My car was at a standstill in traffic so I watched as they spoke with a man. What caught my eye, however, was this white officer sitting on the raised pavement away from the others — talking to a black kid who was about the age of 9.
They were both sitting in a relaxed position, carrying on a normal conversation. This kid was talking freely, not intimidated — just talking, and this officer was listening and talking in such a relaxed manner that it reminded me of a father talking with his son. It was a beautiful moment of an officer using paternal techniques in dealing with a youth.
The light turned green and I had no choice but to follow the traffic onto the highway. As I drove, I couldn’t get that picture out of my mind. It was like a heartwarming scene from a movie. They never looked up. They never saw me. But what I saw suddenly reminded me of a period in my own childhood when law enforcement became my closest link to feeling safe from danger.
My two older brothers and older sister had friends at our house when my parents were not home. This was seven or eight people at a time, not counting us four siblings! As you could imagine, things could get out of control fast without parental supervision. The truth is, no one wanted me around. I was too young, too silly and too indiscreet to be trusted. I wasn’t smart enough to keep my distance from where I knew I wasn’t wanted. When I was pushed out of a room with the door slammed behind me, I pushed to get back in. This resulted in me getting pinched or punched, and chased out of the house or into a scuffle with someone.
This also resulted in me calling the police numerous times. Sometimes I would have to run down the street to where a police car was stationed at a nearby restaurant. I can’t tell you how many times these officers, black and white, drove me home and had a talk with my brothers and their friends. It got to the point where whenever I reached for the phone it would clear the room.
All I knew was that everyone was bigger than me and I was not wanted. During that time period, which lasted for several months, I was viewed as a tattletale and an outcast. But I didn’t know what else to do. I felt unwelcome in my own home when company came over. Telling my parents only made it worse. But these peace officers felt like friends. They rescued me. I guess I’ve always had a soft spot for the police because I believe most officers are trying to do us good.
I believe we find exceptions to the rule in all professions and groups. So why stereotype all police? Most people never stop to think how chaotic the world would be without law enforcement. Do you think they do far more good than they are given credit for? They put their lives on the line to make society safer, yet they get far more negative attention than commendation. Is it because they are waging an impossible war on crime?
In his book, “Police for the Future,” David Bayley said, “That the police are not able to prevent crime should not come as a big surprise to thoughtful people. It is generally understood that social conditions outside the control of the police, as well as outside the control of the criminal justice system as a whole, determine crime levels in communities.”
Without a change in these “social conditions,” crime will never be eliminated. The real problem is bigger than the police can solve. It is a social problem, rooted in the reality that humans are born in sin, with a tendency to commit crimes — large and small. How do we react when there are no police around? Some people obey the law because they respect authority. That is what the Bible recommends for Christians. Since God, the greatest Law Enforcer, permits human governments to exist, and these agencies maintain some degree of order in society, respect and obedience is appropriate.
Regarding these civil authorities Romans 13:4-5 says, “The government is God’s servant working for your good. But if you do what is wrong, you should be afraid. The government has the right to carry out the death sentence. It is God’s servant, an avenger to execute God’s anger on anyone who does what is wrong. Therefore, it is necessary for you to obey, not only because you’re afraid of God’s anger but also because of your own conscience.” — GOD’S WORD Translation.
At Matthew 24:12 the Bible predicted before the end came, “lawlessness would be increased.” — English Standard Version. This would be despite the best efforts of law enforcement and advancements in society.
If you would like to live in a world where people have so much respect for the law that they don’t need police, where no criminals or crime will exist to harm you or your loved ones, then put all your trust in God, learn and do His will. Then you will experience the fulfillment of Psalms 37:10-11: “Soon the wicked will disappear; you may look for them, but you won’t find them; but the humble will possess the land and enjoy prosperity and peace.” — Good News Translation.