FREE e-Newsletter
Important News - Hot Topics
Get them Now!
Mark Clark

Mark Clark

Mark Clark is the public information officer for a law enforcement agency in the southwest. He is also a photographer and contributor to POLICE Magazine.
Patrol

In Praise of Straight-Shooting Brass

A chief or sheriff who speaks his or her mind without a political filter is a member of a rare and dying breed.

June 19, 2013  |  by - Also by this author

Photo by Kelly Bracken.
Photo by Kelly Bracken.
I love the straight-shooters.

Unlike those who see the soft-sell as a perishable skillset and therefore practice it 24/7, they don't check for wind direction or perform any other litmus test before articulating their true feelings. Not surprisingly, their comments can make for memorable soundbites.

At a press conference after one of his deputies was killed and another wounded, Polk County (Fla.) Sheriff Grady Judd was asked why their assailant had been shot 68 times when cornered.

"I suspect the only reason 110 rounds was all that was fired was that's all the ammunition they had," Judd responded. "We were not going to take any chance of him shooting back."

Addressing the media after the recent shooting death of Jason Ellis, a mourning Bardstown (Ky.) Police Chief Rick McCubbin said, "It's a very sad day for us. This is the first police officer in the history of the Bardstown Police Department to be shot and killed in the line of duty, and our police department dates back well over a hundred and fifty years."

But Chief McCubbin did not stop there:

"I can assure you, we won't give up on this person or persons until we have them either in our custody, or in the sights of one of our weapons. And I personally hope the latter is the choice," he said.

In both cases, some expressed outrage at the perceived heartlessness of the speakers in question. As far as I am concerned, these are the kind of leaders that law enforcement could use more of.

I didn't always feel that way. When I was younger, I initially held that Los Angeles County Sheriff Sherman Block provided a nice, avuncular contrast to LAPD's irascible Darryl Gates. But as time went by I noticed that whereas Gates was, for better or worse, always shooting from the hip and lip, Block was invariably more of a considered tactician. So consciously incapable of offending anyone, he was simultaneously incapable of placating anyone, either. And whatever else, Gates could be counted upon to speak up assertively on behalf of his personnel, repercussions be damned. Meanwhile, just about any deputy who found himself in a shooting that got controverted was getting terminated on Block's watch.

In the aftermath of Rodney King, Rampart, and so much else, it became increasingly fashionable for law enforcement administrators to rein in their tongues—in Gates' case, to reevaluate his support of some officers— and wait for all manner of formal and informal inquiries to be completed before tendering an opinion on pretty much anything. Today, what comes forth from them in the press is often so sanitized as to leave no more of an impression than the babble spoken by an adult in a Charlie Brown cartoon. Much is left to department spokespersons to run interference on, with more than a few media liaisons looking like how that poor bespectacled bastard Jay Carney does every time he's squirming behind the podium on behalf of his boss, Obama.

True, there have been others such as the grandstanding Mike Carona who loved the limelight and milked every opportunity they could. Which made the former Orange County (Calif.) Sheriff's fall from power all the more public and terrible. And some say Joe Arpaio grandstands ... maybe he does, but his Italian lineage excuses the theatrical bent, and I'd be happy as hell to see him as my sheriff. Such men, such women, constitute the conspicuous exceptions.

I'm not advocating that law enforcement leaders behave in a provocative manner on every little thing that comes on the media radar. Certainly there are times when tact and discretion are warranted.

But when it comes to cop killers—those lowest forms of vermin that deprive spouses, parents, children, and siblings of their cherished loved ones—I think that our administrators can afford to drop the damn stoicism a little and wear their humanity (yes, I dare to use that word within this context) on their sleeve.

I would hope that they occasionally remember that some things are not said to appease Joe Citizen.

They're said for the benefit of the troops that are still with us.

And for those who aren't.

