Saturday, February 8, 2014

Game Warden Files--Compliments

Every person likes to be complimented, law enforcement officers are no different. All such statement are appreciated greatly, but when they come from people in high places--whether delivered privately or publicly--seem to have a special ring to them. If those folks notice, we know that others must also. I've had two such comments in my time.
The first came from a man who was then a prosecutor. He was the Assistant District Attorney who prosecuted my most difficult case ever (see Every Officer Has One of These), and is now a State Supreme Court Judge. Some time after that case, the defendant from that case was a suspect in a crime in another county. The crime was a larceny from the home of one of his friends and was for quite a large amount of money. One other suspect was named also, and the case was never closed.
In talking with that ADA about another matter, that case came up and his comment to me was that if it had happened in his county, he would get me assigned to the case--even though it was not related to the mission of the department--and I would solve if, prove it, and allow him to get a conviction. However, it was not his county, and since the DA in the county of the event hated anything to do with EnCon Officers, I stayed away from it except for offering a couple thoughts to those who did have the case.
The other kind words came from another man who had been the District Attorney (at the time of the above case), and is now a superior court Justice. When he had been the DA, I'd called him because I had a sticky situation: there was an environmental violation on the property of the County Sheriff, and ultimately the legal liability was upon him--a terrible embarrassment to an honorable man. I called to give him a heads up, so that if and when he heard about it, he'd have the facts. We resolve the situation fairly--the contractor responsible for the violation took responsibility--and moved on.
Not long after that, I called him a couple times to run situations by him that involved EnCon law regarding discharging firearms within 500 feet of buildings and on/across public roadways. I wanted give him my read on why I was NOT going to prosecute based upon a principle of necessity of action. He agreed with my reasoning and I closed those cases without charges.
Some years later, I got a call from one of his neighbors--the defendant from Every Officer Has One of These. He complained that the DA had shot a raccoon out of a tree within 500 feet of a house, and possibly from the roadway. I called the DA laughing and reminding him of his previous agreement on my decisions on a couple very similar incidents. The complainant wrote letters of complaint to someone, but they never went anywhere--until this District Attorney was tapped to fill a vacant Superior Court Justice position. It was brought up, explained, and the rest is history.
When I retired, this judge came to my party and asked to speak. Higher words of praise for my professional behavior I've never received. He told the story of our many dealings and said that it didn't matter who you were, when I was involved the law was the law, and people were always treated fairly.

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