The Holy Bible is clear when it admonishes us this way: “Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” Hebrews 13:1-2 are guiding principles for us. We now know what is needed in our communities as it relates to our collective mindset on police protocols. In my not-so-humble opinion, it’s time for us to adopt a cop.
Before you dismiss what I’m saying, please hear me out. Recently, I wrote an op-ed piece entitled “Comprehensive Police Diversity Re-training Needed.” Although it was well-received locally and nationally, I addressed then what I felt law enforcement personnel needs to do in order to better protect and serve us as citizens. Today, I want to suggest some strategies we as God’s people can implement to be effective community partners with members of law enforcement. When you stop to think about it, the unrest in our towns and cities cannot be entirely blamed on the police. We, too, have a role in that unrest.
I’m all about civil disobedience whenever and wherever it is warranted. Marches, protests, peaceful public assembly, and other exhibitions of free speech in the 21st century are more powerful than ever thanks largely to social media. Having said that, is it ever appropriate to pelt policemen/policewomen with rocks or bottles or bricks? Absolutely not. Will any good ever come from firing guns in the vicinity of the police during a peaceful protest? No, not ever. As law-abiding, tax-paying, God-fearing American citizens, we can do better. Much better. And we must.
I’ve said this before and it cannot be emphasized enough. The vast majority of our men and women in blue are good people doing the very best they can to serve and protect us all under very difficult circumstances. Sadly, what applies to teachers and preachers also applies to police officers: one bad apple can easily taint the viewpoint of all other apples. One bully cop somewhere can make cops look like bullies everywhere. I’ve never been a police officer, but I have been a teacher. I am a preacher. I can certainly relate to some extent how unfair public perception can be towards police.
It’s time to reinvent the wheel. We need comprehensive respect re-training for our citizenry towards America’s law enforcement personnel. Pronto.
Here’s what I propose. It’s time for every single police officer in the United States of America to know what it feels like to be loved and respected and valued within their communities. They need to feel what it’s like to be hugged by children and teenagers in local schools. How cool would it be if young people knew a police officer as Officer (first name)? How awesome would it be if high school, college, semi-pro, and professional athletic teams offered free admission to law enforcement personnel and their family members at least 2-3 times a season just as a means of saying thank you? What if non-profit organizations (such as the 100 Black Men of America, Inc.) and/or community service-based, black Greek-letter fraternities and sororities (any of the “Divine 9”) actively recruited police officers to serve as either ceremonial or active members? Non-white cops partnering with black philanthropic leaders throughout our great nation sounds like progress in diversity to me. What if every church within a community adopted a cop? What if whenever that officer was hospitalized – for any reason – that church’s pastor and deacons came to his/her hospital room to sing hymns to, pray with, and encourage their officer? What if once a month, that church’s outreach ministry delivered a homemade meal to its adopted officer? What if local pastors and elected officials publicly advocated for raises to be given to police officers on an annual basis?
What if fear was replaced by faith – and framed by trust? “Do unto others as you have them do unto you.”
Regardless of educational background, socioeconomic status, age, or system of faith, all lives matter. Yours, mine, theirs – everyone’s. Kindness begets kindness. Love begets love. Tolerance begets tolerance.
If you ask me who’s going to pay for my theoretical, community-based paradigm shift towards police officers, here’s the good news. Several of my suggestions cost nothing. A couple would cost an individual or a church $10-$20 here or there. But consider the potentially game-changing return on those investments.
Full disclosure: there is no way to entirely eliminate police brutality – or the angry reaction by citizens whenever such an episode occurs. Changing our societal attitude about law enforcement will take years, perhaps decades. But it can be done. Regardless of the distance involved, every journey begins with a single step.
“Some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” Think about that.
Like you, I love our men and women in blue. I don’t think it’s unreasonable at all to respect, serve, and protect them, too. Let’s all adopt a cop! We should do this in our schools and our churches and civic organizations in every American town and city… in every state. What better way is there to keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters? No more delay. Let’s start today.