This is why how you see yourself is far important than how others see you

I remember growing up watching shows like “Adam-12”, “Emergency” and “Chips” along with “Baretta”, “Dan August”, “Ironside” and “Perry Mason”, all of these shows lead me to believe that the world was simply black and white, good or bad, right or wrong.  It made wishing to choose good and because good often always won over bad, as a kid I wanted to be on the winning side.  I share this with you because I think, this may have been the same reason the subject of the below article choose to put forth the efforts necessary to earn wearing the uniform of the Providence Police Department.  It may also have been the reason his son, stood side by side with him when they refused to just stand by and watch a crime happen, when they choose to stop sitting on the sidelines and get into the game.  The major difference is my results of dreaming and achieving can never compare to what happened to him and his son.

I speak about an article titled “A Black Officer Finds Himself On The Other Side Of The Law After Being Mistaken For A Suspect” reported by WPRI and published on Code, October 1, 2015.  The article reports; “When Christopher saw a crime occurring in his neighborhood and, although he was off duty, he wasn't just going to sit back and let it happen. He was in the middle of tackling and apprehending the suspect, Sean Sparfve, when police arrived. Instead of helping Christopher, however, the cops then turned on him. They assaulted and arrested him, forcing him to watch as they then turned on his young son Tyler, who had also done undercover work for the force. Christopher's injuries were so bad that he was able to claim disability and retire from the department.  The police force claims Christopher failed to properly identify himself at the scene. Col. Steven G. O'Donnell, the state police superintendent, also had the nerve to comment, "It's unfortunate he was injured. It was a dynamic scene, but he has some responsibility for what transpired in that backyard." It seems like they have got criminal justice all backwards.  Regardless of who identified themselves and who did not, Christopher and his son were beaten by police for a crime they did not commit”.  

While they may have a point that proper identification may have saved the off-duty officer and his son but we all must admit that it is hard to talk when you have a night stick stuck up your butt or speak clearly while being beaten profusely about the neck and shoulders.  We must also admit that once the first blow was struck, those doing the striking was not about to listen to anything those that they were striking had to say.  As a former law enforcement official, I can relate to that “split-second” decision all officers have to be able to make when it comes to life threatening situations.  I can relate to arriving on a scene and having the ability to access the situation before engaging but what I cannot support and will never even try to understand is the lack of training given to those now wearing any uniform on how to avoid that “split-second” assumption.

It’s that “split second” assumption that lands all those who swore to serve and protect in the position of violating the rights that they swore to uphold.  Pulling up to a scene and separating, while maintaining control over those individuals involved until the truth or anything close to it could be revealed is a sure fire way to avoid “split-second” assumptions.  No officer should ever be allowed to engage without first separation and analyzation.  Once you have separated the parties involved and discovered who may be telling more of the truth, then and only then do you make a rational decision about what to do next.  Any officer, who responds to a call of any kind, should never occupy their minds with being judge and jury but simply an officer of the people and of the court whereby they gather the information, prevent any further harm and turn their findings over to the body appropriately assigned to judge.

You see, when Officer Christopher saw himself, he probably saw himself as a law-abiding citizen with a kind heart and a willingness to put his very life on the line each and every day for those he swore to serve and protect.  He never saw himself as anything but a “good” guy wearing all white and riding into the sunset but how he saw himself was not how his other, fellow officers saw him then.  See people, when we spend all our time trying to do the things to try and make sure that we are seen in any particular way, we tend to forget that how we are viewed by others can change as quickly as the weather.  This keeps us constantly making modifications to who we are and all the while losing the very essence of what makes us special.  When will we learn that how others see us is totally irrelevant to who we truly are and if we remain true to ourselves and be the person we wish to be, the view we give others will always be the view we had always wanted them to see. 


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