Thursday, May 16, 2002

Ultimate good cop


Bronze hand reaches out from the past

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        In uniform, he stood tall walking his beat, swinging his nightstick and practicing the Golden Rule.

        In bronze, he stands even taller. Eight feet in height, from his shoe soles to the crown of his policeman's hat, the sculpted image of Frank Feldhaus represents the ultimate good cop.

        He serves. He protects. He's tough. He's fair.

        Even a good cop occasionally needs some backup. That's how Kevin Feldhaus wound up spending an April afternoon holding onto the statue's right hand.

        That's why he intends to stand by the bronze image on Friday. He wants to be there when the Annual Police Memorial Parade comes to an end at the base of the statue across from Cincinnati Police headquarters.

        Kevin's doing this for love. For family. Frank Feldhaus was his grandfather.

        To people along his Clifton beat and cops on the street, Frank Feldhaus was “Pappy.” The nickname came during his 41 years of service — 28 spent making the same rounds. And his personable, dedicated style. He knew the names of almost everyone, good or bad, on his beat. He never took a sick day until a heart attack forced him to retire in 1977. He died in 1980, at age 72.

        His image was cast in bronze and unveiled in 1990. In typical Cincinnati fashion, no one from the family, Kevin told me, was invited to the statue's dedication.

        “We didn't know it was my grandfather up there until a few years ago,” he said.

        He wasn't complaining. He's too proud.

        It pleases him when references to the statue's namesake use the nickname Pappy. But to Kevin, he was just Grandpa.

        On that recent day in April, Grandpa was under attack. Protesters threatened to douse the statue with blood.

        That wasn't going to happen on Kevin's watch. He and his older brother, Frank III, took the day off from their respective jobs to guard the statue.

        They saw it as protecting the family name. And everything their grandfather stood for.

        “Think of the thousands of policemen throughout Cincinnati's life and the officers who died in the line of duty,” Kevin said.

        “Out of all those people, my grandfather left such an impression that people can go to that statue and see his name, my family's name, on the tag above the right pocket of his jacket.”

        At the statue, protesters tried to provoke the brothers by calling them names. One that sticks in Kevin's mind, but not in his craw is: “White monkey homosexual faggot who cares for the Jews but goes to a Catholic church.”

        Circling like blood-thirsty sharks, the protesters kept taunting as Kevin and Frank quietly manned the base of the statue.

        Kevin soon found himself holding the statue's right hand.

        “I didn't know I was doing it until someone pointed it out,” he said. “It just felt comfortable.”

        Frank Feldhaus Jr. — Pappy's son and father to Kevin and Frank III — also feels a certain comfort when he sees the statue.

        “It's like he's looking right at me,” Frank said.

        “Makes me remember how he devoted his life to his job.

        “I also think back to my being on the force for seven years and that he told me how to be a good policeman: Treat people as you would want to be treated, always be fair and listen.

        “I think of how he represents the tremendously good people — white and black — who gave their lives to improve Cincinnati.”

        Seeing his father's face in bronze “raises the hair on the back of my neck,” he added.

        “It feels like he touched you on the shoulder.”

        Or just took your hand.

        Columnist Cliff Radel can be reached at 768-8379; e-mail cradel@enquirer.com.

       



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