“What I’ll miss most is doing the school crossings and getting all the high fives from the kids.”
Corporal Dave Lewis of the Sykesville Police
Well, just when things were looking up for Barkley, our arthritic dog, Dave Lewis resigned from the Sykesville police force. It happened about a week ago and Barkley is not happy.
When Barkley talks, he sounds just like Dug in the movie Up.
Barkley says, “This is awful, Jack. I loved Dave Lewis. He liked dogs. He even liked people. I am going to be depressed all month, Jack.”
So we’re upping Barkley’s Dogzac.
Now, if you’re unsure why Barkley is so fond of Corporal Lewis, maybe you missed our story about the suddenly missing picnic table at Warfield. One day it was there, next day it was in the lake, depriving Barkley of one of his favorite pastimes, lifting his leg and marking the bench in various places with his scent.
A couple days after it mysteriously vanished, it mysteriously returned. Then we received this note.
Best I can do. Beer cans are all cleaned up, the suspected bong (wrapping for one of the new trees, as it turns out) recovered and disposed of. And with a lot of assistance from the police department’s new AWD SUV cruiser and a tow cable, the pic-a-nic table is back up where you can pee on it without getting your feet wet. Or Jack can.
So Corporal Lewis had gone in and gotten the bench out.
The Mullet Man
Dave and I first got acquainted during the famous mullet man incident. As you may recall, a semi-naked man in chicken feathers, leather pants, riding boots, and an orange mullet, terrorized the area around Kalorama and Harlan Lane recently with a bad haircut and a knife, drawing cops from all over, including the Sykesville police. When someone made a crack about Barney and Andy, Dave took offense and took it out on me.
I apologized and we made friends. And really, getting compared to Andy is actually a compliment. Barney on the other hand, well…
The Police Man
Dave declined my interview offer, but did tell me by email that, among lots of other things, he’s a proud member of the Joyful Ringers Handbell Choir, which tells you something about the guy.
He’s been with the Sykesville Police since November of 2003, which means he wasn’t the one who gave me the ticket for parking the wrong way the very day we moved into town.
And of course, being a professional policeman isn’t just about setting speed traps, apprehending crazed men with orange mullets, and giving tickets for parking your car in the wrong direction. During his time here, he’s handled a lot of sad, dangerous, and serious stuff.
“Accidental deaths, sudden infant deaths, natural deaths, suicides, cars hit by trains, people hit by trains, dogs hit by trains. Domestics, burglaries, water main breaks, robberies, thefts, animal complaints, DUIs, neighbor disputes, assaults, vandalisms, all kinds of traffic accidents.”
And memorable recent incidents like these in which he:
- Investigated and closed a hit and run at the Big Belly Deli, using a security system he installed. (Dave’s wife works at Big Belly.)
- Investigated and closed a Robbery at the Quick Stop, where the clerk was badly beaten with a baseball bat.
- Investigated and closed a $10,000 plus theft of copper pipe from the Warfield Complex.
- Investigated and closed the case of an Improvised Explosive Device (bottle bomb).
- Investigated and closed the theft of a wheelchair from a paraplegic. Recovered the stolen wheelchair.
- Successfully subdued and apprehended a suicidal subject with a loaded, cocked .44 magnum revolver held to his temple.
- Investigated and apprehended an attempted first-degree murder suspect.
- Pulled a picnic table out of a pond, so a dog wouldn’t hate all of mankind.
Dave worked 27 years as a policeman in Montgomery County before coming to Sykesville, where he served as fleet manager, firearms instructor, taser instructor, crime scene processor, first-line supervisor, training coordinator, IT manager, and property and evidence technician.
And of course, you’ve probably seen him swinging his baton and patrolling Main Street on foot, or giving high fives to tweens near the Sykesville Middle School, following in the long tradition of Sykesville policemen past, including Patty Meyer’s father, Millard Cooper, who they named the park after. Kids used to try to steal the bullets from policeman Cooper’s belt at that same spot.
Here’s an abbreviated list of Dave’s accomplishments during his years in Sykesville. It kind of goes on forever, so I cut it just to give you a taste.
- Donated and installed speakers in all the rooms of the station. Wired them for police radio. Donated and installed an audio/video security system at the station.
- Donated and installed 11 of the 13 station computers. Set up the network system.
- Arranged for the donation of two Segways, three tasers, and a golf cart that he painted black and white for use on the Linear Trail, also arranged the donation of a 4-wheel-drive ATV.
- Replaced the aging Sig Sauer duty weapons with current Glock pistols.
- Maintained and displayed the Sykesville Police Department’s 1957 Ford.
- Worked the Fall Festivals and all the movie shoots in Town. Attended all National Night Outs, on his own time. (His wife drives the ’57 police car, he drives the current police car.)
- Represented the department at all American Legion memorials and all Catherine’s Cause events (Survivors of DUI-related deaths).
- Worked the Special Olympics and Breast Cancer events.
- Initiated and ran the annual Sykesville Gun-Turn-In Program.
When Dave got mad about the mullet man, he said, “If you stop and think about a small group of police officers doing their best to improve the quality of life in their town, for very little pay; perhaps Sykesville and Mayberry aren’t so different, after all.”
I don’t really think Sykesville’s very much like Mayberry. For instance, find me Gomer Pyle or that idiot, Goober, with that ridiculous hat. But it’s really not such a bad comparison, in some ways, and the corporal sort of embodied the small-town spirit of Sykesville, and did it in a quiet way that probably very few people noticed.
Except Barkley, and he’s not actually a person. Thanks to Dave’s efforts, Barkley was able to say, “I was wrong, Jack. Humans don’t suck.”
And Dave hasn’t forgotten Barkley, either. The other day he sent me an email.
“Oh, yeah, Jack. For Barkley, try Cosequin. Used to have to get it from the vet, but you can get it local now. It’s made in-state and it’s a miracle drug for joint problems. It prevents and/or fixes problems. I used it on my K-9 dog and both my GSD’s I have now.”
He left a message for the town, too.
“I was honored to be allowed to serve the citizens in and around the Town of Sykesville for the past ten years. I hope I was able to support the Sykesville Police Department’s motto, ‘Making a Difference.’ I will miss you all.”
Barkley says, “We’ll miss you, too, Dave.”
I’m thinking we should do something in his honor. Maybe after the election, the town council can name the Warfield picnic bench for him.
Something fancy like “The Corporal Dave Lewis Dog Peeing Station and Picnic Table.”
They named a park after Millard Cooper. Doesn’t Dave Lewis at least deserve a Dog Peeing Station?