There undoubtedly are some really bad cops; just ask the taxpayers in Denver who over recent months have paid out millions of dollars to victims who have been beaten, pummeled and throttled by officers in uniform.
But the reputations of the men in blue recently have been attacked by activists harshly critical of the outcomes of confrontations between officers and citizens in New York and Ferguson, Missouri.
Those protests, however, have triggered a backlash. In fact, there’s a new T-shirt that says “Breath Easy – Don’t Break the law,” a reference to the Eric Garner case in New York that prompted the “I can’t breathe” slogan.
They also have prompted the recall to memory of famed radio commentator Paul Harvey’s essay on police.
Listen to it here:
Harvey said: “A policeman is a composite of what all men are, I guess, a mingling of saint and sinner, dust and deity. What that really means is that they are exceptional, they are unusual. They are not commonplace. Buried under the froth is the fact, the fact is that less than one half of one percent of policeman misfit that uniform, and that is a better average than you’d find among clergymen.
“What is a policeman?
“He of all men is at once the most needed, and the most wanted, a strangely nameless creature who is sir to his face and pig or worse behind his back. He must be such a diplomat that he can settle differences between individuals so that each will think he won, but, if a policeman is neat, he’s conceited, if he’s careless he’s a bum, if he’s pleasant, he’s a flirt, if he’s not, he’s a grouch.
“He must make instant decisions that would require months for a lawyer but if he hurries he’s careless, if he’s deliberate, he’s lazy. He must be first to an accident, infallible with diagnoses. He must be able to start breathing, stop bleeding, tie splints and above all, be sure the victim goes home without a limp.
“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. The policeman from a single human hair must be able to describe the crime, the weapon 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.
“He runs files and writes reports until his eyes ache to build a case against some felon who will get dealt out by some shameless shamus. The policeman must be a minister, a social worker, a diplomat, a tough guy, and a gentle man. And of course, he’ll have to be a genius, because he’ll have to feed a family on a policeman’s salary.”
Among the comments posted on the YouTube posting of the recording was one from Jeff Perry: “Well said.”
Jean Mitchell said, “Fantastic and so true Mr. Harvey.”
Tony S.O. said, “Outstanding.”
And from someone who probably is from a younger generation came: “Who is this Mr. Harvey. He is amazing.”
On the Paul Harvey website, Paul Harvey Jr. writes about how his father loved America.
At the time of his death in 2009, TV Guide said: “Known for his staccato voice and trademark delivery of ‘The Rest of the Story’ (a feature through which he anecdotally recalled the lives of famous folk), Harvey’s career as a nationally broadcast radio man begin 1951, when he launched his ‘News and Comment’ program on ABC Radio Networks.”
The report said: “In 1970, Harvey famously reversed his stance on the Vietnam War, broadcasting this message to Richard M. Nixon: ‘Mr. President, I love you … but you’re wrong [to expand the war].’ Harvey’s urging of the president to pull out of Vietnam elicited an onslaught of letters and phone calls, including one from the White House.
“At the peak of his career, Harvey reached more than 24 million listeners on more than 1,200 radio stations, and his syndicated column was carried by 300 newspapers. In 2000, he signed a new 10-year contract with ABC Radio Networks. He was forced off the airwaves briefly in 2001 by a virally weakened vocal cord.”
He received the presidential Medal of Freedom and was an inductee in the Radio Hall of Fame.