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The Truth About Philadelphia

Benes Lawrence
Retired Police Officer, West Mount Airy


Question #15: When in your life have you felt most alone?

Glenn: How about the opposite feeling, was there a time, have you ever felt disconnected from the city, when you felt either alone or separate from the way the city was moving or being.

Benes: Yeah, there, there were times there, yeah. Umm, there, there were a few times that I felt, I felt very, very alone. I felt disconnected from the city, umm, even as, even as a police officer I felt, felt that. That the city was losing its grip on where it was going, what was going on. And that was not during the hey-day 60s when we were, and early 70s when there were a lot of demonstrations. I thought that was exciting. I mean I, I just thought that was the most exciting time in the city. We were alive, we were moving, umm, things were happening.
But we came under another administration and, umm, under that administration I thought we, I though we lost it. The blackest time, the absolute blackest time was during the MOVE confrontation, and, umm, at Osage Avenue. I could not believe we were burning the city. I absolutely couldn't believe that was happening. I never thought that something like that would ever occur. That we actually did that. Umm, even as hateful as those people were, and as dogmented as they were in their, in their interest and their direction there were other ways to have done what we had done. We, we did not go according to our training. We went outside of that.
A couple of things that I think a lot of people forget that occurred when they yelled that we couldn't put the fire out was that there was actually another fire in a warehouse in Southwest Philadelphia on the same water system. So in fact that when the firemen tried to fire up the engines and pump out water, it, there was nothing to pump. There was not enough water in the reservoirs. And I think a lot of people conveniently forget that. But for us to do the things that we did to those people, that was sad.
The other sad part about it and this is when I really began to feel alone about the city is that no one cared, no one cared about that grunt cop who was standing out, umm, doing all of this, no one cared about us. No one cared, no one spoke to us, no, no I take that back. The priest from St. Carthanage Church came out and he walked over to as many police officers individually as he could and he spoke to us. And his words were very comforting. But the city never did anything about it, umm, no one ever spoke to us, there was no psychological training or, or, umm, opening up, nothing, nothing. And I've always hated the city and the police department for that lack. I, I've thought that they, they missed their, their opportunities.

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