Your continued interest and involvement guarantees success. I am proud to say the number of active Neighborhood Watch groups has increased this year and those already established have increased their activity. I have been able to attend some Neighborhood Watch meetings and hear your compliments and critiques. I appreciate both as it helps us become more responsive to your expectations. I want you to approve of your police officers. I want you to approve of the way they work and the results they achieve. My goal is that you view your police department as an equal in this on-going effort. I want you to have the same sense of pride and ownership in your police department as my dearly departed friend and mentor, Wanda Buckingham.
I well remember Ms. Wanda leading a group of like-minded souls on a number of crusades against known dope houses; actually standing in front of the houses, chest out, chin up in a beautiful and inspiring Hellenic profile. She pointed her finger and shouted long and loud the list of shortcomings she saw before her. I do not recall hearing any back-sass from the targets of her withering verbiage. I also remember that some in the community did not approve of Ms. Wanda's approach. She was pressured at times to "tone it down". I know the Police Chief at the time was concerned about some sort of hazy and half imagined community outcry. He wanted her to stop the street demonstrations but had the good sense not to say so to her face. Ms. Wanda persevered and in doing so she inspired others to take a critical look at themselves and their surroundings. She inspired me. Various snippets of conversations I had with her were going through my mind as I wrote the plan and set the course for the current direction of your police department. I still remember her voice.
Ms. Wanda served on numerous boards and committees, she wrote a column for the Pine Bluff Commercial, and she picked up trash. She picked up litter and trash in neighborhoods quite a distance from where she lived. The fact that there was trash that needed picking up seemed to matter. Ms. Wanda was known for her perfect manners. She was firm but fair in her opinions and always courteous in her discourse. I know all too well what she would make of the rudeness and coarse name-calling that seems endemic in what passes for politics in Pine Bluff. I doubt the offenders could look her in the eye.
Pine Bluff would benefit from a 2013 iteration of Wanda Buckingham. Her shoes have not yet been filled. We need her conviction, her unwavering sense of propriety, her ability to see far ahead. If I do meet her I plan to make a promise; I will not be conflicted and over-cautious nor will I bow to any stooge-like detractors. Do your thing, I got your back.