Conversations with a Cop

The Art Lending Collection has this photograph by Zoe Leonard called “Police Museum” available to be checked out with a library card.


Zoe Leonard “Police Museum”


Recently I was invited to a Crime Watch event in Turtle Creek. I had a fun time with the locals as we ate, engaged and then enjoyed a set of presentations from local police.


Conversations with a Cop: Drug Paraphernalia

These gentlemen were very nice and willing to answer our questions, showed us some presentations on drug paraphernalia and cop gear, gave a tour of one of their police vehicles and how they use their CAD software, and offered to tase us. It was a joke.


Conversations with a Leader: Black and White Reunion BBQ

This engagement proved to be an awesome juxtaposition to this years Black and White Reunion’s BBQ on August 1st. During which we voted to endorse the National Mobilization Against Police Brutality and the Fraternal Order of Police.

At the Crime Watch event though I spend a good bit of my time saying awful, awful stuff about police, I chose to withhold personal opinion and listen. Of course, I had to ask a few questions that led to some interesting views on body cam’s, getting pulled over, how hilarious it would be if the vehicle we toured was a Ford Escape (it was an Explorer) and Freddy Gray! It’s important to know that I am simply QUOTING the officer, and it does not in any way reflect my personal thoughts on these issues but HERE THEY GO!

Body Cams?

“Well I can’t say that I agree with the whole idea of body cams but there’s a method to my madness.” Say’s the cop, “There’s more to it than what some people may think, which is that I have something to hide.” He started “For one I don’t like the phrase ‘body cam’, I mean my body functions from more extensions than just my torso or chest.” He explained, “Currently I’m talking to all of you, however if I had a body cam on, the only person you will think I’m talking to is him.” As he points in my direction, “Now imagine a heated altercation, I may be trying to arrest one guy, and his buddy could be trying to blind side me to the left or the right and you can’t see it, but I still have to bring it up in court but what? Is it going to get ignored because it’s not on camera?” he wondered. “And now I have to feel like I’m walking on eggshells to do my job. I mean I don’t like to have to be mean, but sometimes ‘excessive force’ is what it takes to get the job done with some of the real bad guys.”

A fellow police officer offered, “I think if we had to have cameras the ones that go on like backwards glasses are best, because it goes by head movement, but even those won’t capture our whole experience. It gets intense out here at times.”


Conversations with a Cop: That’s Not a Ford Escape!

“Right! And then you have the whole who’s controlling what. And no one seems to be happy with either result. Like if I control the camera, that’s one extra step I have to take under distress. I have to focus on grabbing my gun or whatever and now I have to remember the camera, and what happens if I forget to turn it on? Am I a shady cop? Even if I handled the situation correctly?” he questioned “Then you have privacy, and I mean not just for me, for you too. What if I have to come to your house, cameras blaring, and it turns out nothing’s wrong. You didn’t do anything illegal, but footage exposes personal information about you. I mean we are all human. We have our secrets or whatever, and now your business is on camera for everyone at the police station to see!” he warned.” And yeah I don’t like the idea of having the camera constantly on me neither. Imagine your boss literally hovering behind your back with every move you make.” He offered, “Look, I know everyone is freaked out about what media has been putting out there, and I will be the first to admit that we got some fucked up cops, but they don’t define the entire police department. If you perceive one of my guys to be an a-hole, chances are, me and half the police department agree with ya! But, like, Freddy Gray, what we see on the media is only half truths. I mean when you dig deeper, you find out that Freddy had a long criminal history and that in the past would be difficult, flight risk and even while processing him he had a history of hurting himself or others, so when a cop has this kind of profile of someone, we have to approach them differently.”

So, in order to stay safe, what do I do when I get pulled over?

