observe

Police force deserves recognition

Published 7:54pm Friday, June 28, 2013

As a reporter I get to develop most of my own stories, but I don’t always get to choose them — sometimes they just fall into my lap and other times they are assigned to me. This is something I’ve found to be both a curse and a blessing. Let me tell you why.

Not every story I’m assigned to is one I’m fired up about. I’m always reaching for the breaking news stories, the big stories, the stories I’d  actually be excited to read. But of course not every story can fit that description.

There have been two specific instances I can remember where my editor assigned me a story that I had no interest in whatsoever — and both times, I’ve returned to the newsroom, overwhelmed with emotion, if not in tears, as it turned out to be one of the best interviews and in turn, best feature stories I’ve had the opportunity to write.

I had the privilege of sharing one of those stories this week. After an incident Monday involving the rescue of a woman who tried to commit suicide by jumping from a high cliff into the Alabama River, I was assigned a follow-up story featuring the police officers who risked their lives to save her.

When I was assigned the story, I honestly thought to myself, “Is this news?” Police officers serve and protect people everyday. Yes, they rescued someone in a heroic way — commandeering a boat from a private citizen at the marina — but I wasn’t sure that the story needed to be retold from their perspective. After all, did our readers really need to read about someone’s suicide attempt all over again?

As I pulled into the Selma Police Department, walked inside and made my way to the third floor conference room to meet with the three officers who rescued and revived the woman, I was actually nervous about what I would hear — and whether it would be quality content to share with our readers. I wondered if they’d be willing to step away from their role as officers if only for a moment, and share a glimpse of their true human emotion that went into Monday’s rescue.

As I sat there and listened, what I heard from those officers — those everyday heroes — not only alleviated all my doubts, but blew me away. They described their role in the incident and how that they knowingly put their lives on the line. I realized then that these officers may have just been doing their job; but it’s a job worth recognizing.

When officers Harry Tubbs, Lt. Curtis Muhannad and Sgt. Evelyn Ghant, described the adrenaline they felt as they pulled up to the woman, not knowing if they made it to her time, and the pure emotion that erupted on that boat when they watched her literally come back to life after CPR — I knew their story was not only something special, but one I couldn’t wait to share.

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