Dear Police Officers:
I know you do a difficult and dangerous job, and many of you do it as heroically as the TV cops I enjoyed growing up.
BUT: there are some buts… buttheads in the mix. And they need to have their leashes shortened.
I was driving my usual route to work, turned off of Carlisle Road onto Church and at some point encountered a cop car and flares blocking my lane. Hmmmm. One lane closed? Or the whole road? No one directing traffic. Ummmm… I swung around, ran my window down and waved at the officer.
He emerged from his car looking like an irritated Vin Diesel. I have a mind like a steel sieve, so the precise words are lost, but the attitude was one of loud, obnoxious, authoritarian, reprimanding, speaking down to a five year old. I maintained my smile and wanted to clarify whether the entire road was closed (what if I lived back there?). I got a reply which amounted to “isn’t it obvious” (no, I left my ESP at home), and “you realize you can’t drive on the right side of the road” ( I did not, I pulled over, and yes you can when a lane is blocked and you are being directed around it). The entire mentality was one of “let me assert my power and treat you like a moron”.
I am a sixty year old woman in a minivan. What if I was driving while Black? While Muslim? What if I was autistic (and really not quite processing your confusing and attitudinous directions). In fact, I do have alternative brain wiring and sometimes do not process easily what seems to be obvious to some folks. What if it was my Mom, a few months ago, when she was still driving, but a bit… forgetful?
You are a Public Servant. You are charged with upholding the law, catching the bad guys, and… guess what; PUBLIC SERVICE.
If we ran our store with the kind of attitude I experienced, we would have zero customers.
A lady I work with, silver haired in a sensible car, also had a similar experience recently: she may in fact have done the California Rolling Stop on an empty road. Not really cool, but certainly not deserving of the obnoxious downtalking attitude she was the brunt of.
There is a way to address citizens who might have made a mistake, and it is not drill sergeant. It is not jockjerk. It is not “I’m on a power trip and I can hold power over you”. All of the martial arts masters and black belts I have ever encountered know they have power, they do not flaunt it. They are the calmest people I have met. No one in uniform should be any less. Ever.
I firmly believe every police academy and station needs to train its people more thoroughly, to understand diversity in all its forms, including diversity of brain wiring. They need to stay cool, use their brains, and speak with respect.
Most of our police officers do a hard job, and do it well. But there are too many who need to have some serious retraining, or find another job.