“Ok! So let’s back up a minute,” he insisted “because you have to understand, this is just as frustrating for me as it is for you! I’m like omg, just caught this guy speeding, wth is going on with him? Is he gonna be sheisty because he has warrants? I’m gonna have to play guessing games with him. He might try to run or have a whole gang rolling with him in his car. I might have to grab my gun. I mean WHO KNOWS! Meanwhile you’re just pissed you got pulled over, alright alright I understand. So boom your speeding right? I let my sirens go, but we are on a busy highway. Acknowledge me! I know it doesn’t make sense to just stop right here and right now, so go ahead wave at me or put your hazards on, whatever, and get us to a safe place to pull over, not somewhere where I gotta practically lean against your car so I don’t get hit or something. He clarifies, “When we get that done, just put your hands where I can see them. It makes most sense to just put your hands on your steering wheel and just keep em there. People have the tendency to freak out like ‘he’s gonna get mad if I don’t have all my paper work to present him by the time he gets here.’ No I won’t!” he exclaims. “So now you’re digging around all frantic, and that’s just making me nervous, relax dude. I’m not in a rush. I already pulled you over. We got nothing but time. You can wait till I ask you for the paper work to get it. At least then I know what you are reaching for right?”

Vehicle searches:

“O yeah! No, no, I don’t have the right to search your vehicle without probable cause, All Congress did was expand what probable cause means. It use to be we were limited to just a few senses, but if I smelled something or something I was still limited. Now I can be more versatile and rely on other senses to tell me something doesn’t seem right and be allowed to search your vehicle. And of course dogs. I can’t smell what dogs can so if the dog gives me a hit, now i’m searching based on the dogs expertise.”

I pondered, at this point, about joking with the guy about if they trained their dogs to bark, but that was a bit much, and he was good to me.

It was nice to at least hear what an officer thinks about the topics that I spend a good bit of time raging over via Facebook, and it’s safe to say that those opinions are pretty standard throughout the police force (because the 4-6 officers listening in were nodding they’re heads in approval).

I can empathize with their views, simply because I’m not the professional behind the uniform. BUT I am a citizen, one who I believe it is their job is to protect and serve. What it boils down to is I’m concerned with the way the national police force chooses to serve me, the citizen. Protect me, the citizen. Which means I, the citizen, ┬ámust reach back out and demand change. I don’t believe we should fight to render our police useless. We MUST use some aspect of common sense, because when it comes down to it, if YOU were the offended, you’d want them to get that criminal off the streets, in which, if we render them useless, you’d have to practically hope that your offender was compliant. In what world would that happen right? If Freddy Gray HAD to be tackled off that bike, in my eyes, common sense policing means you’ve got the man cuffed now. He’s complaining of pains that are unrelated to the cuffs. He’s visually struggling. Keep him on the ground and allow the ambulance to do their part. Let THEM prove he’s ok, because the reality is YOU HAD TO TACKLE HIM OFF A BIKE! Anything can be wrong with him. Maybe that choice might have saved his life. And yes a CRIMINAL’S life. Because they are also human beings that deserve life as well, and had you charged him of something, he wouldn’t have gotten the death penalty would he? But he did.

I have a personal theory of regulation between people and police. At the end of the day, I feel that a variety of the police force feel they can mistreat us because of the fact that they’ve got that badge on, which somehow makes them greater than me. The way I see it, we should be in a position, as citizens to tell THEM what policing looks like, not the other way around. And quite frankly, we vote in presidents, senators, reps, mayors, judges… Why does is stop at cops? And it doesn’t have to be on the same format of the polls. It can be a locally controlled motion that says cops protect and serve, citizens watch and decide who is doing their job properly. It’ll allow them to do their jobs, and us to protect ourselves by voting in our agreement of selected officers, and the power to vote them out. All it would take is for a State rep to introduce this bill, and it can be possible. I guarantee they’d stop breaking body parts over traffic stops then. Or at least think about their actions.

Those views in no way reflect Turtle Creeks police force AT ALL. Just the format of the police force IN GENERAL.

It’s easy for conversations such as this to be had with the visuals we can offer at the Braddock Carnegie Library,s Art Lending Collection! Come visit us today!



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