The Cops and Me

[Design by my talented husband, Jeremy Grant]

In light of the news today of yet another act of police brutality against a black man, I thought I’d write…

a list of my own interactions  with the police:

I have received several parking tickets for parking violations (forgetting to pay a meter, letting my meter expire, parking in a no-parking zone).

I have been pulled over for speeding: once I received a pricey ticket as I drove 15-over on a trip across the country, and once I was given a warning as I wept in the front seat, the officer kindly asking me to watch the dial next time.

I have been pulled over for expired registration tags twice within a week – the first time, I was fined; the second time, a cop gave me a warning and some encouragement to get myself to the DMV, ASAP lady!

I have shared meals with my friends Andrea and her husband Tim, my indie-artsy-Christian cop friend who requested to work on the homeless squad and is perhaps one of the kindest people I know.

In my up-and-coming, diverse downtown neighborhood where shootings and drug busts were no big thing, we called the cops three times when 1) our washer and dryer was stolen out of our backyard during the middle of the day, 2) my back-left car window had been smashed in overnight, and 3) our bikes were stolen out of our garden shed. In all cases, no cops showed up at our house, so we filed a report online instead.

When I saw someone riding my stolen bike across the street from my house, I told my husband to call the cops, who came out to patrol the neighborhood in search of my bike purchased on Craigslist.

When my neighbors had sewage leaking into their front and backyards, I called code enforcement, and both times I called, a cop showed up to take photos of the swamp land, and then to knock on doors and have a tough-love conversation with the offenders.

I have laughed until it hurt, religiously watching “Brooklyn 99” the day a new episode airs on Hulu. (“So you’re saying a doula is like some kind of vaginal Gandalf?”)

One time, a homeless man, muttering and cursing to himself, was standing by my car as I walked toward it after meeting a friend downtown, and some nearby cops noticed and came over to see if I was okay. They escorted the guy away on my behalf.

And then there was that one time, in my infancy, when my parents’ apartment building caught on fire, and as we waited outside in the frigid winter air for the firefighters to put out the blaze, a cop offered to let us sit in his car to stay warm.

All this to say:

I trust the cops. As a white, middle class, millennial woman, I have had no reason to distrust them. I’ve gotten off on warnings, I’ve been pulled over for legitimate and obvious reasons, I’ve had them come to my defense, and I’m personally friends with a white cop. Which makes me the least legitimate testimony on what’s going on around the country between cops and my black friends and neighbors. My experience says, cops are good. But my own experience is negligible. My experience is shared only by a privileged few. My experience could be lying to me.

So instead of spouting off some ill-informed opinion,

I am resolving to listen.

After all, this isn’t about me. It’s about us.

Alton Sterling Image

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About lovelyartifacts

Short + inspiring essays about science, psychology, art, and religion written by nonfiction author Elizabeth Charlotte Grant.

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