They all came to see how the slim-looking, middle-aged man would respond. Certainly, after a week where it was hinted by his opponents that, at best, he might be the reincarnation of Lucifer, or, at worst, the horrible, peace-loving Jimmy Carter, they didn’t know what to expect. But their expectations were high nonetheless. So, they lined up. I mean really lined up.
After snaking through the mammoth parking lot, they made their way to the roped barriers looping back and forth. The conveyor belt of people then bunched to a stop as purses were searched, bags were emptied, metal detectors did their jobs, and beeping hand-held wands were brought to bear on those with knee and hip replacements. Quite a scene.
Then the line was funneled out into a throng of over 10,000 people. My oh my. Raucous. Loud. Music blaring. Laughter. Yelling. Crying babies. The push and press of fellow humans in a cattle chute. And the main attraction hadn’t even arrived.
And security? This is a nightmare. Right? Certainly, there are the dark-suited, polished-shoe, federal security officers — over to the left. There are the undercover officers in pressed short-sleeved shirts with smiles plastered to their faces as they swiveled their heads back and forth scanning the crowd — over to the right. There is the helicopter looping around the crowd, flying just a little higher than the two hawks who must have been perplexed by their newest member. Finally, there are all the in-shape looking men and women talking into attached phones interspersed in the crowd. But, as the mob pushed back and forth as one entity, there is no doubt that THIS IS NOT ENOUGH SECURITY for 10,000 people!
No problem. Because, lo and behold, there were two officers from the local Clive Police Department — in blue — on the job.
I watched as they helped people up and down stairs, pushed wheel chairs, retrieved lost sunglasses, assisted with the dehydrated, agreed to a request by one young man to pose next to him as he delightedly held high the sign of his candidate — and they watched the crowd. No fake beards were used by them. No subterfuge was employed. And no sneaky communication were mumbled into their wrists. They were just cops. Our cops.
I saw Clive Officer Adam Jones looking out over the crowd. Watching. Without a doubt, every person present was his responsibility. He took an oath to protect, and he was there to do just that. Very Clint Eastwood, wouldn’t you say? He sauntered over to me. I expected to hear the clink of spurs and the rising sound of spaghetti-western music.
“My intentions were good,” Officer Jones said to me, a former prosecutor. “What?” I exclaimed totally confused. Was there a fight I missed? Did he just pepper spray someone? Did a pregnant woman deliver on the boardwalk? “I stopped that guy because he hit a sign,” he said apologetically.
My Lord, Officer Jones wasn’t coming over to flex his cop muscles. He didn’t come over to pick up his six-shooter before saddling up. He wasn’t even looking steely eyed under the brim of his hat. He was concerned about a several-months-old criticism for a stop he’d made of a drunk over a year ago. He was concerned that he appeared less than fair to the public.
Okay, 10,000 volatile people moving in the sun; Officer Jones and his fellow Clive officer are the only men or women in blue, as far as my eyes could see; and this cop was concerned about proper ethical conduct for the stop of a man who blew over three times the legal limit for alcohol over a year ago? He was worried about morality? Justice was at the top of his troubles?
We all came to see this man in the white shirt and tie waving to us in the far distance . . .
. . . but I like to think that man was waving to this man in the blue shirt and hat who was just doing his job as he took care of 10,000 people. Oh yeah, and worried about doing his job right. That was sort of presidential, don’t you think?