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JUNE 2021 Blues Vol 37 No. 6

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JUNE 2021 Blues Vol 37 No. 6 • The History of the Galveston Island Beach Patrol • Beach Safety Tips • It's Island Time - Where to Stay, Eat & Play on the Island • The Texas School District Police Chiefs Conference • State & National Law Enforcement News • Warstory - What Happened to Susan Miller? • President Biden Receives Light Bulb Award • Open Road - The End of the HEMI? • Fishing with Rusty Barron • Dr. Tina speaks with David Edwards - Humanizing the Badge

Gaius Petronius Arbiter

Gaius Petronius Arbiter I always like studying the Romans. They were some largerthan-life characters and still are influential in the western world view. They were literate and are derived from a tribe on the Italian peninsula called the Latins. Their language is the father of these Southern European languages: Italian, Spanish, French, and Portuguese. Latin is still the language of science and the Catholic Church. One of the figures that I studied served in the court of the emperor Nero. Gaius Petronius Arbiter (27- 66 AD) was a judge of sorts. He was the author of a satirical novel that spared no one and most Romans thought it was pretty clever. Petronius served the Empire in various fields, but the one he is known for is fashion. He was Nero’s expert in deciding what was appropriate in terms of style and deportment. He was quite literally the head of the fashion police. In order to serve properly, he slept all day and partied all night. It was a tough job, but somebody had to do it. Prior to being a judge of style and deportment, Petronius was a consul of the Empire. He governed and spoke his mind which created many friends and, of course, enemies. One of the things that got him crossways with his superiors had to do with reforming and reorganizing centurions and others who were charged with enforcing the Pax Romana. The Pax Romana refers to the law and order that Rome provided its citizens and others under Roman rule. The heart of the Empire was the road system that Roman engineers developed. I’ve walked on some of these roads myself and they are just as magnificent today as they were two thousand years ago when Petronius walked them. The roads allowed the Legions to cross the continent without getting bogged down in mud or drown in river crossings. Besides the military, commerce flowed from one end of the Mediterranean to the other with traders buying and selling goods. Christian missionaries like Paul and Silas walked the roads spreading the gospel in the region. The Romans patrolled their territory and captured outlaws who threatened the Pax Romana. As you might imagine, many people thought the Roman rule was heavy handed. The Roman enforcers of the law were constantly being reformed and reorganized to meet new standards. Petronius commented on this and his words echo across the millennia to the present. “We trained hard, but it seemed like every time we were beginning to form into teams we were reorganized. I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any situation by reorganizing, and what a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while actually producing confusion, inefficiency, and demoralization.” I think Petronius may have been onto something! The new centurions and enforcers of the American rule of law can identify with their Roman forebears from centuries in the past. Confusion, inefficiency, and demoralization are nothing new. They are rather the constant in the life of any law enforcement organization. People constantly “reform” what they want in law enforcement and inevitably go back and forth on a continuum that Petronius would be very familiar with. So, what finally happened to Petronius? Well, he finished his career as an arbiter (yes, our word for arbitration comes from the Latin) by finally making the wrong person angry. He was sentenced to death, but he cheated the executioner by opening up his veins and discussing affairs of the day as he bled out. He was a notable Roman and his life and death were recorded by Tacitus, Pliny the Elder, and Plutarch. Before he bled out, he broke his very fancy ladle for dipping wine so that Nero wouldn’t possess it. Petronius was always thinking! Congratulations to Alan Helfman on your Lifetime Achievement Award PROUD SUPPORTER OF THE BLUES FOR OVER 36 YEARS HELFMAN’S RIVER OAKS CHRYSLER JEEP • DODGE • RAM • CHRYSLER • FORD FIAT • ALFA ROMEO • MASERATI 94 The BLUES POLICE MAGAZINE The BLUES POLICE MAGAZINE 95

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