So I think I now know what it feels like to be on the scene of a crime when all your friends flee and leave you standing there to face the police ALL alone… so (maybe against my better judgement) last night I told the kids that as long as they cleaned up the mess from the pumpkins they could play catch with the two pumpkins that were left on my front porch. Since it was so nice outside I decided I would come outside and play with them there are only a few days left of playing outside before it become too wintery and I don’t see the kids except for on Wednesdays until Spring! So as we are throwing the pumpkin it happens to roll out into the street (see I told you this was against my better judgement), but not just any street A REALLY BUSY street! Well apparently someone didn’t agree with our creative Fall fun and must have called the police to complain that a pumpkin and some kids were playing on Orleans street, which wasn’t really the case… so literally a few minutes later a police car comes around the corner and lo and behold all of those kids took off running, scattering (it was like in the movies when everyone flees the scene of a crime but one person is left all alone, yeah that was ME!)! Leaving me standing alone on the corner to face the police ALL ALONE!
As you can imagine, my “criminal” dealings with police is well non-existent so I begin to plea my case, I am SO SORRY sir, I made a bad judgement call, I know we shouldn’t have been playing with, throwing, rolling pumpkins etc. I am SO SO SO sorry…and this kind but gentle officer (who I wish know I would have asked his name) put his hand up and said Ma’am… “I’m not upset that you were throwing pumpkins, ha I did worse things with pumpkins when I was a kid. I was concerned that there were kids playing in the middle of Orleans St.” And then with a laugh he says, “And what I find even more funny is the kids all took off running and left you the the white girl standing here alone to deal with me.”
About five minutes later the kids poke their heads around the corned and see the officer still standing there and he tells them he can’t believe they left me standing all alone, and did they know in the future if they took off from an alleged crime scene they’d be in a whole bunch more trouble, then he took the time to ask them their names, where they went to school, what kind of things they liked to do etc. The fact that this officer took time out of his night to spend a little time getting to know the kids, meant more to my heart, and their lives than I think he will ever know. In fact as he pulled away the kids said, “That’s the nicest police officer we’ve ever met…”
I chatted with the officer a few more minutes and he shared with me that he grew up in the “ghetto” and that he wanted to give back through his job, and that he hoped there would be more opportunities to connect with the community and the kids. I shared my heart with him, why I lived in the neighborhood, about Kids Club and about how he had made my night! I even pushed my luck and asked since he wasn’t mad about us playing catch with pumpkins did that mean it was okay, and we could buy a bunch of pumpkins to play with, since the signs on our block say, “No Ball Playing,” not “No Pumpkin Playing,” he laughed and said he had no comment. I invited him to join us one Wednesday night for Kids Club fun and told him that I thought his presence there both in and out of uniform would make an impression on the kids, and would probably help strengthen the relationship between the kids and the police. My heart in that moment, in my first criminal run-in (ha-ha) was full of joy in that moment.
Later when I told the kids, “I thought we were in this together, then the police roll up and you take off and leave me, what kind of friends are you…” they laughed and responded with the kind that don’t want to go to jail…that was such a heart breaking moment for me, because the view they have of the police are that someone’s always going to go to jail, because that’s typically what they see, that someone is ALWAYS in trouble because that’s usually the case, they really couldn’t believe that this officer was really just looking out for them and that he wasn’t even mad at us for playing with pumpkins!
So Officer whomever you might be and wherever you might be THANK YOU for making sure my kids were safe, thank YOU for understanding that we were just having some “creative” fun and THANK YOU for leaving a good taste in the mouths of my kids. Thank you for giving me faith that there are officers who really do want to be involved on a deeper level…and for taking the time to understand.Thank you for being open to hear my heart for my community and thank you for using your childhood experience to grow you, to mold you and to give you the desires to use your life to change others. I am excited about how you’re going to be used, and excited for what you’re going to learn.
Will you join me in praying for this officer, and for the other officers on the Baltimore Police Department, that their hearts would be open to the communities they are called to serve in, the communities that they can make differences in and not even know it? And that this particular officer would be an example to his fellow officers?