I enjoyed a nice visit yesterday with friends I've met before—Dennis Mook and his wife Kathy, who are on one of their biannual two-to-three-week jaunts around the country in their SUV. They had gotten as close as Ithaca, so they made the trip over to Keuka Lake to spend the afternoon with me.
There are several titles that, once earned, you get to keep for life—a ship captain can forever after be addressed as Captain, a head coach can always be called Coach, and Jimmy Carter or George Bush will always properly be addressed in formal situations as President Carter and President Bush. "Chief" is another. Dennis retired as Chief of the 650-member Newport News, Virginia, Police Department. (He also worked for NCIS—but says he never watched the television show of the same name.)
He also had an unusual opportunity that more of us should be lucky enough to have—he got to reprise his first job as his last job. He had come up through the ranks in the Portsmouth Police Department, which became the first department he presided over as Chief. (Both Newport News and Portsmouth are part of Hampton Roads, the epicenter of military activity in the Eastern U.S., in the Tidewater region.) Then, at the end of his career, he was asked to come out of retirement for three months to run the Portsmouth force again as a chief pro-tem while they picked a successor for the previous guy. On the 250-member force there were 17 active officers remaining whom he had hired the first time he was chief there—and many of the policies he had initiated years earlier were still in place. Dennis ended up staying for eight months, and he told me it was a fascinating experience. With no future career on the line and with much more experience under his belt, he found the Portsmouth job much easier the second time around.
Dennis is a creative thinker and an endlessly interesting guy. Some big publication should write a serious profile of Dennis—he's a model of just what you want a policeman to be, as well as a font of information about proper officer training and effective community relations. (He tells great stories, too.) Guys like Dennis are a natural corrective to the kind of problems that have been roiling the nation recently. We need more like him.
He's also been a passionate amateur photographer for 46 years or so (like me, he also writes a photo blog), and estimates that he's carried a camera with him almost every day since the 1970s. He shoots for stock and for personal reasons. I was interested to learn that he's jettisoned the D800E he was enthusiastic about the last time I saw him, and his Fuji X-T2 is the first one I've seen.
He says the X-T2 is "200% better" than the X-T1 it replaced (and that I still shoot with). You can read more about that on his blog.
Thanks to Dennis and Kathy for coming to visit!
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Featured Comments from:
Kent Phelan: "Wow, as a fellow member of 'Photographers of a certain age,' i.e., continually shooting since the 1970s, my recent equipment path mirrors Chief Mook's exactly. In the past month I have jettisoned my beloved Nikon D800E (as well as Dƒ) in favor of a Fuji X-T2 system. So far so good, and thanks for the blog link. I think I will travel along with the Chief for a bit."
Mike replies: Yeah, Kent, but when you and I met we were young. I think friends remain the same age they were when they first met. (Does that make sense? No? Well, maybe I'm getting senile.) Anyway, knowing you both, would bet you and Dennis would get along well.
Stephen Scharf: "I've been following Dennis Mook via his postings on the various Fuji X forums. I enjoy his photography and insights very much. Nice to learn more of Dennis's background."