I am a big fan of police procedural novels, and one of my favorite authors of that genre is Michael Connelly. If you’ve never read any of his work I’d suggest you give him a try. The people he brings to life are realistic and relatable, full of flaws and faults and whatever else goes along in making one human. I think at last count he’s up to around 30-something novels. I’ve read them all, most of them more than once.

I think of all of his characters the one I like the most is a fictional LAPD homicide detective named Hieronymus Bosch. Harry for short. The books about Harry are gritty, realistic, and, because the world is seen and described through the eyes of someone that deals in the worst of human nature, perversely dark.

Over his desk in the homicide squad room is a wooden sign that reads “Our day begins when your day ends.”

To keep his sanity through all of what transpires in his line of work, Harry is governed by his own set of rules by which he views his profession. And his number one rule is “Everyone counts or nobody counts.” He doesn’t believe that justice is a carve out program that belongs to only certain groups of people. He figures if you’re rich, poor, a saint or a sinner, if something happened to you that brings you to his attention (meaning you’re dead) then it’s his job to find out how it happened, and he will do whatever it takes to make sure that whoever is guilty is held responsible.

After all, the legal system was supposedly built to ensure that all Americans are viewed the same.

I’ve been thinking about Harry and his motto these past few weeks, what with all that has gone on in the Chauvin trial and the killing of George Floyd and all that, and I’m thinking that Harry would be a bit disappointed in some of his fellow citizens.

I read the Finger Lakes Times survey about what some folks thought of the outcome of the trial, along with a few letters to the editors in other papers about what folks around the country thought about the trial, and more than a few said it really shouldn’t have been such a big deal about what happened to Mr. Floyd because well, he wasn’t the most upstanding of citizens.

Which is quite true. He was a highly flawed and troubled human being.

Of course, if you think about it, isn’t that the whole idea of having a police department in the first place, the fact that a certain portion of the population is made up of highly flawed and troubled people?

But as Harry would say, they count too. They are a part of our society, and in many cases part of the reason they are highly flawed and troubled is because of the flaws in our society.

We should keep that in mind when judging people.

Because if they don’t count, no one counts.

Pete Mitchell’s “In America” column appears every other Monday. He lives in Geneva and can be reached at peteinamerica@yahoo.com.

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