I was recently online complaining about a string of long lines of very loud motorcycles going down our usually fairly quiet road, Wilberforce Switch. I was beginning to wonder if there was some kind of possible attempt being made to make a point directed at me. I had mentioned online that I was not fond of the vehicles for a couple of reasons, including having had a student get killed on my first year of teaching.
So, I went to a site online for Xenia Township Residents. I suggested we might need a noise ordinance and not just for overly loud motorcycles. I had found several examples of ordinances from other townships in Ohio, so I posted the language from a couple and asked people’s opinions.
The responses shocked me mightily. They basically fell into two categories. Those who thought we did need one but that even if we did manage to get one passed the Sheriff’s deputies would not enforce it, and those who said we did not need anymore laws because the Sheriff’s deputies would use it to harass and otherwise abuse the citizenry with the power it would give them.
All of the people who responded were white.
I have fairly frequently felt like I live in an alternate universe because my view of things is often not the norm, but I was not ready for this. I understand the propensity of many, if not most, black people to be somewhat leery of law enforcement. We have had enough issues historically and recently that one would have to be terminally stupid not to get the message. But, these were not black people, not urban people, nor, I presume, people who have had a lot of contact or conflict with law enforcement. At least they did not seem to have unpleasant encounters to share.
Years ago sociologists declared that black people are the canaries of our society, meaning that anything that impacts the black community is also impacting the white community but is not obvious yet because of the differences in numbers and other variables. It certainly seems, from my modest sample of responses, that this is at least true when it comes to the view of law enforcement officers and practices in our township.
I have never, knock on wood, had a bad encounter with any law enforcement officer, not here, not in NC, not in DC, the only three places I have spent a lot of time. Quite the contrary. When Wayne was stricken ill at the YMCA in 2015 it was a policeman who came to tell me and offer to drive me to the hospital. When I wrote a column a few years back and received threats it was the Sheriff who sent extra deputy patrols, including one of my former students who pulled up while I was working in my garden and laughingly asked me who I had ticked off now.
I have received one speeding ticket in the past 20 years and the officer apologized and told me that I was the nicest person he had ever given a ticket to when I told him he was right, I was not paying attention to my speed.
I need to be able to trust law enforcement in general, keeping in mind there are bad apples like in every other profession. Without law enforcement we will have chaos and anarchy. I consider them my protectors. Correct the ones who do wrong, but do not project fault on all of them.
Otherwise, who you gonna call?
Cookie Newsom is a Greene County resident and guest columnist.