My late father taught me never to use the word hate. Sorry pop! I hate the word allegedly. For thirty years I never once placed it in a single arrest report. When I wrote about the unlawful conduct of another, I wasn’t alleging anything. I declared beyond all reasonable doubt the person was guilty. If I lacked that kind of conviction, I didn’t make the arrest.
Now I’m in a different career field—journalism. That sounds strange to my ears, but as a person who writes stories about the criminal conduct of people in the news, I need to use the “a” word to avoid libel. The courts have said so! Therefore I will do it, even if I don’t like it.
As a peace officer I frequently had to speak at neighborhood meetings. I hated that too. After all, I was cop, not a public speaker sent out to be a punching bag due to pilfering and violence that occurred. Moreover, if I wasn’t speaking, I might be able to find the crooks!
But I was shortsighted. Nearly every time I went into a gauntlet of angry citizens, I left with fans. Not because of any gift to speak, which is minimal, but because I spoke the truth from the heartfelt perspective of a cop in the trenches.
“I never knew. … You’re kidding, right? … Does that really happen in our neighborhood? … Is that ALL the officers on duty at 2:00 in the morning? … I didn’t know that was the law.” These were comments I’d frequently hear during Q and A. People were filled with misinformation. Usually the figment of their imaginations, and on occasion, a neighborhood gossip simply spreading rumors.
Today, community groups are clamoring for information. Why do police do this and that? Speak to them factually, but reveal your humanity.
There are good people that want to root for us, but they don’t know how. It’s a teaching moment! I mean it’s allegedly a teaching moment. Whether you instructionally connect with conviction is up to you!
(Photo by Antoinette Alcazar)