[Although the following "war story" draws upon my personal experiences, please view it as a fictional account, and please also remember that all people, including alleged crooked cops, are presumed innocent until proven guilty!]
I learned many years ago that heroes don't exist at three o'clock in the morning. That night, I certainly didn't feel like a hero. I was at home. I was alone. And I was downright scared -- for me, and for my wife, who was eight months pregnant with our first child. She was asleep in the next room.
I was a young, aggressive, but naive, prosecutor with a cause. I wanted to save the world, shake some trees, and lock up all the bad guys. A fellow Assistant D.A. and I were investigating one of our local sheriffs. And the sheriff knew about our investigation. Among other allegations, a major drug dealer had named the sheriff as an accomplice who had allegedly provided guns to protect a drug deal. The sheriff denied the allegations.
I could tolerate the harassment by the sheriff and his deputies. One of the deputies followed me to court whenever I entered that county. Another would playfully frisk me in the courtroom. And they all gave me their best, most menacing, "go to Hades" glares. I could handle all that.
But earlier, that afternoon, my secretary had received a threatening, anonymous telephone call. The unknown caller had simply said, "Tell Mr. Goolsby I'm gonna come to his house tonight and blow his f_ _ king head off!" Now, that was hard to handle!
I will never forget that long, lonely night! As I sat in my recliner, with my .38 special nearby, I remember wondering whether the cause was really worth it. I would never give up the fight. But I had learned that fighting corruption often comes with costs.
I had also learned that heroes don't exist at three o'clock in the morning.