Sunday, April 09, 2006

Protect and Serve

Lots of folks think a police officer's job is to catch criminals. Nope. Our job is to protect and serve the public. How do we do that job?

We do that job in a number of ways. If we see a car broken down on the road, we stop to see if we can help. Having people stranded on the side of the road isn't good for them. Frustration, aggravation, climate, and motor vehicles speeding past don't combine into a safe afternoon. Over the years I have helped change hundreds of tires on the side of the road. I have hauled motorists to hundreds of gas stations for a gallon of gas. I have called ambulances for folks.

We do Keep Watches (call sign KW): wherein we make frequent checks on elderly people, or rattle the doors on closed businesses, or respond to structure fires to provide traffic control to the fire and medical personnel. We respond to public events, like parades and concerts, to provide traffic control and provide the public with a way to get out of a crowded parking lot on to a busy street.

We search for lost children. We help get livestock off busy roads. We come to traffic accidents and provide medical care, clear the wreckage, and get traffic flowing smoothly again.

In natural disasters we provide, or try to provide what the people need. For example, during the Rita disaster, my agency knew that there would be a lot of trees down, and power lines down. We filled trucks with men with chainsaws and while the wind was still howling, we moved down all the back roads and country lanes, clearing trees off the roadways so that the power company and ambulance personnel could get access to the places they needed to work.

This Sheriff, Forrest County Sheriff Billy McGee, in rural Mississippi, is being investigated for commandeering two trucks of water and ice for his people during the Katrina incompetence. Basically, he went to Camp Shelby, MS, found two trucks filled with supplies that hadn't been assigned to a particular relief effort, and took the supplies to his people, who desperately needed them. In doing so, he arrested and cited an Army officer who was trying to stop him from moving the trucks.
After learning of a FEMA staging area at Camp Shelby, a National Guard base just a few miles south of town. McGee tried for five hours to get in touch with federal authorities, hoping they might release some of the supply trucks parked there.

Failing that, he and three deputies went to the base early that afternoon, where they were told there were two trucks filled with ice that had not been assigned a destination.

The drivers agreed to follow the deputies to Petal and Brooklyn, but as they drove away, Capt. Michael Bryant, a National Guardsman, jumped on the side of the lead truck, either trying to get the keys or pull the driver out. McGee told the newspaper.

When Bryant refused to stop, deputies handcuffed him, placed him in a patrol car and drove him to the Sheriff's Office. He was cited for interfering with an officer and released.
The charges against Captain Bryant have since been dismissed. I'm sure that young officer thought he was doing his duty. So was Sheriff McGee.

When our citizens need help, we move heaven and earth to help them. That is our job. To protect and serve the people of our area. Sheriff McGee is being investigated by the US Attorney's office for commandeering those trucks. I hope that the Justice Department realizes that their job, too, is to protect and serve the people of the United States and that Forrest County Mississippi is one of those places they failed. Billy McGee already has the thanks of his people. He upheld his oath. The investigation against him should be immediately dropped.

Junior thinks that our President should immediately pardon him for any activity that occurred during the Katrina disaster. I concur.

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