The View From There
I received the below from my 42 year old son Richard Jr. He is the oldest of our six children and we all at times have to wonder how we have influenced their lives. I am pleased that I appear to continue to have a positive influence on him. I am even more proud that he continues to influence me in a positive way. He has great insight and compassion for others. I am extremely proud of him. The below and a Father’s Day letter (click here to read the letter ) I received from him in June of 2000 are just two of the many reasons why I believe God has blessed me with the privilege of being his father.
THE FOLLOWING IS THE EMAIL I RECEIVED FROM MY SON RICH
The words below were inspired by something my dad sent out recently entitled "20 Random Thoughts for a Friday afternoon”, which I have attached if you want to read it. Since I sometimes let myself do this kind of thing (like when I want to sleep but can't), I decided to let you all in on what I am thinking as a nod to my dad. With that said here are
Sunday Meandering Thoughts
Richard D. Reese Jr.
THE VIEW FROM HERE
I have had many ask me what I thought about Mayor Don Plusquellic’s latest letter in which he forecast’s a reduction of additional City Personnel including Police and Fire staff. Some have asked that I reduce my thoughts to writing. I was also asked why he did not reduce his number of cabinet members as well as other less critical City employment positions.
While some have accused me of being against anything related to Don Plusquellic, I wish to make it clear that is far from the truth. Mayor Plusquellic has been at the helm of Akron longer than some of his most vocal critics have been living! Plusquellic, like you and I, have accomplished a mixture of good and bad throughout our lives. I hope that we each perform more good than bad. This is especially desired of those persons that find themselves in positions of authority or great responsibility. Don Plusquellic, as the Mayor of Akron, is the person with the greatest responsibility and the greatest potential to do either good or harm for the City of Akron.
Since becoming Mayor of Akron in 1987 Don Plusquellic has at times accomplished both. Some would argue that the good outnumbers the bad and others just the opposite. It is (are you ready for this?) my belief that the good is far greater than his bad accomplishments or attributes. That having been said I will attempt to address some of the points of his letter of February 19th.
The Mayors letter was addressed to The Members of City Council. He said he wanted to let them know what he was doing in an effort to maintain a balanced budget for 2010. The first notable thing was the letter was only addressed to Members of Council. I believe it would have been better to have sent it to all of the community or to have called a press conference but that's just my thought. One can avoid addressing difficult questions by avoiding a meeting with the press and the public.
I found it troubling that he began by saying that in order to have a balanced budget it may require additional layoffs that could occur as early as July. I was left with the impression that Plusquellic felt that it was inevitable that there would be layoffs. I would hope that he becomes a bit less cavalier about it. It is a terribly difficult thing to have to deprive someone of their lively hood or their freedom.
The Mayor said he anticipates a continued downturn in the economy nationwide. The reality is, it is on a worldwide level but most are only concerned about that which helps or hinders them and their close friends. My question to the Mayor as well as Members of Council is what meaningful steps are they willing to take in an effort to help improve the economy and quality of life in our community? I believe there needs to be an adjustment in the priorities of our political leaders, the community's leaders, and our citizens. They/we need to decide what is really necessary for our community to function in a manner most conducive to the safety and wellbeing of all residents.
It appears that plans are still underway to erect a “jump proof fence” on the All American or “Y” bridge. Funding for the project comes from Federal Stimulus Funds. Almost a year ago Akron received 21 million dollars and 7.5 million was earmarked for the "Y" bridge fence and decking. Some have argued that the money would be better directed toward job creation or the provision of counseling to troubled persons contemplating suicide. Only a small percentage of suicides are the result of jumping from high bridges. It is a sad reality that unless one has a relative or close friend that resorts to suicide, most persons never give thought or credence to the need for suicide prevention.
One can argue the merits of the bridge renovation but suffice it to say with Summit County having upwards of 11% unemployment; perhaps the community should have some input as to whether the money could be better used to help in the reduction of unemployment and crime, revitalize neighborhoods ,and the community's economy. When the granting of Federal Stimulus Money was announced, Mayor Plusquellic said it would create or help to retain some 240 jobs. Perhaps now would be a good time to identify those jobs either created or retained.
Mayor Plusquellic takes a bit more than a page touting what other cities from Phoenix Arizona to Cleveland Ohio are doing as a result of lost revenue. I find it noteworthy that those cities cited by Plusquellic all involved significant reduction in police and fire staffing. It fails to address the ratio of safety personnel to citizens in their respective communities. Nor is there any correlation to either felony or misdemeanor crime rates. Last year when police and fire layoffs were being considered, the president of Akron City Council, Marco Summerville, made the statement that they had to make a decision as to what was more important – sanitation workers collecting trash or the retention of safety division employees. The mayor and council made the determination that the maintaining of the collection of garbage on schedule was what was most important to the community. Agree or disagree?
It is possible, but doubtful, that all possible steps have been taken to cause the sanitation as well as all other city departments to operate as efficiently and economically as possible but to my knowledge this and the measures used have never been communicated to the public. While I am aware of some belt tightening on the part of the Safety Forces and the City in general, I would think that there is still more that can be accomplished. The bottom line is that I and I suspect the community believes it necessarily prudent to attempt to blindly copy what the likes of Cleveland, Cincinnati, Phoenix, Los Angeles, or Chicago may or may not be doing. With all of the effort placed on attempting to justify reductions in Police and Fire personnel I am forced to wonder if it is in any way related to the Police failure to support and the Fire having remained neutral regarding the Mayoral recall of 2009?
Mayor Plusquellic then related how he has reduced costs through the use of furloughs, voluntary separation, and the elimination of all but mandatory overtime. He proudly relates how he has reduced Service Department employees by over 40% yet still maintains satisfactory service to the community. He also addresses the complaint that his cabinet is too large by reporting he has eliminated 5 cabinet positions thus cutting it from 17 members to 12. This implies that he laid off or fired 5 members of his cabinet. That is not what happened.
The Mayor laments the fact that there has been no reduction in Police and while he states his goal is to maintain staffing levels in Police and Fire Divisions it appears to be simply the standard political rhetoric where they say one thing even though they now the facts may be just the opposite. Kind of like the Mayor’s statements prior to the 2009 recall vote where he bragged about the stellar condition of the City of Akron’s finances. Then, when the election was over, he did a reversal and stated how The City was in dire straits financially. The Mayor goes on to outline some of the other measures he has implemented to reduce cost and he said he has only made cuts in areas that have a minimum effect on the community. It would appear that the concern is not applicable to the Police and Fire Departments.
Mayor Plusquellic then speaks about “Our Dedicated Employees” and to this I must agree that Akron has a wealth of dedicated individuals that are truly devoted to the welfare of the community. Sad to say most of those individuals are not in positions of authority where they can have great influence on policy and procedures. It is unfortunate that there are far too many people in this world that appear to place there own wants and desirers ahead of their fellow man. I, and perhaps some of you, remember when it was common and customary for an employee to routinely put their personal needs and wants on the back burner and do what was best for the community and their fellow worker. We all are keenly aware that each of us must cope with the troubled economy and its effects on our daily lives. It is my belief that the economy will get much worse prior to getting better. Rest assured things will get better. It is only a question of how long it will be before there is a reversal and we can begin our upward climb once again. I believe we are looking at years rather than months.
