The thrill of crime reporting

“No one is spared from crime, however, at the center of the hurricane of crime, is a brotherhood of hard men, who fight for whatever justice is possible in this deadly world.”

I went through the grinder back in the Philippines as a crime reporter of a tabloid, (People’s Tonight) that started off by exploiting shame and facilitated rage to work up issues in finding justice and truth.

No one is spared from crime, however, at the center of the hurricane of crime, is a brotherhood of hard men, who fight for whatever justice is possible in this deadly world.

How I miss crime reporting, it was plucked out of me. Even the Malacanang beat was not as exciting, as I yearned for the wailing sounds of the police siren in the night.

As police reporters we were allowed unlimited opportunities to follow lawmen as they travel from interrogation to autopsies, and from crime scenes to hospital emergency rooms. Neither heat nor rain, not even the gloom of the night could hold these men from their rendezvous with destiny.  I would learn that a criminal talking to a cop or running from one, is almost always certain to get a beating at best — gunfire at worst!

Much later, even as we grew calluses on our hearts, we thrived on coffee and adrenalin, and drink ourselves into distilleries, that if anyone lighted a match, we will explode inside the morgues, funeral parlors, emergency rooms and police precincts.

Homicide detectives cut through boredom by drinking (as most of us did), complaining, teasing and pulling practical jokes.  Some were cruel and nearly all are crude.  One of them keeps a grizzly photo of a murdered rape victim in an advanced state of decomposition.  As a neophyte police reporter then, at least five homicide detectives asked me, “Tita Mylah, do you know this woman?,” as he whipped the photo out of his shirt pocket.  My piercing wail could wake the dead.

Now and then, when police brutality is exposed, no kind words could diffuse their rage. There were many times I wasn’t even sure whether their Chief Superintendent (who eventually stood as a wedding sponsor to one of the girls) would invite me to dinner and not challenge me to a fistfight.

Cops are there to quell the threats to peace and public safety – plus the control and reduction of criminality.  Their pay checks come from the national budget, but darn it if, after six beers, every cop is pretty much convinced he worked for the Lord, Himself.

Gunned down cops are overlooked in many slighting and painful ways.  Some people don’t feel sorry for cops who get killed. “You took the job, it’s part of the job to get killed.”  But it’s not! Cops take the job to protect people and help them.  They go out there even when they know they could get shot, stabbed, or beaten.  Those may come with the job, but certainly nobody takes a degrading salary just to die.  Because even among cops, inevitably, bodies fall, and careers get derailed.  But they will ride out with the same stubborn reason and unyielding belief that if they did their jobs, they won’t just survive.  They will endure.

As you watch them on attention, on their pigeon breast thrust, as they stood ramrod straight, let us not forget that they are tasked to clean up the world’s garbage — getting what everyone, including the family, the church and the school had failed.

Thank heaven there are cops on this God’s green earth!

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E-mail Mylah at moonlightingmdl@aol.com

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