Recently, I was stopped at a stoplight. Like everyone else, I watched the traffic go by while waiting for the light to change. Okay, I may have glanced at my phone. After a few seconds, a police car rolled up behind me. For the first time in my life, I felt fear at the presence of the police. Keep in mind, I have a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice Administration from the University of Cincinnati. But, in that moment, I wondered if I would be mentioned in the same breathe as Eric Garner, Michael Brown or Freddie Gray. I wondered if I would ever see my son again. I wondered if my name would become viral across the internet. Would I be known for being another victim of the police, rather than a man who built a business from the ground up?
When I came to my senses I thought, “Wow, this man did nothing but pull up behind me and all these thoughts came rushing to my mind.” Then I wondered if he looked at my car and thought I was a drug dealer, a gang member or worse. Did he see a black man who’s trying his best to leave a legacy for his child? Did he think it was possible that I was a man who has a master’s degree, retired from the United States Air Force or works for the Federal Government? In reality, it’s more likely that he wasn’t thinking of me at all. But for me, it was the recent deaths of black men who were guilty of nothing at all that made me feel the way I felt. After I drove off, I gave it some thought.
Information Access Today
The access to information today is very prevalent and easy to get. With that in mind, we are influenced by what’s going on in the world. If the officer would have had a reason to stop me, would I have acted irrationally because of Michael Brown? Because I was mad at the death of Freddie Gray, would I have done something to escalate the situation to violence? Would my attitude have been negative, simply because a white police officer, who wasn’t involved in any of the incidents, pulled me over? The other side is this, would the officer have been influence by some inaction he recently had with a black man? Would a news report on a white police officer and a black man influence him to act
differently with me? When an incident occurs, there is always a flood of reports from the media. This immediate impact influences us all. We can’t let those situations govern how we handle ourselves in our day-to-day actions. Having spent 20 years working in the legal field, two of which were as a law enforcement augmentee; I should not have been afraid or intimidated. After all, I know how to govern myself with law enforcement.
In that moment, I realized that my behavior is half of the story. How I govern myself can dictate the outcome of any interaction with the police. In fact, it can dictate the outcome of any situation I find myself in. The Bible says in Luke 6:31, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” If you treat people right, then they will feel compelled to treat you the same.