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Our friends in blue

Posted: May 1, 2014 9:45 a.m.
Updated: May 2, 2014 5:00 a.m.

I have several different duties and assignments here at the Chronicle-Independent, but picking my favorite is not something I have to think very hard or long about. It’s covering crime news and the activities and efforts of the Camden Police Department (CPD) and the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO). There’s always something different, sometimes humorous and never boring. Every now and then it’s tragic and that part is not fun at all, but our job is to get the news into the hands of the people, even if, or especially if, it’s not good news.

Last week, I had the privilege of attending and reporting on an open public forum presented by the CPD. It was in the city council chamber at Camden City Hall and the room was far from packed, but Chief Joe Floyd had previously told me a moderately-sized audience would be good. Too few and it appears the public is not interested. Too many and it appears they are dissatisfied with the police department. Like Goldilocks would say, “medium is just right.”

From what I heard from the Camden residents in the room, they by and large are very satisfied with their police protection. A few even said so, thanking Floyd and his senior officers who were there for the job they do. Part of the meeting was set aside for questions, suggestions and complaints. There were a few questions and suggestions about concerns residents have in their respective neighborhoods, mostly about speeding cars and trucks on residential city streets. One woman voiced a concern about late-night loiterers at a park near her home. But I did not hear a single person ask why the CPD hasn’t done anything about these issues and no one asked any questions or had a complaint about department policies or officer behavior or offered any criticisms about the CPD. That speaks highly of Floyd and the men and women under his command.

As the chief pointed out during his talk about his philosophies he instills in his officers, he’s not out on the street every day and night. The CPD is a 24-hour business, but they have officers who patrol our streets and answer calls at all hours, not the chief himself. But, with Floyd’s philosophies in place, it’s like he really is on duty 24 hours a day. Every one of those officers represents him, represents the CPD and represents Camden. If they don’t do that representing to his satisfaction, Floyd wants to know about it and wants to know why. That’s what a good boss and leader does.

Floyd talked about holding his personnel accountable for their decisions and actions. He conceded that police officers are human and are as subject to making mistakes just as any of us are. He said lawmen have a great amount of power with the right and duty to take away someone’s freedom if their actions justify doing so. But, he knows, and his officers know through him, that with great power comes great responsibility. Sure, it’s a cliché, but I’ve always thought most clichés come to be because they are largely true. That one can never be more true than when applied to police officers.

When I see a CPD officer or a KCSO deputy, I smile and wave. I know very few of them personally, although I would like that to change over time. But, I acknowledge them because I know they have tough, often thankless jobs and receive criticism that is not always deserved. I have found in my news career that those who hate cops the most are the lawbreakers the cops are fighting against -- the thieves, the drug dealers, the drunk drivers, the wife beaters, etc. The rest of us have nothing to fear. To us, the regular, law-abiding citizens, they really are our friends in blue.

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