Monday, August 31, 2009
Big Bad John
When I became a Franklin County deputy Sheriff I met some pretty good old-timers who were winding down their careers. With me in this photo was such a man. he, like many who had been around the department for years sometimes didn't understnad a lot of things about me, nor did I...I mean I knew what I was doing and why, but I didn't always understand the old guard.
Like "John" in this picture. I never understood why guys found it so hard to take off the badge and hang up the uniform when they had enough years of service to do so. They on the other hand didn't understand why I walked away from a pretty good career in broadcasting to take a job where I might be bored out of my skull one day, and up to my peaches in controversy and chaos the next. John used to say, "you won't last in this line of work, you'll hang around for a few months and want to go back to broadcasting."
More than twenty years after John said that I wrote a book called "Deputy in Disguise" and in it I talk about the reasons I did some of the things I did. John missed it when he said I wouldn't last in that job, but he was right, within a few months of taking it I did go back into radio. I managed to juggle two careers for awhile, but in the end I did leave broadcasting for good. But I never lost sight of who I was and what I learned in radio, and I think because of that I became a better cop than the old-timers thought I would. As a matter of fact, I made my way up the ranks and eventually earned the rank of Chief of Police. I don't think it had as much to do with being a good cop as much as it did being a competant communicator. In my book I describe different emotions that I felt along the way, some of them from very tragic scenarios, and many that were absolutely humorous. I learned that I could apply my "don't give a shit" that I learned in broadcasting to not only working the streets with other cops, but when I found myself smack dab in the middle of political chaos. Those who knew me before I got into law enforcement might agree that all that changed when i became a cop was my appearence. My hair was a little shorter and my face a little cleaner, and the clothes I wore to work everyday sort of gave me away. But they knew that along the way I kept my sometimes, make that often times warped sense of humor. And as a result I was able to walk away from that job still smiling and remembering the reasons I chose such a drastic change in work environments at the age I was when I did it. I didn't start in the Police Officer Training Academy until I was 34 years old. Relatively old for such an adventure considering most of my fellow recruits were at least ten years younger than me. But I found keeping up with was a breeze. At 34 I somehow became younger than I was, and I think that had something to do with attitude. The old guy's around me, I mean the guys old enough to be my parent took delight in my early mistakes on the job, and many of them died before I could show them that not only could I do their job, but do it better. At least that's how I remember it. But my book is about something else altogther different. i wrote it in such a way that if the reader pays attention to the messages between the lines, they may discover that it is a book that makes fun of life itself. That nothing was ever that serious to me. Important yes, serious rarely.
My hope is that someone I don't know, have never met and who has never heard of me will one day tell me that they read it