Small-town policemen, especially Police Chiefs, come and go with disturbing frequency – often one short step ahead of ‘Resign or be prosecuted.’
With manpower shortages immediately after WW II, my idyllic little town of 1800 – plus an abutting Indian reservation – had one policeman – 24/7/365. By default, he was the Chief. Even Sherriff Andy, of even smaller Mayberry, had Deputy Barney Fife. It worked during the off-season, but with 10,000 tourists in July/Aug, the town soon had three officers.
Police chiefs came, and police chiefs went. Their tenure averaged about 3 years. The longest term was an older gentleman who bought a home, rather than renting. He served just over 8 years, and retired in tourist heaven.
Finally, we got Chief
That’s originally a French name meaning from the oak, or oak trees. The French pronounce it like keh-nell. He, and the Anglophone town, pronounced it queh-nell.
The summer tourist influx was now closer to 20,000, often street-smart, big-city residents. Even the chief pulled weekend, and night patrols. My brother was one of several unpaid volunteers for Ride-alongs. He received minimal training, no equipment, and no authority, but two people stepping out of a cruiser can quickly change the dynamics of a tense situation.
The brother had been a snowmobiler for a few years. The tread on a snowmobile can take a lot of wear, depending on where you ride it. One year, just as he was pushing his machine into his storage shed in the spring, the tread snapped.
In late August, he was thinking ahead, and mentioned to the chief that money was tight, but it seemed that he would have to buy and install a new tread if he wanted to ride. The chief replied, “What you could do is, when it gets cold and snows, don’t go out for the first couple of weeks or a month. Then you could contact your insurance company and allege that you hit a rock or log, make an accident claim, and get them to pay for it.
The brother didn’t think that he wanted to chance that, but mentioned the conversation to our Dad. “Why would he tell me that I should do that?” Dad explained that this was like entrapment. He didn’t say that you should. He merely said that you could! He was testing you. This is a moral judgement. If you’d gone ahead, he wouldn’t have trusted you – at all – especially to patrol with.
Brother said, “If he’s that sneaky and devious, and doesn’t trust me, I don’t trust him. I’m not going to patrol with him any more. By Canadian Thanksgiving, in early October, he was gone, and the town had yet another new police chief. 👿