Police work

Valley Voice

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During one week in early August the Lindsborg Police Department took scores of calls and responded to 45 of them. Outlines of the summons show the sketch of life in a country town, its afflictions and tribulations, how officers are called to help resolve them. Consider:
A parole officer was looking for a person on supervised release ( the missing person was found in custody in Saline County). A store manager had been receiving obscene phone calls. Assisting a sheriff’s deputy serving an order for protection from abuse. At Casey’s, helping someone start a car. Writing warnings (reminders) for parking violations near Bethany College.
Officers delivered ice for water coolers at the annual Car Show in Swensson Park. They helped a citizen locked out of the family home. On I-135 south of Lindsborg an officer helped a sheriff’s deputy with a motorist who did not speak English. A lost wallet was returned to the owner. An alarm – smoke in a residence – brought police, fire trucks and an ambulance.
Multiple misdials of 911. Trespass complaints, dogs on the loose, neighbors bickering, burglar alarms (no burglars), complaints of erratic driving, transients who need help, welfare checks on elderly persons living alone, trash in the street. A call to settle an unruly patient in the hospital emergency room. At night, patrolling neighborhoods, the business districts, the parks.
The police are on a primary mission to help people have better lives. I have watched them help people locked out of their cars, or who need to change a tire.
Lindsborg’s officers often double as detectives. Burglaries and thefts are investigated, stolen property tracked. They are on notice, working with other agencies: fugitives on the loose, stolen vehicles en route, phone scams in the works, internet frauds surging, missing persons, runaway youngsters – for a few examples.
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Lindsborg Police Chief Mike Davis succeeded Tim Berggren, who retired in 2019 after more than 30 years with the department. Davis is a 28-year veteran of police work in greater Los Angeles. He is an Army veteran (1980s), a former Orange County (Calif.) sheriff’s deputy and later an officer with the Whittier Police. He retired there as a captain in 2019 and moved to Lindsborg to be near his children and a grandson.
Davis has a degree in Business Administration and an MBA. He supervises seven officers, and is also Public Safety Director over the fire department and ambulance service. He once said that police work in a rural community is not boring, it’s “it’s doing good.” It seems that his mission is to make each day one without sirens.
Officer Terry Reed leads the department’s “Blue Santa” program to raise money to buy fine Christmas gifts for needy children. The police have a list. They deliver the gifts in uniform and wearing a blue Santa hat.
Not long ago a department tally found more than 20 cops living in Lindsborg – McPherson and Saline County Sheriff’s deputies, Highway Patrol Troopers, Lindsborg and Salina police officers. Their work is dangerous, often thankless, sometimes rewarding.
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A campaign here to defund the police would not go well. Nor would calls to dismantle the Highway Patrol, FBI or the Secret Service. Politicians from the right and left have commanded attention and collected millions in votes and dollars with crusades against law enforcement. These are often politicians with something to hide, someone to goad, or an audience to swindle. Law and order is for the other guy, they say, not for me.
The angry speeder, the red-handed shoplifter, the hands-up thief and the shady politician have been bleating for decades to drag public safety into the political arena. To be sure, there are bad cops, even criminal ones. Campaigns to make these exceptions the rule are a fraud. Laws and their enforcement are for the police and the courts, not a circus of grifters.
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Years ago, when protests and riots against the Vietnam War and the police were rampant in America, I was having coffee in downtown Oberlin with Howard Kessinger, editor of the Herald, the local newspaper. The police chief walked in.
“Hello, Pig,” Kessinger said.
“Howard, you commie,” the chief said. He smiled and joined us. We had an amiable chat. Howard and the chief were friends, their greetings a put-on mostly to startle the unaware, like me.
I doubt that Kansans on the whole would want the police – local, state or federal – off the budget and out of their lives. Talk of it, with its Gestapo-baiting and thug-naming, is dangerous and delusional. Try finding a helpful politician next time a loved one goes missing, or the car dies.

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