Skip to main content

An Open Letter To Law Enforcement



A few weeks ago, I was eating with my family when a number of officers entered the restaurant. I immediately became apprehensive.
Two of the officers locked eye contact with me and lingered for longer than a few seconds. I physically tensed and braced myself for a confrontation. Blessedly, I nodded at them, they nodded at me, and that was the end of our brief, tense encounter.

My fiance said that I was so tense that she was afraid a confrontation would break out. I argued that I tensed because the officers sized me up, but that didn't matter. I shouldn't have been ready for a confrontation. They should not have sized me up.

But the truth is, I do not feel safe in the presence of law enforcement. I do not trust most law enforcement.

Which is very sad to say, because I have known some incredibly decent police officers in my time. I've known two went far out of their way for me, bending the law to cut me a break. So I know that all police officers are not bad.

I've also had a police officer threaten to kill me on one occasion if I ever returned to his town again. I've also been physically assaulted by police officers when I had my hands in the air and was surrendering.

I also know that this isn't limited to color. My fiance, a white woman who stands at less than five feet five inches tall with her hands above her head, was pulled over a few months ago for an issue with her plate. The officer verbally accosted her to the point of tears.

The plain truth is this; as a person of color, in this day and age,  I am afraid--terrified, actually--that I will one day be stopped by a police officer. I will comply with the officer's every command. And it won't make a difference.

I am also worried that eventually, citizens will no longer tolerate being executed by police, and a good officer, one who takes the oath seriously and does their best to enforce the law and go home to their family every day, will pay the price. The consequences for that will be marked as a failure in future history books.

Update: Officer Brian Moore, a twenty-five-year old New York City Police Officer, was shot in the head on May 3. 2015 and died of his injuries the following day. His accused murderer, Demetrius Blackwell, was apparently unprovoked in his supposed actions. Demetrius Blackwell is a black man. 

I don't know when or why the system became so fundamentally broken, but I implore you to see and realize that things need to change. Either stricter psychological screening, more thorough background checks, or something, but something, somewhere needs to change.

So as a private citizen, I make the following promise to all members of law enforcement;

  1. If you see fit to stop me, I will comply with all instructions given in a polite and professional manner.
  2. I will reveal up front if I'm carrying any weapons on my person or in my vehicle (Note: I never carry guns).
  3. I will remain polite and professional even if I disagree with your actions.
  4. I will remain polite and professional and hope you give me the same courtesy.

Just like most good officers, I pray that a traffic stop does not result in my death.

Thank you for the service you provide.

Thank you for reading.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Avery, I applaud what you've written here. I'm a well-educated white woman who -- like you -- has over the decades experienced both kindness and callousness from law enforcement. So, I agree that ultimately, race has less a factor to play in the equation than perhaps bad timing or a lack of manners or self control. I pray that one day all people will engage with each other respectfully, but I wonder what will it take for that day to come...
Anonymous said…
This is my second attempt to leave a comment. I'll try to recreate my first one.

Avery, I applaud what you've expressed here. As a well-educated caucasian woman of age, I can tell you that I too have mixed encounters with the police. Mostly kind, but some extremely callous experiences too. I think that it has a lot to do with bad timing as well as perhaps a lack of education or self restraint. Unfortunately, law enforcement tends to attract alpha type people. I have hope for the future, but it's going to take a ongoing diligence from both the public and the police. Thank you for sharing this with us.

Popular posts from this blog

America: A True Story About Hatred and Unity

I wanted fast food tonight. That was all. I found myself at Burger King to pick up my wife's order. I was a few cars deep when I spotted the Confederate flag. I surreptitiously snapped a few photos. This was going to be a very different story. When I pull out of Burger King, it turns out there's more than one. In fact, there are four trucks, each flying variations of the flag. I have to go around the front of them to avoid an accident. They're parked right in the middle of the road. As I drive around them, each person in the vehicle makes it a point to ensure I see them. I do. They see me too. When I get to McDonald's (which is in the same lot), I learn that they're not taking debit cards at the moment. Terrific. I wanted chicken nuggets and instead, I get a run-in with the new Confederacy. So I make my way back to Burger King, again appearing in full view of the trucks. I place my order, get it, pay, and pull out. Then one of the

The Long Road Home

I will end you tonight. No, wait. That's not where the story starts. The story starts two and a half years before this, when Michelle (referred to as Michelle for legal reasons because SATAN was too heavily trademarked) reached out to me by Facebook. She mentioned that we played the same Facebook game and she wanted to say hi. I had never, in fact, even heard of the Facebook game. But I was freshly broken out of a relationship and she was pretty with a good body so I said "Hurr, okay." Conversation ensues. She tells me we came up in the same place. We did not come up in the same place. We spent one night in San Francisco talking. But I really wanted to sleep with her. So, "Hurr, okay." Fast forward a few months. I've left Missouri for the beautiful Pacific Northwest. I've settled into the ass end of Lynnwood, a suburb of Seattle. The apartment was so bad that the landlord wrote the mold on the wall off as "crayon coloring

Wave Rocketbook Reviewed

I love writing by hand, and I love notebooks. I'll often devote entire budgets to them and when Officemax has one of their twenty-five cent sales, I'll buy them out. I often draft by hand, finding that the scene comes together more purely when it flows from a pen rather than a keyboard. So when DailyDot advertised a durable new type of notebook that you could use over and over again for the cheap price of twenty-five (thirty after shipping) US Dollars? I'm down. The Wave Rocketbook is meant to be elegant in its design and simple in its execution. The instructions come on the bag itself, and only the pen and notebook are included. The pen feels like any other, so you have to be careful not to mix it into your collection or you will end up marking your notebook with the wrong pen (like I did). The ink is erasable, which is a bonus. A place to put the pen would've been nice, but it clips easily, if not securely, into the ringed binding. The paper is thick and