Cops are in the news a lot this week. If your only context for law enforcement officers was what you saw on television, you’d come away with the idea that they’re either power-drunk thugs or, incomprehensibly, targets.
Our next door neighbor Joel is a deputy with the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office. He’s a regular guy. You know, he mows his lawn, walks his dog, has friends over for pool parties and barbecues. He also puts on that green uniform and badge everyday and heads out into the scary neighborhoods to try to help keep people safe.
One day a few weeks ago, while Mr. R. was at work, a guy showed up at our house. Understand, we live in the country with an acre and a half of land. Our property is completely fenced and there’s a gate across our driveway. Nobody ever comes to the door. And we like it that way.
Anyway, our 85-lb. land shark, Jack, started losing his mind when this guy, a stranger to me, unchained the gate and proceeded to make his way to our front door. Between Jack’s ‘I’m not playing with you, bitch’ protestations and the ‘Bad Dog’ sign we’re required by the county to display in the front window (an unfortunate reminder of the time Jack decided to sample a neighbor lady who showed the lack of judgement to stand in our driveway), dude decided to return to his truck parked out front.
From there, he started honking. Repeatedly. Again, I did not know this man and there was no way I was going outside to see what he wanted. Anxious about the situation, I texted Mr. R., who was at work twenty minutes away. He was very clear about my course of action. “Do NOT, under any circumstances, go outside to see what he wants. And let me know when he leaves.”
When nearly half an hour had passed and he hadn’t heard from me, Mr. R. called. “No,” I assured him, “dude is still out there honking.”
So my love called…Joel, who just happened to be on his way home from work and was only a block away. He sped to my house and settled the situation calmly and assertively. The guy was looking for his runaway teenage daughter and someone had given him our address as where she was staying. Can you imagine if I’d opened the door to him in the beginning? Would he have believed me when I said no, she’s not here? He’d have demanded to search my house.
Of course, I thanked Joel profusely, as did Mr. R. We even sent him a restaurant gift card as thanks. He reassured us that no thanks was necessary and he was happy to do it, we should call him anytime.
When I see police shootings, I think about Joel. He has a wife and a baby daughter. He has hopes and dreams for his future. And he works hard to do his job to the best of his ability. There are lots of Joels out there. I, for one, appreciate them.