You are like a bad penny that just keeps showing up. Why must the good officers of the Hamilton County Sheriff's Department continue to have to look at your face. Our families go way back. You and my father grew up together. Rode bicycles together, raced hot rods, chased girls, and eventually policed the streets together. That makes your crimes even more personal to me. A lot of good people, including myself, put our necks on the line to get you elected and how did you show your gratitude? You made us look like fools. You were raised better and you sold out cheap.
It has to burn in your soul, if you still have one. You had it all. You were the David who was finally able to rid us of the Goliath of John Cupp and his ilk. Your election gave us hope - something that we had not had for so long. I still remember the cheer at the Chattanoogan hotel when you were sworn in. The department was behind you, the County Commission was behind you, the media was behind you, and the people were behind you. You could have been the sheriff as long as you wanted - the next HQ Evatt. You could have fixed our screwed-up pay scale and given your men the retirement they deserve. But what did you do? You decided to get in bed with a dirty undertaker and sell dope.
I could almost forgive you of most of your transgressions but there is one that i will not. You gave my badge to a criminal along with a clean (serial numbers removed) gun. You told your new friend to use the badge to get out of trouble and if he had to use the gun (kill someone) just get rid of it. You're worthless and stupid. That was/is my badge and the badge of so many good police officers with the Sheriff's Department. Men and women who you don't deserve to even have your name mentioned along side of. People who stand in the breach everyday and don't go rogue or sell out their integrity. I've watched my badge lowered into the ground on the chest of real heroes way too many times. I've cryed on it, 'Ive bled on it, and I've felt unmeasurable joy while wearing it. To you it was nothing more then a way to protect your drug-dealing friend.
So now you get your little time cut and will get out a bit sooner. Well, good for you. You can regain your freedom but you will never regain what you gave up for a little bit of money. Paper with pictures and numbers on it, Billy, and you didn't get to keep that. You brought shame onto yourself and your family, lost your military retirement, and destroyed your good name for nothing more then money that you really didn't need. Well, choke on it. You earned it.
Sheriffs come and go. We have had good and bad but what does it really matter. We are the backbone of the department and we are strong. From corrections to CID, from the the rookies to the older guys like me, we haven't forgotten who we are or why we're here. Let the Big Wheels do their thing, most of them will roll out of here eventually. We are cops and we have a job to do. We are brothers and sisters. We are family. Nothing can break us unless we allow it. May God watch over us all and keep our families safe.
* * *
That was a moving letter, and I'm glad it got published. I cannot believe Billy Long fell for that bait. Everyone around town knew - how should I put this delicately - knew that Mr Overstreet was not what he professed to be and was quite notorious.
Of all people, if he fell for that from Mr. O, I cannot fathom how foolish this man was. The devil really took him down hard. I do not think they should have reduced his sentence. His crime is even more egregious than the criminal. He was in a position of public trust, therefore should be held to a higher standard.
The bad apple cops spoil it for the good ones; he was so corrupt.
* * *
From a personal experience viewpoint, I honestly don't think Billy Long got caught committing any more or less than what he'd likely witnessed over the years taking place. What he got caught in the act committing is just an extension of and long history of corruption and abuse of power in law enforcement.
The beginnings of law enforcement in America didn't start out being one of integrity and a noble, honorable profession. Policing in America was meant to be patterned after the old Bobbies of England. Believing if the gatekeepers of law and order were honorable and noble then society would come to reflect that.
However, instead it came to operate like the old patty rollers (what the slaves called slave catchers) of the old south and was riddled with corruption, abuse of power from the very beginning. Someone, I forget the name of the individual, came along, took control and made great strides in cleaning things up. Taking charge and holding individuals within the profession to higher standards door. "Not here. Not while I'm in charge. Not on my watch. You will not abuse your power. You will not tarnish your badge and dishonor neither the citizens you serve and protect nor your fellow brothers." He likely said. But over the years, and under the guise of keeping us all "safe and secure," like all things left unchecked, old habits resurface and things start slipping back into their old abusive, misguided and corrupt ways.
So here we are, once again. And as the old saying goes, Billy Long ain't the Lone Ranger. He's just the one who got caught in the act.
If America is serious about wanting a more "law abiding" society, then it only makes sense to reform its policing habits from within