Sheriff’s Corner

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From the desk of Sheriff Michael Adkinson, Jr.

We all seek data that confirms our biases. Your Facebook page is inundated with political, social, and religious posts that are oftentimes selected by paying customers to influence you without you even realizing. Ever heard the story about congressmen getting their pay for life after 2 terms? Guess what? It’s not true. The question is: Do you care or would you continue to forward that to me because it supports your belief? Watch Fox or CNN and you will see exactly what you expect. Either jack booted thugs bent on taking away our guns or Godless liberals giving away our tax dollars. We have become so polarized that even the act of communication appears to be corroboration with the enemy. That’s a shame because as technology speeds up the flow of information, we are struggling to maintain our ability to discern the truth. Law enforcement finds itself in the direct line of conflict between both issues. Our job is to protect and serve and to determine the best course of action regardless of our personal bias. How successful we are at doing that can be a matter of opinion.

Recently, my wife and I were discussing someone who really dislikes me. She was upset by this and was questioning why, when we don’t even know this person. In the spirit of full disclosure, she did point out that if they knew me better she could understand as she often contemplates doing me physical harm. Notwithstanding that, the point here is that as Sheriff, I am very often in the business of telling people things that they do not wish to hear. In this particular case, I believe that we, the Sheriff’s office, could have handled the situation better. As I pointed out to my wife, this family has every reason to dislike me. The reality is that although I was not personally involved in their case, I as Sheriff represent the office and therefore must accept that. The facts of the case from the family’s perspective did not support an arrest. The truth is that anytime someone’s friend or loved one has an experience, be it positive or negative, I am ultimately responsible.

How you feel about the way a situation was resolved often comes down to what you perceived happened as much as what actually happened. This fact was driven home almost 20 years ago after a routine traffic stop. Several cars ran a red light at an intersection. I stopped the last vehicle and approached the driver. She was an African American woman in her early 60’s. I identified myself and explained the reason for the stop. What she said stunned me: “I know why you really stopped me”. I was confused and explained that I had stopped her for running the red light. She then asked why I didn’t stop the other 3 cars that had ran the light. I explained that I could only stop one person and she was the last person through. She told me I stopped her because she was black. I pointed out that I could not have possibly known her race based on where I had been located. The fact is, she believes I stopped her based on her race. Nothing I said or did would change that fact. What really troubles me is that anytime she tells of this encounter it will be prefaced as a racially motivated stop. It doesn’t matter what the facts were, it was true to her.

As I watch national anthem protest this week, I am struck by the fact that protesters can protest because the police are there to keep order. So regardless of whether you support or are offended by protestors, take a moment to realize that we live in a country that protects all sides even if your view is that you don’t like me. That, my conservative, liberal, pious or atheist friends is something to stand and salute.

From the desk of Sheriff Michael Adkinson, Jr.

We all seek data that confirms our biases. Your Facebook page is inundated with political, social, and religious posts that are oftentimes selected by paying customers to influence you without you even realizing. Ever heard the story about congressmen getting their pay for life after 2 terms? Guess what? It’s not true. The question is: Do you care or would you continue to forward that to me because it supports your belief? Watch Fox or CNN and you will see exactly what you expect. Either jack booted thugs bent on taking away our guns or Godless liberals giving away our tax dollars. We have become so polarized that even the act of communication appears to be corroboration with the enemy. That’s a shame because as technology speeds up the flow of information, we are struggling to maintain our ability to discern the truth. Law enforcement finds itself in the direct line of conflict between both issues. Our job is to protect and serve and to determine the best course of action regardless of our personal bias. How successful we are at doing that can be a matter of opinion.

Recently, my wife and I were discussing someone who really dislikes me. She was upset by this and was questioning why, when we don’t even know this person. In the spirit of full disclosure, she did point out that if they knew me better she could understand as she often contemplates doing me physical harm. Notwithstanding that, the point here is that as Sheriff, I am very often in the business of telling people things that they do not wish to hear. In this particular case, I believe that we, the Sheriff’s office, could have handled the situation better. As I pointed out to my wife, this family has every reason to dislike me. The reality is that although I was not personally involved in their case, I as Sheriff represent the office and therefore must accept that. The facts of the case from the family’s perspective did not support an arrest. The truth is that anytime someone’s friend or loved one has an experience, be it positive or negative, I am ultimately responsible.

How you feel about the way a situation was resolved often comes down to what you perceived happened as much as what actually happened. This fact was driven home almost 20 years ago after a routine traffic stop. Several cars ran a red light at an intersection. I stopped the last vehicle and approached the driver. She was an African American woman in her early 60’s. I identified myself and explained the reason for the stop. What she said stunned me: “I know why you really stopped me”. I was confused and explained that I had stopped her for running the red light. She then asked why I didn’t stop the other 3 cars that had ran the light. I explained that I could only stop one person and she was the last person through. She told me I stopped her because she was black. I pointed out that I could not have possibly known her race based on where I had been located. The fact is, she believes I stopped her based on her race. Nothing I said or did would change that fact. What really troubles me is that anytime she tells of this encounter it will be prefaced as a racially motivated stop. It doesn’t matter what the facts were, it was true to her.

As I watch national anthem protest this week, I am struck by the fact that protesters can protest because the police are there to keep order. So regardless of whether you support or are offended by protestors, take a moment to realize that we live in a country that protects all sides even if your view is that you don’t like me. That, my conservative, liberal, pious or atheist friends is something to stand and salute.

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