Keith Merrit cop letter 7.19

Presley’s death

stirred memories

In 1978 my father retired as Chief of Police in my hometown after a 20-year career. That career followed a 22-year career as a chief in the U.S. Navy. Dad served all over the world during World War II. By the time I was born in 1953, it was all over except the stories of sacrifice and honor. I heard many during my growing up years. The point is, Dad was a survivor, and loyal to his profession. Until he died in 1988 he was larger than life to me and my siblings. Although physically absent from my life today, the way he lived will always be the example I strive to emulate. Growing up in a police family with such a man, it was easy to believe that the criminals he pursued would never do him harm. Not him. Now that I’m grown I realize how fortunate we were to see him come home every day.

The tragedy of Harold Ray Presley’s end reminded me of the frailty of life.

When I’ve been stopped for a violation, it always saddens me that the police have to stand behind my left shoulder for their own protection. At roadblocks they are wise to be cautious and present in significant numbers. But the fact is, they are doing their duty to keep the streets and neighborhoods safe for the rest of us. How many drunks do they get off the road that may go around the next bend and strike a child on a bicycle? How many dope heads do they arrest that keeps a needle out of the arm of someone’s daughter? How many killers like Stone go by without being stopped or apprehended? I’ve wondered about it. For everyone of these kinds of people taken off the street, how many are missed? And when the worst of our society have to be removed, who is it that goes and gets them? It’s our local, state and federal officers, that’s who. Not me. I’ve entrusted my and my family’s safety to people I’ve never met, nor will ever meet. The street cop, the fed, the anti-dryg agent. They have families and love them as much as I do mine.

As citizens, we cannot thank nor appreciate enough these fine people who protect us. Each one of them, from the clerk, to the undercover agent to the sheriff, all have my deepest admiration and respect. Harold Ray Presley, like my dad, represents the best of our men and women who lay everything they have on the line with every traffic stop and every arrest. I say thank you. Do you?

Keith Merritt

Tupelo