And the beat goes on

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Selma Times-Journal

Journalism is a perfect career for people who love to learn. Oh, and for those of us who are nosey, too.

The profession intrigued me because at first I thought I would be able to ask my favorite musicians and writers everything I wanted to know.

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I imagined myself sitting across from David Sedaris asking how his dysfunctional childhood affected his writing. The next day I would ask the Old 97’s about their Texas roots.

When I first was placed on the police beat, needless to say I was a bit apprehensive.

It was not for my safety, but as a female going into a predominantly male society. Nothing aggravates me faster than not be given respect due to my gender.

My fears, thankfully, proved to be unfounded in the law enforcement and fire fighter worlds. The people I have met not only have been respectful, but nice and humorous.

I also felt that on entering the police beat I would enter a world of codes and abbreviations.

That actually did happen, but you would be surprised how quickly you can remember a code 10-57 is a crime in progress.

I would like to think that my first two weeks on the police beat have been more than difficult. When I compare notes to other police reporters, I realize that sadly again I am mistaken.

Within these two weeks, I have reported the death of my favorite teacher, burglaries and drug-related cases.

The most difficult, though, has been on the drowning of Shana Cole.

I arrived at Little Miami while Cole was still trying to be resuscitated. I was there when she was pronounced dead and while her fianc and family began the grieving process. Unfortunately, I have lost loved ones. I know how their hearts ache and will continue to ache. Therefore, my heart immediately went out to them.

The drowning became even more personal when I had to interview a friend who found Cole. The thin line between reporter and friend seemed to expand miles. Suddenly all of my usual questions as a friend seemed like I was prying.

What happened, no longer meant the same. It sent a totally different message.

I truly hope that as I continue as a police beat reporter I can learn to walk the fine line between business and personal.

In just 14 days, I have seen more than I ever dreamed. However, officers and fire fighters see much, much more than I will ever witness. With that knowledge, I now have a newfound respect for our community’s protectors.

I still think about asking Chuck Palahniuk, Josh Ritter, and the like questions, but for now I much prefer asking, “what happened?”