Take a look at the LawmanThe Park District in my town serves a large and diverse group of people in Cook County and we have a fancy, very desirable pool complex. Therefore, every summer when kids leave their unlocked bikes outside the pool entrance, they find them stolen.
Beating up the Wrong Guy - David Bowie, Life on Mars?
So, this weekend I have the misfortune to receive a few of these stolen bike reports, which stupidly, I decided to solve through basic investigation and some footwork, instead of merely writing up a report and moving on.
Now, I have to be purposefully vague here. After investigating, locating and returning several bikes, which had seemingly been stashed nearby, I also located a couple juvenile offenders.
And that's when things went haywire. I found myself being circled by women demanding my name and badge number. At least one had her cell phone camera out. Conversations about how This Isn't Right were spoken loudly nearby so that I might hear them. I think those mothers believed I was going to harm those juveniles...
A couple of pool lifeguards (envision privileged never been out of the suburbs white college kids), probably altered by the above mentioned mothers thought it was their duty to surreptitiously record the interaction with their cell phone cameras, eventhough I clearly positioned myself in front of the Pool's front entrance camera. Their feigned nonchalance was ludicrous.
I realized these people whom I never met were judging me by what I was wearing. That they had formed conclusions about me without any real knowledge of who I am. I was just another potentially out-of-control white cop who might snap at a moment's notice.
It would be the height of obtuse tone-deafness for me to say now I know what it feels like to be an African-American driving and be pulled over. Because, I can still easily badge my way out of any traffic stop and as a cop in a Cook County suburb I'm well off financially.
But, the take away from most police officers and the ones on my force whom I talked with about this incident, is far different than my own. The blame with the current environment between Law Enforcement and the American Public lies completely with the criminal cops who have no idea how to police. Who have been trained to be suspect all People of Color, subject their communities to the Broken Windows policy, hand out citations/tickets in order to plug budget gaps, see themselves wholly apart from the communities they've been ostensibly sworn to Protect & Serve, while they more and more see themselves as some sort of Paramilitary Occupying Power.