Tags: Cop Killers, Police-Media Relations, Joe Arpaio, Bardstown (Ky.) PD, Polk County (Fla.) Sheriff, Daryl Gates, Michael Carona


Comments (8)

Displaying 1 - 8 of 8

John Carp @ 6/20/2013 6:43 PM

Very Nice! Well spoken (written) I agree with all of your points and that is rare as I have been known to have an opinion. I too would welcome Sheriff Joe as my boss and even as a Law Enforcement Officer, find my self slowing a bit, at the first sign that says "You are entering Maricopa County"
Thank you!
j

Morning Eagle @ 6/20/2013 8:08 PM

Well said! Administrators that are more concerned about being politically correct (cowardly) so they don't offend anyone or get criticized by the media or others that don't know anything about law enforcement are disgusting to say the least and don't deserve to be in the positions they are in. People who intentionally kill police officers have forfeited their privilege of being allowed to continue to breathe and that must be made clear.

Bob@Az. @ 6/20/2013 9:04 PM

Dean, once again you have put into words the thoughts of many. It seems as if the appointed ones are the worse offenders, bowing down to anyone who says they are upset with a pos cop killer being taken down and out. As my dear old sweet granny used to say: "Screw 'em"

Troop @ 6/22/2013 1:56 PM

A rare breed indeed.

Jim A @ 6/23/2013 7:21 PM

Liability be DAMNED. Full speed ahead!!

Sheriff Judd was saying that police work is a liability business. I accept that and deal with it. He was saying that police work is a dangerous business - and so is killing a cop. He was essentially saying that he was not going to give that cop-killing bastard (can I say that?) an even chance next time.

Good Job Sheriff Judd. I commend you.

Nichole @ 6/24/2013 4:04 AM

Perceived heartlessness? Are you people joking? In that case alone, that officer was gunned down in cold blood. Where is your hatred for the suspect that did that completely heartless act?

There are entirely too many bleeding hearts out there these days, crying for injustice to those who have done an injustice to someone else. I'd pray that those people who want to grieve for the madmen, the crazies, and the murderers that their families are never struck by the like, but since I'm not a praying kind of gal, I'll just cross my fingers for them and hope that no one is heartless towards them. Seems fitting.

Adrian Stroud @ 6/27/2013 2:55 AM

Bravo Dean! Awesome job as always. I can't stand seeing the same talking heads in CT here when we have had major incidents grandstanding as if they had there own tv show. It is a very rare thing for police administrators to screw on their testicles and actually back their officers publicly. It sickens me and has always been a pet peeve of mine. I loved Gates, he was great. I actually had a Chief at that time who had balls like Gates but those days are gone. It's become more fashionable now to burn your men than to back them.

pup @ 6/27/2013 8:48 AM

Outstanding job Dean...I agree with all the other comments.

Join the Discussion





POLICE Magazine does not tolerate comments that include profanity, personal attacks or antisocial behavior (such as "spamming" or "trolling"). This and other inappropriate content or material will be removed. We reserve the right to block any user who violates this, including removing all content posted by that user.

Other Recent Blog Posts

Training Tip: Defending Against the Bear Hug
Coach John Crouch of the Lab MMA Training Center in Glendale, Ariz., demonstrates how to...

Get Your FREE Trial Issue and Win a Gift! Subscribe Today!
Yes! Please rush me my FREE TRIAL ISSUE of POLICE magazine and FREE Officer Survival Guide with tips and tactics to help me safely get out of 10 different situations.

Just fill in the form to the right and click the button to receive your FREE Trial Issue.

If POLICE does not satisfy you, just write "cancel" on the invoice and send it back. You'll pay nothing, and the FREE issue is yours to keep. If you enjoy POLICE, pay only $25 for a full one-year subscription (12 issues in all). Enjoy a savings of nearly 60% off the cover price!

Offer valid in US only. Outside U.S., click here.
It's easy! Just fill in the form below and click the red button to receive your FREE Trial Issue.
First Name:
Last Name:
Rank:
Agency:
Address:
City:
State:
  
Zip Code:
 
Country:
We respect your privacy. Please let us know if the address provided is your home, as your RANK / AGENCY will not be included on the mailing label.
E-mail Address:

Police Magazine