PORTLAND — Police officers paired with poets and photographers the past few months and the result is a 2009 calendar filled with the poems and photos created by the officers.
The calendar is a project of the Arts and Equity Initiative, an arts collaboration between the city and the nonprofit Terra Moto Inc. Director Marty Pottenger said that while few people would connect poetry and police, the officers were driven to do it, partly in memory of Sgt. Robert Johnsey, who died earlier this year when his gun discharged as he was cleaning it.
Johnsey, it turned out, had a secret passion for poetry and two of his poems are in the calendar.
“We never knew he was into poetry,” said Police Chief Joe Loughlin.
When Pottenger first approached the department with the project, Loughlin said they were pretty skeptical. He said there was an initial “collective eye roll” followed by some entertaining poems during roll call each day.
“It morphed into something we can really be proud of though,” said Loughlin.
Pottenger said that encouraging police to tap their creative sides and share those creations with the public should work to break down stereotypes.
Lt. Mike Sauschuck was one of the officers to participate in the project. He said it was enlightening for all of them and also expressed thanks to the “SWAT team of professional poets and photographers” who helped.
A total of 10 officers contributed to the calendar, plus the two poems by Johnsey. It is available online at artsandequity.us and will be available at local bookstores. The cost is $15 and profits will be shared between the Johnsey Fund and the Arts and Equity Initiative.