Wednesday, April 8, 2015

No, No. Thank You, Officer.

The pollen here in Atlanta is serious. We have more trees than any other metropolitan area. Most states measure snow-fall in feet, we can measure pollen by the foot. Needless to say, allergies are a real battle in the spring. Luckily I work indoors but the 7-mile drive home wears me out more than anything in the spring. I leave work feeling great and get home feeling like I'm dying. My head hurts, my throat is coated in mucus, my nose runs, and a thick film clouds my vision. Today I came home, let the dogs out and fell asleep. I woke up ravenously hungry. I had pulled some steaks out to cook for dinner, but I don't feel like cooking at this time of night. I'll just go up the Hardee's and grab a burger.

I get about two blocks away when the blue lights flash behind me. Oh God no! I am in no mood to be dealing with this right now. My initial instinct was to roll up the window and ask for a supervisor, but I know he is probably pulling me over for at least one of two valid reasons. My headlight is out (which isn't easy because for some reason the dealership has to change the bulb for me and I'm always working), and I am not wearing a seat belt. I say to myself, let's feel this out and see how it goes. If I feel like I'm in danger, I will roll up the window and request a supervisor. 

The officer approaches my window and asks if I know my headlight is out. Well, as a matter of fact I did notice because I'm looking straight ahead, how do I not know it is out? There's only one beam of light. I say, yes I did notice that it was out. He then asked if I was wearing a seat belt, I look and say, nope, I'm sure not. He says how much he appreciated my honesty, asked for my license and then went back to the patrol car to run my info. It was at this moment I realized I had left my phone at home.  I kinda had a mini heart-a-stroke moment but I tried to remain calm. After all, so far, so good. 

He returns to my car, on the passenger side this time because of all the passing traffic. He tells me again how much he appreciated my honesty and that it went a long way with him. He gave me a warning to wear a seat belt and emphasized the importance of fixing my headlight and then sent me on my way. I wanted to tell him how much I appreciated HIM treating me like a human being but I didn't want to come off as some kind of lunatic. So I'm thanking him here. For some perspective, I will refer you to my post called White Privileged Doesn't Exist in the Hood.

Officer V. Tables of the DeKalb County police department, thank you for making me feel safe again in my neighborhood by somewhat restoring my faith in the police department. Just goes to show, a little bit of professionalism goes a long way. I will continue to be cautious and use my common sense when dealing with police officers but now I won't be so scared to call the police when I need them around here. I've laid awake at night thinking of what I would do if I had to call the police for help. I really enjoy feeling safe-and I do. I have the greatest neighbors of all time and they don't play games. That's why even though my area is a high crime area, nobody messes with my street. There always that "what if" factor that plays in the back of my mind, though. 

With all of the shenanigans going on with the police these days, it is very important to note the good ones. Huge changes still need to be made, especially when you see a man with a taser line attached to him get shot in the back while running away. Or a few months ago, when a DeKalb County officer shot a mentally ill naked man because, I don't know, he had a weapon of ass destruction perhaps? Every day you hear about another police-involved shooting. I'm not saying they are all unjustified.  If you run from the police, don't hop in a Maserati and then put the car in reverse with officers behind you. Even if you don't intend to run over an officer, a car is a deadly weapon and it is indeed a threat to whoever happens to be in the way of that vehicle. I had a memorial for the person to whom the Maserati belonged. 

I would suggest when dealing with police to use caution and common sense simultaneously. Know your rights, but don't be a dick about it. Own up to your mistakes but if you feel like you are being mistreated or your rights are being violated, do what you can to have the incident documented (request a supervisor, film the incident, make sure there are credible witnesses around, etc.), file a complaint and/or get a lawyer. A judge won't take you seriously if you don't have any documentation to support your complaint. If you are a criminal and decide to run, don't run into an isolated area.  Run into populated areas where there are witnesses. Just be aware, they already know who you are. They will find you eventually and those charges will be waiting for you but you may live to see a judge another day. That's actually how it's supposed to work. 

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