There are real and meaningful sacrifices that will have to be made on the part of most members of the community. The Mayor and City Administration are faced with a daunting task that will not be resolved simply through the reduction in safety force or any City Employees. Some would argue that with the ever increasing crime statistics there should be an increase rather than a reduction in Police and Fire staffing. While it may be difficult in these austere times, it is not impossible provided, the administration and the workers are willing to be creative in implementing new strategies and methods. Police and Fire personnel perhaps could temporarily suspend certain contract provisions and the administration and management perhaps could be more willing to put aside egos and dictatorial thinking and management styles. Envision both reverting back to doing what is best for the community rather than that which is best for a select group of friends or associates! I find the possibilities to be most exciting.
Mayor Plusquellic has said he welcomes suggestions from residents, employees, bargaining units, and City Council on how the challenges may be met. The solutions to Akron’s problems and those of this great Country of ours will not be an easy task. However, they are not impossible to solve if all are willing to agree to do that which is best for the majority of the community. Those persons not willing to pledge to do so should resign, retire, or otherwise leave rather than continue to impede those measures necessary to reverse our current disturbing direction. Will it happen? Well that’s like having the foot of snow currently on the ground being present in July! Not likely to happen, but not beyond the realm of possibility. This is particularly true if all involved ask for God’s guidance or, if they were simply mindful of one of my favorite reads, The 5th Chapter of The Book of Matthew!
Just something to think about. That‘s today’s View From Here.
Akron Police Sergeant Retired 1996
THE VIEW FROM HERE
The other day I was blessed with an altercation with two of our area young people. While shopping in one of our “Big Box” stores I happened to have the need to pass down an isle that was blocked by two individuals in their late teens. These two youngsters had the audacity to perceive themselves as young men worthy of respect or perhaps fear from me. I remember being told long before I was their age -- “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.”
My first impression was influenced by the foul language I heard them using before I came around the corner of the isle. Upon rounding the corner I suffered what some may call a visual assault that confirmed the impression generated by the foul language I had heard. Their appearance was noteworthy in that they each had on jeans that appeared to be five or six sizes too large and were total strangers to a washing machine. The pants were on the verge of falling to the floor. Perhaps it was a good thing they did not fall as they would certainly have dirtied the floor!
They both had on bright colored underwear that was prominently displayed above the waist band of the jeans. The bottom hems of the jeans were wet from the snow and slush. It was apparent that this was not a onetime occurrence since the pants were not only wet but frayed from being trampled underfoot for some time. I noticed they both wore what appeared to be Nike LeBron Air Max basketball shoes that retail for upwards of $150.00! This coupled with their jackets and the rest of their clothing probably raised the cost of their apparel to the $500 to $600.00 dollar range. That being said they then opened their mouths in unison in reaction to my asking them to excuse me so that I could pass by to check out an item for possible purchase.
The reply to my saying excuse me please was, “What chu say man?” I again asked them to move to which one of the fellows said “chu hear dis mother f*#%@+?” Resisting the urge to resort to my years of law enforcement training, I explained to the two of them that all I wanted was to pass by them. They said that they were not expecting me to speak the way that I was. They said that I spoke like a “white man” and did not sound “black.” I agreed that I did not sound like the two of them. I said I spoke English and that I was an American. I said I hoped I sounded kind of like my parents, teachers, and the majority of my fellow citizens. They then made the mistake of asking what was wrong with how they spoke.
I told them that there was nothing wrong with their appearance, their obscene language, or their speech, if they wished to appear to be vulgar, ignorant, uneducated persons that had no respect for themselves or their fellow man. One responded that he had two years of college and the other said he had one year. I asked where they worked and they both said they were unable to find employment. When asked if they had an idea as to why they remained unemployed they stated that as a fellow black man I should know that it was because they were black and they were being discriminated against. I replied that that may or may not be true. I said that based upon their appearance, the obscene language and the ghetto/gangsta/inner city hood talk I would not be inclined to offer either of them employment. I said that I had worked for AT&T back in the early 60’s and had retired in 1996 from the police department with 27 years of service. In both instances I had worn a suit and tie when applying for employment. They stated that I was just like the “white man” in that I was prejudging and discriminating against them. At this point I related to them the rule regarding a first impression.
They replied that it was not fair to which I replied that life was not always fair. Not just to them but to all of society. I told them that a prudent person would, especially when wanting consideration from another, be wise to do whatever may be necessary to make that first impression a favorable one. It only takes a couple of seconds for a person to evaluate you when you meet for the first time. A person forms an opinion about you based on your appearance, body language, demeanor, mannerisms, and how you are dressed. This is before one even opens ones mouth. A first impression is almost impossible to undo. This is particularly true when that first impression is bad. It is for this reason the first impression is so important. What a person sees when first meeting you will set the tone and when you speak you can either reinforce or bring into question that first visual impression.
Did I make a difference in the future of the two young men? I would like to think I at least gave them something to think about and hopefully they will remember some part of our chance meeting that may result in changing their lives for the better.
We all should be mindful, like it or not, people make judgments based on appearances. We then have the opportunity to refute or justify those judgments when we speak.
Till next time, that’s the view from here.
The View From Here
St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated each year on March 17th. I think I’m safe in saying every adult has heard of St. Patrick’s Day and know that it is considered a day of celebration by the Irish and those of Irish decent throughout most of the world.
Many people celebrate the day but are not aware that the day has been a religious feast day and the anniversary of the death of Saint Patrick in the fifth century. The Irish have observed this day as a religious holiday during the Christian season of Lent for over a thousand years. Irish family’s would attend church in the morning and then celebrate in the afternoon. As part of the Lenten tradition there were prohibitions against the eating of meat. The prohibitions were waived for St. Patrick’s Day and people would dance, drink, and party hardy on the traditional meal of cabbage and Irish bacon.
I remember as a child growing up in Goodyear Heights looking forward to St. Patrick’s Day and being razzed by some because of my relishing the holiday. Some found it not only strange that I as a Black person would celebrate the day, but sacrilegious that I was not Baptist as well. It mattered not that there was Irish on my Father’s side of the family and some of my best friends were Irish. There were others that while it may be perhaps unusual; thought there was nothing inherently wrong with my participation. There was one friend of German decent that I met in high school that I could count on receiving a St. Patrick’s Day card from every year. This continued until shortly before his death in the 90’s. Oh well, I am straying from the subject.
Many communities, as part of the celebration, have a parade and local clubs and bars serve green beer and the traditional cabbage etc. Surprisingly the first parade took place not in Ireland but in New York City on March 17, 1762. It was the brain child of Irish soldiers serving in the English military. The parade was an effort to maintain their Irish roots, promote their music, and promote fellowship with their fellow Irishmen serving in the British army.
