Neil Adams was one of the first law enforcement officers I met when I started covering news in San Jacinto County.
We attended a meeting of the Coldspring City Council, where he spoke to the council on a minor matter as a way to introduce himself, and I was doing what I always do.
After the meeting, he came up to me, we introduced ourselves and traded business cards, we chatted for a bit, then parted ways. I found him to be a very amicable and interesting man, and kind, like most of the law enforcement officers I’ve ever met.
I’ve been around law enforcement and police officers pretty much all of my life. My father, and later my youngest brother, both were career police officers. I started in the business covering police and courts, and I’ve always had the utmost respect for anyone that would go into that line of work.
Neil’s death last week was such a tragedy, and all that comes to mind is that society does not have that same respect. I would say that it has been taught, not as an outright lesson, but in the growth of anti-police sentiment.
DeeDee Adams, Neil’s wife, was quoted in news accounts saying the very same thing.
She told people that her husband always said that you can either be a sheep or a sheep dog, and “I want everybody to pray for all the sheep dogs out there that are protecting everybody that gets a bad rap, and they just want to protect.”
DeeDee said all police officers have answered the calls of their hearts, to protect people and communities, and everybody has turned their back on them.
I admit that when I was younger, I wasn’t really aware of the dangers that law enforcement officials faced, even while my father went out and faced it. I was aware, though, of the prevailing sentiment of fear that ran through people. No one I ever spoke with disagreed that when a police vehicle was behind their car, they felt nervous and wondered what they might be doing wrong.
Over the course of time, it has become outright disrespect and even hate that has been hurled at officers who are attempting to keep peace and enforce laws that these self-same people demand exist.
Even city governments began to fall prey to the idea that police were the bad guys in every altercation and started cutting funding and personnel in favor of social workers and kumbaya.
Imagine going to work each and every day, hoping to do some good, only to be reviled — both for doing the job and not doing the job. Arrest someone for breaking a law and suffer anything from tirades and verbal abuse to physical attacks. Don’t arrest someone, or don’t arrive immediately when called, and suffer anything from tirades and verbal abuse to physical attacks.
This is not what a well-behaved society looks like, and it’s heartbreaking.
I don’t have an answer. All I have is questions.
Neil’s death leaves a hole, one that is entirely too close to home.
To him and his family, all my respect and prayers.