He asked for 15 minutes of my time, but we ultimately spent one hour listening to each others' views of the same problems. Views that at times sounded diametrically opposed, but were able to be expressed because of the mutual respect exercised during our dialogue.
I wasn't just trying to sound nice last week when I said that I hold the police profession in high regard.
In spite of the times when as an immigrant I have been unjustly picked on by some of them, I realize that police officers risk their lives trying to uphold the rules we agree to live by. Ultimately, it is up to us citizens to participate in changing whatever rules we deem unjust. In the meantime, the least we can do is to be considerate of those around us, and remember that our rights extend only as far as where the rights of others begin. The better we understand and abide by this principle, the less need for harsh enforcement.
I tried to impress on Officer Poorer that I don't hold police or City government responsible for everything that is wrong with Belle Haven. But there is an important part that sensible enforcement plays, and that we citizens should be able to count on.
Officer Poirer had a little challenge for me: "Sign up for our Menlo Park Academy, and you will learn a lot about the other side of these issues."
I have for years considered taking the class. But because of one reason or another, I haven't made the time for it. And I am afraid I will have to miss the next session that starts on March 5th. I recently was given a new assignment at work, and my responsibilities literally doubled overnight.
But if you reader, have the time, I want to encourage you to participate. Just as getting to know your neighbors makes for safer surroundings , getting acquainted with your local police officers will make you feel it is possible to have a safer city. Little by little we need to start bridging the chasm of mutual distrust that often runs between citizens and police in working-class neighborhoods like ours.
Here is the link to the information on the Menlo Park Academy