Some make po­lice con­tact harder than it need be

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL - CHARLIE SEWELL

The last sen­tence of our na­tional an­them is, “O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.” Some peo­ple seem to think it means, “O’er the land of the free to do any­thing I de­sire.”

Imag­ine par­ents see­ing their 6-yearold child car­ry­ing a cig­a­rette. Rea­son­able and pru­dent par­ents might won­der if the child found it and was bring­ing it to them. They might also won­der if the child was plan­ning to smoke it, or if an adult asked the child to fetch it. To get the an­swer, par­ents would mimic a po­lice of­fi­cer by ap­proach­ing and in­quir­ing. Imag­ine the child try­ing to walk away, run away, cursing or scream­ing bru­tal­ity? This sce­nario is what po­lice of­fi­cers face daily.

A few peo­ple pur­posely get ar­rested for di­plo­matic or de­praved rea­sons. Most peo­ple, how­ever, don’t want to be ar­rested and most don’t want their free­dom com­pro­mised. Po­lice of­fi­cers ap­proach sus­pects pos­sess­ing rea­son­able sus­pi­cion or prob­a­ble cause to be­lieve that a crime has been or is be­ing com­mit­ted. An ar­rest doesn’t mean a per­son is guilty. It’s sim­ply a step in the pro­ce­dures out­lined in our great crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem.

My wife, a re­tired schoolteac­her, and I were dis­cussing our so­ci­ety, and we both ac­knowl­edged notic­ing a re­cent de­cline in the ac­cept­able be­hav­ior of peo­ple. Years ago, more peo­ple had a feel­ing of pro­found ap­pre­ci­a­tion for po­lice of­fi­cers and teach­ers be­cause of their au­thor­ity and their dif­fi­cult job. To­day, many peo­ple act as though rules only ap­ply to oth­ers, and they mod­ify facts to use to best suit them­selves.

Be­cause of re­cent changes in our so­ci­ety, more kids and adults are un­couth, bad-man­nered and self-cen­tered. Com­put­ers and other tech­nol­ogy can be won­der­ful tools, but they also hin­der so­cial con­tact, com­pas­sion and think­ing.

This may be tongue and cheek, but Ur­ban Dic­tio­nary de­fines a good kid as a teen who is adept and in­no­va­tive at avoid­ing get­ting caught when get­ting into trou­ble. John Rose­mond of the Gas­ton Gazette says that af­ter telling stim­u­lat­ing and so­cio­pathic things, a par­ent will say, “But he’s a re­ally good kid.” A re­ally good kid isn’t one who is ag­gres­sively dis­obe­di­ent, vil­i­fies the par­ent with defam­a­tory com­ments, or ne­glects re­spon­si­bil­ity at home. A re­ally good kid doesn’t refuse to be re­spon­si­ble or cre­ate fre­quent chaos at home.

I of­ten hear on tele­vi­sion, “He was a good kid, why didn’t the of­fi­cer shoot him in the leg?” Shoot­ing to wound is a won­der­ful con­cept be­cause no po­lice of­fi­cer wants to take a life. Shoot­ing to wound is also a very im­prac­ti­cal con­cept, be­cause that would be as easy as launch­ing one dart at 12 bal­loons hop­ing to burst them all. Even the

Be­cause of re­cent changes in our so­ci­ety, more kids and adults are un­couth, bad-man­nered and self-cen­tered. Com­put­ers and other tech­nol­ogy can be won­der­ful tools, but they also hin­der so­cial con­tact, com­pas­sion and think­ing.

best marks­men are lucky to hit any­where on their tar­get un­der stress­ful cir­cum­stances, let alone hit the bulls­eye. Be­cause of re­cent crit­i­cism, more po­lice of­fi­cers are hes­i­tat­ing be­fore draw­ing their weapon. Con­se­quently, more po­lice of­fi­cers are go­ing home to their fam­ily in a cof­fin.

The word “co­op­er­ate” is straight­for­ward to me. It means to com­ply with the po­lice of­fi­cer’s re­quest. Some peo­ple get riled just at the sight of a po­lice of­fi­cer. They don’t rec­og­nize that the po­lice of­fi­cer is sim­ply try­ing to keep the peace. The time to ar­gue a case is in court, not on the street, and vi­o­lence is never the an­swer.

We live in a so­ci­ety which is a col­lec­tion of peo­ple liv­ing to­gether. A so­ci­ety is sup­posed to be some­what or­derly. To be or­derly, there must be dis­ci­pline. Dis­ci­pline means train­ing peo­ple to obey rules us­ing pun­ish­ment to cor­rect vi­o­la­tions. Some peo­ple don’t want to be dis­ci­plined, so they in­cor­rectly scream the word abuse.

Many par­ents refuse to ac­cept the fact that dis­ci­pline starts at home. It is not the re­spon­si­bil­ity of teach­ers or po­lice of­fi­cers to teach other peo­ple’s chil­dren dis­ci­pline, or scare them into be­hav­ing. Dis­ci­pline must be ad­min­is­tered by a par­ent who is clearly com­mit­ted to the gen­uine­ness of their au­thor­ity over their child. With the right ap­proach and the right de­liv­ery, al­most any con­se­quence will work.

Rules ap­ply to ev­ery­one, not just to a cho­sen few. If we don’t like the rules, we can vote to change the rules. The United States Con­sti­tu­tion says vot­ing rights can­not be abridged be­cause of race, color, pre­vi­ous con­di­tion of servi­tude, sex or age for those above 18. We can’t be a peace­ful so­ci­ety un­less ev­ery­one un­der­stands that our so­ci­ety isn’t like a ham­burger res­tau­rant, you can’t al­ways “Have it your way,” but you can vote. Your vote speaks louder than you can.

Charlie Sewell is the re­tired Pow­der Springs po­lice chief. His book, ‘I’d Rather You Call Me Charlie: Rem­i­nis­cences Filled With Twists Of Devil­ment, De­vo­tion And A Lit­tle Dan­ger Here And There’ is avail­able on Ama­zon. Email him

at re­tired­chief­[email protected]

Sewell

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