One of my first Army leadership classes taught me that “all feedback is positive, even when it is negative.” It took a few moments to grasp that concept, but I realized that if no criticism is made (constructive or otherwise), how does one improve?
I enjoyed policing in Boulder City because most of the citizens would share their feedback — good, bad and indifferent. In many jurisdictions, officers seldom receive positive remarks about their work.
When a new police chief arrived from out of state many years ago, he sought my input. I said, “Boulder City is a great place to be a police officer.” When pressed for the downside, I couldn’t think of any. I half-jokingly said, “Chief, there are almost 16,000 citizens here and most of them know how to do your job. A few will seldom hesitate to tell you.” A few months later he said, “Dan, you were right. But I didn’t expect one of them to knock on my door on a Sunday afternoon to tell me.”
As a columnist, I strive to improve my craft daily. Feedback is crucial. I read all comments posted on this newspapers’ Facebook page. I do not dismiss anyone’s comments, even if they are disparaging. After all, Socrates said, “when the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the losers.”
Furthermore, in the words of Doc Holliday, portrayed by Val Kilmer in the 1994 version of “Tombstone,” “Sir, if I am to be insulted, I must first value your opinion.”
Despite the urging of many, I don’t reply to negative comments because it is not my Facebook page.
As a writer, I have noticed that many folks, especially those at the far left of the political spectrum, do not grasp sarcasm or humor, especially self-deprecating humor. Some will write a 200-word response to a headline without reading the article. One commenter said she didn’t need to read the article, she knew what it said.
So far, the dozens of emails I have received over the years have been mostly positive. To those who take the time to email me, I thank you.
A writer’s life is not easy, especially if a cat is vying for keyboard space. It is exponentially difficult with two cats vying for separate keyboard space.
You should have been impressed after reading Jim Stasiowski’s letter to the editor (“Jennings fails in mission to sway others’ opinion”) regarding my last column, “Defund the police — an insane idea.” After all, he has a degree in English and has been a writer, editor and writing coach for over 40 years.
Your humble columnist has been a part-time writer for a few years and has had little contact with the world of English except for two literature courses, one in the ’70s (world literature) and one in the ’80s (American literature). Both were mandatory for respective associate and bachelor’s degrees. With my South Carolina GED in hand, I tested my way out of English 101 and 102 via the College Level Examination Program.
Not only am I now getting paid to express my opinions, but I receive free lessons from a world-renowned writing coach.
Even though Stasiowski called me a bully, I am honored to have caught his eye. He quoted me no less than six times in his letter to the editor.
An unknown source once said, “Men sleep peacefully in their beds at night because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.” Most of my police career was spent on the midnight shift by choice. There is something exotic about keeping the peace at three in the morning while the rest of the world is safely abed.
The work of professional writers is also important. Otherwise, how would we know about the heroics of our military and law enforcement officers?
Several officers serving Boulder City have received the Medal of Valor, the highest law enforcement award one can receive for heroism. Among those are Mike Barth (retired), Mike Daniel, Scott Pastore, Alan Nutzman, Armando Salazar and Todd Huff.
Boulder City might reduce the police budget for budgetary constraints, but never for political reasons. Boulder City stands tall and will always be proud of its police department.
I predict record participation by Boulder City in this year’s election (early voting starts in nine weeks). Your voice and your vote count. Your feedback is important.
Dan Jennings is a retired Army captain and a retired BCPD lieutenant. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.