Re: May 26 letter by William Dalton, “Chief’s ‘don’t be the spark’ comments appalling.”
I am an educated, disabled woman living in Horry County. I have lived in Myrtle Beach city limits and rural Myrtle Beach, otherwise known as Socastee.
I read your editorial page Tuesday morning, specifically the letter responding to Myrtle Beach Chief Warren Gall’s comments last week.
Seldom does the opportunity to clarify a misconception, call needed attention to a true public servant and feel really good about doing so come along, so I will take advantage of it.
First and foremost, I totally realize and understand the writer’s position. I come from a background where I was taught to do as law enforcement officers tell me, to do it fast - and with no backtalk.
It truly breaks my heart, rips at my senses and befuddles me when I read of the things police officers deal with today.
It also befuddles me how any officer, current or retired, can question, bring to scrutiny, or in any way feel a sense of difficulty with what Chief Gall said.
His words, “don’t be the spark,” were true wisdom. Officers chose to ‘protect and serve.’
A very special man, my father’s friend and a great law enforcement officer, Captain James Anderson, formerly of the South Carolina Law
Enforcement Division (SLED), once told me: “It takes a very special person not to abuse the authority of a badge.”
Common sense dictates that those who have chosen to protect and serve recognize that they will be dealing with a multitude of personalities, degrees of sobriety, levels of intelligence, and unfortunately, boundaries of respect. Those who have chosen this path will feel it their duty - and honor - to conduct themselves in a way that is above inspection by anyone, the public, the media, or the courts.
The chances of personal injury, assault, or harm are facts within the profession of law enforcement. Our police chief in Loris, Karen Shepherd, once spoke of the necessity of “eliminating threats and doing so in the best thought out way.”
Chief Gall’s words were in no way appalling; they were brutally factual.
Yes, patience and professionalism are necessities for officers - because they accepted the duty to protect and serve. Greater patience, greater professionalism and a demeanor of kindness, fairness, and civility are big, no huge, traits to ask of any human.
However, when our society gives you authority, weaponry, and a duty to perform, these are the traits you are paid to have and need to be proud of and have on display.
Chief Gall exemplifies these traits. He has helped me and I left his presence with a smile and the feeling of how lucky I was to have met an officer who saw his duty as responsibility.
Chief Gall’s words were about an officer’s need for grit, fortitude and integrity and not to be a spark, but to instead be the beacon of good in this world.
With the recent atrocities attributed to law enforcement officers, I see Chief Gall’s words as prophecy of the healing, community-involved agents he wants his officers to be.
Myrtle Beach is lucky to have such leadership.
The writer lives in Loris.