I realized that the person I was arresting one day may be the one who has information the next day. The subject may even find himself standing behind me years later when I am wrestling with a violent assailant.
It is not every day that we hear about one of the countless good deeds police officers do throughout the course of a normal shift. We tend to focus on the mistakes cops make, the few bad apples, or the misrepresented cell phone videos that present police officers in a poor light. As a former police officer turned teacher, I have tried my very best to help change people’s perspectives. I have tried to show my students, who often have an aggressive hatred for police, that cops are decent and caring people. In addition, I have tried to work with police officers to stress the importance of maintaining a positive relationship with the public. As an author, helping to repair the damaged relationship between citizens and police officers was a major goal of my memoir, Service. In it, I described my journey from Army Counterintelligence, to police work, to a violent inner-city classroom.
As a counterintelligence agent, I was trained to view everybody as a potential source of information. My worst enemy may be able to provide me with information that could save one life or a thousand lives. Because of that training, I was always aware of my treatment of others, especially as a police officer. I realized that the person I was arresting one day may be the one who has information the next day. The subject may even find himself standing behind me years later when I am wrestling with a violent assailant. Because of this thought, I always tried my best to develop a relationship of mutual respect with everyone I encountered because some day that small act of kindness I showed may just save my life or the life of another officer. As I mentioned in my book, I would rather approach a crowd of people who respected me than a crowd of people who are afraid of me because people in fear are more likely to cause me harm.
We live in some very scary and dangerous times, and I am concerned for our future. I have read several articles and listened to many programs that discuss the “negative qualities” of police officers. What I have come to realize is that there are many people who not only dislike police officers, but who are also stockpiling weapons in preparation of some type of revolution. I don’t believe we are currently at risk for such an uprising, but I do worry that an overzealous prepper may overreact one day and start shooting at some cops. I believe we can minimize officer deaths and at the same time decrease crime and better protect the citizens we swore to protect. It does not involve weapons or tactical maneuvers. It simply involves actions, words, and demonstration to a commitment of kindness and respect. It is a less “glorious” road in terms of the battles we train for, but it can prove to be more rewarding for entire communities.
A friend of mine recounted a story about a mother who told her son that if he was bad the police officer was going to arrest him. My friend, who was in uniform, approached the young boy, got down on his level, and told him: “My job is to help you. If you ever need help, you can call me and don’t have to be afraid of me.” His story has always stayed with me because he created an ally that day. He showed that little boy that a police officer’s main function is to protect and serve the public, which does not have to be a scary thing.
A Cop’s Act of Compassion Can Make a Difference
I’ve recently come across a video posted to a website I enjoy called Why Don’t You Try This. The video explained the compassion showed by an officer who stopped a man struggling to pay his bills. The officer did his job professionally, issued the man a citation, and took an extra step to help a fellow citizen in need. I am proud of this officer and although he chose to remain anonymous, I hope that his commitment to serving the public becomes contagious. I am not recommending every officer follow his specific example, but I am asking that officers consider taking an extra moment to show an act of kindness when encountering the public. I was often told to treat everyone like I’d want my mother to be treated. I’ll take it a step further and recommend that everyone be treated like a part of your team who may one day be in a position to help you, or harm you. It only takes a moment to be kind, but your efforts may save your life, the lives of the citizens you swore to protect, or the lives of your fellow officers. Change is possible, and as citizens, we are looking to you for guidance.
You Can Bring About Change!
I am thankful to the writers at Why Don’t You Try This for promoting some positive press for police officers. I encourage all of my readers, whether police officers or citizens, to please share this article in hopes of promoting a better way to coexist not as cops and citizens, but as a community of people who care.
I also encourage all of you, whether a citizen or an officer, to share in the comments section below, any positive interactions you’ve had with police. At Service of Change, we are always looking for stories highlighting the many great things officers do on a daily basis in hopes of bringing about positive change. As we always say, Small changes among the masses can have a massive impact across the world! Sharing your one experience could be the story that influences another to bring about change. What will your Service of Change be today?