In the following years, Irish patriotism among immigrants flourished, prompting the rise of Irish Aid societies, like the Sons of Saint Patrick and the Hibernian Society. In the mid 1800’s many New York Irish aid societies combined their parades to form one New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Today, that parade is the largest and the oldest parade in the United States, with over 150,000 participants. Each year, nearly three million people line the one-and-a-half mile parade route to watch the procession, which takes more than five hours. Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, and, believe it or not, Savannah Georgia also celebrates the day with parades including 10,000 to 20,000 participants.
Most Irish immigrants in America were members of the Protestant middle class. When the Famine hit Ireland in 1845, close to a million poor, uneducated, Catholic Irish began to pour into America in an effort to escape starvation. They were despised for their Catholic beliefs and funny accents
by the American Protestant majority. These new Irish Catholic immigrants had trouble finding even menial jobs. When Irish Americans in the country’s cities took to the streets on St. Patrick’s Day to celebrate their heritage, most newspapers portrayed them in cartoons as drunken, violent ignorant monkeys. Kind of reminds one of the portrayals of other modern day minorities.
Any way, the Irish soon began to realize that because of their large numbers they had power that they could use to their advantage. They started to organize, and their voting block, known as the “green machine,” became an important swing vote for political hopefuls. Suddenly, annual St. Patrick’s Day parades became a show of strength for Irish Americans, as well as a must-attend event for any serious political candidate. The high-point was when President Truman attended New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day parade in 1948. This is generally considered to be the turning point for many Irish whose ancestors had to fight stereotypes and racial prejudice to find acceptance in America.
In the United States today, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated by millions of people of all backgrounds as well as in other locations far removed from Ireland. Some that come to mind are Japan, Canada, Singapore, Australia, and Russia. In modern-day Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day has traditionally been a religious celebration. Up until the 1970s, Irish laws mandated that pubs be closed on March 17th. However in 1995 the Irish government began a national campaign to use St. Patrick’s Day as an opportunity to drive tourism generating revenue and showcase Ireland to the rest of the world. Now, close to one million people took part in Ireland’s St. Patrick’s Festival in Dublin and no longer have to sneak into the pubs. The celebration last for several days and features parades, concerts, outdoor theater productions, and fireworks shows and of course, lots of Irish food and of course, beer.
Now you know perhaps a bit more about the origin of St. Patrick’s Day. See you at the retirees meeting at the Lodge on March 10th. Who knows, there may even be some traditional Irish food there for lunch. (Hint to the kitchen crew!) It’s only a week prior to St. Patrick’s Day.
I close with an Irish saying that I remember from many years ago:
A toast to your coffin.
May it be made of 100 year old oak.
And may we plant the tree together, tomorrow!
That’s the View From Here.
The View From Here
Estabrook went on to say that Ohio House Bill 133 increased transparency of business conducted by The Board. If that is the case why was I and others told as late as mid November that no decision had been made regarding the awarding of a health care contract. They reportedly were still investigating providers. Suddenly on December 17th I received an email in which OP&F stated The Board voted to renew the contract with United Health care for 3 years. When I asked about the possibility of receiving a copy of the contract and the rational for again selecting United Health Care, I was informed that OP&F legal counsel had advised that the contract was proprietary and would not be made available!
Mr. Estabrook closes by saying, “OP&F has continued to be a reliable steward of your pensions and also managed to improve service to you---.” Has your service improved? And at what cost for that service? Are you better now than you were five years ago? You be the judge!
I would like to see a copy of the contract awarded showing actual contract cost and if the health care we receive is so great = perhaps Estabrook and the other six members of the executive staff should receive the same health care at the same cost as the retirees they are charged with protecting. Perhaps they should be required to give full disclosure of not only OP&F contracts but full disclosure of their personal interests as well.
As always, thanks for putting up with me and stay healthy and safe. Until next time That’s The View From Here
Richard D. Reese
This is a response to several requests for information on my health status. Suffice it to say the rumors of my imminent death are greatly exaggerated.
It has been almost eight years since being forced to be participants in and unwelcome war. Here is the latest report from the battlefield....
On Monday January 18th Charmaine and I again conferred with our oncologist, Dr. Sandra Hazra. We are pleased to say that she continues to be a miracle worker and her predictions continue to be spot on. I think she is one of God's angels. The tests that she ordered indicated cancer was in the pelvis and left side. This is what she had said would be indicated after she had looked and the original pathology report from 2002. She also believed that together with God's help we would be able to prevent them from taking over for years to come.
On December 23rd (a Christmas present?) she started me on a daily pill designed (I think) to prevent protein from binding with the cancer cells thus starving the little invading critters to death. It appears that the pills are doing their job very well in that after four weeks there has been a significant reduction in the cancer. All of this makes me an avid supporter of this chemical warfare that she (Dr. Hazra) is directing. She had added another drug that is injected once every three months. It is her belief, and that of Charmaine, that this combination will keep the raging war going in our favor. It appears that these latest efforts have decimated the invaders but there are still millions surviving. We are all hopeful that this latest injection will be effective in helping to further reduce the number of remaining invaders. I try and not think about past battles (surgery in 2002 and radiation in 2004) where each time we were elated at the appearance of our being victorious in this war to eradicate the invader only to suffer a sneak attack aimed at demoralizing Charmaine and me.
Charmaine, God bless her, has (unlike me) remained positive since this war began almost eight years ago. She has repeatedly said that together we would win this and we would have many many more years together. She has stayed positive even while I was feeling at my worst and at times I know I made her life miserable when I feared we would not be victorious in this fight. Even at that time she said that she believed we had at least twenty more years together. This was at a time when I honestly did not want to live twenty years feeling as I did at that particular time!
As a result of this cancer I have been forced to face my mortality and re-evaluate my priorities. It may seem strange but I see this continuing ordeal as a positive event in that it has served to make me more appreciative of that which I, and perhaps some of you, take for granted.
I have used this insidious disease to encourage other men to listen to their wives. When your spouse says you need to get a checkup - please humor her and do it. Hopefully she will go in the exam room with you because she will be able to both tell the physician more accurately about your true health and she will be able to better remember information provided by the doctor. My personal angel, Charmaine, is always with me for my appointments.
I wish to take this opportunity to thank all of you that have kept me in your thoughts and prayers. I ask that you continue to do so for this war is ongoing and its outcome is still uncertain. It is my sincere belief that with the prayers of those that believe, the knowledge of medical professionals like Dr. Sandra Hazra, the continued, never faltering love, and support of Charmaine, and above all if it is God's will I will still be here to sometimes agitate some of you, and most important cause all of you to have good thoughts about your fellow man and have a great smile or laugh each day, even if you are only laughing at me.
Again, my heartfelt thanks and may God continue to bless us all.
The View From Here
Random Thoughts From a Troubled Mind
On January 2nd Char and I attended the wedding of our niece Allyson in Akron and it was a gala affair held at the Greek Annunciation Hall on South Union Street. I took the opportunity to relate my thoughts on responsibility to Rob, her husband of a couple of hours. He assured me that he would remember what I had relayed to him. Time will tell if that is truly the case.
