Matt Pierce Briscoe: On Point

I don’t directly know Nueces County Sheriff JC Hooper, but I do know of him. My limited interaction with him has been simply in passing at my son’s baseball or football games at school and the pleasant conversation that my wife and I had with his wife at a chilly early season Flour Bluff baseball this year over at Cabaniss Field. But here is what I do know: Sheriff Hooper comes off as a man of principal and decency with a real heart for what it takes to be a leader.

I could be wrong, but I don’t think so.

For those of you who know me pretty well, you understand that my general philosophy on law enforcement is not overall positive and frankly, I agree with that many police departments and law enforcement agencies should be deeply scrutinized for their behavior, policies and practices. If there is a such thing as a “Blue Code of Honor,” then we should tear it all to Hell and back. That being said, there are some very good law enforcement officers who actually have a sense of decency and moral compass. what I mean is that those officers are not in it for a so-called “D*** Extension” or some sort of power or ego trip.

Now, what we see going on around our country is, in my opinion very well justified and has been too long in the making. We as a people need to do more to keep the powers that be in check and hold them accountable for their actions to us, the taxpayers and citizens of this country. What we don’t need are pointed statements that straddle the line between the citizens and the “Blue Code of Honor.” We don’t need Joe Gamaldi of the Houston Police Officers Association telling us how the entire world owes law enforcement something and we don’t need CLEAT justifying their every action. What we need is leadership and integrity and I believe that Sheriff Hooper has just that.

I saw the comments on social media calling him a “Little Kaelin” and other seemingly negative connotations. On a normal occasion I might say that those are fair assumptions–but not this time.

Even though I saw the comments and I feel that many of you feel like they are justified, I want to tell you what I also see. I see a man kneeling in solemn, earnest prayer with his hat over his heart in a crowd of people who might, on a normal day not be so friendly towards law enforcement–and perhaps they shouldn’t. But I also saw a man who has a conscience and a sense of humility.

In Sheriff Hooper I see a man who humbly asks his God for direction and guidance to help handle a particularly tragic national crisis. I also see a man who I think recognizes the words of the English Clergy John Bradford, who coined the phrase “There but for the grace of God goes John Bradford.”

I feel also like there is irony to Sheriff Hooper and to John Bradford. The more common reference of the above quote is “But there by the grace of God go I.” Perhaps you and I should tel ourselves that quote every single day and maybe even multiple times. But John Bradford actually said those words as he watched prisoners being led to the scaffold. Publicly, John Bradford was called out for being a man of humility and grace. In fact, in 1555 they even burned him at the stake.

My point here is not that. My point here is that comparing one man to another is often only putting us in the same shoes that we despise.

Do I believe that former Sheriff Jim Kaelin is a racist? I don’t think so. I think he made a terrible mistake, and for that mistake he ought to do the right thing and let somebody else take the reigns. I hear his plans are to do just that, but not right now.

Do I think that sitting Sheriff John Hooper is a spitting image of Kaelin? Far from it, and those who are comparing him to Kaelin are wrong for it. That my friends is a political ploy and is no better than those that swear an oath to these invisible codes of honor. In other words, it makes us no better than them.

Let’s think about this picture as a whole and really pause to consider the reality of truth and effect. You have heard me quote William J. Glasser “everything is that way that it seem and nothing is the way that it seems, in the middle is reality.” I think that is where we are at today. We have one side seeing it one extreme way and the other side seeing it the opposite. In the middle lies the reality of it all.

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