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Reflections

Modern Police Better Trained, Professional

By Charles Cooper

Hello everyone, I hope you’re having a good week.

Last Sunday I attended the memorial service for Andy Baddley at Bridge-town Baptist Church near Nesbit. As most of you know, his father, Aaron, and I are cousins.  I had met his mother, Lennese, and brother, Guy, before but hadn’t met the rest of the family.

I got to meet his two sons, Tyler and Cayce, and they are fine young men. I also got to meet Aaron and Lennese’s daughter, Brenda. Even under those circumstances, she told me how much she enjoyed my column, which showed real class.

When we were talking, Aaron said,  “We’re not supposed to bury our children.”

If it’s any comfort, from the large crowd that attended it showed how much Andy was loved and respected, and again my condolences to the family. Also, Liz Reynolds did a superb job in organizing the visitation with so many people attending. I got to visit briefly with Jim, Jo, Jimmy, and Jon Peacock, Barron Caulfield, Clay Ashford, and James Knox Baddley.

The other night I was watching one of my favorite John Wayne movies, “El Dorado,” and I thought about how simple things seemed then. The Duke was always one of the good guys and you knew who the baddies were. The Duke was a hard case but he was never a bully.

Unfortunately that couldn’t be said of some of the Water Valley night marshals when I was a teenager. A case in point: one night Jim Peacock and I were walking up Main Street, about where the State Farm office is now, and a man walked by with that careful stride that some people have when they’ve been drinking. We knew the man as he was a brother to one of the businessman in town and he was indeed fond of the bottle. Suddenly a car with the two night marshals pulled up and they jumped out of the car and grabbed him and said, “Get in the car”.

He very quietly said, “Fellows, I’m going home.” They grabbed him roughly and said, “You’re going with us.” He told them again that he was going home and they came out with their blackjacks and started hitting him.     He was a large powerful man and he resisted but they continued trying to drag him into the car and hitting him with the blackjacks. When they finally got him in the car he kicked out the back window.

It wasn’t a pretty sight for two teens watching from just a few feet away. I had never heard of him being in trouble and we both felt that if they had ignored him, he would have walked home without an incident. It was things like this that caused southern law officers to get a bad reputation.

On the other hand, Dick Cooper and Dee Gore could arrest someone without drawing a weapon or using a blackjack, but outsiders never heard about them.

Dick Cooper once walked up to a pair of young car thieves that were holding a gun on him and threatening to shoot. He kept talking and walking slowly until he reached them and disarmed them both without drawing his gun. Later they were in Jail and they heard someone saying, “we’re going to get that Dick Cooper.” One of the young men told him, “Not while we’re around, you won’t.” The difference is people respected Dee Gore and Dick Cooper and they didn’t respect the other pair of marshalls.   

You’ll notice that I didn’t mention the names of those two because even though they’re long dead they might have descendants who know nothing about all this.

People have said that I never say anything bad about anyone in this column and I’m only reporting the facts by two eyewitnesses to the entire incident.

Will Rogers was asked once where he got his jokes and he replied, “I just pick up the paper and see what Congress is doing and report the facts.” Will could certainly have a field day with the bunch we have in Washington today.

We have better trained, more professional policemen today than we have ever had and they deserve all of our support. The people who claim police brutality are the first to scream the loudest when they are the victims of crime.

I didn ‘t mean to get on a soap box, but what Jim and I witnessed years ago was bullying not good police work.

It wouldn’t be tolerated today, and shouldn’t have been tolerated then.

I remember Loyd Far-mer telling me once that in a lifetime of police work he only killed one man and as Loyd said, “It was him or me.”  

My long time friend, Jim Allen, has some great police stories and I hope he won’t mind sharing some of them with us.

Let me hear from you on any subject you want mentioned in this column. My email address is cncooper1@hotmail.com or write me at P.O. Box 613189 Memphis, TN 38101 and have a great week.

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