Inside View

We Are More Alike Than Different-
All About Police Comradery
By Joel E. Gordon

Comradery is the spirit of friendship and community in a group, like that of soldiers at war who keep each other upbeat despite the challenges faced.

Who is a comrade? A close friend or a fellow soldier–in other words, someone who comes to mind when you say, “We’re in this together.”

Over the last several months, I have spent quite a bit of time reading from my ever-expanding home office library of books written by police authors. In a day and age where emphasis on our differences have been leading to great divisions within our culture and society, it is especially comforting to realize just how many similarities many of us in the law enforcement community share.

I was not always a big fan of the police. My very first direct contact with a police officer occurred at age thirteen.

One day, I spotted a large German Shepherd on the loose, weaving in and out of traffic. I was terrified that I was about to witness the dog struck by a car. As luck (or so I thought) would have it, a Baltimore County Police Officer was sitting in his marked patrol car in a bank’s parking lot, right at the intersection. He was drinking a cup of coffee and seemed to be in his own little world.

As I approached the officer, he opened the driver’s side window as if it were a big chore for him. I timidly asked, “Can you please help me with the dog before he gets hit?”

The officer looked over at me and curtly stated, “Who do you think I am? SUPERMAN?”

I was both shocked and angered by the officer’s demeanor. How dare he sit there drinking his coffee while this crisis was before him!

I thought the police were the good guys. The motto on the door of the patrol car stated, “To protect and to serve”, after all.

What a letdown it was to see the officer respond in such a manner. From that point on, I spent my early teen years with a strong dislike for the police.

During my recent reading, it became apparent that despite differences in our backgrounds, others have also had negative experiences with the police early on in life. Former Baltimore Police Commissioner, Leonard Hamm relates his early negative police observations in his book, The Hamm Rules on Relationships, Leadership, Love and Community.

As former Milwaukee County, Wisconsin Sheriff, David Clarke Jr. so aptly expresses in his book, Cop Under Fire, he too journeyed from “rebellion to respect for the badge.”

In reading retired New Jersey, Montclair Police Lieutenant, Anthony Naturale’s first book (he’s working on his fifth), You’ll Never Believe It, I learned that we had more in common. His parents, as well as my own, worked and resided in New Jersey during WWII (Yes, I have some NJ roots).

His dad was a tailor, and his parents worked in the dry cleaning business; my grandfather was also a tailor, and my father once ran the family dry cleaning plant. Somehow, as offspring, we each found our way to careers in law enforcement.

Our commonality in the police community also extends into our careers through mutual shared experiences during the course of our work. Aside from all the common police pursuits and arrest stories, the call that I received for a dead person who had been found in the basement of a home was repeated in eerily, similar fashion by others.

The young man from my investigation had hung himself from pipes in the basement’s ceiling and a chair beneath him had fallen over. A veteran officer and mentor quickly pointed out to me that this was not an intentional suicide but due to auto-erotica gone too far.

NJ and NY Blue Now, Managing Editor, Detective George Beck writes about how he found a man, “naked, lifeless, and hanging from a sturdy beam in a utility room”, in Naturale’s latest book, All Cops Don’t Eat Donuts. Investigation revealed yet another case with the same cause of death in the story, Crawlspace, as told by Retired, Baltimore Police Major, Wesley R. Wise in his second book, A Life In Blue.

“Each one of us has lived through devastation, some loneliness, some weather superstorm or spiritual superstorm, when we look at each other we must say, I understand. I understand how you feel because I have been there myself. We must support each other and empathize with each other because each of us is more alike than we are unalike.” – Dr. Maya Angelou
I agree. Let’s continue to share our stories and support each other now and always.

Joel E. Gordon is a former Field Training Officer with the Baltimore City Police Department and is a past Chief of Police for the city of Kingwood, West Virginia. He is the author of the book “Still Seeking Justice: One Officer’s Story,” and has been a feature columnist in the Morgantown, West Virginia, Dominion Post newspaper. He is the founder of the Facebook group, Police Authors Seeking Justice. Look him up at stillseekingjustice.com