Of course, the problem is that the cops on the beat have no idea who these people are and, in turn, those being hit up with a half-assed violation and fine aren't the type to pull a "Do you know who I am?" If you have ever lived in a small town and don't have enough sense to know who the folks are that keep the community spirit flourishing, maybe you should move elsewhere. Unfortunately in Jamestown, all the police do live elsewhere.

This is not a headline-grabbing story. But it says something about where we've come. As a resident of Jamestown for 20 years, Phillipe always liked that you could go out to do your errands without your wallet and still come home with the dry cleaning and groceries. Shopkeepers would expect you to come back later to make good — and you would.

The trade-off for that luxury is everyone knowing your business, but it is a small price to pay, and can be downright comical at times. ("Didn't I see your car outside X's house all last night?")

In one recent discussion on the imported gendarmes and their enforcement mentality, a former policeman who is a lifelong resident said, "If we saw a kid who got in trouble, we'd take him home to his parents and tell them about it. That was punishment enough." Now it's the kid in the slammer, and $85 for no seatbelt when you drive home from the shop you own on Main Street — a shop that has helped the local economy for decades. You don't exactly dodge gunfire every night in the inner city, boys and girls in the Jamestown police uniform, so lighten up and get a clue.

Or as Nick Roach put it, "Our relationship with the Police Department has been out of control for the last decade. This is not a recent event. We should provide a bright future for our police officers and give them the job security they desire and deserve. In return, they should give us the kind of department that worked so well in the distant past." Selah.


RICHARD'S BIRTHDAY

Yes, it's once again time for the annual Richard Walton birthday celebration. The teacher, author, activist, and friend is, of course, unique and irreplaceable. He's also the only person we know who ran for Vice President of the United States (and yes, we voted for him).

Usually, Richard and his many friends and family celebrate at the Walton Compound near Pawtuxet Village, but this year's celebration will be May 27 from 2 to 6 pm at the Roots in downtown Providence. The indoor locale means that the weather will not be an issue. But do know that the party will, in many ways, be just like all of the other celebrations of Richard's birthday.

There will be the friendliest people in Vo Dilun, music, and food. It will be potluck, so everyone is encouraged to bring his best dish. The music will be joyous and spontaneous: an open mike jam session featuring some of the finest musicians in the area and, we suspect, at least one Grammy winner.

And, as always, there will be an opportunity to donate to a couple of Richard's favorite causes, the Providence Sister Cities project in Niquinohomo, Nicaragua, and Amos House. Hope to see you there.

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