This past week one of my husband’s best friends came to visit us. This friend is a former Army officer and for the past fifteen years a Dallas, Texas policeman. He was with us when Barack Obama claimed the Cambridge, Massachusetts police department acted stupidly when they investigated the break-in of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates home.
When I was a teenager I was at home alone one Saturday evening when my family was out shopping. I had been reading a book in my favorite chair in the living room when I heard someone outside on the porch. Thinking it was my family arriving home I didn’t take much notice. I just kept reading my book. After a while though, when they didn’t come in, I went to the window and peeked out. There, on the porch, was a hippy looking fellow with stringy long hair and a hooked nose. The man was a frightening looking creature and my heart started to pound. I closed the curtains quickly and picked up the phone but I was afraid that he had seen me.
I sat in the chair by the window, my heart pounding hard. I was afraid to move or make noise. Then I noticed that the front door wasn’t locked. I called the police and whispered to the dispatcher that someone was outside my door on the porch. There was just one lamp on in the room that I had been reading by. The sun had gone down and deep in that good book, I had neglected to turn on any lights. The dispatcher told me to get out of the house. I don’t know if that was good advice or not but when I looked out the window again the creepy character wasn’t there. But it was night-dark out there and our neighbor’s house wasn’t close. I would have to run through the yard and over an old bridge that had been built by a man who was called “Chief” because he was a native American in exchange for dinner at our neighbor’s restaurant. The trees were thick and anyone could be hiding behind them.
I decided to take the dispatcher’s advice. I figured that since I was a fast runner I could outrun the hippy. I burst out of the front door and high-tailed it over to my neighbor’s house. (I probably set a record) My neighbors had just arrived home. Mr. and Mrs. Porta were just getting out of their car and Ellen, my friend came out of the Porta house. About that time I could see the lights of a police car in our driveway. Mr. Porta and Ellen walked with me over to our yard. The police had gotten there within three minutes.
A policeman took my description of the man and told me I might have to pick him out of a lineup later on that night. About that time my family arrived home and learned the news. My Dad discovered that the stringy haired hippy had stolen his tool chest and his tools that he had left on the front porch. He had been working on something earlier in the day and instead of putting the tools up he had left them out.
Later on that night someone in the the police department called us and told my Dad that they had the stringy haired hippy in custody. He was on his way to prison for breaking and entering and drug charges in a few weeks and they wanted to know if we wanted to prefer charges. My Dad told them that he would think about it and would call them back. He called my Uncle Max, a retired Pinkerton agent. The police had told my Dad the name of the criminal and he discussed the matter with my Uncle. My Uncle contacted the man’s mother and explained to her what had happened. He told her that since her son was already on his way to prison he didn’t need anymore time tacked on to that. He suggested that since we knew he had the tool chest and the tools if someone would return them there would be no charges.
I was relieved that I wouldn’t have to go down to the police station and see the guy in a lineup.
The next day was Sunday, so all of us went to church except for Daddy. When we arrived home Daddy told us that he had been in the backyard working and heard something in the front yard. He walked around the house and saw the tool chest sitting in the driveway right next to the street. All the tools were there. Thanks to good police work and my Uncle Max, the retired Pinkerton agent, all was well that ended well.
Throughout my life my encounters with law enforcement have always been positive. Of course there were the speeding tickets I received when we lived in Pennsylvania. I spent many weekends driving from Carlisle, PA to Washington PA where my oldest daughter attended college and there was a speed trap along the Pennsylvania Turnpike around the Breezewood exit. After receiving two tickets in one day at that trap I learned to drive the speed limit. Still, the policemen were cordial and professional. I fear I offended one when I remarked that he looked like Jeff Daniels in Dumb and Dumber. He told me that he didn’t know who Jeff Daniels was. I should have mentioned Jeff Daniels’ performance in Gettysburg, one of my favorite movies.
My experience with law enforcement when I was a teenager gave me a great respect for police. My husband’s friend Mike’s dedicated work as a policeman has given me an insight into the job of law enforcement. Most police, like those in the military have an aspiration to serve our country.
So it’s disappointing but not surprising that Obama decided to take the part of his friend, Professor Gates over that of the law enforcement officer, Cambridge Police Department sergeant James Crowley when asked his opinion of the incident by a Chicago reporter during his press conference.
Obama reveals with every passing day that his promises of a post-racial presidency were merely a media and campaign invention. After all, Obama is our chief law enforcement officer. His uninformed and ignorant remarks have set off a whirlwind of animosity and accusations of racism on both sides of the divide.
Obama’s refusal to admit he was wrong and give Sgt. Crowley a clear cut apology will come back to bite him in the future. His “teachable moment” backfired, in my view. Instead of stressing the importance of law enforcement and the good it does in protecting communities, the community organizer, Barack Obama instructed most Americans that he is more interested in helping his elitist crony than in standing up for those who truly do support and serve.