Anything from being beaten for little or no reason by five or six burly guys, to being shot in the back for the crime of being black!
AND THAT'S NOT ALL KIDS!
Even everyday encounters can be a little unnerving as this letter from a reader demonstrates!
Today was an exceptionally hard day for me. My two-year-old has been waking up at 5 a.m. every morning and I have been working late. Needless to say, I’m exhausted and drained. The only way to keep both kids busy today and also keep my sanity was to go for a long drive with them both in the car. So after picking up my four-year-old from school, I hoped the long drive would cause him to take a nap and not be so cranky and unpredictable. I planned on meeting a friend at the park by the time he woke up. I was a little lost when I saw you. You were waving your arm and it seemed as if you were directing traffic.As I was looking for the park I saw you and another officer parked on the street when you signaled to me to pull over. I assumed it was a quick check as I was in a school zone.Thank God, I thought. He can tell me where the park is.But to my surprise that is not what you said when you walked up to my window.“Do you know that you ran a red light making a right while there were kids on the street?” you said.“‘I am so sorry! I am so lost! I’m not from this area. I’m really sorry,’ I said.” I assumed you would understand. You heard my two-year-old screaming behind me and saw my four-year-old waking up looking confused as to why you were talking to me. Surely, I’d be on my way. I was lost, after all.“Do you have your license?” you asked me.Then my friend drove by and waved at us and I was relieved as it was proof that I wasn’t lying to you when I told you I was meeting a friend at the park and I was lost. You waved back at her and smiled and said, “she’ll be there, I’m giving her a ticket.”I thought you were joking.So I ignored you thinking this was a pretty crazy situation. After all, I’m a safe driver and have never not gotten a ticket since moving to Florida 20 years ago. I’m sure you saw that in your computer. So why would you need my license? It was clear I was confused and you understood me because you had a genuine, kind face.“Do you have your license?” you repeated.Oh, he’s serious.I started to get a little nervous.I leaned over and dug through my bag while my son was asking me what’s going on. As I pulled out my license I realized it was an old expired license from about five years ago. I was so embarrassed. And then my nerves got to me.“Oh my gosh, I am so sorry, I have my old license.” I said.“This is not going to be good.”“This is my old address. I don’t know how I picked up the wrong license!”You went to your car and came back and we confirmed my correct address.Okay, good, he knows I wasn’t lying, I thought.“Can I see your registration?” you asked.“Uh, oh. This is going to be awkward.”I pulled out an old registration knowing that the new one was in my drawer at home. I know you thought I had to be out of my mind to have both important documents missing.But this is the thing; you took it anyway and you went back to your car. You wrote up two citations that would cost me nothing as long as I turned in the correct documents.You gave me a warning for running the light.You gave me a warning for having the wrong license plate around my license covering the numbers.You gave me a warning for something else but all I could hear was my heart which was about to explode from gratitude from all the warnings. You smiled at me and I felt at ease.You saved me around $800 today. Just like that. Money that my family needs.Why did you do that? Why were you so nice?That is not what the news and media says about you these days. They don’t call police officers “nice.” The media is harsh on police officers. They say that you don’t do your job. But they don’t know what happened to me today. They don’t know that I have three police officers as neighbors and each one of them has demonstrated nothing but integrity towards my family and I know that if I ever needed a helping hand that they would not hesitate to help me, one going as far as knocking on our door to let us know our car lights were on. As my husband stood there with two screaming kids, he offered to take his keys and do it himself. My other neighbor works all night and drives an hour back and forth to work every day. He moved his girlfriend, her teenage kids and her mother in his three-bedroom townhouse. I see him walking their three dogs when he gets back from work. He’s just an average guy trying to make a living doing a job that was referred to me once by an officer as a “glorified social worker.” But it’s much more than that.They didn’t see you standing outside in the blazing heat 3pm watching out for drivers and protecting high school kids (just by your presence). They didn’t see you smile and show me exactly what to do with my citations and give me directions to the park. They didn’t see you have a talk with my son about why you stopped me so that he would have a positive experience through all of this.I came home today realizing a lot about myself. I am rushing through life. I went straight to get my license and registration and put it with the paperwork you gave me knowing that I will take care of it in a few days. I need to slow down and put my stuff in order. I can’t rush through life and miss important moments like going to the park with my sons.I will never forget how you treated me and it has opened my eyes to your world and how we have encounters with people every day which we might not see again, but could impact us for the rest of our lives.Thank you for your kindness.