I.C. MURRELL — What does a leader do — and what is power?

Published 12:19 am Friday, June 12, 2020

Cops have it bad enough, yet some of their brethren still don’t get the message.

What does a good cop do?

A good cop walks the boots on the ground to enforce the law, tries to educate others on the consequences of making bad mistakes before enforcing wherever applicable, must make critical decisions to stop the threat of violence and listens to citizens if there is a problem.

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He or she gets to know members of the community (whether a cop lives in the same community being served can be debated), calms the fears of little children who don’t quite know why a badged officer does what he does and sometimes shoots basketball with them to show what a good person (s)he is.

That’s the type of person that more than belongs on viral videos. He or she is the right candidate for local law enforcement. Port Arthur Police Chief Tim Duriso would be ecstatic to hire such a person.

A good cop is not the biggest or baddest person in town, nor is he or she power-hungry. Even in an arrest of a major crime, a cop does whatever is possible to not endanger the lives of others. That’s what criminals do.

A cop also calls out foul play by another cop and holds accountable those who don’t hold their brethren accountable. Duriso has called foul regarding the fatal arrest of George Floyd.

While actions speak louder than words, words are pretty darn loud these days as our nation has heard one cry after another for justice, peace and harmony. So, a leader must say where he and his followers stand.

Leaders don’t always wear buttoned-down shirts, dark pants and a badge, however. They may wear T-shirts with a message, stage peaceful protests, start difficult conversations about race and the current state of society.

The examples have been set in Port Arthur and they’re followed in front of national cameras. Just ask Stephen Jackson. (But, you knew that already, huh?)

Leaders don’t try to make everyone listen, but good leaders learn to listen first before taking a path. They even give a voice to those who felt silenced.

Case in point: Pastor Kalan Gardner inviting protesters from the floor on stage during a June 2 rally.

What is power within the eyes of the beholder? Does it allow someone to call out local officials trying to keep the peace in a city full of the unheard? Is it a physical thing used to push down the elderly while patrolling the streets?

Is someone’s power enough to convince local governments to defund the police? (Who thought of that, anyway?)

Let’s hope not.

Defunding police is not a local issue, and let’s pray that other cities get a grip and not even consider the matter. Otherwise, Lives Without Anarchy Matter will become the latest movement of our generation.

Realizing that Black Lives Matter, leadership has to power to change the landscape of police-citizen relations. That is the ongoing message.

Leadership has the power to do and say the right things, in and out of uniform, without abusing power. In today’s digital world, doing and saying speak volumes, and folks are listening.

They’re watching, too.

I.C. Murrell is the editor of The Port Arthur News. He can be reached at 409-721-2435 or at ic.murrell@panews.com.

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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