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Cop finds poetry on and off the job


Sgt. Marc A. Turner.

Sgt. Marc A. Turner has been a cop for a long time. He's been a poet for a lot less, but the career and the avocation compliment each other.

Poetry and police protocol do not seem to go together, but in reality, the two are less incongruous than they might seem at first. There are two large websites ( and
policepoem.html) devoted to poetry written by police officers, as well as several smaller sites and personal websites such as the one set up by Sgt. Turner ( to share his thoughts.

Turner joined the Roxbury Township police force in 1978 and worked his way up the ranks, never thinking of something as artistic as being a poet. But when a fellow officer in New York died in the line of duty about two years ago he jotted down a few lines about the death. It was the first time in his life he had written any poetry.

As Turner describes it, "That came pretty easy. I put it on a national law enforcement memorial page and got a few responses. Then the guys in the office suggested I write one for the anti-drug program, DARE, so I did."

From that small beginning his efforts have grown until he is now known as the poet of the police force, maintains his own website to share his poetry and has made friends all over the country through his verses.

"Marc was always the kind of person who had a hard exterior but a soft interior," said his fellow officer, Sgt. Gary Allen, who was trained by Turner and now counts him as one of his best friends. "He taught me his ability to treat people as human beings, not just someone to issue a ticket to, and that made the job important to me. I think his poetry helps him and others deal with the emotions of an event."

One of those traumatic events occurred in the lives of Allen and his wife, Debora, who was diagnosed with breast cancer on Valentine’s Day 2001 and is now cancer free.

"Marc called me up one day and casually said he had written a poem about Debbie that he may have forgotten to show me," Allen remembers. "He described the situation perfectly."

The poem is "An Angel's Tickle" and is among the verses on his website. Among Turner's favorite is a poem he wrote about his father, Dr. Frank J. Turner, who has since passed away, called "A Simple Nod." It is based on a brief incident that happened to his father while wearing a baseball hat commemorating his status as a Purple Heart recipient, which he hopes will inspire understanding of the sacrifices of World War II veterans.

"It took me about 15 minutes to write that," Turner said, "but my father was in tears when he read it. He carried it with him all the time and it was displayed at his funeral."

The emotional response Turner receives from others is one of the most satisfying aspects of his hobby.

"Just those few words gave him so much pride," Turner said.

He has become friends with other police officers and with the survivors of officers killed in the line of duty for whom he has written poems. The search for the author of a popular poem, "The Dash," led him to Linda Ellis, a poet who wrote the verses about the importance of living the life given to you between birth and death. It was Ellis who encouraged Turner to start his website, which now includes several poems about Sept. 11.

"The guys sometimes make fun of me for my poetry, but then they will turn around and ask for a copy of one of the poems," the sergeant said. "Writing allows me to get emotions out that you usually can’t get out and I love getting reactions from people."

The Other Way

By: Marc A. Turner Copyright © 2002

No matter how it happens…
to whom, or what, or where
There are those special people
who always seem to be right there
You know the ones of whom I speak,
they do it every day
When people flee from smoke and fire…
they go… the other way
Never was it better shown,
then on that September clear blue morning
Heroes crowded Heaven’s Gate…
as the world changed without a warning
Hoards of people, in a stampeding mass…
running to get away
The Heroes went just as fast…
but they went… the other way
I remember watching on TV,
the crowds and chaos flooding by
And all those flashing lights…
racing towards their place to die
For many, their shift over,
were headed home to call it a day
But they had a date with destiny…
so they went... the other way
So many were taken from us
on that day America suffered the attacks
But many more were saved,
because of those Hero’s selfless acts
So now, as we all take in the setting sun,
as it closes out another day...
Take a second from your life
to think of those, who go... the other way.����