ON-Lion Letter

"They were the bitterest of enemies," begins an April "On the Road" report by Steve Hartman for the CBS Evening News.  "For more than a decade, on the streets of Milwaukee, two men shared a mutual disgust.  One was a hardnosed cop named Ray Robakowski."

"I wasn't a social worker, I was a police officer," Ray told Hartman.  "My job was to take care of what needed to be taken care of."

"The other was a drug dealer and gang-banger named Jacob Maclin," Hartman continued.  "Jacob got arrested so many times you can watch him grow old in his mugshots.  And it was that career thug -- and Ray the officer -- who sat down one day over a cup of coffee.  The district attorney's office arranged it.

"[E]ventually, over the next couple months, Jacob proved to Ray that he wanted to get a job and turn his life around," Hartman goes on.

"He sent me on maybe 14 or 15 interviews in two weeks and one of them was Community Warehouse," Jacob told Hartman.

"Community Warehouse is a non-profit, home improvement store that hires ex-cons and teaches them job skills," according to Hartman.  It is substantially supported by Milwaukee's Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.  "Jacob started working there eight years ago and is now on the management team.  To this day, he can't thank Ray enough.

"Jacob says he's very grateful -- so grateful that he said 'very' at least half a dozen times," Hartman reports.  "And as for that very helpful cop, he retired from the police force last year.

"But Ray still wanted a job.  He turned to Jacob Maclin for help."

"He laughed," Ray told Hartman.  "Now he held the cards.  But I wanted to be here."

"Through Community Warehouse -- with his new friend Jacob -- Ray has now helped more than a dozen other ex-cons leave their past behind," Hartman's report concludes.  "Jacob says Ray is a different guy than when he first met him.

"Jacob, of course, is equally unrecognizable.  Today his only high-speed chases are around swing sets.  He's got four kids and has vowed:  the cycle stops with him.  All proof that if you can find the trust -- sometimes your enemies can be your best allies."

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