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Show Appreciation For Cops
1/14/2015 4:13:46 PM

By Barney Blakeney

I’m not a computer person although I live and work in a world and profession where being familiar with the latest communications technology is necessary. I plan to work harder this year at coming up to speed. But in the mean time, I still depend on my desktop computer and telephone (flip not smart) as my main communications resources. So by the time I got the email about the City of Charleston’s observance of National Law ‘Enforcement Appreciation Day it was over.

January 9 was National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day across the nation. Mayor Joseph Riley, police Chief Gregory Mullen, city council members and other police representatives encouraged citizens to attend and show their support for law enforcement. I was among many in the Black community absent. Doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate cops.

I’ve had experiences on both sides of the law. Personally, I can’t say I’ve had any negative experiences. I think the cops I’ve run into did their jobs when I was right and when I was wrong. I know not everybody can say that. But that’s been my experience.

As a Black man in America and a veteran cop reporter, I’ve found that cops are like people in any other profession - there are good cops and bad cops. And like most professionals there are a relatively few who are at the top of their game and a relatively few who are on the bottom of the barrel. Most are somewhere in the middle with the quality of the professional depending on how close they are to the top or bottom.

I think the Charleston community is fortunate to have some really good cops. Rueben Greenberg was one of the best. So was Chevy Harris. I think Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon is a real good cop. He once told me the best job he’s ever had was that of being a grandpa.

I have a lot of respect for Charleston County Sheriff Chief Deputy Mitch Lucas. And me and Jim Brady go back a few years. Capt. Eric Watson has some of the area’s best cops in his family. I could go on and on naming people like Ray Nash and Woodberry in Dorchester County.

The list goes on endlessly because good cops are special people and they’re plentiful. I didn’t know Joseph Matuskovic, killed last September while responding to a West Ashley disturbance. I get the impression he was a good cop though.

Matuskovic was one of Greg Mullen’s officers before he joined Al Cannon’s department a few years ago. He was the first local policeman killed in the line if duty since 2007. Mullen said cops, like everybody else, go to work each day wanting to come home at night. I think they rise above the rest because their jobs put them directly in harm’s way.

Years back I did a ride-along with former North Charleston policeman big Rodney Yon. He said among the worst calls to respond to are domestic dispute calls. Cops never know what they’ll find, he said. The reality is cops never know what they’ll find any time they answer a call. Matuskovic was responding to a call about a drunk beating on cars in his apartment complex. Three people died that night.

The press release for the Charleston National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day observance noted some may be discouraged by national events portraying law enforcement in a negative light. I think those who appreciate law enforcement also appreciate the focus on those issues.

The Dec. 20 murders of New York, N.Y. police officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were about as senseless as the death of Eric Garner in July. An article by Kevin Clay posted Dec. 22 on implores right-thinking people not to allow Ismaaiyl Brinsley’s mindless act to become a representation of a growing movement to address the actions of bad cops.

I think good professionals not only look for ways to improve their own performance, but also look for ways to improve overall performance in the profession. I try to be a good reporter and I love good reporting. I think it’s the same with cops. Appreciate cops? Nobody wants to see that blue light flashing in their rear-view mirror, but who among us at some point hasn’t asked, “Where’s a cop when you need one?”

I often tell the criminals I know not to get mad at cops - they’re just doing their jobs. Their job is to catch criminals and a criminal’s job is not to get caught. There’s a lot of conflict and controversy when it comes to cops. Appreciate cops? Where would we be without them?

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