Jim Reed is one of my favorite all-time television cops.
On Monday, my admiration grew after I viewed a rerun of the old TV series “Adam-12.”
Kent McCord played Reed, the younger of the two patrol Los Angeles officers, on that program from the 1960s and 1970s, which I watched as a kid and can now watch on an independent channel.
On the rerun, McCord becomes an ally of a cop who was bullied one day in the police station locker room. A fellow cop ridiculed and played a practical joke on the bullied cop. After McCord sees the man is hurt and humiliated, he consoles him, and the bullied cop reveals he is not so much bothered by the locker room shenanigans as he is his tormentor being an ethically challenged police officer, one who likes to use excessive force on the streets.
McCord eventually sees for himself that the cop in question uses excessive force on the streets, and the bully cop’s treatment of a suspect puts a man in the hospital. There’s an eventual verbal confrontation between McCord and the dirty cop, and McCord is threatened not once but twice by the cop, with the second time occurring in the locker room in full view of other officers.
There’s something reassuring about someone who confronts corruption, even if it is on a television show. Reed also conducted himself in a fair, judicious manner in other episodes, including one show in which he trained a new, young cop, played by future “NCIS” star Mark Harmon, who kept violating protocol and had to be advised of his transgressions.
While I know “Adam-12” is television, the Monday episode prompted me to think about police work in light of recent police shootings in Dallas and Baton Rouge.
Most cops do their jobs in an honorable way and exhibit utmost integrity.
Are there bad apples? Of course. There are bad apples in probably every profession.
But bad apples in law enforcement and some well-chronicled cases of deadly force used on citizens could never justify the horrible events that happened in Dallas and Baton Rouge.
That said, we should hold public servants to high standards of conduct and be concerned when deadly/excessive force occurs and these incidents are recorded, publicized and leave unanswered questions.
Supporting the police while recognizing the rights of civilians in custody should not be mutually exclusive.
I’ve had only a few encounters with police outside of work, and almost all of them entailed traffic tickets. Each time, the officers/troopers were courteous, One time, the officer/trooper invited me to sit in his cab as he ran my background information.
On one occasion, the cops were called to my apartment when I lived in Amarillo in the late 1990s. I celebrated my football team’s last-second, comeback win in a game I was watching. A neighbor registered a noise complaint about my enthusiasm. The cops were satisfied with my explanation and left. (I’ve gotten just as overly excited watching other games, but the police weren’t called.)
I can tell you the relationship between police and reporters has changed over the years. I wouldn’t say the relationship has become strained, but it has become more formal, and most communication is done by phone call or press release.
At my first job, in Denison, I got to know the police public information officer who (in person) gave me the daily police briefing/blotter. He was at the forefront of organizing the PIO luncheons the police held with media.
I would see this officer, Mike Eppler, in the community, chatting with school kids and doing community relations. His chief stood up for me when I joined the local Lions Club.
He was a good guy and a good cop, just like Jim Reed and so many others.
DON MUNSCH is the editor of the Copperas Cove Herald. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 254-501-7567.