Enforcers of the law in relatively small towns and rural counties are a special breed. I’ve found two positive books, actual accounts of how LEOs (law enforcement officers) can and do take care of happenings in their areas. The articles show how talking is often the most effective procedure and use of force is definitely a last resort. I know LEOs who work this way and they are appreciated more than they will ever know. In each book the focus is on constructive ways to iron out disagreements and reach affirmative conclusions.
Of course, both writers speak of Sam Brown belts, jail cells, drunks and drunk drivers, little old ladies as well as down-and-outers. Each author speaks high praise for dispatchers and their abilities to communicate with the public and the officers. Emergency services workers — EMTs and paramedics receive accolades also. Highway patrol and other agencies circle the wagons when needed to get the job done. Neither book goes into details about red tape nor bureaucratic hassles, though it’s likely those challenges occur. Bad stops, scary arrests, medical emergencies are all in the books, but not graphic. Readers learn just how important commercial radio stations are to cops, especially when working the night shift on a slow night.
The first book is titled Routine Patrol: Memoirs of a Small-town Cop by Bart Ringer; it contains short stories about his time as a police officer, including his 37 years serving in Riverton, Wyo,, where he still lives. The book was published in 2018 and I just discovered it online last week. Throughout the book, Ringer refers to several 10-codes (radio transmission codes), then explains what they mean. Riverton is next to the Wind River Indian Reservation and the tribal police sometimes call for mutual assistance. Interagency cooperation helps all LEOs. Ringer’s humor shines through when in a typical statement he writes, “But just between you and me, it’s not a very good idea to try and run away from someone and hide in the dark when you’re wearing the latest style of LED tennis shoes.”
The Detective in the Dooryard: Reflections of a Maine Cop by Timothy Cotton, published in 2020, is the second book. Cotton has been a police officer for more than 30 years; the bulk of that time on the force in Bangor, Maine, where he continues to serve. He has an active personal Facebook page which showcases his writing talent. Cotton’s humor shows as he writes, “Hiding is an art, but most people do not practice it enough to become proficient. During a bail check, officers discovered a man, intentionally covered in dirty laundry, under a desk.”
A commonality between the two books is both policemen endeavor, mightily, to give the benefit of the doubt to the public. Contrary to some public opinion, they do not strive to fill the jail cells every shift. Their objectives — though they work 2,400 miles apart — are to make the streets safe, bring attention to vehicle problems so they can be corrected, keep the peace and help everyone that they can. ❖