This video is making the rounds. It’s Paul Harvey’s tribute to the policeman – the law enforcement officers.
Harvey wrote the tribute in 1970; Harvey’s tribute comes about because his father was a policeman – a policeman killed in the line of duty.
“What is a policeman made of? He, of all men, is once the most needed and the most unwanted. He’s a strangely nameless creature who is “sir” to his face and “fuzz” to his back. He must be such a diplomat that he can settle differences between individuals so that each will think he won.
But . . . if the policeman is neat, he’s conceited; if he’s careless, he’s a bum. If he’s pleasant, he’s flirting; if not, he’s a grouch. He must make an instant decision which would require months for a lawyer to make.
But . . . if he hurries, he’s careless; if he’s deliberate, he’s lazy. He must be first to an accident and infallible with his diagnosis. He must be able to start breathing, stop bleeding, tie splints and, above all, be sure the victim goes home without a limp. Or expect to be sued.
The police officer must know every gun, draw on the run, and hit where it doesn’t hurt. He must be able to whip two men twice his size and half his age without damaging his uniform and without being “brutal.”
If you hit him, he’s a coward. If he hits you, he’s a bully. A policeman must know everything—and not tell. He must know where all the sin is and not partake. A policeman must, from a single strand of hair, be able to describe the crime, the weapon and the criminal—and tell you where the criminal is hiding. But . . . if he catches the criminal, he’s lucky; if he doesn’t, he’s a dunce.
If he gets promoted, he has political pull; if he doesn’t, he’s a dullard. The policeman must chase a bum lead to a dead-end, stake out ten nights to tag one witness who saw it happen—but refused to remember. The policeman must be a minister, a social worker, a diplomat, a tough guy and a gentleman.
And, of course, he’d have to be genius . . . for he will have to feed a family on a policeman’s salary.”
All true enough for arguably one of the most difficult professions in the world. We want to look up to the person behind the badge – the person sworn to “protect and defend.”
But that was then and the climate is changed somewhat today. There are departments who have among their ranks police officers with drunk driving records; leaving the scene of an accident records and “reduced IQ requirements.” In 1970, most departments had “residency requirements” and police officers were members of the community. Times change and standards have changed as well.
The report shown below also identifies other differences and challenges departments encounter, including hiring “officers who were inadequately screened and, in a few notable cases, had criminal records prior to their police service.”
Every citizen wants to have confidence that his or her police department is comprised of “Paul Harvey policemen.”