When I went to work at Newnan Police Dept. there were already black police
officers there. As a matter of fact, Sgt. Moses Martin was my mentor and friend and years later, when he died, I cried for our loss.
However, there was a big push to hire more "minorities". It is not a
good idea to hire quantity instead of quality. One case in point,
Cornell Copeland, the sorriest man to ever put on a uniform, of any race. He single-handedly added to stereotyping his race.
When he wasn't sleeping on the job(which we all did-more on that in a
minute), he was very arrogant, had a chip on his shoulder, and yes,
Back to sleeping. Most, if not all, police officers had
two or more jobs to make ends meet. Naturally, when the third shift
rotated around, we caught up on our sleep if it was a quite night. We
had a simple unwritten rule. If two officers were in the same car, after
checking the first round, the rider would catch some sleep while the
driver kept an eye out. After mid-shift, the two would change, and then
the driver would catch a few winks. In Newnan in those days, there was
not one single business open after 11pm, so things were very, very quite
during the week.
Well, Officer Copeland would jump into the
passenger seat at the beginning of the shift and proceed to sleep the
entire night. No amount of reasoning on my part mattered to him. I
really did try!
Newnan Water Works has several lakes inside the
city which most people at that time had never seen, especially black
people. The property was posted and off-limits to everyone except Water
Works employees and the Police. At the upper lake there is an overflow
with an asphalt underlayment to prevent erosion. At 1am in the morning
that asphalt with 3 inches of water rushing over the top of it looks to
be bottomless. You would routinely drive thru it and continue your
Officer Copeland had never seen that little piece of
Newnan, so when I woke him out of sound sleep, at the edge of the
spillway, and told him I thought I could jump it in the patrol car, well
his baby brown eyes got big as saucers!
I backed up about 20 feet, gunned the engine, took off, slinging gravel, and doing the Rebel Yell at the top of my lungs.
Copeland thought we were seconds away from drowning. He started
screaming, cussing, threatening to to shoot me, and crying a little.
Just as we drove through the water, that nut(him not me) opened the door
to jump out, but we were on the other side before he had time to jump.
We both got soaked, but it was worth it. For some reason, he refused to
ride with me again. The Lt. put him on foot patrol when it was his turn
to ride with me.
A short time later he was caught with a
stolen gun and went to jail, but not before we had a few more good times
at his expense. No, I am not sorry.