Walk a Mile . . .
One of my first jobs was waiting tables. I was young, certainly naïve, and quite impressionable. At that young age, life lessons about human nature started knocking on my door. Then they started POUNDING on my door! Upon arriving to work each shift, most all of the staff would be discussing the negligence of the previous shift; pointing out errors, commenting on their laziness, and naming names, something like a “top ten list” of the worst. With time, changing of jobs, moving to different areas, etc., I couldn’t help but notice it was the same dynamic everywhere I worked. This became a valuable tool for me to understand how to look at things from others’ perspectives before jumping to conclusions.
How I Was Changed
My new goal became playing Devil’s Advocate in my own mind when others didn’t act as I thought they should. (Terrible word . . . now I tell others not to “should all over me.”)
When driving down the highway, a tailgating car may be doing so because of an urgent phone call. Perhaps their child was injured, their spouse found deceased, traffic caused delays in picking up their friend from chemotherapy. It is not my place to judge, but rather get out of the way, then remember the only person whose actions I have any control over are my own. And ALWAYS give others the benefit of the doubt.
As for work, every person is busting their booty to get their job done. Yes, there’s always that one person, but they are the rare breed. The cooks thought the servers had it easy, and vice versa. The dishwashers, who worked for almost nothing, were often treated poorly. As for the “shift gossip,” if you have ever worked one shift, then another, it is quickly realized that each shift has their own set of issues, responsibilities, and dynamics. It cannot be expected they perform the same as a different shift. It can seem as though it’s an entirely different job.
How in the World Does This Apply to Law Enforcement?
To this day, my goal is to play Devil’s Advocate in my head. When I hear that someone did the unthinkable, I ask myself what circumstances could have forced him or her to do so. WOW! Talk about a change in perspective! Now, when I hear that a law enforcement officer has done something while on duty, and the media is running with a sensationalized story, I imagine as many different scenarios as possible to explain what could have happened from the officer’s point of view.
The example most worthy of sharing, in my opinion, are the growing numbers of Sovereign Citizens who delay the precious time of our dedicated officers. This discussion came up a couple days ago with someone explaining to me he was riding a bicycle down the road, officers asked him to stop, then promptly asked where he was going, where he’d been, and for his driver’s license. When he asked what he was doing wrong, it was explained he matched the description of a suspect. The bicyclist then said he wanted to see a photo of the suspect, which the officers said they did not have.
After this individual explained to me the circumstance, I handed out a scenario that I would use had I been the one on the bike. My perspective went something like this . . .
What if someone had just called 911 because a suspect had entered their home, stole valuable items, and badly assaulted the resident, then left. The resident gave a brief description on what the suspect looked like, and dispatchers quickly shared that information, in order to locate the suspect as quickly as possible? If we are talking about 2-5 minutes after the incident, and the suspect was on a bicycle, officers will do everything in their power to rule out as many people as possible, as quickly as they can, so they can move on to arrest the suspect. Rather than see it as a profiling situation, cooperating, and helping them rule you out quickly, gives them more time to look for the offender. A two-minute conversation has just turned into a 15-minute ordeal, and now, you may seem to be acting a bit suspicious yourself.
Also, remember the wonderful laws of Murphy! “When it rains, it pours,” right? They may have other calls they need to get to. A domestic disturbance is happening, a child went missing, and there was an accident at a major intersection…. Who knows what the circumstances are, but wouldn’t a bit of grace and cooperation seem appropriate?
We can all do a bit better trying to understand what others are going through. I am not suggesting we allow carte blanche actions, only that we consider what else may be going on.
And that, my friends, is this woman’s opinion on how to perceive the world without such hostility, hate, and anger!
Patricia Landfair – I’m the wife of a Sheriff’s Deputy, Founder of State of Oregon Law Enforcement Support, Certified in Animal Training and Enrichment.
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