I’ve had more interactions with the police in the past week than I’ve had since I was on Township Council. With the exception of one officer that I had to give the “Do you know who I am?” speech to, every interaction has been pleasant. There were three officers patrolling my neighborhood, interacting with the residents instead of being standoffish and cliquey. Then there was the officers who attended to The Mister’s car accident. I snapped at the gapers taking mobile phone footage (really?!) but the officers on scene distracted that frustration with kindness, calmness, and being the epitome of respect as I salvaged the remains of the important items from The Mister’s soon to be towed car.
I am dismayed by the protest that have begin to spring up in support of cops all over the county. As President Obama said during his State of the Union,
We may have different takes on the events of Ferguson and New York. But surely we can understand a father who fears his son can’t walk home without being harassed. Surely we can understand the wife who won’t rest until the police officer she married walks through the front door at the end of his shift. Surely we can agree it’s a good thing that for the first time in 40 years, the crime rate and the incarceration rate have come down together, and use that as a starting point for Democrats and Republicans, community leaders and law enforcement, to reform America’s criminal justice system so that it protects and serves us all.
I think support of police is important. It was the police who responded when my house was burglarized, it was an officer who assisted The Boy with a project for Boy Scouts, it was an officer who let me go with a warning rather than a speeding ticket when half the neighborhood was looking for a missing Teen (She was in the neighbor’s house watching fricking Spongebob!). It was also an officer who stopped my husband when he was looking for a tall, light skin, thin male who robbed a Wawa in a hoodie. The Mister was in a suit trying to catch his train for work. It was an officer who called me a nigger when I was seven and played in a fire hydrant, and it was an officer who detained my father, the first time I saw my hard boiled daddy cry, when he made an illegal turn in an unfamiliar neighborhood.
My relationship with the police is a complicated one. I love our current Chief of Police, but know that there are some shadows of his behavior when he was on the Philadelphia Police force. I hate that I have to name drop at times when I call before my requests are responded to. I love that two Captains will return a call or text regardless of the time I call. I hate that I have to watch a rally among Springfield that once again does not understand the frustration of a race of people who have had enough of mistreatment from overzealous police who shoot first and ask questions later. We are not in the Wild Wild West.
The pro police rallies that have cropped up recently shows that the message of #BlackLivesMatter is lost in the rhetoric and yelling. Not one person of color was at the rally in Springfield two weeks ago. Was an invitation even extended to those who support the police but also want their children and loved ones to return home safely? Did the planners realize how divisive it was to feature people who wore shirts with the message “Hate cops? Next time you need help, call a Crackhead“.
As a person who supports the police, appreciate that they put their lives on the line daily to protect and serve, I feel THIS is the problem with our country. Rather than acknowledge that some cops are knuckleheads and aren’t doing the best job, this rally showed the chasm between the those who never worry about a cop following them because they were Driving While Black and the privilege they have to protest for a cause they believe in without hearing about the thugs and criminals that ignited the firestorm that has been brewing for so long.
There is no cutesy phrase of “Can’t we All get along” because those days are gone. We demand the same respect the cops demand of us. We demand that through the Fourth Amendment, ALL people are protected from unreasonable searches and seizures by the government. The Fourth Amendment, however, is not a guarantee against all searches and seizures, but only those that are deemed unreasonable under the law.
The people who protest, people like The Teen and The Boy’s Boy Scout troops, wants to ensure that they all have the same chance as the officer that President Obama mentioned returning home at the end of the day.