Dear Mr. Police Officer,
The one I saw at the Quick Trip on 14th and Grand yesterday. I’m the guy who bought your coffee and snack (it looked like a healthy one – kudos to you!).
I’m sorry I didn’t get your name. But in fact, most of the time you and yours are nameless men and women in blue just doing your thing – and I don’t know your names. I pass you on the road, see you in QT, drive by you directing traffic around an accident or construction, and sometimes see your lights behind me – eeek! I don’t need to know your name; but I need to know that you are there. I want you there.
You might wonder why I bought your stuff yesterday. It was only a buck 68 (wish it would have been more). It’s because I know you and your profession have been taking a lot of grief lately; the majority of it so undeserved.
I want you to know that I am your friend. I appreciate you. I also know that you are my friend, my wife and kids’ friend, and the friend of my community.
What you do is worth so much more than a buck 68. A few weeks ago some of your fellow officers were protecting us in Pleasant Hill after multiple shootings. One of them was a short 3 blocks or so from my house. I will admit I was a little afraid that day. I thought about my family and kids and would we face any related threats that day. It scared me. I was glad you were on the beat.
While I was afraid that day, I want you to know that I have never been afraid of you. Well, except for those stupid pranks I pulled when I was a teen on Halloween and ran from you. And there was that time you caught me and my friends with fireworks and threatened to call my parents. Yes, I was afraid then. But I should have been afraid because I was being stupid – and in some small way, breaking the law. But outside of that, even when being pulled over, I can honestly say I have never been afraid of you.
You see, my parents and school and grandparents and teachers and driver’s education instructor taught me a few things to do when I encountered you. I was told to…
- Be respectful.
- Answer your questions honestly.
- Keep my hands on the wheel or where you can see them.
- To not make sudden moves.
- To comply with your requests.
- To repeat your request if I didn’t understand.
- To not get angry, snotty, or disrespectful.
And guess what? These things worked. You and I have always got along when I followed these common sense suggestions.
I was also taught that you are in charge. I was taught that you are here to protect me and my community. I was taught that if I do something I shouldn’t it is your job to inform me of it and take appropriate action. I have no problem with this and I’m glad you are here to do your job.
I was also taught that you have the means to use force to make me comply if I am breaking the law or do not cooperate. The thought of not cooperating has never crossed my mind during our encounters.
As much as those who read this article may disagree, I was also taught that sometimes violence is necessary. Yes, you and I both know that it is a misinformed lie that “violence is never the answer.” When someone pulls a gun at a bank – violence is the answer. When someone is holding a knife in a domestic dispute – violence is the answer. When someone is not being cooperative and you have suspicions of illegal activity you can and will force them to comply – and you have the legal right and authority to do this (sometimes for your own protection.)
I don’t like violence. It is a result of our fallen world. It is necessary because of human sinfulness. But it is the reality we currently live in. Sometimes you are forced to use force and violence to protect me. And I cringe at the thought you have to do it. And to help our fellow citizens reading this exchange who still think violence is “never” the answer and to exaggerate the point – when Hitler invaded Poland there was only one answer – violence. I despise it; I hate it; but it is sometimes the only answer in this sin-sick world we live in.
I am sorry that you are called names, spit on, and disrespected so many times. I’ve seen it happen. Shoot – we all have! In this age of smart phones and instant communication you are always under scrutiny. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be doing your job and have a half a dozen people pull out phones and start recording you.
I can’t imagine what it must be like to have college students baiting you into using force so they can record it.
I can’t imagine what it must be like for your spouse each and every day you put on your badge.
I can’t imagine what it must be like to see the dark and vile side of humanity every day.
I can’t imagine what it must be like to serve and protect people who many times despise you.
You and I could talk about the recent events which have had media scrutiny. We could talk about “bad cops”. We could talk about times where it appears excessive force was used. But I’m not going there today, because statistics show us that there are lots and lots of criminals out there who need to be caught and contained. Statistics show that most of the violence is not done by you; but by criminals on other criminals. The truth is that you have a difficult job to do to protect us from criminals and to keep us safe from ourselves.
So – instead of trying to “catch” you doing something wrong in your job and discussing the very small percentage of “bad cops” out there, I’m going to…
- Tell my kids you are our friend.
- I’m going to tell them the above suggestions will make their encounters with you much more pleasant.
- I’m going to tell them that they have nothing to fear from you if they are obeying the law.
- I’m going to teach them to respect you.
- I’m going to pray for you.
- And…I’m going to teach my kids and those in my influence about being a good citizen.
Oh yeah, and every chance I get I’m going to buy your coffee. It’s the least I can do.
Thank you again.