In thinking about our conversation it brought to mind thoughts of responsibility that many of us, including me, often forget. My mother passed away in 2007 at the age of 91. She instilled in me, and my siblings, that we were to be Thankful for the Grace of God to be living in This Country in These Times with all of its rights and privileges. She told me that I should be mindful of what Robert E. Lee had said when it came to ones responsibility. “Do your duty in all things. You cannot do more. You should never do less.” Many of you no doubt have heard this quote but there was another she related to me when I was a youngster learning the Apostles Creed. She said that there was another creed just as important to remember. It was The American’s Creed. This was something that I had never learned in either school or church. To this day I have yet to find any student with knowledge of the existence of The American’s Creed.
Mom said that this particular creed was the result of a 1917 national contest for the best synopsis of American Political Faith. It was written by William Page and judged by The United States House of Representatives to be the best of several thousand entries nationwide. It was adopted as the American Creed in 1918 and while only two paragraphs long it does a memorable job of reminding us of the relationship between our rights and our responsibilities. I believe I am safe in saying that few people have ever heard of it much less having seen it in print.
The American’s Creed
I believe in the United States of America as a Government of the people, by the people, for the people; whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed; a Democracy in a Republic; a Sovereign Nation of many Sovereign States; a Perfect Union, one and Inseparable; established upon those principals of Freedom, Equality, Justice, and Humanity for which American patriots sacrificed their lives and fortunes.
When Page was asked why he chose the words used he replied: "It is the summary of the fundamental principles of the American political faith as set forth in its greatest documents, its worthiest traditions, and its greatest leaders."
I believe many of today’s so called leaders would be wise to recall those words used in the Creed. As always thanks for putting up with me and May God Bless you and this great country of ours.
THE VIEW FROM HERE
December 9, 2009
Our election is over and we have some new officers and trustees that are in leadership positions of Akron FOP#7. I would like to congratulate each of you as either returning officers or new recipients of positions of responsibility and authority. As in any quest for elected office there are winners and losers. I wish to encourage all Lodge members to now cooperate and work with one another for the betterment of All members, whether active or retired.
On its surface cooperation seems simple: working together toward a common goal for the benefit of all involved. But amazingly it can be quite challenging, even when we have so many successful examples all around us. Human society is based upon the concept of cooperation, but finding a balance to ensure the good of all members can be most difficult.
Nature shows us instances of constant competition in which only the strongest survive. Given the choice, one would think most people would choose the more peaceful path of cooperation. Our intellect should make it obvious that together we can create something greater than what one could do alone, but cooperation still seems to be one of the most difficult challenges we face.
We often disagree on how goals can be reached. Our priorities may be different, or our methods, but in the end, cooperation offers the best chance for success. So how can we learn to cooperate with each other? We can gain greater perspective by trying to understand one another's point of view, perhaps even putting ourselves in the others place. We can search for that which we have in common as well as what may appear to be different, and look for the good in different approaches. There is always more than one way of doing things, and some methods are better suited for certain situations than others. All this is easier when we let go of the necessity to be right and to call others wrong. More important, we must believe that there is a solution that benefits all involved, not just one side.
I ask that each officer do what you feel in your heart to be right. You will be criticized anyway. Don’t mind criticism. If it is untrue, disregard it; if unfair, do not permit it to irritate you; if it is ignorant, simply smile; if it is justified then it is not criticism, you should learn from it and correct yourself. The only defense against criticism is to do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.
If you reach a point where you believe you must speak ill of another board member, I implore you, do not speak it, go out to Wolter Park and write it in the sand near the water’s edge. But do this only if you believe you must write it.
It is easy to fly into a passion. Anyone can do that, but to be angry with the right person to the right extent at the right time and in the right way…. That my friend can be most difficult.
Many of us have had the experience of facing the bully, and after taking him boldly by the beard, we were often surprised to find that it comes off in our hand, and discovered that it was only tied on to scare away those timid members of the general public.
The most glorious moments in your life are not the so-called days of success, but rather those days when out of dejection and despair you feel rise in you a challenge, a call to duty, and the promise of future accomplishments for the betterment of your fellow man, even when it may be in conflict with your personal self interest.
Duck Reese Sergeant retired July 1996
The View From Here
Did you know?
On a hillside rising above the Potomac River and overlooking Washington, D.C., stands a 19th-century mansion whose construction started in1802 and took sixteen years to complete. The estate was intended as a living memorial to George Washington. It was owned and constructed by the first president's adopted grandson, George Washington Parke Custis, son of John Parke Custis who himself was a child of Martha Washington by her first marriage and a ward of George Washington.
Arlington won out as a name over Mount Washington, which is what George Washington Parke Custis first intended calling the 1,100-acre tract of land that he had inherited at the death of his father when he was three years old. Arlington won out because it was the name of the Custis family ancestral estate in the Virginia tidewater area.
George Washington Parke Custis and his wife, Mary Lee Fitzhugh (whom he had married in 1804), lived in Arlington House until their deaths in 1857 and 1853, respectively. They were buried on the property and their graves remain undisturbed for over 150 years. On June 30, 1831, Custis' only child, Mary Anna Custis married her childhood friend and distant cousin, Robert E. Lee. Lee was the son of former three-term Virginia Governor Henry Lee and was himself a graduate of West Point.
From 1841 and 1857, Robert E. Lee was away from Arlington House for several extended periods. In 1846 he served in the Mexican war under Gen. Winfield Scott, and in 1852 he was appointed superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, his alma mater. After his father-in-law died in 1857, Lee returned to Arlington to join his family and to serve as executor of the estate.
Under the terms of her father's will, Mary Anna Custis Lee was given the right to inhabit and control the house for the rest of her life. Custis' will also stipulated that upon Mary Anna's death, full title would pass to her eldest son, George Washington Custis Lee. Contrary to popular belief, Robert E. Lee never owned the Arlington estate and only served as custodian of the property.
Robert E. and Mary Anna Lee, his wife, lived at Arlington House until 1861, when Virginia seceded from the Union and joined the Confederacy. Lee was named a major general for the Virginia military forces in April 1861. Lee feared for his wife's safety and anticipated the loss of their family inheritance because of his belief that war was inevitable.
Following the ratification of secession by Virginia, federal troops crossed the Potomac and, took up positions around Arlington. Following the occupation, military installations were erected at several locations around the 1,100-acre estate, including what is now Fort Myer and Fort McPherson.
Lee deeply regretted the loss of his home at Arlington. During the early stages of the war, foreseeing the probable loss of his home and belongings, Lee wrote to his wife saying:
"It is better to make up our minds to a loss. They cannot take away the remembrance of the spot, and the memories of those that to us have rendered it sacred. That will remain to us as long as life will last, and we can preserve that."
Lee continued to feel responsible for the estate and earnestly hoped that the slaves who were left behind would be educated and freed, according to the provisions of George Washington Parke Custis' will.
The Federal Government confiscated the 1100 acre property when taxes levied against Arlington estate were not paid in person by Mrs. Lee. The property was offered for public sale Jan. 11, 1864, and was purchased by a tax commissioner for "government use, for war, military, charitable and educational purposes."
