Tuesday, February 22, 2011


“Buck Snoddy...was a rural Arizona cop back in the 1940s and 1950s (Buck caught the FBI's #1 Most Wanted one year, and was featured in a Dragnet episode a few years later after catching a fugitive from LAPD). Legend has it that Buck never issued a traffic ticket -- if you had been dangerous, he'd just arrest you, otherwise, you got a Buck Talk, during which he explained in excruciating detail the depths of your error. Few people wanted to chance another roadside chat!

An insight into his character are stories such as the time a kid came out of a dance after drinking a few more beers than he should have. Buck sees him weaving through the lot, comes up behind him, and as the kid digs his car keys out, shouts "Hey, how you doing, Mike?" and slaps the kid on the back. Of course, the keys fall to the ground. Buck kicks them under the car, then helps Mike look for them. He says “I have to go check the doors on Main Street, but I'll bring a flashlight back with me. Have a seat in your car, and I'll be back in a few minutes."

Mike, of course, sits down. Next thing he knows, Buck is slamming his hand several times on the car roof to wake him up, and the sun is rising. Buck says "Enjoying the hangover? Your keys are under the car, now get the hell home and be smarter next week."

It would have been easier for him to arrest Mike for public drunkenness, or driving under the influence …. Instead, Buck cut a good kid some slack and gave him a lesson that was remembered 50 years later....”

My wife's father worked as a deputy under Buck Snoddy. He was a man of similar attitude and character, respected and loved by the people he served. He was slow to arrest but quick to be stern and pointed, such as the times he saw workmen in a bar blowing their paychecks and ordered them to go straight home and give their money to their wives. Those were the days when benevolent men such as he could get away with doing such things. You might say it was pre-civil rights times. They were sort of neighborly, fatherly and grandfatherly types of community guardians nobody wanted to mess with.

I'm sure there are still many officers of the law with similar attitudes, but our straight laced, litigious society has made it increasingly difficult for them to follow their charitable instincts. Buck Snoddy didn't have to worry about MADD MOTHERS descending on him in lantern jawed vindictive fury. He also served in a much less crowded environment where everybody basically knew everybody else and had a neighborly concern for each other.

What these men, and their modern counterparts, really championed was the Golden Rule, which is common to all advanced moral systems. They really believed in loving their neighbors as much as they loved themselves and their own families.

We need more of that attitude and practice in our present world. There would be far fewer people in prison or shadowed by a felony record for the rest of their lives.

No comments:

Post a Comment