Friday, August 07, 2009

My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys

Homicide Detective Hussey takes us back in time this week, and serves up a dose of reality, along with some thought-provoking questions. Leave a comment; let him know what you think, now that it's 2009.

I digress for a few minutes, because it is my book and I can. I wish to make a nostalgic point here.

It is December 29, 1999. Two days before the dreaded "Millennium". I have just learned that the actor who played the Lone Ranger, Clayton Moore, has passed away. Mr. Moore played the Ranger from 1948 to 1959, in movies and a syndicated television series. He was a masked avenger, always atop his trusty steed Silver, and flanked by his faithful Indian companion Tonto, played on TV by Jay Silverheels. Even though he wore a mask, you knew he was the good guy, because he wore a white hat. The bad guys wore black hats. It was all so simple then.

This year of 1999 has been particularly costly for our western stars. Earlier this year we lost the "King of the Cowboys," Roy Rogers, as well as early singing cowboys Gene Autry and Rex Allen. These gentlemen will be sorely missed by this cowboy and will be thought of often.

As I was growing up in rural Florida, I was taught the difference between right and wrong, and that bad behavior had consequences. Clayton, Gene, Roy and Rex (along with my father) taught me that when you were bad, good won out over evil and bad guys got killed or went to jail. Unfortunately, it just ain't so. I truly believe that in the end, "What goes around, comes around," but sometimes it is sure hard to wait.

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Yes, it is almost the year 2000. When I was a kid we would watch television shows like the "21st Century" with Walter Cronkite and marvel at the innovations that would likely come with the year 2000. Now it seems the only thing we're worried about is terrorism and computer glitches.

In 1976, when I was in my first police science class, I was taught about PC. PC in those days had a totally different meaning than it does now. We didn't have computers then and the personal computer was unheard of. NASA had computers running their rockets and missiles, but on the ground, the only meanings for PC that I knew of in those days was "Probable Cause," Police Constable" if you were British and "Pullman Car," if you worked for the railroad. My point through all of this is, the older I get the less I understand, and the more confused I become. Why can't it be simple like it once was?

Probable cause is defined as more than reasonable doubt, but less than 100% sure. It means that the totality of the circumstances would lead a reasonable and prudent police officer to believe that a crime has been committed.

The U.S. Supreme Court continues to change the definitions, further tying the hands of Law Enforcement and making it more and more difficult for the police to function. Ask a group of cops what they can legally do as far as stop and frisk goes these days, and you're likely to get a lot of different answers. It has become so complicated, that many cops, especially the older guys, have decided that rather than do the wrong thing, and hang themselves out liability wise, they will do nothing.

One old timer told me the way he gauges it, is if he thinks there is someone watching him, he will take action. If not, he doesn't care if they murder somebody. "Let the day shift work it and call homicide, I didn't see shit." It is a sad commentary on what police work and our society has become.

In the old days, the fact that a person was walking through your zone, in a high crime rate area, at three o'clock in the morning, was PC enough to stop the turd, search him and demand that he account for his time and his identity. Under the current guidelines, unless an officer is fairly sure the person has committed a crime, he cannot stop him. Then, unless the officer can see the outline of a weapon, he cannot search him. If the person refuses to identify himself, the officer cannot compel him to do so. Furthermore, and perhaps the most absurd of all, is, if the individual runs from the officer, that is takes flight, the officer cannot chase and apprehend him.

You see why I am confused. If the Lone Ranger would only ride in here and straighten this mess out. It would be so simple for him. He would not tolerate disrespect or foul language. He would need only a couple of silver bullets and a short explanation at the end, no long police reports or court appearances. Then, with a hearty "Hi-Ho-Silver-Away," he and Tonto would ride off into the sunset to clean up the next town.

Kids, and even grown-ups, need heroes. Mine have been some of these western stars that I have named above. I know that they were just men and that the movies were just entertainment. But perhaps they were more. These heroes gave kids like me a basis on which to build their lives.

