The insert below is written by officer Mark J. Webb, a friend of the newspaper carrier, Walter 'Wes' Scott, fatally shot in uptown last week.
I glanced at the clock – it was 3:45 am, and the thermometer read 22 degrees. I finally had a break from back-to-back to back calls for service and I settled in across the street from the 24-hour Seven Eleven. The paper guy pulled up in his black Toyota Tacoma, tactically parked, dismounted, egressed to the back of his motor vehicle, secured and dropped a stack of newspapers, mounted his truck and within seconds was again on the move.
He pulled up car to car with me, and unleashed that friendly and gregarious smile, handed me a free newspaper, and said, "What's up brother, how are you doing tonight?" It had become a trend over the last 3 to 4 years, Walter Wes Scott, the Paperman. He was never the "Paperman" to me – he was so much more. He loved that black Toyota Tacoma and boasted that he was well on his way to 300,000 miles, a true American patriot, so proud of his daughter serving in the US military, his other daughter a power lifter, a son in law who worked for the CMPD, a 20 year career as a constable, a staunch advocate of the 2nd Amendment to the United States Constitution.
From the moment I had first observed him delivering papers in a seamless fashion that would impress any military trained small unit leader, I knew he was special.
To me he was the antithesis of modern America, an uncompromising citizen comprised of a stoic belief in courage, character, and compassion, integrity, hardworking, and always willing to take individual responsibility to do his part. He always stood out to me in very stark contrast against a technological back drop of information overload.
Never constantly distracted with cell phones, text messages, social media, emails, voice mails, degrading an overworked and under paid society and its ability to communicate face to face, speak, listen, and be mutually respectful. His brief chats, were often about life's small pleasures, heating your home with a wood stove, or the fire going out while you were asleep and waking up to a house that was 45 degrees.
It was never awkward if there was a moment of silence when we talked, actually for me it was very comforting. Those chats got me through my father's long and miserable battle with colon cancer which ended with his death July 2016, and the Charlotte, NC riots of September 2016.
The "Paperman" had 40 years of experience working the streets and he influenced me both personally and professionally discussing the challenges of serving as a law enforcement officer during one of the most historically challenging times. The need for officers to face asymmetric challenges in a dangerous and dynamic stressful work environment composed of daily complex problems and ill-structured societal challenges.
Contrasted against society's demands that every outcome better be perfect as pieces of information would be live streamed to media outlets competing to be the first to break the news often times faster than the actual totality of the circumstances on the ground could be collected and assessed.
Numerous times he shared with me his opinion that the streets were growing more dangerous. When we could, we brain stormed ideas and shared an ongoing discourse on why and what could be done to address those challenges.
- Root causes related to socio-economic and political ideals
- Race gender religious persecution bias
- The cost of living keeping pace with annual income / financial merit raises
- Education, opportunity, and parenting
- The role of social media and the responsibility of the media and fact-based reporting
- Criminal prosecution, habitual offenders, structured sentencing
- Collective government working groups composed of law makers, funding / budgeting analysts , law enforcement, elected officials, activists, and the local constituents they serve
- Terrain and geographical aspects of policing and the number of officers to citizens
We shared a laugh and both concurred that perhaps every public servant should wear a Body Worn Camera all the way up to the President of the United States so we could achieve true "transparency and accountability." (Obviously, outside the constraint of issues of National Security)
I awoke to the text from my partner after working all night, "Hey man…the Observer delivery guy in the black Tacoma was shot and killed last night." I immediately thought of you, Wes, always saying to me, "Thank you, for what you do because without you guys, I could not be out here."
My stomach knotted, I was groggy, and immediately, reflected to the senseless and tragic loss of a dear friend, CPT Brian Freeman, KIA, Karbala Iraq, 20 JAN 2007, and then I thought of you driving by in a torrential rain storm with your arm out your driver's side window profusely waving side to side and beeping your horn in the middle of the night to say, "Hello", with the life-sized American flag proudly waving from the bed of your truck. CPT Freeman's loss hurt so deeply that I quit writing which had always been something I very much enjoyed. Your loss has inspired an inner voice of which I shall never again let go.
Wes, I will miss you dearly my friend, a newspaper delivery man and a beat cop. I never could have imagined all the things that I have learned from you.
My most heartfelt and sincere condolences go out to your family members whom I only knew through discussions I shared with you. There exists now a deep chasm of disbelief, shock, regret, and disappointment which lays heavy upon my heart.
I took your picture from the paper and placed it next to my father, James K. Webb, 02 JULY 2016, CPT Brian Freeman, KIA, Karbala Iraq, 20 JAN 2007, SSG Nathan Vacho, KIA Mahawil Iraq, 05 MAY 2006, CPT Shane Mahaffee, KIA, Mahawil Iraq, 15 MAY 2006, my Bronze Star, and the picture of the Twin Towers from the September 11, 2001. I always take time to mentally prepare myself as I transition and prepare to go to work. There are very few easy days.
You all serve as a constant symbolic reminder of why I chose my profession and why no matter what, we must continue to work daily to earn it.
Sincerely and respectfully,
Mark J. Webb