TO THE SILENT SERVICE
article is contributed by Martin "Mike" Ramey.
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.
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.
the worst thing about America's attitude is when Whites assume the Black cops
are prejudiced, or when Blacks assume White cops are prejudiced.
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.
TRUE SILENT SERVICES
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.
Attorneys and Paralegals.
*Probation, Parole, and Corrections Officers.
*Judges and Court Staffers.
*Fire, Public Safety, and Paramedics.
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
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:
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!
SAFETY IS JOB ONE!:
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.
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)
* * * *
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."
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.
* * * *
words have never been spoken.
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.
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
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