These actor/cowboys lead their personal lives a lot like they lead their on screen lives. They were truly the good guys, and I hope that somehow, a bit of them lives on in me. I still believe that good can triumph over evil, if given half a chance. It's just tough, sometimes, to continue believing.

Farewell, Lone Ranger, Roy, Gene and Rex. When you get to that ranch in the sky, I suspect you'll be given a fast horse, a quick hand and a range free of fences and other hindrances. Thanks fellas, for being my heroes. Happy Trails.


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Love the pictures! Wow, they really take me back...

Mystery Writing is Murder

Kathy Otten said...

I grew up on those shows as well. Maybe that's why I write about cowboys. It's their core of integrity (never shoot a man in the back) that make them wonderful heroes for romances.

Terry Odell said...

My brother and I had to go to bed after Roy Rogers, and we milked every last note out of "Happy Trails".

So glad you stopped by.

Elena said...

Every Saturday afternoon in the 40's my dad and I would head for the movies - the weekly cowboy double feature. One stand alone movie, and one serial. In between one pair would be a cartoon. The other pair were separated by newsreels.

My dad loved cowboy movies. I loved my dad. It was a perfect time.

Carly Carson said...

A cop in my town got a commendation by the dept. for an apprehension he did of a burglary in progress. 4 burglars. 1 cop. Lots of physical evidence of their guilt.

Case thrown out by judge because he turned on the searchlights of his cop car (at midnight) when approaching their car. Warrantless search? Something like that.

Why do the cops bother?


Kathye Quick said...

I watched the Lone Ranger with my Dad when I was a whole lot younger. Add to that The Rebel (Johhny Yuma), The Rifleman, Chyenne Bodie (Clint Walker's show). They were pure and rugged cowboy heroes and I grew up on them too.

The good old days - sigh!

Terry Odell said...

The Rifleman's kid (Johnny Connors?) went to my elementary school for a while. As did the youngest daughter on Father Knows Best, but that's not a western. :-)

I also remember the Range Rider. And Annie Oakley.

Terry Odell said...

Carly, I feel the frustration and exasperation. And even if these guys go to jail, all to often they're out and doing exactly what got them put inside in the first place.

Our Civilian Police Academy class had a great presentation on Criminal Thinking, and how there are programs that try to break the cycle--but first you have to get them into it.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for reading...this chapter was one of my favorites and it came from the heart. I think at one time I truly believed that we could do some good. At the present, we are not holding the line and we cannot protect the citizens any longer. We can barely protect ourselves. I appreciate you remembering OUR heroes. God Bless Them All!

Detective Mark Hussey

Terry Odell said...

Thanks for stopping by, Mark. And I'm sure everyone here appreciates what you and your colleagues try to do for us.

Debra St. John said...

Fabulous post. Cowboys do make the best heroes.

Terry Odell said...

Hi, Debra (from another WRP author). I don't think cowboys will ever disappear.

Sheila Deeth said...

Where I grew up, the policeman (PC) stopped you just to talk, and you stopped him to talk as well. Parents taught their kids "If you're lost, ask a policeman." But the cops we saw on American shows were scary - they had guns and they were always chasing bad guys. If I saw one of them I'd run and hide.

Maybe it's not the law so much as the attitude that's the problem. And, where I grew up, the attitude's changing for the worse.

Patricia Stoltey said...

For me it was Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. Makes me sigh to think about them, even after all these years.

Kaka said...

I came to your blog just when I was surfing on this topic. I am happy that I found your blog and information I wanted.

Terry Odell said...

K - I'm glad you found me. Hope you'll keep coming back. I try to keep the topics varied.

Anonymous said...

Right and wrong were more easily identified back in the Lone Ranger days. Good guys never did anything bad and bad guys had no spark of kindness in their hearts. Scammers and con artists today turn out to be wealthy, successful folks we view as worthy of their status. A billionaire dresses well, so he is good; a smelly homeless guy deserves a kick. All cops are trustworthy, bankers wear neckties and priests are devout. Wrong. These days it's like trying to tell the good grain from the chaff. Whoa, now.