READY: If it just weren’t for those ‘bad apples’ …

Staff Writer
The Destin Log

As a retired teacher, I support and admire anyone who belongs to that profession.  Teachers work long, hard hours, spend their own money on supplies, and pour their very souls into ensuring their students learn the subject and use it to THINK and APPLY it to their lives. So, when I hear a story about a teacher acting inappropriately and/or incompetently, I grieve over it, taking it almost personally. It’s a black eye to all educators, while tempting critics to put every teacher in the same basket with the “bad apples.”

Same goes for doctors, nurses, police officers, and most professions dedicated to public service.

Last week, in passing, I mentioned a hospice nurse in a negative reference. A reader took great offense to what I said, upset that I had maligned the entire population of hospice providers. Nothing could be further from my heart. My experience with hospice nurses, doctors, and volunteers was a very positive one. During my husband’s illness and after his death, I couldn’t have gotten through that very trying time without them. I could share many stories of the skill, compassion, and comfort we received in my association with them. Even after his death, both Covenant and Emerald Coast provided grief support and the kindness to call, just to see how I was doing. So, yes, thank God for them.

 When I mentioned the one exception, limited column words prevented me from sharing explanatory details. As for the dog part of the story, Bogie was an experienced hospice dog who had already seen a previous owner through his death from cancer. He came to us to attend Frank in the same way. Never bothering any of the other caregivers, he left the room when they were present. However, he had to be tossed out every time that one nurse came, and I had to lock the doggie door to keep him out. My daughter, a nurse herself, agreed with Bogie.

I hope that clears up any misconception regarding my admiration and gratitude to hospice nurses.

Now, for police officers.

As I’ve written before, I was brought up to trust and respect them, depending on them to serve, protect, and represent the law in the spirit of bringing wrong doers to justice while preventing added harm to their victims. In the last few years, the media has related stories of police brutality which have divided public opinion and left us all wondering whether or no, we can still believe in “Officer Friendly.”

First a good experience: Last December, I was in a store where I had purchased a very heavy item in a large, bulky box. A Shalimar police officer behind me at the counter, seeing me struggling with it, carried it out to my car and wished me a “Merry Christmas and drive home carefully now.” The Destin officer who responded to my house robbery was smart, thorough, helpful, and even sympathetic to my loss. And arrested the bad guy before the end of the day.

But, here’s a terrible story you may not have heard.

At 2:30 a.m. on May 28 of last year, officers from Georgia’s Habersham County broke down the door of a home without warning. They were looking for a suspect who didn’t live there.

As they burst into the home occupied by a man, his wife, and four small children, one of them  threw a “flash-bang” stun grenade into the dark, landing in the crib of a sleeping baby.

The grenade blew off parts of the child’s face and exposed the bones in his chest. He spent more than a month in the hospital recovering from injuries. For weeks, he was in a medically induced coma. The injuries and scars on his face and chest may never heal.

No one disputes that police executed the no-knock raid because of a single piece of false information from a known criminal. No one disputes they got the wrong house. And nobody disputes that a police officer threw a flash-bang grenade into the child’s crib.

The police department disputes that they bear responsibility for the family’s enormous medical bills which have bankrupted them.

If ever there was a tale of reckless abandon and incompetency, that would get my vote.

The great majority of police, teachers, nurses, and other public servants are decent and devoted to their calling. Even under attack from the very people they are sworn to serve, they give themselves sacrificially in the performance of their duty.

If only those “bad apples” would fall FAR from the tree, roll down the hill, and disappear.

Mary Ready of Destin is a twice-retired English teacher and long-time area resident. Her columns are published on Saturdays.