There are two phrases people commonly use, both powerfully effective at deflecting responsibility: 1. “It’s not my job”; and 2. “It’s not my problem.”
Sgt. Jeff Turney of the Glendale Police Department doesn’t know the meaning of either phrase.
“We’re in it for the people,” he says of his job — which, it seems, is free of boundaries.
At the end of August, Turney went to Howard Benson’s home near 75th Avenue and West Camelback Road. A Florida man called 911, frantic about Benson, his 93-year-old father.
Often times, the story goes like this: The family feels mom or dad is no longer safe to be alone and begs the elder to go into a home but the old timer digs in and refuses.
In this unusual scenario, Howard Benson was all set to go to an assisted living home in Florida. The problem was, the World War II veteran wanted to drive.
The next day.
Turney walked into Benson’s home, with nothing in his job description telling him what to do; Benson wasn’t breaking any laws, so handcuffs were out.
In his gut, Turney knew Benson — who had been in the hospital after a diabetic coma just a few weeks before — would never make it by himself.
Armed with maps and an itinerary, the frail but intrepid Howard Benson would not be talked out of his plans.
Yet Turney didn’t see a problem.
He saw his father.
Turney had three days off coming, and he made a snap decision.
“How about if I drive you?” he asked Benson.
Benson agreed. So, the next morning, Turney was back at the Benson home. He loaded up a 10-foot trailer with things Howard couldn’t bear to leave behind and the two of them hit the road.
It might sound like a Hollywood mismatched-buddy movie, though it sure wasn’t glamorous.
“I had to help him in and out of the car, help him in the shower, help him get into bed,” said a grinning Turney, 58, an 18-year veteran officer.
“My dad passed away a few years ago and before he went, toward the end I was giving him full care … I treated Howard like he’s my dad.”
The two made it to Florida in just over three days.
Benson, who turns 94 on Oct. 19, said he had a great trip with the Glendale cop.
“I was very pleased,” Benson said last week, from Florida. “The officer and my personality met perfectly. He was in the service and so was I.”
Benson shared stories of flying for the Navy as a radar operator during World War II, and listened to Turney’s tales of going on tricky domestic violence calls.
“I tell you, I wish that I was able to walk again and do things with him,” Benson said of Turney. “I think him and I would be great friends, forever.”
Back at the Glendale Police Department last week, Turney played off the road trip as no big deal.
“I do a lot to help. It’s just what we do,” Turney said.
The trip generated some memorable moments for Turney. He got to give Benson a tour of the Keesler Air Base in Biloxi, Mississippi, where Turney was stationed during part of his 21 years in the Air Force.
Driving up to the Florida assisted living home, Turney got to see the big “Welcome Home” sign — and take part in the welcoming party for Howard.
And, best of all, shortly after flying back to Glendale, Jeff Turney was welcomed home with a short, invaluable phrase from his youngest son: “Keep doing what you’re doing, Dad.”