HAMILTON: The Commonalities of Rodney Sheard and A Police Chief?

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Believe it or not, ex-convict Rodney Sheard and Niagara Falls Police Chief Bryan DalPorto have a lot in common. 


By: Ken Hamilton

Believe it or not, ex-convict Rodney Sheard and Niagara Falls Police Chief Bryan DalPorto have a lot in common. 
Both of them know the criminal justice system, albeit from opposite sides of the bars.  Both are great fathers, both of them love the city of Niagara Falls, both of them are in agreement that our problems are no worse than they are anyplace else, and both of them share some common solutions that can reduce those problems that criminally and chronically plague us.
Last week I interviewed NFPD Chief Byran DalPorto for an Analysis of crime in Niagara Falls. Because of space considerations, that piece was bumped. But in DalPorto’s interview, while he complained of the issue of dealing with crime solving and its prevention was “always laid at the door of the police,” he accurately pointed out that the city’s communities can and should have a great role in reducing the crime in the areas in which they live. Chief suggested that a strong family structure is one of the foundations of safe neighborhoods.  But how do we get there from where we are?
In my interview with Sheard, I found that our conversation went along an almost parallel track to DalPorto’s. The first time that I met Sheard was Monday in the Hyde Park Laundry.  Little would I have thought that the burly man with the dangling braids would impress me in any way. The initial positive impression came when I saw the relationship that he had with his young daughter Kenieah shared.  They exuded a strong bond of love between them. She looked as if she just enjoyed being around him, and he her.  I’ve often said that men love their babies as much as mothers do, but only in a slightly different way.  After speaking with him, it was clear that this man had something positive to add to the community – and he does.
In the Bible, Saul of Tarsus was dedicated to the persecution of Christians. However, after hearing the voice of God he converted to that which he most “kicked against” and became Paul the Apostle, one of the most important men in the Christian Bible.  Likewise, Sheard was arrested for being dedicated to “carrying on a continuing criminal enterprise” that confounded the members of his community, as well as law enforcement. Under 21 U.S. Code 848, such a conviction requires a metaphorical “Road to Damascus” incarceration of 20-years to life. 
Ironically, there was no good reason for Sheard to even be engaged in such activities.  According to him, he actually had the ideal Brady Bunch core family structure of both good and hardworking parents living together in his home of ten souls.  He said they taught him well, and that he had always heard that little voice in his head telling him that what he was doing was wrong, but chose not to listen to it. He did choose to do so when he was incarcerated. It was there that he decided that he done so much destruction in the community that upon his release he would work to fix it.
Sheard is making progress in fixing it, too.  If his family is any indication of his ability to do so, then his success is a certainty.  Follow this column for the next couple of weeks to find out what, how and why he is deeming himself.  It’s for the sake of the community.  Let us just say for now that the chief, you and his mitigating solutions have a lot in common.
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