28 February 2019
Thank you for being the finest juvenile officer I have ever had the privilege of working with.
That street program I ran in Ithaca was one of the first of its kind in the country, so I had no model to follow. Consequently, I innovated and made it up as I went along. Your influence on the eventual development of my model street program and how that interfaced with the police officers who were dealing (from a different angle) with the same kids was significant. Although I don’t think we ever sat down and negotiated a working relationship, what developed was a consultative and cooperative, yet at arm’s length, relationship. Much of what developed was due to your unique way of policing kids and working with the other folks who also dealt with them.
I didn’t appreciate how unique you were until I had to work with the PDs in Tucson and Phoenix, AZ and Hollywood, CA. They considered all helping professionals as enemies who were rescuing their little criminals from their clutches. I had to change the atmosphere from a distrustful, hostile one to a cooperative one. It was a huge mission to get them to understand that at least this social worker and my agencies were not bleeding heart rescuers and that I considered them to be the other part of the team. I explained that we were out there establishing all the rapport we needed to be able to move the kids to better lives when they were ready to change but unless the police put pressure on them, making what they were doing uncomfortable, they would never ask. The most difficult part to get across was that I could be their informant only once and then I would have to leave and that I was way more valuable to them doing what I did than to help them solve cases.
I originally started writing this book as a training manual for new people in the field. I wrote it in the first person so that I could give a glimpse into my thinking (or lack thereof) as I handled situations. Although most of the conversations are my creation, you are who I had in mind where I created Sgt. Ski. Being an autobiographical novel, there are real-life stories mixed in with pure fiction. You might recognize chapter 1 because other than the name of the kid it is pretty close to what happened.
By the way, Bruce Dean was my model for the judge. Judges were the third part of my model. He taught me that judges, for the most part, would like to be part of a solution and not part of a revolving door. Wherever I worked, I developed a working relationship with the judges so that I could suggest a treatment plan that they could enforce. I don’t know how much you worked with him, but my description of how he operated in court was pretty accurate. The other judge and his drama is pure fiction.
I apologize for this rambling. I have always wanted to share this with you and this is my opportunity. So once again, thank you for being you!