Deputy Page Cash of the local Sheriff’s Office hijacked my story. I’d approached my local Sheriff’s Office asking to interview one of the Office’s Deputies. With the recent turmoil between law enforcement and civilians in the headlines, I wanted to dig into the issues and meet the people in whose hands we’ve put our trust and our lives. We met at a local restaurant, Deputy Cash with her badge-laden uniform, multi-radio communications systems squawking, and bullet proof vest, insisting on facing the door, and me with my list of interview questions.
Two minutes in to our discussion, I put the questionnaire aside.
In a way, I found the story I was looking for—the story of how one person (in this case a woman) followed a call to serve her community and made a difference in untold numbers of lives along the way. She’s someone who gets up every morning, puts on her uniform and goes back out on the streets, because she can help and it’s what she does.
With sunny blond hair and clear blue eyes, Page looks nothing like what I expected a Sheriff’s Deputy to look, though beneath her Deputy’s paraphernalia, I had the distinct impression Page could hold her own with most people she comes across. Page later told me she was one of the first girls to play on the boys’ football team, though she preferred basketball and softball to football. She has a tough exterior and admits to having been a wild child, at which point I picture a ten-year-old girl in a schoolyard brawl, and Page emerging on top. But, Page turned her life around. She held a corporate job in the insurance industry for fourteen years before she decided she could do more.
She entered the ministry and visited China and the Philippines as a missionary from her church then returned to Atlanta in the early 2000s. Penniless but determined to continue ministering to others; she worked tirelessly, on call 24-hours-a-day. Page was drawn to the most desperate populations, the homeless, addicted, and at risk, many of whom she’d meet, feed, and clothe where they lived. Often, as a result, she found herself under highway bridges in some of Atlanta’s most crime-ridden areas. Her natural affinity for the work and the trust she developed among those she helped earned her the nickname “Momma Page.”
Somewhere along the way, Page says, God told her to fulfill her childhood ambition to be a cop. Then, once she joined the Sheriff’s Office, he planted the seed of an idea in her head: Teen Interception. Page mulled the concept over and eventually approached the Sheriff’s Office requesting to launch a program to help at risk teens; teens she said were destined for life “under a bridge, in jail, or at the morgue.” Today, Page coordinates the Sheriff’s Office Teen Interception Program a seven-week program held two to three times each year. The program’s goal is to help teens avoid destructive behaviors and point them in a new direction. One of the keys to making a difference in these young lives is their parents’ participation. And though, Page encourages parents to attend the program, she confesses, many don’t or won’t get involved. That’s when Deputy Page Cash becomes “Momma Page” again.
The Teen Interception Program is just one part of Page Cash’s job. Though she wishes she could devote all her time to the program, Page has a hundred other things to do, just like the rest of the Deputies in the Office.
Our short visit ended–though I suspect it’s not our last–we rose from the table and Page gave me a big hug, a genuine heart-felt and comforting hug. Yes, there are “bad apples” out there among society’s authority figures, whether in law enforcement, the ministry, education, or the military. There are people who have done irreparable damage to those who trusted them, but they are the exception. Rarely do we celebrate the good ones like Deputy Page Cash.
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For more information about the Teen Interception Program, visit the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office website at forsythsheriff.org or email Deputy Cash at firstname.lastname@example.org, or keep your eyes peeled for a Deputy with a wavy blond hair at the wheel of a Sheriff’s Office vehicle.
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This post first appeared on The Huffington Post. Click here to connect to read other posts on my Huffington Post Blog Page.