Wednesday, April 4, 2012

SPECIAL GUEST: AUTHOR TERRI GIULIANO LONG

I'm proud to present you a special guest today: Officer Jerry Johnson from the Cortland Police Department (Massachusetts). Author Terri Giuliano Long is going to replace me on the interviewer's stool, for once.
Hi, Terri. Please, be my guest and let us know more about Officer Johnson ...



Is an ounce of prevention worth a pound of cure?
By Jerry Johnson

First, would you please tell us a bit about yourself?
Sure, I’m a police officer with the Cortland Police Department. I’ve worked for the department for twelve years, since I was 24. I have a degree in criminal justice. While I was in school I worked as a security guard. This was my first real job as an adult. I loved it then and I still love it. I can’t imagine doing anything else.

My wife, Maura, and I have been together since high school. We have twins, three-month-old boys. I hate to complain, but it’s been a rough few months, since the kids were born. My wife used to manage a nursery. At five months along, they put her on bed rest; she’s been out of work for more than half a year. She loved the job, taking care of the plants, and she misses interacting with people. With only one income, we need the cash, so I take details and extra shifts whenever I can, which is exhausting and hard on my wife. We live on the outskirts of town, so she’s completely isolated.

As much as I love being on the street, working with people, I look forward to the day I move to a desk job with regular hours, so I can spend more time with my family.

In your job, what do you do to aid in prevention? Do you find it effective?
I lead the drug prevention program we present in the elementary schools. I enjoy meeting the kids. When you talk with them they get to know you on a personal level, not just as uniform or someone to be scared of. We show the kids they can trust us, so if they’re ever in trouble, they’re not afraid to come to us for help. As for keeping them off drugs, the jury’s out on that. Some of the recent studies suggest that programs like DARE are not as effective as we once thought. I like to believe it helps some. It familiarizes the kids with the long and short-term effects of drugs. It may only raise questions in their mind, but that’s at start. And it’s better than the cure—rehab or jail. The recidivism rates are high and there’s the heartache and risk that accompany any addiction; we try to do what we can to keep kids from starting.

By maintaining a visible presence in the community, we discourage crime. A guy’s less likely to break into a house if he thinks a cruiser might go by. But
Cortland is a small town and it’s quiet; we don’t see much crime. I do break up a lot of underage parties. The kids hang out in the woods, sit around a bonfire and drink or get high. A few years ago, there was a horrific crash over on Old Orchard Road. The driver lost control and slammed into a tree. By the time I got there it was too late. The kids in front were already gone. I can still see the boy in the back seat, pounding the window, as the car blew.  If we can keep kids from getting behind the wheel when they’re drunk or high, that ounce of prevention is worth a million times the cure.

In your personal life, what has been your experience with prevention and cure?
I was an idiot when I was a kid. In high school, I got in with a rough crowd. One day, on a dare, I broke into the neighbor’s garage, stole an expensive chain saw. I left it in the trunk of my car—like I said, I was stupid. He saw it and called the police. My mom was beside herself, angry and embarrassed. I’d been saving up for a Harley. She made me give her the money to pay for my legal fees. I could have gotten a month in county, but I got lucky. Instead of prosecuting me, the judge put me in a “summer work-study program.” It turned out, the “program” was taking care of his gardens and yard. It was hard work and I cursed him for it, but that judge turned my life around. I got myself together, went to night school and ended up being a cop.

Finding your way through a difficult time can be a character builder. It stopped me in my tracks and kept me out of further trouble, so the experience served as both prevention and cure. It forced me to grow up and figure things out. That’s important for kids. If you hover too much, you smother them and they never grow up. I was stubborn. With kids like me, you’ve got to let them fall, so they learn to pick themselves up. Of course you don’t want them to fall too hard. It’s a balance, I guess.

You have two children. For them, an ounce of prevention or a pound of cure?
I had a feeling this question was coming. My sons are babies. It’s easy now to tell you what I’ll do when they’re older, because I don’t have to deal with it now. Kids are resilient. I’d like to think I’d give them enough room to take chances, even if, like me, it means learning a tough lesson. But I’ll also want to protect them. We’ll see, I guess.

Officer Jerry Johnson

Who is Jerry Johnson? He is one of the main characters in the novel, In Leah’s Wake. 
Jerry Johnson is a decorated officer in the Cortland Police Department. A lifelong resident, he lives in Cortland, Massachusetts, with his wife and two infant sons.

About the book - Protecting their children comes naturally for Zoe and Will Tyler - until their daughter Leah decides to actively destroy her own future. What happens when love just isn’t enough? Who will pay the consequences of Leah’s vagrant lifestyle? Can this broken family survive the destruction left in Leah’s wake? 




About the author - Terri Giuliano Long grew up in the company of stories both of her own making and as written by others. Books offer her a zest for life’s highs and comfort in its lows. She’s all-too-happy to share this love with others as a novelist and as a lecturer at Boston College. Terri loves meeting and connecting with people who share her passions. 
Twitter: www.twitter.com/tglong or





1 comment:

  1. Hi Jeffrey - thank you so much for hosting me - or rather Jerry - today. Although he's the only main character in the book who isn't part of the Tyler family, he still plays a major role so it's great to see him get an opportunity to sit in the hot seat for once!

    Thanks again and I hope the rest of the week is great for you!
    Terri

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