In the Saturday "Callous" freewrite, Commissioner Scott gives his opinion and his orders to Captain Lee on what to do next with the Soames case In day 12.5, we get Commissioner Scott's thoughts about the subject, and an interaction with Ms. Thornton that suggests just how deeply the commissioner has been and is being moved by all the things going on in his department and in his life.
To get totally caught up on The Posture of Innocence, here are the prologue, day 1, day 2, day 3, day 3.5, day 4, day 4.5, day 5, day 5.5, day 6, day 7, and day 7.5, day 8, day 9, day 9.5, day 10, day 10.5, day 11, day 11.5, and day 12!
Commissioner Scott hung up the phone and thought for a long time – crisis, because the Soames case was connected with all the mess in the Freedom of Information Act request that had caused all the uproar, and because at this point, there was evidence that members of the police department not only had abused the usual targets, but had crossed the line into assassination and murder for profit. But also, opportunity …
In his brief stint as chief, Commissioner Scott, who was originally from Maryland, had heard the same complaint over and over again: the pay at BLPD was a joke for the work that was required, and that there were ways to make more, but, not while retaining the ability to sleep at night. Some comment was always made to that effect, so often that it did get the chief's attention.
He went back to the powers that be and asked for bigger budgets to retain honorable people – he knew the money was flowing somewhere – but it did not become clear until what Commissioner Thomas's corruption came out. THEN, officers started telling then-Chief Scott: “We were trying to tell you in a safe way.” Now, the new commissioner understood why the word “safe” was so important – and what some were willing to do to achieve what they felt they deserved.
Commissioner Scott had heard it before, whenever he talked to police officials in the South – the further South you went, the worse it tended to get. In a very real way, the budgets of Southern infrastructure and life had never caught up after 1865. The great irony was the resentment so many felt toward those whose lives had gotten better in America after 1865 kept people from moving forward and bettering their own situations through innovation.
In Big Loft, the challenge was now about to become critical, because things had reached a point in the department that lawsuits were inevitable against the police department and the city. The best the commissioner could hope to do was retain enough of a budget to retain the best of the force, empower Captain Lee to lighten the department's burden of corrupt officers, and play a tight game in the press and with the Black community, which had always been a sizable minority but now was organized and loud, and ready to avenge all further abuses swiftly.
The key was Lee – Henry Fitzhugh Lee had going for him the fact that his personal integrity was impeccable, so he would not be bribed, and that he had no toleration for corruption above or below him. The officers he had under him would soon be ready to fill leadership positions in the department – a brevet promotion, in the terms Captain Lee understood it as a colonel, and indeed, by instinct he was pouring into them as he would in a wartime situation. Meanwhile, the Lee wrecking ball would clear a path through corrupt people – just as it had cleared a path for him to be at the top of the department – for the good people who survived to thrive.
And then Commissioner Scott caught himself with a little laugh – he was not a native Virginian, but he had been breathing the air long enough to have caught the infection. Virginians had put all their faith in a single Lee before … but everybody knew how that had come out. Everybody's piece of the pie had to be on point, beginning with those pieces handled by the commissioner himself. Captain Lee needed good orders, like a good colonel needed a good general – the absence of that had been what had caused him to do what he had done to clear that path for a proper commander to get into position. That was a piece all by itself: managing Captain Lee. Managing everything else also came in its turn.
Commissioner Scott called for his secretary, Ms. Thornton – he thought to himself that he was blessed, as his wife would say it, with the world's greatest secretary.
“Get ready to pull a press conference together in an hour and a half,” he said.
“Yes, sir – Captain Lee is on to something?”
“Yes. Something big. Something big enough to shake Lofton County worse than it has already been shaken.”
Ms. Thornton shivered.
“Big and dangerous,” she said.
“For all of us,” the commissioner said. “But, I tell you what: Sunday School days remind me that a truly good and Christian woman like you need never be worried. I notice you do quite a bit of praying, and I support it even though I'm not there yet. Please start praying, right now.”
Commissioner Scott quietly thought to himself that he might have to become a Christian also … things were getting too complicated and dangerous for any man to keep thinking he could handle it all, if there were a God willing to do that … Mrs. Della Scott, another truly good and Christian woman, had modeled that for years and years … .