Evie 2Comment

Generally speaking, I’m a law-abiding citizen. I’ve never been arrested, I’ve never been pulled over. Heck, I’m not even sure I’ve ever even spoken to a police officer. But for some reason I’m afraid of them.

Maybe “afraid” isn’t the right word. Maybe I should say “intimidated.” I almost have the sense that if I don’t draw attention to myself by trying to interact with the police, I’ll go unnoticed, and that’s the most desirable outcome. I would never seek out an opportunity to interact with an officer of the law.

This weekend, I overheard a father pointing out an officer to his toddler and instructing her to give him a thumbs up, which really got me thinking. Thinking about how this dad was going out of his way to make a positive association for his child with the police, how he was teaching her to reach out and also show a subtle measure of thanks. And here I was, skulking by. I had nothing to hide and could’ve given my own kids the same message, but I didn’t.

So I started asking myself where this worry stems from, and sadly, the answer is the news. It’s not my imagination that every week there’s some new story (or three) about a police shooting in which the officer’s actions seem anything but defensive. And the more I read about these incidents, the more videos I watch of officers brandishing guns at moments that seem totally inappropriate, the more I fear the individuals sworn to protect us.

This conflict between how I know I should feel about the police and how I do feel reminds me of a bumper sticker from another era:



The fact of the matter is, I wouldn’t hesitate to dial 911 and ask for an officer’s help if I were really, truly in trouble. And I know they’d come. We rely on law enforcement in some deeply important ways, and I certainly don’t mean to diminish that, but boy, have they been getting some bad press.

Related:  SPECIAL EDITION Friday Finds: #blacklivesmatter

So tell me, do you fear the police, consciously or subconsciously? What do you tell your own children about the police?

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Hitchcock photo source: New York Film Academy

2 thoughts on ““I’m Not Against the Police; I’m Just Afraid of Them.”

  1. This saddens me as the daughter of a retired police officer. My children are told to thank every officer, fireman and soldier we come across. They do it happily! Our local police captain comes to every HOA meeting we have each month (he’s not a resident, but our subdivision is one of the largest in the town). I got a ticket a few weeks ago, because I did something dumb. I didn’t give the officer an attitude…instead I thanked him for keeping our community safe and calling me out my stupidity! We are never given the full story on the incidents. Many times afterward we find that the person was not obeying the officer. We have no idea what the truth is most of the time. Somebody starts filming halfway through when they think they are capturing wrongdoing. Then it’s all over the media and even worse social media. Where the police are convicted in the court of public opinion.

    That’s not to say bad cops don’t exist, but it’s not the normal. Also, regular people have no idea what cops experience every day. They live in a constant state of misery a lot of the time. Often away from their families for long hours. We missed many holidays with my dad. He missed birthdays and special events. He did this to protect people. He saw women and children in awful situations. Babies put out in the trash, men abusing and trafficking women. He still has PTSD and depression.

    Most officers deserve our appreciation and thanks. Maybe visiting your local station and asking if the kids could tour it. Or do some outreach through school or church and hold a picnic or something to thank the police and ask them to speak and answer questions. They are grateful for the opportunity to connect. Our town even does a Citizens Police Academy course for the community.

    They definitely don’t want you or your kids yo be intimidated and they will be there when needed.

  2. I’m getting very tired of the “these guys are dead because they didn’t COMPLY” mentality. I know a guy who might look like a “bad dude” to a cop overhead in a helicopter. He’s my neighbor Gary. He’s 6’3″ and built like a brick wall. He’s also an award-winning journalist for the Wall Street Journal. He’s been pulled over for driving while black more times than he can remember; but because he covers police shootings, because he’s from the South, because he’s an ex-Navy guy, he’s been able to project calm compliance so he hasn’t been shot. So far. We all worry.

    So what if some of the men shot had police records? Most of them weren’t committing a crime at the time of their murders. And in any event, is selling loose cigarettes a reason to shoot someone? Is sitting in your car, with your girlfriend (and baby in the back seat) a crime? Is waiting patiently for a tow truck now punishable by death?

    We MUST recognize what is going on here. All American society, no matter our race, has been conditioned to equate “black” with “dangerous.” Additionally, all human beings are biologically hardwired to fear the “Other.” And our police, as brave and hard-working as they are, have been trained to a “warrior”model, where authority, respect and obedience are expected (and the perceived non-compliant are punished) rather than a “guardian” model which focuses on deescalating confrontations. I’m simplifying highly complex training modes, but Google “warrior vs guardian” and see what comes up.

    But that training model, PLUS our innate biases, PLUS our cultural conditioning, have created a toxic atmosphere where black males, sometimes CHILDREN, are being gunned down by our police for no reason.

    No, I’m not against police. And I’m not scared of them (although as a mouthy, non-compliant woman, perhaps I should be). But I am angry that we Americans refuse to see how discrimination continues to block us all from living our values and being the best people we can be.

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