When I was 16 my best friend’s Mom was the Mayor of the city. One night, he did something really stupid- he went and ran over 29 stop signs in his Mom’s station wagon. He probably would have run over more, but one of the signs tore a hole in the transmission and the car died after leaving a trail of transmission fluid like a mile long arrow saying “Here I am- look at what I did.” Obviously, his Mom had an alibi, and my friend did not.
He was sentenced to pay for the damages, do public service and he learned his lesson. It was an expensive lesson for him, the other people in the car (I wasn’t one of them) didn’t have to pay a dime- nor were they blamed for the destruction.
Today, my friend runs a large company with his brothers, employees a lot of people and is a model citizen.
The “justice” system worked.
Then there is Derek Farmer.
When he was 16 he and a pal robbed a jewelry store in Downtown Dayton. His pal managed to shoot and kill both a civil rights leader and a Dayton cop. Derek went to jail for a 18 years for aggravated robbery. That’s 2 more years than he had been alive when he made a dumb ass decision to help rob a jewelry store with a thug with an itchy trigger finger.
While living in prison, with a bunch of fellow losers, Derek decided to turn his life around. He found god, he found an education- and he decided to be a lawyer. Maybe that’s why we euphemize prison into “correctional institution” in this country- suggesting that people who go there will be corrected into proper human beings who play by the rules of society.
Speaking of “rules of society”- we have people who enforce those rules- they are called police officers. They are supposed to uphold the laws of our country- and follow the rules. They are in fact, held to a higher standard than you or I, expected to be exemplary citizens- people we can look up to, people who should serve as role models to our youth. To people like a young Derek Farmer, who are supposed to respect and respond to a police officers instructions just because they are wearing a uniform that says they aspire to that higher standard, they are the people you can trust and respect to follow and enforce our laws without regard to race, religion, wealth or fame. As Joe Friday used to say- “just the facts, mam”
So, when Derek Farmer- now 48 years old, a member of the bar (also a higher standard in the eyes of the law) and a productive, model citizen came back to Dayton to speak about overcoming adversity- one could look at this case and say- the system worked. Here we have a success story of how a punk kid turned out OK. Much like my friend the son of the Mayor (he’s now 44).
Instead, we had 29 or so of “Dayton’s finest”protesting his speech. Some even proclaiming Mr. Farmer should still be in prison. Last I checked, police officers are not judge and jury- and if they think they are- they don’t belong in uniform.
Those are strong words- and I’m sure that one day, some member of the FOP will throw them back at me. But it seems to me that Mr. Farmer is a better role model than those officers. It is my opinion that officers who don’t believe our system works working, probably shouldn’t be a part of that system. In fact, they might do better working as officers in some totalitarian system where it is ok for a cop to be judge, jury and executioner. We may be short police officers now, but with cops like these, who needs a “correctional system”?
To Mr. Farmers credit- he said he would protect their First Amendment rights to protest- but, if there is one thing I’ve learned about free speech- it’s never free. Maybe the protesting cops should turn in their badges and put their money where their mouth is.
I don’t think our city will miss you one bit.