‘I’m sorry’

Dear Editor, This is not a rant. It is mostly an observation and, belatedly, an apology to the Sheriff’s Department. Let me explain.

I went to the Court House yesterday (Friday). I always like to approach the building from the front. It is a beautiful edifice, reminiscent of days gone by and the dedication of former residents who provided our county with a stately, reverent building for county and judicial business. Even if my business is at the back of the building, I walk from the parking lot to the front entrance.

Yesterday (Jan. 27, 2017), however, I couldn’t walk up those magnificent granite steps and through the massive wooden doors into the main foyer where Lady Justice presides. Those historic doors are no longer open to the public.

Yesterday, as always, parking was at a premium. I found one empty space and parked my vehicle for a ten-minute errand. Then I walked around to the back of the building. No impressive entrance here, just the typical glass-front doors of most generic modern structures. As I walked in the first door, there was already a small line to go through security. There were two deputies on duty, one a personal friend as well as an officer.

Three people ahead of me, was someone who, obviously, is in and out those doors on a regular basis. That person was, just as obviously, disgruntled to be stopped–again–for a security search. “Put your purse and coat in the basket and move forward.” One of the officers on duty apologized for the inconvenience but granted no exceptions. Friendship counts for nothing here. “I am sorry,” he said, “for trying to protect your security. I apologize for the inconvenience.”

Everyone in line, including me, was unhappy with the process… for several reasons. Personal freedom. Another delay in a busy day. “Is this really necessary in Warren County, of all places?” Everyone in line expressed our unhappiness in one way or another. The deputy apologized to each one of us in turn.

And now for my apology: I’m sure the deputies who pull security duty on any given day face the same reactions from the majority of citizens who have business in the court house. I’m sure it’s not their favorite assignment, either. I’m sure they don’t appreciate having to apologize repeatedly for doing their job. And I’m equally sure that the County Sheriff feels the need for heightened security is sufficient enough that he has committed his deputies to the additional workload in their already busy schedules.

You see, I forgot that people in law enforcement are just like you and me. They have lives and families and challenges, but they also have jobs that require them to face all manner of negativity from the public while trying to maintain safety and security for every resident.

It’s sad that life is not like it used to be. There are fences around schools, long lines at airport check-ins, and now, security checks in our small-town court house. I’m sorry it has to be that way.

I’m sorry too that I forgot, momentarily, that my schedule was not more important than your assigned duty. I’m sorry that I forgot to say thank you for all that you do every day to protect and preserve our American way of life, even if that means upsetting some of us for the good of all of us. So thank you, to the two officers on duty yesterday (you know who you are), and to all those in law enforcement. We appreciate you, even if we sometimes forget.

Ruth Seebeck,