The Wizard of Oz told the Tin Man that "a heart is judged not by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others." The love expressed by the of hundreds of people – of all ages and ethnicities – who shared tears and hugs outside Pasadena City Hall last Thursday testified to the great size of Victor McClinton's heart. The beloved coach who mentored countless kids through the Brotherhood Community Youth Sports League was remembered at a massive public vigil two days after his life was taken in gang crossfire.
Another heartbreaking, infuriating tragedy that has robbed us of another beautiful, caring spirit.
From all accounts, Victor McClinton was one of the good guys. One of the best. Innumerable families were touched by this man who stood in as the wise, loving, expectation-setting father figure and example that so many of our youth long for and need. His dedication, and now his loss, reminds us of the pivotal role that one person can play in the lives of many. Reminds us of the need for each of us to do what we can, with whatever gifts we possess, to be a source of help and hope to those around us.
So, in the midst of our mourning, anger, frustration and deep sadness let us rededicate ourselves to the spirit of love, compassion and community that heroes like Victor McClinton shared with us.
Service to and love of community were guideposts for Phlunte Riddle throughout her 28 years and 8 months on the Pasadena Police Department. Riddle, the PPD's first African-American woman sergeant and lieutenant, has never been one to seek the spotlight – even during her filled-to-capacity retirement celebration where Riddle was showered with accolades from a procession of government officials, colleagues, family and friends. For Phlunte Riddle, giving of herself is what her years in uniform were all about.
Q: What made you decide to become a police officer?
A: It may sound corny but I wanted to serve my community. I still think the best of people even though, as a police officer, we see the worst. Most people are good and want to do right, but sometimes they get caught up in junk.
Q: It's a tribute to you that you didn't become jaded . . .
A: There are days when I've been called one too many vulgar names. I've been spit on. I've been mistreated. I've been misquoted. I feel like a victim and I have to shake it off and say, "Why did you come into this profession? Because you wanted to make a difference and help someone, and be an advocate."
Q: How have things changed for women police officers in Pasadena since you came on the job in 1984?
A: Back then, we were tolerated in what was considered a male environment. It was not accepted that we could do a good job. The community said it, also. I remember one person telling me, "Send me a real police officer!" People didn't realize that we, being women, had worked harder to get on the police department than the males did.
Q: Urging youth to consider police careers has been a priority for you . . .
A: This is an honorable profession. If we could get our young people –in particular women and minorities – to realize the value of being a part of their police and fire departments because they make a tremendous difference when their homes are in these neighborhoods.
You don't get to come out here and act foolish because everybody knows where you live, everybody knows your mama, knows your cousins, your uncles, your children. It's an investment.
Thank you, Phlunte Riddle, for the investment of service you made to our community for nearly 29 years. We look forward to the next phase!
I'm Cameron Turner and that's my two cents.