Post Column – Soldiers on the homefront

There’s a billboard advertisement for Arendell Parrott Academy on U.S. 70 East between La Grange and Kinston that has two little kids on it. One child’s dressed as a doctor. The other looks like a lawyer or a stockbroker.

“Where are your children going?” the sign asks.

While I don’t mean to sound critical of APA or doctors or lawyers or stockbrokers, I do mean to sound critical of the stereotype the sign promotes: parents should want their kids to be doctors or lawyers.

After last week’s death of one Lenoir County Sheriff’s deputy and the wounding of another, I’m left wondering where the police officer or firefighter is on that sign for APA. Can a child do much more professionally to make Mom and Dad proud than sacrifice his or her own life for the sake of another?

I listened to the tapes associated with the shootings of Lenoir County’s detective Allen Pearson and detective Ryan Dawson – from the initial 911 calls that started it all, to the conversations among the deputies at the scene and, finally, to the transmission from ambulance personnel transporting the man responsible for the tragedy to the Lenoir Memorial Hospital Emergency Room.

It all started with one deputy answering a call from a man who lived in a very rural corner of nowhere saying in an elevated, frantic voice that someone had run across his yard firing a gun.

The deputy who responded to the call – like the second deputy who responded at 10:02 that night – had probably never even been to Tick Bite Road in Grifton. Odds are very good neither deputy had a clue who the person was that reported the gunman.

But they were on the way to remove the threat, nonetheless. And they remained well after the heard gunfire – gunfire that could have been intended for them.

The same could easily be said of the countless other law enforcement personnel who later arrived at the scene to bring a peaceful conclusion to a very mad situation – the Tick Bite Road residents they were protecting, though probably no more than a handful, were more than likely complete strangers.

Yet, these men were willing to venture into the woods in the middle of the night to search for a man with a gun in order to keep the residents safe. Two took bullets. One lost his life.

You hear these same stories all the time about firemen – if a building’s on fire, they’re going in to look for people whose lives are in danger. They have no roster complete with profiles of the buildings inhabitants. They’re going in to save whoever they can.

And while, thankfully, situations where law enforcement and firefighters actually do come under fire are rare around this area and in other rural places, you can rest assured knowing they’d be willing to face the threat for the good of their fellow man. Selflessly, and without hesitation.

It goes deeper than the obvious. Here in Jones County, deputies are called upon to perform residence checks for people who go on vacation. Basically, what they’re saying by agreeing to these is that should they swing by while you’re away and find a robber breaking into you’re garage, they’re going to confront the bad guy and try to put an end to his evil deed.

Even if that bad guy has a gun he’s not afraid to use.

Or traffic stops. Do you think deputies do these things to bring in money for the county or – as I’ve actually heard people claim – they have nothing better to do? If so, think again.

Many traffic stops, if nothing else, could result in getting drugs out of the county and away from your children. This is another way of protecting you and yours that is, to say the least, risky business – drug peddlers have a tendencies to carry guns.

But deputies and police officers do these things here in Jones County, as well as all over this nation, despite the risk because it is their job – a career they pursued by choice – to curb evil. Most residents and citizens are aware of this, but many forget: at any moment, this ambition could cost them their life.

That’s about as noble of a profession there can be.

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