There’s something a little different about being a law enforcement officer in Denton County, most especially Lake Cities. And that’s a very good thing.
Those of us who wear the blue or brown or gray have been more than a little sad and disappointed at the way the nation’s peacekeepers have been treated the last few years by some elements of the media and a few radical, self-appointed police “experts.” We have seen our brothers and sisters right here pilloried because of something stupid or even criminal that a knucklehead cop far away may have done.
Those of us in the badge-toting business abhor and condemn malpractice by law enforcement personnel anywhere. But what we are really pleased to see is that our neighborhood’s residents are smart folks who keep things in perspective. They realize that with American law enforcement officers making many hundreds of thousands of public contacts every day, very, very few go badly. People around here seem to recognize that cops, being human, can err, but do it right 99.9 percent of the time.
We feel our residents’ goodwill virtually every day through the kind comments and offers for prayers we get in our stores, restaurants, and on the street. One Corinth officer who had previously worked at a much bigger agency related this to me: “At my old department, on the rare occasions when a citizen would bring food to the station, we would thank them and, as soon as they left, we would dump it in the trash. The way we were treated there, we were afraid we’d get poisoned. Here, we’re quick to eat it. Every time.” That happens a lot around here.
This truly is a good place to be a police officer. Yes, we have our share of bad guys to chase and a few individuals who just don’t like cops for whatever reason. But they are a tiny minority. Most of our citizens wave at us with ALL their fingers.
We are very much aware that the positive way we are treated by our citizen-customers does not free. We know that we must earn it every day by the way we interact with those we are sworn to serve and protect. It’s not accidental that we talk to our young officers about the Golden Rule and the need for them to follow it in their every contact with the public — and each other. We emphasize that, whenever feasible, de-escalating a volatile situation is to be preferred over getting into a fight. We insist on absolute integrity, in doing the right thing, even when it’s not crystal clear what the right thing is. And we expect (and almost always see) compassion from our people, even towards someone who has been anything but kind towards them.
Indeed, our citizens are mighty good to us. We realize that we must justify that support by how we treat them. We pledge to keep doing just that.
JERRY GARNER is Corinth’s Chief of Police. The 53-year veteran of law enforcement has served as a police officer in three states and has worked as a police chief for nearly 20 years. He has been Corinth’s chief since 2019.