Cops and Christmas
Police officers get their names in the paper for a variety of reasons. Even when they’re mentioned positively, it’s usually at the expense of someone else. A good arrest for a cop is a bad day for the person in handcuffs, and yet another reminder of city crime and violence.
So it was nice to spend some time with the cops in the Eastern District on Monday. My thanks to Sgt. Angelina O'Grady and officers Porfirio Negron, William Johnson and Adrien Amos who donated their time and day off to collect and distribute more than 150 holiday baskets to needy families. People lined up at the station house on Edison Highway to collect boxes filled with turkeys and canned food, and officers went to the homes of the elderly and infirm.
One of the key organizers was Michelle Ha, who runs a corner grocery and is active in the community. She was there giving orders throughout the day. Most of the officers work in the district's community service division, but all have have been on the streets making arrests.
Negron got his name in the papers two years ago when he chased a man into a vacant rowhouse on East Preston Street, arrested him and found a stash of heroin worth more than $5,000. Today, he and others get a little attention for helping the people they’re paid to protect.
I write a lot about the failure of our city to combat violent crime, about policies that get in the way of good work, about citizens feeling hopeless and angry and about cops feeling abandoned by their bosses and politicians.
On Monday, in one small corner of a violent and desperate city, when most of us are scrambling to find that last gift or perfect appetizer for the dinner table, a group of cops and other volunteers devoted a day to help those who otherwise wouldn’t have gifts for the tree or a meal for the table.