My family and I had just driven 9-year-old Indicta from our police station to the local Walmart for our annual Shop with a Cop.
We climbed out of my unmarked vehicle, preparing to join with the other 39 cop-and-child combos to go and find perfect holiday gifts for all of the kids, who come from low-income families. But Indicta’s mother approached us first and raised some concerns.
She explained that Indicta’s father, before leaving for a self-described 30-day camping trip that he never returned from, told Indicta to always behave while he was gone or “the men in blue” would come to take her away. The comment apparently had a powerful impact on the child, and a negative one at that.
The mother then said she was concerned that Indicta would not get a true understanding of police officers because my family was accompanying me. She also did not understand why we were in an unmarked car and not a cruiser with lights and sirens.
At first, her concerns caught me by surprise. But I listened to her, making sure I understood the issues, and then first explained that we were in an unmarked car because it’s my assigned vehicle.
And then I tackled what for me was the more important issue – why my family (my wife, daughter age 20 and son who is 11) had come along. Read more