When I was a boy, for better or worse, I knew lots of policemen. But one guy stood out. We weren’t that close, but I saw him enough, and heard enough from him, to know that he was…a hero. And that was even before that special day.
The most heroic deed he ever did as a cop was the day in 1975 when he had to confront a shotgun-wielding man who was holding an entire street hostage. The officer told the man to drop the gun, gave him enough time to do so, and when he didn’t, he shot him. Dead.
Although the shooting was by the book, and the officer had, while risking his own life, rescued the neighborhood, the local newspaper sought to destroy him. The policeman’s problem was that he was white, and the bad guy was black. Logically and morally speaking, if anything, that made him even more heroic. Black cops consider it their birthright to control black communities, and expect and get accolades just for showing up for work, without facing off against men with shotguns.
Conversely, a white officer who puts his life on the line saving black lives gets no payoff, no thanks, and is lucky if he doesn't get railroaded to prison, as veteran, decorated Detroit cops Walter Budzyn and Larry Nevers found out the hard way. Given the routine racial profiling of white policemen, he knows that he’s more likely to be called a “racist murderer,” and prosecuted, than heralded a hero. He has to be motivated by pure duty and pride in his job.
A reporter at the local newspaper decided to destroy the cop. She fabricated a story, in which 27 anonymous blacks supposedly claimed to have heard him utter racist epithets. I’d seen the man in situations, both with black folks in public and with me in private, where, if he were that kind of a guy, he would have said something…but he didn’t. Ever.
The newspaper also assembled some racist demagogues, who claimed to be the local NAACP. Problem was, there was no local branch of the NAACP, and I knew the demagogues. They were my bosses at my part-time job. I didn't work for the NAACP; I was a token white in a federally funded, black supremacist youth program.