Arlington National Cemetery was created by General Montgomery C. Meigs, who commanded the garrison at Arlington House, appropriated the grounds, and converted 200 acres for use as a military cemetery. General Meigs ordered burials close to Arlington house to make it uninhabitable after the war in the event the Lee family ever returned. How many people know that the property now known as Arlington National Cemetery was owned by the family of Robert E. Lee commander of the Confederate Army?
The first soldier was buried in Arlington in May of 1864. By the end of the war there were over 16,000 graves on the estate close to Arlington House. There was a stone burial vault in the rose garden, 20 feet wide and 10 feet deep, and containing the remains of 1,800 dead from the battle of Bull Run, among the first monuments to Union dead erected under Meigs' orders. Meigs himself was later buried within 100 yards of Arlington House with his wife, father and his son.
The federal government dedicated a model community for freed slaves, Freedman's Village, near the current Memorial Amphitheater, on Dec. 4, 1863. More than 1,100 freed slaves were given land by the government, where they farmed and lived during and after the Civil War.
Neither Robert E. Lee, nor his wife ever attempted to publicly recover control of Arlington House. They were buried at Washington University (later renamed Washington and Lee University) where Lee had served as president. The couple never returned to the home George Washington Parke Custis had built and treasured. After General Robert E. Lee's death in 1870, George Washington Custis Lee brought an action for eviction in the Circuit Court of Alexandria County, Va. Custis Lee, as eldest son of General and Mrs. Lee, claimed that the land had been illegally confiscated and that, according to his grandfather's will, he was the legal owner. In December 1882, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, returned the property to Custis Lee, stating that it had been confiscated without due process in that it was improper to require Mary Anna Lee to appear in person to pay the property tax.
After the Civil War, only the poor or unidentified were entombed at Arlington. Today it is a burial site particularly coveted by veterans and their families. Space for in-ground burials is restricted to those who die on active duty, have had 20 years of service, or earned certain military decorations, and their spouses and dependents. Any honorably discharged veterans and their dependents may have their cremated remains inurned in Arlington’s columbarium. Honors are rendered daily by military units bearing a flag-draped coffin, firing a rifle volley and listening to a bugler play taps.
Prominent Americans buried at Arlington include: Presidents John F. Kennedy and William H. Taft; Supreme Court Justices Oliver Wendell Holmes, Thurgood Marshall and Earl Warren; military commanders John J. Pershing, World War I General of the Armies; Generals Omar Bradley and George C. Marshall and Admiral William Leahy of World War II; and Generals Daniel “Chappie” James and Maxwell Taylor of the Vietnam Conflict. No surprise that these persons are buried there but – Did you know the following?
There are 62 foreign nationals interred at Arlington National Cemetery. They are composed of 24 British, 13 French, 9 South Vietnamese, 4 Canadian, 4 Italian (includes 2 POW), 2 Dutch, 1 Chinese, 1 Australian, 1 Greek, 1 South African, 1 German POW, 1 Unknown Origin.
Now you know a little about our first National Cemetery. That’s it for now. Stay healthy, protect one another, and be safe.
The Akron Police & Fire Retirees and Widows Association
Our Path to Justice
The hearing that was scheduled for Oct. 29th with the Ohio Department of insurance was cancelled last minute by request of the City of Akron. The purpose of that hearing was to determine if the City of Akron was in violation of the Coordination of Benefits laws of the State of Ohio. The insurance laws of the State of Ohio require that an insurer that has insured you the longest has to be the primary payer. Meaning that for most of you the City of Akron must be the first payer of your medical claims since they have insured you longer than OP&F or any other insurance plan that you might have. Please keep in mind that there are exceptions to this such as federal law requiring Medicare to be your primary carrier or a current employer to be your primary carrier if they offer benefits. In those cases Akron has refused to pay secondary as required by the coordination of benefits laws and that is the end result that we are seeking in those special instances.
On April 28, 2009 the Hearing Officer for the Ohio Department of Insurance ruled, “The City of Akron self-insured insurance fund provided for its policemen and firemen retirees as operated by the City of Akron is insurance provided within the state of Ohio and is subject to the insurance laws of this state pursuant to Ohio Revised Code 3901.20.”
It has been established that the Ohio Department of Insurance has jurisdiction over the City of Akron and Akron must obey and follow the Ohio Revised Code in all insurance matters. Furthermore since the Ohio Attorney General represents the Ohio Department of Insurance the Attorney General’s Office is representing us in our case against the City of Akron. Our attorney, Larry Shenise, is working very closely with the AG and is also pursuing claims against OP &F and Medical Mutual on our behalf.
The hearing scheduled for Oct. 29th was to determine if the City of Akron was indeed violating the state law as it pertains to the coordination of benefits. The City’s attorney, Vince Tersigni, has in numerous documents specifically stated that the city does not follow the coordination of benefits law. So on Oct 28th Mr. Tersigni called the AG’s Office and told him that there was no need for a hearing because Akron stipulates to the fact it does not follow the Coordination of Benefits Law.
However, Mr. Tersigni on behalf of the City is now arguing that the City of Akron does not have to follow the Coordination of Benefits Law because the Police and Fire Collective Bargaining Agreement gives the City the right to ignore the state law pertaining to the Coordination of Benefits. He asserts that the Collective Bargaining Agreement supersedes the State Law.
The Hearing Officer for the Ohio Department of Insurance is giving the City a chance to brief their case in order to establish a total record for appeal purposes. This is to be taken as a positive. No hearing will be conducted. Instead of a hearing, exhibits, briefs and reply briefs will be submitted to the Hearing Officer. From this evidence the Hearing Officer will render his decision.
Time frame for this procedure to take place is the following:
1. Attorneys will exchange exhibits by Nov. 13th
2. Attorneys will file exhibits and objections to exhibits with the Hearing Officer by Dec. 4th.
3. Hearing Officer will make his decision on what exhibits to allow or disallow the exhibits by the Dec. 18th.
4. Briefs must be filed with the Hearing Officer by Jan. 15th.
5. Counter Briefs must be filed with the Hearing Officer by Jan 29th.
Now you ask: “What are the chances for a favorable decision by the Hearing Officer?” First; the Hearing Officer has already ruled that the City comes under the jurisdiction of ODI. Secondly; the Hearing Officer ruled that the City must follow all state laws in the way that they administer their insurance program. Third; nowhere in the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) does it state that OP&F would be the primary insurer and the City of Akron would be secondary. Fourth; the CBA does address conflicts with state law stating “Should any part of this Agreement be invalidated by operation of law, or be declared invalid by any tribunal of competent jurisdiction, or be in conflict with state law, such invalidation shall not invalidate the remaining portions, and they shall remain in full force and effect.” Fifth; State law prohibits negotiations and agreements that are in conflict with state law. Such agreements are invalid.
It is hoped that the Hearing Officer for ODI would make his ruling in our favor by March 1st. Hopefully at that time he should issue and order that the City of Akron must immediately start providing us with primary health care.
On March 12, 2008 the Superintendent of Insurance took jurisdiction of our complaint and in her Notice of Opportunity for Hearing stated, “The Superintendent of Insurance intends to take any and all actions including but not limited to, an order to return disputed payments, civil penalties, and administrative costs”
Remember we also have a law suit in Summit County Court against the City of Akron, Medical Mutual of Ohio and the Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund alleging that they had committed an unfair and deceptive act by violating Ohio Revised Code 3902.13, Ohio’s Coordination of Benefits Law.
