My daughter and I were talking about the police and how there are so many stories about police corruption, wrongdoing and abuse of power (all featured prominently on YouTube).
I remember growing up with the idea that the police were there to help me if I got in trouble or danger and I felt sad that my daughter’s worldview didn’t include that perspective. I felt sad too to realize that my perspective has changed over the years to more of a wary avoidance of police (specifically in traffic situations) and an attitude of distrust — a worry about being treated unfairly should I ever find myself in a position of dealing with the police.
I told Jasmine that when I was her age I had the expectation that the police were good and honest.
How the world has changed.
Knowing how it is so easy to focus on the negative and to allow bad experiences to overshadow good ones, I made an effort to think of times in my daughter’s lifetime (she is thirteen) that the police had been on “our side”.
Here are three:
- When I was still living in Florida, I locked myself and my baby daughter out of the car (keys still in the ignition) when I went shopping. I called the police and they jimmied the lock for me (they don’t do this anymore because of lawsuits.)
- Having just moved to Minnesota, I had the incredible misfortune to leave my wallet at home and then get a flat tire — in the snow. My then-husband was out of town on business and I didn’t know anybody in town. I called the police and they sent a community service unit to give me and my daughter a ride home (from whence I could retrieve my wallet and commence operations to retrieve my car from the Target parking lot).
- And finally, last year when I was sick, they came to my door to check on me and make sure I was OK.
(Of course, I had not called them when I was sick. My family in Florida, worried because I was not answering the phone because I was feverish and fluish, called the police to make sure all was well. My daughter was over at her dad’s and so I was alone at my house.)
Imagine, in my flu-induced delirium, I get a knock on the door and peeping blearily out the peephole, I see it is — the police?
Yes, my family has called the police on me because I am sick
I tell the police that I cannot open the door because I am not dressed. Technically I have just lied to the police because I am dressed — just not dressed for a visit (I am wearing a big holey T-shirt that just covers my panties and schlumpy socks that puddle around my feet). They reply that they will wait for me to get dressed as they cannot leave without making sure that I am OK.
Of course I was furious with my family (yes I am talking about you, Mother and Tommy) for subjecting me to this indignity. I stayed mad for a few days and then realized that my family was just acting out of love and worry for me. And I realized that I should appreciate that I have family that would call (from Florida) the police in St. Paul, Minnesota and tell them that I needed to be checked on. And the police? Well I have to say that a sick-visit from the police — in person — should not be taken for granted. They didn’t bring me chicken soup but they did bring a concern and polite kindness that was — in retrospect — comforting.