Book Review Saturday: Memoirs of a Public Servant

“They never had an opportunity to fight back, to look their enemy in the eyes while engaging them in combat. Their wives are without husbands, and their children are without fathers. The community lost protectors, servants and heroes.”

This book was brought to my attention by a family member who shares my love for reading. In the wake of the Las Vegas shooting, she was looking for a way to contribute or give back. Purchasing this book and sharing it with others was her small way of contributing. Memoirs of a Public Servant was written by Charleston Hartfield, the off-duty police officer killed on the strip slightly over a month ago. This book was published in July 2017 only a few months before his tragic death. I was hesitant at first to pick it up because in full disclosure, my boyfriend is a police officer. I hear the stories, I know what he sees and how people treat and view him. We live in different time now. Public servants are viewed with hostility and the level of respect for the profession is low. Hartfield touched on this topic and even presented his ideas for changing the narrative.

His memoirs were his outlet from his day to day life. If you have met anyone in the public service field then you know the stuff they see stays with them. An outlet is necessary for coping and stress relief. The stories bounce from various years but tell a story all their own. He focused on details of specific calls, his family life and even his off-duty gigs. He wrote about the tragic loss of two officers, shot while they were eating dinner on shift. He mentioned several times how important it is to live life to the fullest because you never know how short your time is. It seems like he knew something was going to happen, like the possibility was higher somehow. He discussed his military career and hoped that he might publish his memories to bring perspective and peace of mind to others. We learn about some of his partners, the comradery of the blue family and how important being a husband and father were to him.

This book boasts several grammar errors but they add to the authenticity of his writing. I can picture him walking in after shift, dwelling on the day and needing to type away the worry. I think people forget that officers are regular people. He worked hard, went home, and tried to do the best he could for his family like everyone else in America. He and his fellow officers are taken for granted for the small things they do, the things that make the biggest difference. He took the time to talk to people, to listen before he judged and tried to help all those he met. He called it “concrete preaching” and talked to people about their future and their decisions and tried to guide them in the right direction. He didn’t lose patience, or consider them a lost cause. He believed in his ability to make a difference and this memoir will be his stamp on the world.

I didn’t have a hard time getting through the book. Once I finished reading and began my research on the author is when it became all too real. There are so many news articles and videos about Hartfield that are just heartbreaking. I had to close my laptop and walk away before writing this review. I know that my purchase of this book does not make a huge difference. My only hope is that someone else will read this and then tell their friend about it. We need to bring awareness and perspective to those that are reliant on the media instead of their own research. There are always going to be bad people in the world, but do not throw everyone into that box. Give them a chance to prove themselves to you. Do not pass judgement. And as the book ended, so shall I: “To the WORLD you may be but ONE person, but to ONE person you may be the WORLD.”

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