The law is on your side. It has been a long journey and we still have a ways to go. Even though the Ohio Attorney General is our attorney of record with the Department of Insurance we are still accumulating attorney fees because our counsel is still spending hours and days on this case. Among other things he has made numerous trips to Columbus to confer with the Ohio Department of Insurance and the Attorney General to ensure that our position is properly represented.
If you have not paid your dues ($25.00) for 2009 please pay them as soon as possible.
You can send a check made out to APFRWA for $25.00 to our treasurer, Joe Forgach at 346 Keith Ave. Akron, OH 44313. If you have any questions on what you might owe, please call Joe at 330-869-6232.
Payment may also be made through any Akron Fire or Police Credit Union Office. Advise the respective Credit Union to make the deposit to the APFRWA Legal Fund account. Remember to have them place your name on the receipt and keep a copy for your records. When done over the telephone the Credit Union will mail a copy of the receipt to you if you request it.
If you have not previously joined our organization please join us now. We need your support. In 2004 we asked for an initial $100.00 from everyone to get us up and running. A little over half of the retirees joined us in our fight for justice. We know that some of our retirees are on a very limited income and this would create a hardship to pay anything. That’s OK. You can still help us by giving us your moral support.
If you have any questions contact:
Tim Metcalfe 330-929-2750 or Dick Reese 330-329-8754
Tim Metcalfe Dick Reese
THE VIEW FROM HERE
October 22, 2009
As I write this note I find myself in somewhat of a quandary in that there are so many things going on that it is difficult to settle on a suitable subject worthy of your taking the time to read it. The following is a partial list that perhaps you the reader may desire to investigate or devote some thought to.
There is news that the City of Akron has reached an agreement with the EPA over its sewer system polluting the environment. While there has been no final determination of the cost to the public to satisfy EPA mandated fines and upgrades to the system suffice it to say that the cost will be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
There is the news that the Police have for the time being avoided layoffs of personnel. This is due to the diligence of the staff and members of Akron’s FOP-7. Kudos to President Paul Hlynsky and his staff for all their efforts. The fire department has not been so fortunate.
Mayor Plusquellic is making accusations that some fire and police personnel are conspiring to have him arrested for driving under the influence. The Mayor reports that some fire employees have placed a $1000.00 bounty on his arrest as well as that of some of the police and fire department heads! I find this prospect difficult to be leave as some officers would not hesitate to arrest anyone for impaired driving so why waste money unnecessarily. One would think that unless he is in the habit of operating under the influence, Mayor Plusquellic would not bother to concern himself with such preposterous matters even if it were true!
Our nation’s legislators are still arguing over some form of national health care. Your guess is as good as mine as to what they will finally decide upon. One thought to keep in mind is that whatever is decided it should be mandatory that those same legislators, that are so willing to force it upon us citizens, also be forced to enroll in the same program.
By the time many of you read this the hearing in Columbus regarding our health care lawsuit will have taken place. It is my belief that we will prevail and the City will be forced to adhere to Ohio State Law and be our primary provider. The City persists in its belief that they are exempt from the laws of Ohio. Remember this was the same flawed reasoning they maintained when refusing to follow Ohio law regarding residency. May God bless the Supreme Court in tossing out Akron’s forced residency requirement. Logic leads me to think we should receive a declaratory judgment in our favor but as we all are aware our courts often disregard logic.
I have had requests from some to create a web page where people can go to view assorted writings, rants etc. I hope to have such a page functional by the first week of November. Well that about it for now. See you next month.
On Wednesday August 12th Police and Fire Retirees of Ohio president Gary Monto awarded the organizations first scholarship to one of Ohio’s future leaders. The presentation took place at the meeting of the greater Akron Area Police Retirees and Widows at FOP 7’s Wolter Park located at 2610 Ley Drive in Akron.
The recipient of the award was Josh Pastor. Josh is an extremely dedicated student, worker, and volunteer. During his final year of high school, Josh was a member of National Honor Society, Key Club, French Club, and Student Council, where he served as an officer for his senior class. Josh is the grandson of Donald Whitesel, a former member of Akron PD, and an old partner of mine. Sad to say Don passed away in 1998.
Josh is currently attending Youngstown State University and is a member of NEOUCOM's B.S. /M.D. class of 2015. It is an honor to report that he posted a 4.0 grade point average for his first semester of study. Josh is a congenital heart disease patient and has had several open heart surgeries. Josh plans on one day being a physician specializing in pediatric cardiology. Having had the privilege of meeting Josh and his mother, there is no doubt that with your help and God’s blessings, he will attain his goal of becoming an accomplished cardiologist.
It is because of young people like Josh that I know there is hope for the future of our country. I ask each of you to encourage your friends and associates to make a contribution to the PRFO scholarship fund so that we may continue provide financial support to Ohio’s future leaders. Remember the fund is a 501C3 organization and as such contributions may be tax deductible.
Thank you for your continued support and feel free to contact me at anytime for additional information.
THE VIEW FROM HERE
July 15, 2009
I find it amazing how quickly Mayor Plusquellic can change the economic status of the City of Akron. Prior to the recall election Plusquellic was touting how great the city’s economic status was. He stated the City of Akron was in good financial condition in spite of the fact that there was almost a billion dollars of city debt; Plusquellic stated he was going to hire 21 officers to reach 487 sworn personnel. While this would be commendable it is still far short of the 60 officers needed to bring the department to authorized strength.
I, and many others, took issue with the claimed stellar condition of Akron finances. This was primarily due to the near one billion dollar debt. One must also remember that Akron is also still facing EPA fines far in excess of $100,000,000.00 related to sewer system violations. And the amount continues to increase on a daily basis.
Now Plusquellic in his arrogance and vindictiveness reports that he will have to lay off Akron employees. What changed since the June recall election? He now states that the first to go will be police and fire sworn personnel. Could it be that he is retaliating for the sworn police officers and the retired fire and retired police personnel having appeared to support the voter recall effort against the Mayor? Or perhaps it is retaliation for safety forces being successful in spearheading the elimination of the residency requirement recently ruled to be illegal by the Supreme Court?
Plusquellic stated today that federal stimulus funds may have to be used to pay wages of existing officers. Meanwhile there appears to be no effort to divert other funds from Plusquellic’s pet projects or the plan to spend millions on fencing the “Y” bridge.
Council President Marco Sommerville appears to be trying to ride the fence in that he said having more police is good but ''if the trash doesn't get picked up, that's another problem.'' I guess he is implying the there can either be trash pickup or police service but not both? Perhaps he forgets that there are many forms of trash and the police, unfortunately, have a significant role in the removal of trash from the city’s streets. It must be remembered that if the Akron crime rate continues its present rate of increase, many more residents will be looking at ways to leave the city.
