Growing up, I was taught that policemen were your friends. If you got lost, find the nearest police officer. He would help you. As law-abiding as I always have been, I assumed that all cops were Officer Friendly, and I maintained that view until I was 18 years old.

So imagine my shock as an exchange student in Mexico, when a policeman appeared on the street and every man, woman and child disappeared. Where was everybody going? I quickly figured it out when I realized the man was clearly intoxicated, and was carrying a semi-automatic weapon. And then another officer shot and killed a boy inside a crowded local disco that I had just left an hour earlier. I learned, like the rest of the citizenry, that it was best to avoid interactions with the local constabulary whenever possible. This was a new feeling and I didn’t like it.

I was relieved to come home to America where law enforcement, I thought, was much saner. Then an off duty cop frisked me way, way, way too intimately as I was going to see the Rocky Horror Picture Show. And a few years later, when stopped for speeding (guilty as charged) the officer stuck his crotch in my open window, inches from my face, as he supposedly wrote my ticket on the roof of my car.

And then over the years I have seen evidence of both arrogance and contempt from police officers, and it seems that you can’t read the news today without coming across a story about police brutality. The folks that are there for our safety don’t seem to be particularly safe themselves, and that’s terrifying. So forgive me if you really are Officer Friendly, but if you pull me over, I’m going to keep my hands on the top of the steering wheel where you can see them, and not move a muscle until you instruct me to, all the while thinking, “Please don’t hurt me”. Because I don’t trust you. Can you honestly blame me?

Officer Friendly

[Image credit:]


5 thoughts on “Cop-ophobia

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