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December 4, 2014

Life on the Streets

Harry M. Covert

Just when the public gets comfortable and thinks that personal safety is really a matter of everywhere else, presto, it is in the local backyard.


This may be difficult to understand, but news readers and watchers merely have to pay attention. There is no reason to halt daily routines. In these days, in which crises appear more rampant than ever, vigilance is quite important.


Those who take advantage of public transit, the joggers and exercisers dashing about the parks and streets are prey to attacks. Lots of citizens get careless in their sporting efforts. They should be prepared for the dangerous infringement on their safety and activities.


It is easy to philosophize about bad people, no matter the ethnic, racial and mental conditions, or how to find excuses as to why. Keep that for the classrooms and, in reality, pay attention to your surroundings.


Personal threats to public and private figures have zoomed in recent years. Ever see an attack? Not a pretty thing to see. Good citizens should avail themselves with visits to hospital emergency rooms and jail facilities, particularly on weekends. Watch appearances before the court commissioners (magistrates) answering charges of stabbings, shootings and domestic assaults. In emergency rooms doctors are numb to slashings from razors and knives and fatal and critical wounds.


Protecting the public is no easy job.


A reporter covering a murder trial was the subject first of threatening telephone calls, always after midnight, during the daily trial. Once the 15-year-old was convicted of the ax slaying of a school mate and sentenced to 20 years, the reporter then received physical threats. The boy’s father, a respected detective, was obviously devastated by the murder. Once he discovered the reporter was threatened, he discovered the death threat came from his wife.


Obviously mental health people got involved and further attempts halted.


Threats to Frederick officials have increased tragically, especially during the recent campaign season. It is astounding that numerous vicious threats are regularly made.


The campaigners had every reason to be concerned, especially when victimized during speaking appearances and all that goes with political adventures. Frankly even the mildest of threats can be dangerous and fatal. Every sworn officer knows danger, no matter how large the jurisdiction.


A petite grandmother was stopped for speeding, really, 20 mph over the limit. The officer was attempting to be professional. When he asked for her driver’s license and registration, grandma spit in his face. He didn’t strike her. He called for backup. Grandma welcomed the second officer. Yes, spittle in the eyes.


Finally, she was handcuffed and taken to headquarters. The desk sergeant recognized grandma as a neighbor and tried to calm her down. She was not on drugs or intoxicated. The sergeant attempted to have the cuffs removed. Again, she expectorated a third time.


That was enough and off she went to a holding cell. She remained until the next morning, appearing in court. No, she didn’t spit this time. The judge did send her for hospital attention.


I like this true story. The cop and his K-9 found a burglar hiding under a house. After the German shepherd dragged the fellow from his hiding place, his shirt ripped, the housebreaker smiled and asked what would happen if he tried to escape, “I’m fast, real fast.” Mr. Policeman responded: “Can you outrun a 9 mm?” The arrestee grinned then said, “You got me.”


The work of protecting communities is not frivolous and not always funny stuff. Criminal laws established by legislators are there for good reasons. Which law is not to be enforced? The public doesn’t make that decision unless they get elected leaders to change them.


Oh, yes, there is no excuse for not obeying a legal law enforcement order.


As a five-year-old I was ring bearer to a family friend’s wedding. Years later as a police officer, he stopped a speeder racing down a major highway. While at the driver’s window, another car saw him and purposely struck and dragged him. He lost a leg up to his hip. A good officer, good family man and a sergeant forever.


All this palaver going on about which order to obey is nonsense, illegal and dangerous to everybody.


The carelessness and malice in threatening office-holders and office-seekers must not be condoned. Take these threats seriously. Who wants leaders to walk around with hands-up, don’t shoot?


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