March 14, 2017 10:10:50 AM
There are few occupations that invite public scrutiny more than law enforcement. People generally don't form firm opinions on factory workers, accountants or waitresses.
But we all seem to have a fixed opinion on cops, for better or for worse. The best of the lot are considered to be public servants and occupy an exalted status. The worst of the lot -- and we're talking about only a few here -- are perceived as no more than bullies, a danger not only to the community they are supposed to serve, but to those cops who feel they answer to a higher calling.
Depending on personal experience, that view runs from pole to pole and rarely pauses at the ambivalent middle.
Perhaps that is why cops generally bond in such a way that accountants do not. It's not so much closing ranks as it is relying on each other when public opinion turns against them.
It's a tough, often unappreciated job. Pay is low, hours are long and criticism is part of the package.
Yet, in another way, cops are just like the rest of us. They have families to feed, bills to pay, hobbies to pursue and the daily joys and sorrows and challenges common to us all.
We are reminded of this when we encounter stories such as that of Columbus Police Department officer Kenny Brewer.
Brewer, a 10-year-veteran, is the father of three. The youngest, 9-month-old Kensley, was diagnosed with spina bifida before her birth, is now facing a health challenge that must, at times, seem overwhelming.
In January, Kensley was diagnosed with a high-risk form of brain cancer and has been at St. Jude Children's Hospital in Memphis ever since. Her mom, Heather, has been with Kensley since her arrival in Memphis, leaving Kenny to take care of the older children. The financial burden, in of itself, is crushing.
The Brewer's are now a one-income family of five. Kenny went to part-time duty with the CPD so he could take on another full-time job as a mechanic. He splits his weekends between visits to Memphis to see his daughter and work. Heather worries about him. He works all the time, she says, gets hardly any sleep and wears out the highway between Columbus and Memphis to see his gravely-ill daughter.
It is a challenge physically, emotionally, financially.
Naturally, his fellow officers have closed ranks, offering encouragement where they can. They are also making an effort to relieve some of the financial stresses the family faces.
Officers reached out to friends, relatives and others to collect prizes for a raffle which include a Char-Broil 4-burner gas grill donated by Lowe's, a diamond ring donated by an anonymous jeweler's family and an AK-15 rifle custom-made by Rusty Gunz.
His fellow officers are doing what they can.
Now, it's up to the public.
It is easy enough to pledge our support and appreciation for law enforcement. Yet however genuine that sentiment might be, proclamations don't pay the electricity bill or the house note or gasoline for those five-hour round-trips to Memphis.
If we do, indeed, support our law enforcement officers, we'll not likely have a better opportunity to prove that than right now.
The Brewers need our help.
You can purchase raffle tickets at the CPD headquarters, located on Main Street at the Columbus Municipal Complex, or at any BankFirst location in Columbus. BankFirst branches will also accept donations on the family's behalf.
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