I am appalled at the number of vacant properties, violent crime, and blatant gang activity in the city. I was a resident for 31 years and an employee for 27. I enjoyed both my residency and my employment. I always felt safe and more important; I felt my family was safe. Sad to report, I no longer feel safe in many parts of Akron. I am thankful that I am both retired and no longer a resident. I am concerned for the future of my relatives and friends that reside in Akron. The crime in Akron has increased to the extent that it is no longer considered the best of Ohio’s large cities in which to live and work. Many people are fearful of being out in public, even during the daylight hours.
The City of Akron and its police department were once viewed as one of the best communities to live and work in the nation. This is no longer the case. One only has to look at the continued fall in the city’s population or the number of applicants for police employment for this to be evident. In the past when Akron announced testing for police officers there typically would be applicants in excess of 3000 persons and once hired few officers left the department for employment elsewhere. Today, in spite of the depressed job market, applications are nowhere near past numbers and far too many officers leave Akron for better pay, benefits, and working conditions.
The police union wants to see the department brought to authorized strength and rightly so. Doing so would enhance the safety of all citizens and those that work in the city. It goes without saying it would increase officer safety as well. Plusquellic complains that ''It's always the police union's only answer: just hire more officers, hire more officers,''. The mayor feels because the police and fire departments are the largest portion of the city budget they should compose the bulk of any employee layoffs. He appears to give no thought to a reduction other less vital employees such as members of his 15 member cabinet with a combined salary of several million dollars.
The Mayor continues to expend huge sums of money with little regard to the real concerns of those that live, work, and visit in the City of Akron. The city continues to average spending about a half million dollars yearly in advertising in the Beacon Journal. The city has on retainer a public relations firm as well. Why has Plusquellic continued to hire outside law firms to defend his position in opposition to providing labor contract agreed upon, and State law mandated, fire and police retiree health benefits? The city has a tremendous law department headed by Max Rothal who has been practicing law for over 50 years. He and his staff are exceedingly capable yet the city has gone through at least three outside law firms in attempting to withhold health care to retirees. This has been ruled in direct violation of Ohio law yet, Plusquellic persists in efforts to forestall the inevitable. The current law firm is headquartered in Cleveland. How many officers salary would this unnecessary cost pay?
I ask you the reader to think with me for a moment, is it possible that the Akron City Law Department told Plusquellic he was wrong in violating Ohio Law? Is it possible the two local law firms also found Plusquellic’s denial of health care undefendable? The Mayor lost his battle to defy Ohio law regarding residency when the Supreme Court ruled against him. Yet, in his arrogance, he still insists on taking the position that he is above the law when it comes to providing health care just as he was in his opposition to residency. He continues to authorize the expenditure of large sums of money in payment to a Cleveland law firm that only serves to delay the inevitable.
The police union (FOP 7) has again proposed a levy for police services to be placed on the ballot for voter approval. Both Plusquellic and Summerville have expressed opposition to this in spite of two years ago having supported a levy that was tied to an economic stimulus package. But one must remember that levy was different in that it would have permitted the diversion of tax revenue from police to his pet projects. A tax designated solely to benefit police would severely restrict the possibility of Plusquellic doing something with generated revenue other than what the citizens voted for. My investigative experience tells me that perhaps there are possibly less than legal motives for the Mayor’s refusal to comply with the wishes of the voters as well as his defiance of Ohio law. Obviously I have no proof of criminal activity or conspiracy or I would do all possible to see that appropriate criminal charges were filed and the Mayor and others responsible prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Perhaps political corruption is not limited solely to Cuyahoga County.
Had Plusquellic been honest in June and stated his plan to lay off police and fire employees and admitted the cities financial distress, perhaps the recall outcome would have been different. Today Plusquellic said he is willing to look at any proposals that would raise revenue or cut expenses. But, he said, a police-tax levy does not appear to benefit the city, and he is not inclined to support such a levy. Again I ask WHY? I believe he is in opposition to such an effort because he would lose some semblance of control or the ability to threaten the police department if money had to be spent on the safety forces. How in God’s name can he honestly believe enhancing public safety and a reduction in community crime would not benefit the entire city? Perhaps he is not just a vindictive, arrogant, power hungry tyrant but also a person suffering from some unfortunate mental problems as well. As distressing as that prospect may be, it is perhaps preferable to the scandal that would result if corruption is found to play a part in these ongoing travesties.
It would serve Plusquellic to review the words the police are taught to keep ever in their thoughts when going about their daily lives and service to the community. Those six words are Honesty, Integrity, Fairness, Competence, Trust, and Respect.
I again implore the community to ask Plusquellic to be the man of integrity he claims to be and do what is proper, not just for the safety forces, but what is just and proper for all of Akron. Again Mr. Mayor I find it necessary to remind you that there is a notable difference between being a man of character and simply being known as a character.
Richard D. Reese Sergeant Retired Akron Police Department
1081 Sterling Oaks Drive
Wadsworth, Ohio 44281-8528
Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone - 330-329-8754
As I write this months View I am in our motor home enjoying the peace and tranquility of nature in Clermont County close to the Ohio River. I, Charmaine, and our dogs Daisy and Abner decided to get away for a while. The silence is occasionally interrupted by the soft hum of the sewing machine or a soft growl from one of the dogs. Charmaine is getting caught up on her sewing. Yes even though retired she still works part-time as a seamstress. The beauty of it is that she now sets her own schedule as well as mine! The dogs, usually Daisy, occasionally growl as an animal invades our campsite.
Any way, when we departed Wadsworth May 16th, the Akron Beacon Journal was again laden with depressing stories dealing with crime and man’s inhumanity to man and the alleged systematic abuse of the citizens of Akron at the hands of the police. Least an avid supporter of the Beacon accuse me of being biased towards them, due to their propensity of refusing to print my letters, I note on the front page of the West Side Leader a story headlined “COUNCIL MEMBERS PROMIS ISSUES HEARD” with the subtitle “Akron residents, coalition continue to allege police use of improper force”. The article goes on to say that the “Coalition” brought recommendations and concerns regarding the Akron Police to the City Council Public Safety Committee. The article went on to say that 6 spoke. One man made accusations of being harassed because his brother was shot by police almost a year ago. There was a woman who said she was wronged because while being arrested her arm was broken. Another lady said her daughter was not properly treated when she went to the scene of the arrest of her boyfriend near the University of Akron in January. She stated that before she was arrested, “officers verbally assaulted her” used, racial slurs, then “electronically raped” her by placing a taser “inches from her anal cavity” prior to placing her in jail for the weekend.
The article went on to say that the 25 year old (Black lady) was found not guilty of resisting, obstruction, and disorderly conduct by a jury of her pears in April. I find it of interest that when guilty most persons will demand a trial by a jury of their pears and when innocent, request a trial where the Judge makes a finding of guilt or innocence. It is my belief that this is because a jury will always allow some personal feeling or emotion to influence their findings whereas a Judge or panel of Judges will only look at the facts of the case. I still recall a trial from the early 70’s where I had arrested a person for similar charges and even though the jury found him guilty of obstruction and disorderly they found him innocent of resisting. This was in spite of his having first assaulted me. After the trial I saw the jury foreman outside the court room and thanking him for his participation, asked if he would offer an explanation as to why the findings of innocent on the resisting arrest.
