The Fairfax County police earned a black eye in the Morgan bashbuster case {"The Police at Our Party," Close to Home, June 21}, but in the same period I happened to get a good look at another case in which an officer did the force proud. He represents for me that whole large category of public servant of whom it is always and somewhat tediously being said that, notwithstanding the antics of some, most perform anonymously and well. Well, here it's true.

I sat on a jury in Fairfax Circuit Court that convicted a 33-year-old man named Dennis Kidd of fleeing custody by force or violence -- an oddly phrased charge that turned out to describe what happened one night last spring when Officer T. L. Jensen approached a halted car that he had noticed was being driven without lights. The driver produced his license, and Jensen at once recognized the name as that of someone being sought for skipping out of a courtroom during his trial on a misdemeanor charge. It was while Jensen was arresting him that the "force or violence" began.

It was a real battle, an up-and-down affair that went on for some minutes and involved much banging and scraping and left the officer with bruised face and torn clothes. Finally, and only finally, he drew his service revolver but didn't fire, just hit the man's head. He went down, got up, fled and was picked up the next day.

The defendant's lawyer suggested that his client had just been trying to move the arrest out of the view of the 4-year-old child who was riding with her mother in his car, that his client had shown good faith initially by producing his license and that he fled only when the policeman brought out his revolver. Our jury, however, came to a guilty verdict within minutes and did not have much trouble settling upon a sentence of jail for nine months.

I can report that, as one whose daily work involves passing judgment on often seemingly theoretical questions of public policy, it felt strange to be participating in a judgment that would have the effect of depriving a real person of his liberty.

That feeling faded, however, against the sight of Officer Jensen. Here was someone out on a routine patrol, making what he had every reason to believe would be a simple traffic stop, who had the alertness to recall the name on the license, who suddenly found himself with a man's fingers scratching at his eyes and mouth, who had the restraint not to draw his revolver right off and who, when he did draw it, had the even greater restraint not to shoot. You can understand why the jury felt the community must stand behind policemen it sends out to face dangers on that order.

And here was Officer Jensen in a quiet, largely unattended courtroom, giving respectful and, to us, credible testimony, showing no animus against the defendant, asking for no special sympathy or deference, acting as though getting battered by an angry man on the road was all in a night's work, which for a cop, we of the jury reflected, it is.

-- Stephen S. Rosenfeld