country, and live in their community with a clear conscience, then it is up to us to step forward when called for jury duty.
How would YOU like to be on trial, and offer the jury the same excuses you offer for not stepping forward to do your civic duty? Bet you don't see that on the six o'clock news!
COMMUNITY SAFETY IS JOB ONE!:
No, we don't take the time to thank the men and women of color involved in the courts, the streets, and the thin blue line! A life in law enforcement, corrections, or on the bench is no bed of roses. It wounds a person of color to slap the cuff and read a suspect their rights, when they are the same color and hue as they are--but they still do the job! If they don't--who will?
There is an old saying that comes to mind during this portion of my column: 'If you are looking for a great house to call home--live where the police live!' Yes, their homes are not going to make the covers of a major decorating magazine, but their homes are filled with love, respect for community, and respect for one another.
Brothers, sometimes we don't think about who is behind the badge. Fathers and sons. Mothers and daughters. I'll even bet that there are more than a few of our cousins who are wearing blue uniforms, or black robes. Bottom line: the next time you see a black cop, a brown fireman, or a woman of color doing the job on the streets of your fair city, don't scowl at them--bless them! Because there may come a time, in these last days, when you may need them to pay a professional call and help you in your time of need.
It's high time more of us stood up, and spoke up, about those men and women of color, who are involved in the true silent service. They will appreciate it! As famed writer Mark Twain once quipped: 'I can go two, or three months on a compliment'. That's praise with a definite aim!
Mike Ramey is the author of 'THE MANHOOD LINE', a monthly, syndicated column for men, written from a biblical, business, and common-sense perspective. The column reaches across the country and around the world in various Black publications and on the Internet. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or, email@example.com. Snail mail works also: PO Box 20131, Indianapolis, Indiana, 46220, USA. (C) 2001 Mike Ramey/Barnstorm Communications (5)
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Editor: Steve Van Nattan-- Bill Crane went to our church in Michigan. He was a cop in Muskegon, Michigan. One day a Black lady was scolding her young son, and Bill walked by in uniform. The Black lady suddenly pointed to Bill, the cop, and said, "If you don't behave that big policemen will put you in jail." Bill was immediately upset, for the lady was making Bill into a threat to the kid, not a "peace officer." Bill reached into his pocket and took out a quarter. He handed it to the kid with a smile and said, "I would never put you in jail. Go get yourself a piece of candy young man."
As the kid rejoiced over the quarter, Bill quietly rebuked the mother for making the White cop into the kid's enemy. I bet that if you could check it out, a lot of the idiots rioting in Cincinnati right now were told that Whitey is the enemy, especially Whitey the cop. This works both ways, Black and White, and until America grows up in this regard, we will have more riots and worse.
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LETTER FROM A READER
Truer words have never been spoken.
I smiled as I read what Bill Crane did. Would you believe that I had, nearly, the exact same experience in Dallas. I always carried stickers or trading cards or something in my pocket for kids and I gave one to the child and told the mother, who in this case was white, that she was guilty of child abuse when she threatened her child with the police.
A spanking is reasonable discipline but a threat like that can scar a child for life and young ones need to know they can come to the police when they have a problem.
God bless you,
The Old Sarge
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