Editorial: In service of others

Posted 9/9/21

An exceptional group of public servants live and work in this town, and the past week brought reminders of how good they are.

When Ida, a former Category 4 hurricane, rolled across town last …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Not a subscriber?

Start a Subscription

Sign up to start a subscription today! Click here to see your options.

Purchase a day pass

Purchase 24 hours of website access for $2. Click here to continue

Day pass subscribers

Are you a day pass subscriber who needs to log in? Click here to continue.

Editorial: In service of others


An exceptional group of public servants live and work in this town, and the past week brought reminders of how good they are.

When Ida, a former Category 4 hurricane, rolled across town last Wednesday into Thursday, it dropped seven inches of rain into streets and yards. Residents awoke to find the mess it left behind, with a series of flooded streets and basements and a sewage treatment plant struggling to stay operational.

Of course, the town’s public servants had been awake long before most. Throughout town, police officers, volunteer firefighters and the employees of the water pollution control department were mobilized and responding. They were blocking off streets, redirecting traffic, pumping out basements and doing they best they could to keep that sewer plant pumping (which it did throughout the storm and its aftermath).

As the water subsided, public works crews were busy cleaning up the mess, clearing out storm drains and continuing their regular duties of hauling away the town’s trash and recycling.

One could dismiss this as standard operations for those who make their living off the taxpayers’ dimes, but the point isn’t what they do, it’s how they do it. These town departments have outstanding leadership, they communicate well, not just within their own groups but with each other, and they are professional in their approach. On an individual level, so many are personable and selfless and friendly to the public. It is not this way in all communities.

Later that same day, there was even more reason to appreciate these public servants, especially the first-responders. It seems cliché to say, “they risk their lives to help others,” until shocking events bring a reminder that they actually do risk their lives to help others.

When the Warren police department broadcast that there was an active shooter downtown, a fleet of Bristol police officers raced into that town to help. On their way to the scene, probably expecting to help take command of personnel or traffic or to support Warren’s investigation, two officers suddenly came under fire, with the suspect firing a gun at their car as it raced north on Water Street.

They stopped and engaged, crouching behind the car and firing bullets on a residential street with a suspected murderer. It was a surreal scene, shockingly unexpected on a warm Thursday in late summer.

So on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the most unforgettable example of public servants sacrificing for others, take time to recognize the public servants in this community. This really is an exceptional group.

2021 by East Bay Newspapers

Barrington · Bristol · East Providence · Little Compton · Portsmouth · Tiverton · Warren · Westport
Meet our staff
Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.