I’ve had a love/hate relationship with cops throughout my four years of practicing law. I’ve seen the American criminal justice system for the messed up process that it is, and I fully realize that it’s still the best in the world regardless of those faults. Even though I may speak ill of police and the job they do with regularity, I still hold them in a position of high regard as they have just as much a role to play in the process as I. Most of the officers with whom I interact realize the respective parts we play when a person is accused and tried for an offense, and they respect my part in the system just as much as I respect theirs.
This may surprise many of you, but we will often gab quite a bit during the “down times” in court. Usually it’s because we’re in the process of working out a deal or disclosing information. Some times the judge simply has yet to return to the bench, so we start talking about our respective families or things we’ve seen that interest us. I am often surprised to find the police have as many great “war stories” as we attorneys do, and are willing to share them with us if we’re simply willing to listen.
The following is a story from a Greene County Sheriff’s Deputy* told to me about two years ago. I thought I had it written down somewhere, but after searching diligently through the mountains of writing I’ve done in the past I can’t seem to find it. As right now seems to be a terrible moment to be a police officer in America, and with many people spouting propaganda-filled idiocy concerning those who wear a badge, I thought it time to finally post my favorite cop story.
I’m working the other night, driving down the by-pass when I spot this guy stumbling down the road in the grass next to the Staples shopping center. It’s about a mile from a bar, and pretty late, so I blue light the guy and pull up behind him.
“What are you doing sir?” I ask.
“Walking home from the Hype**”
“Why are you walking home from the Hype?”
The guy then looks me dead in the eye and says very matter-of-factly “Sir, because I have been drinking and I am too damn drunk to drive home.”
Now I start thinking about how to best handle the situation. I can send the guy to jail, but the best I’ve got against him is a public intoxication and I really don’t want to do the paperwork. It’s about thirty degrees outside and I don’t want the guy freezing. There’s no cabs, and in his condition this guy could fall over into a major thoroughfare and get struck by a car. Plus, I figure the guy doesn’t need to spend the night in the drunk tank if he’s actually got enough sense in him to realize he’s too drunk to drive.
I ask to see his ID, and I realize his house is about two miles from where we are. So I start to usher the guy into the back of my car. Guy puts up a fight until I tell him “relax, I’m just going to take you home. You do have your keys with you, right?” He did, so I took him back home to his house, got him in the door, and he was passed out on his couch in minutes.
Guy hands me his cell phone right before he goes lights out and asks me to call his wife, so I do. She gets real nervous until I tell her I just brought him home because he was drunk. She asks where he’d been, and I tell her I think the Hype. She then asks me to leave the keys on the side table before I lock the door, and I tell her I’ll do just that. She then asks me to tell him if he’s awake that the drinking needs to stop, and I tell her “Ma’am, that’s a conversation I think the two of you need to have in the morning.” I put the cell phone and the keys on the side table, lock the front door, and make my exit.
That’s it. Nothing funny about humiliating a citizen, nothing about excitement over shooting a weapon or getting into “the shit,” nothing about trampling on someone’s rights–just a guy doing the right thing because it was the right thing to do.
I know several cops, and I suspect while there’s a good many out there using the badge and the powers it holds for ill, there’s just as many as this deputy, if not more, who are out there doing the right thing for the right reasons–because it’s what they’re supposed to do.
* I will not identify the deputy by name. One, I don’t think the guy really cares to have his name published, and two, I don’t think the deputy really cares to have his name associated with doing a good deed for the simple reason this guy doesn’t do stuff like this for personal recognition on social media or blogs.
** The “Hype” is short for the Hyperion Bar and Grill in Greeneville, Tennessee.