“If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there’d be peace.”
A couple of weeks ago I took a short drive from the Prairie, and a disturbing thing happened. I’ve pondered it ever since.
Driving down the highway, I was slowing for the red light when my attention was drawn to the side. At first I wasn’t sure what I was seeing; then I realized it was a large crowd of people all squashed up together. It’s been more than a few decades since I’ve seen anything like a schoolyard fight, so it took a minute to realize I was looking at a crowd of angry people.
At that moment a Mississippi Highway Patrolman in the car next to mine flashed his blue lights and cut in front of me. He jumped out of his car, leaving it about a third of the way in the highway. I was now at a complete stop. I heard yelling from the crowd and watched the officer extend his arm and verbally command the crowd. I pulled around his car and left. Shaking, I turned the corner and pulled into a parking lot. As little as I watch television news, I knew the situation was all too familiar.
Within minutes I saw and heard five police cars, with blue lights flashing and sirens screaming, careen down the city street. I knew where they were going, and I knew why. Tears began to trickle down my cheeks. Our world shouldn’t be this dangerous.
I wondered if the men or women in those careening cars were scared. I wondered if their hearts were beating as fast as mine. I wondered about a patrolman who single-handedly attempted to control people 20 times his number. I said a prayer.
When I was a little girl my momma would walk me down the city sidewalks. She said I’d greet every single stranger we met, unless of course she told me not to, and then I wouldn’t say a word. Children are like that. From that time ’til the day she died, Momma always pointed out the policeman: “The policeman is your friend. If you ever get lost or need help, you run to them.”
I took Momma’s word for it because, as I grew older, I realized Momma was rarely wrong.
Over the years I’ve had the privilege in various organizations to work closely with law enforcement officers. As a group, I’ve never been around finer, more dedicated, more loyal, or friendlier people. In casual situations they can be funny, even jokesters; in horror, they grieve.
And so it was I sat in my car that day thinking of the perilous situation the officers were facing. I thought about the fact that police officers make about $14 an hour (before taxes), and so collectively these officers would make about $70 to disperse a potentially dangerous, possibly deadly, situation.
I could only hope the police officers would go home that night, hug their children, kiss their spouses and say, “Honey, it was just another day.”
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