The foreman stated that there was no doubt that he resisted and in fact initiated the struggle. He went on to say that the consensus of the jury was that it was to be expected that the perpetrator would fight. This was especially so when there was only one officer involved in the incident. If successful in the struggle, he would be able to get away and thus avoid the arrest! This belief gives no thought to what the ramifications of the officer loosing the fight may be. Fortunately in this case I prevailed on the street and the person went to the hospital prior to going to jail and to court.
The difference between this incident of some 35 years ago and today is that there was no public outcry, nor was their any complaint on the part of the arrested person. The arrested (who happened to be black, just as I am) in fact felt that he was fortunate and apologized to me, as opposed to today’s climate of persons refusing to take any responsibility for their lot on life. We now find ourselves having to contend with the attitude that is never their fault. They are always the victim of injustice on the part of the police. It is because “the police had it in for me’; “they did it because I was too black, too white, too male, too female, too old, or too young. My hair was too long, too short, or simply of the wrong color!”
My apologies for the trip into the past. Back to the article cited near the beginning of this note. I think it noteworthy that in the incident near the University, officers from both Akron and the University police were involved. Also of note is that some of the officers were Black. To my knowledge the papers have failed to state that fact. They, more often than not, have made certain to note the race of the alleged victims of police brutality when all officers are white. The 25 year old Sharea Twymon said she did not want to see another family have to go through the same agony she and others have to face. The article offered no explanation of the events leading to the arrest nor any explanation of why officers found it necessary to use a taser on someone who simply came to retrieve her keys and to say nothing as to how the officers could have “PLACED” the taser inches from “her anal cavity”. I eagerly await that explanation and can not imagine that act being accomplished unless her anatomy is different from that of the rest of humanity.
As far as others having to suffer the same agony, I think it safe to say that the chance of any citizen in compliance of an officers orders being tasered is somewhere between slim and none. Another Akron resident, Dorothea Frazier told the committee her arm was broken during an arrest (presumably her arrest). The paper did not say what events led to the arrest or the breaking of her arm. I guess readers are expected to assume the officers are at fault and the complaining party is an innocent victim of police aggression. Frazier went on to say that she wanted to complain that “Operation Spring Cleaning,” a joint law enforcement effort involving Akron, Summit County, State and Federal officers, was “targeting black neighborhoods.” To this I say, I agree it appears to be aimed at black neighborhoods. This is as it should be. The effort is aimed at decreasing criminal activity in general and the rampant gang related crime with its drug and gun related violence. It is a sad but none the less true fact that much of it is concentrated in the black neighborhoods of Akron. It therefore appears reasonable that the effort should be focused more in those areas. If it were not so, those law abiding citizens of the neighborhoods would justified in complaining about the lack of police action.
I am not saying that there are no justifiable instances of an officer using excessive force. Those of us involved in law enforcement are human also and therefore not infallible. What I am saying is that, I find it highly improbable that any group of officers in 2009 would, across the board, condone or support these alleged gross abuses of a person, be they black or white, having in mind the knowledge of today’s courts position on discriminatory practices and the propensity of sending officers to jail. In the past officers have been disciplined for violating policy and procedure and it is expected that this will remain a fact of life in the future.
These instances have been small in number and stand as a testament as to the quality of the officers and the standards that officers must adhere to. One must remember that each of the cited instances of alleged mistreatment involved multiple officers, and some of those incidents involved non white officers as well. It is a very small percentage of the law enforcement community that is capable of wanton premeditated abuse. It is also true that the majority of citizens in any community are in support of the police. Some of the print media would have you believe these six individuals speak for the community. I wish to assure readers that this is not the case. They are not representative of the 210,000 citizens of Akron. They are .002857% of the Akron population! This is a tiny fraction of the Akron population. The majority of the people are in support of the police. This is evident in Akron by simply looking at which areas of the community support the police when there is an issue on the ballot for police.
Records will show that the black community and other areas of Akron where criminal activity is most pervasive ALWAYS overwhelmingly vote in support of the police. I believe that this is because they have first hand knowledge of the need for more police protection. I still recall the time when the Fairlawn Hts. Area voted down the police levy because they saw no need for additional police coverage of their neighborhoods. This I experienced first had when working car 9. One day and while parked in front of an expensive home on Stockbridge Road, the home owner came out and walked up to my cruiser and asked if there was a problem. I replied no and that I was just catching up on my paper work. She then apologetically asked if I could move to another street. This was because she had friends coming to visit from out of town and did not want them to think she lived in a bad area! This was in contrast to car 10 where citizens complained about not enough police presence and frequently told me and other officers that they welcomed our visibility on their streets!
If one were to make the FALSE assumption that the officers involved in the incidents of the six complaining persons were guilty of abuse, that would be about 1.25% based on 480 officers. Again, this is a small percentage of the total police department. One can argue that in a utopian world that percent should be zero. One can also argue that there should be zero false complaints against the police as well. The reality of the situation is that we can never reach zero in either case. Why? It is because we, in law enforcement, and those citizens involved in criminal activity are alike in that we are both human, and therefore, less than perfect. I for one do not wish to be perfect. Neither should the criminal. In all of history there has only been one that was perfect and we all know what happed to him after being falsely accused and taken to Golgotha! Remember also, he no appeals to delay imposition of his sentence for 15 or 20 years!
Those of us in law enforcement continually strive to reach that unattainable zero and we are continually criticized by media and that tiny vocal portion of our communities for not having accomplished that task. I find it distressing that more often than not there is not an equally vocal outcry, even from law enforcement, against that criminal element that is a cancer on our society, consuming community resources far greater than that which otherwise would be required.
One should be mindful of the fact that calls for police service in Akron approaches 200,000 per year. This results in over 19,000 arrests each year. You do the math. You will again find that these six are a tiny percentage of those arrested. If one were to make the false assumption that all six arrested individuals’ complaints were valid, it would mean about three tenths of one percent of those arrested persons suffered some kind of abuse.
Some may find fault in what I have said here or with some of my references. To that I say perhaps the delivery of my message could be better, but the message itself is correct, the message is factual, and the message is one that not just the readers of this newsletter or the residents of Akron need to hear. It is something citizens of all communities nationwide should be mindful of.
In closing, to paraphrase the 109th Psalm;
O God, whom we praise, do not remain silent. Those wicked and deceitful men have opened their mouths against us; they have spoken against us with lying tongues. They confront us with words of hatred and assail us without cause. In return for our love they denounce us even as we offer up prayer for their safety. They give us back evil in exchange for good. Hatred in place of our love and self sacrifice and, even our own death for them. Come to our aid O Lord our God. When they curse, You will bless; when they attack, they will be put to shame, and we, servants to You, and to them, will rejoice. Our accusers will be clothed in disgrace, wrapped in their shame as in a cloak. We will thank the Lord and give praise to Him before all the people. God stands at our right hand to save us from our accusers who pass false judgment on us.
My Quote of the month:
“Do your duty in all things. You cannot do more. You should never do less.”
Robert E. Lee
Dick Reese 330-329-8754