The young man stood silent and motionless, holding a baby boy as he stared at the raging fire. The tongues of flame had consumed his garage and everything in it. Now they had jumped to his sport utility vehicle (SUV) parked close by. The single wide mobile home that he and his wife shared with their children stood about ten feet away. Thankfully, his family had escaped uninjured. The siding had been damaged by the heat of the fire, but the house had not caught…yet.
A few months at the Citizens’ Police Academy helps us see law enforcement officers in a better, and more human, light.
I was about to leave for school when I heard the loudspeaker. Looking out my window on that winter morning, I saw a police cruiser, some uniformed officers, and one policeman speaking into a handset, telling me to come out of the house. I walked out my front door, oblivious to the fact that I had my hands in my pockets on this cold day. The officers instantly drew their guns and aimed at me, shouting for me to take my hands out of my coat. Startled, I complied. One of the men moved me to the car, put my hands against it, and searched me, saying that shots had been fired at my location. Later my younger brother came out of the house – he had been setting off fire crackers.
I have had a few other interactions with police in my life. Once a lady in a campus clothing store called the police on me because she thought that I lingered there too long and she found it threatening. More than once I have seen the dreaded flashing blue lights of a police cruiser in my rear-view mirror. Driving home at 0200 after a shift as a bus boy at a local restaurant, an officer stopped me. As I searched my glove box for my registration and proof of insurance, he saw a black object. The officer exclaimed “what’s that” as he drew his weapon. “A comb” I replied, and handed it to him.