I’m torn – Stand up for police, or be honest about the problems I see

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First, let me clearly say, that I am very sad about those losing their lives. Victims of crime, perpetrators of crime and those attempting to stop crime. The continued loss of life is just awful.

I have watched as many are taking sides over the issue of our police officers. There are those who seem to despise the officers and those who appear to blindly endorse them, no matter what.

Somewhere in between lies my stance.

The vigilante movement is wrong. Both officers and cop haters who are taking the law into their own hands are wrong and should be punished to the full extent of the law.

I am disgusted by the events where officers are being targeted for violence and attempted murder. That being said, it has been my experience that law officers have some problems they need to iron out. Here are my family and my personal experiences.

proof-003Many years ago my mother-in-law had a dear friend from her church get stopped at a toll booth for speeding. She had her infant child in the car. The officer asked her to step out of the car but because of her infant child she made an appeal to be able to stay in the car. Basically, the officer took her out of the car and handcuffed her and issued a resisting arrest charge. It went to trial. I remember praying hard that the truth would come out at this trial. To add to the tension this mom’s husband was a different race and there seemed to be some racial overtones to the events that unfolded. The officer under oath swore she attempted to hit him. She denied it. I think, because of the prayers of many righteous women there was a break in the case, almost as if it were a TV movie. Not her lawyer, but the judge asked if there was video surveillance because the incident took place by a toll booth. In an amazing answer to prayer there was! The officer was caught in an outright lie and the case was thrown out with the judge pronouncing that the officer was no longer allowed to come before his court – ever!

My wife’s Uncle is a scrappy looking fellow. Unkept hair, often poorly shaven and he wore old t-shirts. When we lived in Naperville, Illinois out of all cities over 50K it had the least poverty. The homes were pristine and large. Ellen’s Uncle would drive his old, white, dented cargo van to visit his mother who lived with us. In his passenger seat was typically his helper who was African American. Three months in a row Ellen’s Uncle was pulled over by Naperville police officers demanding to know what he was doing in Naperville. Could you imagine if a white man in a suite driving a nice new sedan was pulled over and asked what he was doing in the town? Seriously, heads would fly and officers would be fired. So why is it OK to stop two poor looking fellows, one who is black?

Here in Pennsylvania we have many small towns with small police departments. Some are great and others are less than great. The town next to ours, Radnor, has some particularly arrogant officers. Both my wife and I have been yelled at by Radnor police officers. One gave me a ticket, despite my pointing out the fact that the stop sign was completely hidden by a trash truck and I did realize my mistake and stopped in the center of the intersection. When I pointed this out he literally dropped his mouth and in a jerk turned to see where the stop sign was. He clearly realized I was correct. His answer to me? “Well, you are from around here and you should have known.”

Now, let me clearly say. I realize that officers have to do their job. Sometimes we are not going to like their doing that job. But in my small world, my family and I have had less than wonderful interactions with more than one officer. To me, there is clearly a problem here that needs to be addressed.

proof-005To be fair, I have gone out of my way to be kind and involved with officers. Recently there were several officers on their lunch break in a fast food parking lot. I was with my 5 and 3 year old grandsons. I brought them over and we talked to the officers. They were very kind putting on their lights and giving the boys a toy officer badge to wear. I have taken a course here in Broomall given by our local police department so we can better understand what they do. Many officers are wonderful and deserving of praise and our support. Most of my interaction with officers has been great, professional and helpful. I should add that the officers here in Marple Township where I live have been wonderful. Polite, helpful and always courteous. If only all officers were as nice as they are here in Marple.

I know there are a host of Bible verses that tell us to obey our authority including:

  • Romans 13 which states we should be subject to governing authorities
  • I Timothy 2: 1-3 asks us to pray for those in authority and lead a quiet life
  • Titus 3:1 which calls us to be obedient and subject to those in authority
  • I Peter 2:13,14 instructing us to be under authority which is sent to punish evildoers and praise those who do right
  • Mark 12:17, Mathew 22:21 and Luke 20:25 imploring us to render unto Cesar what is Caesar’s

Yet there are also many verses that state those in authority have a higher accountability to do what is right and just.

Unfortunately in my experience there really is a group of bad officers that we cannot deny exist.

My prayer is that through this awful mess, both officers and the public will grow to understand each other. That officers will have a new understanding of how important it is that they be equitable in the way they deal with everyone. That some departments would rise above the union nonsense and weed out the bad cops. And that the public would understand how difficult our peace officers have it these days.

I honestly hope some good can come from this sad set of events.

Mark Strohm

So, what do you think? Tell me below.