At one point or another, we’ve all been stopped by a police officer for speeding through a yellow light, rolling through a stop sign, or turning without signaling. These minor, seemingly silly traffic violations can feel more like an effort to generate revenue than increase safety on the road. Even though they’re called safety violations for good reason, they can still be irritating to deal with.
So much of our anger today is generated by how the citing officer handles the traffic offense. A courteous approach to safety on the road can go a lot further than an aggressive stop by an agitated cop.
Like any other profession, there are rotten apples in every barrel (as my mom used to say). But lately, law enforcement has received an increasing amount of bad publicity over seemingly random shootings or overly rough arrests. As you may be, I’m outraged by some of what I read.
Then I stop to think about it. What would I do if I were in a police officer’s shoes? Though I can’t say I’d make all of the same choices, I recognize the amount of stress they’re faced with on a daily basis.
For example, I can imagine that not knowing if you’re going to return to your family at the end of the day is monumentally stressful. After all, when’s the last time I had to wear a bulletproof vest to go to work? When have I had to rush into an armed house to save a life? Or break down the door of a burning structure to rescue someone? The answer is… I haven’t had to. I haven’t even had to do so much as direct traffic on a sweltering Summer day— something that seems small, but helps keep our community (including those I love) safe.
Though I’ve had my share of unpleasant encounters with law enforcement (true confession: I have an incurable case of “lead foot”), these cops are mostly just good folks trying to do their jobs.
So, next time you see a cop, consider taking a moment to express gratitude to him or her for their service. Much like with military officers you see out and about, there may not be an easy way to tell if they’re one of the good ones or not, but one thing is certain… they’re jobs are hazardous, stressful, and often thankless.
Me? I choose to believe in the good and treat everyone with respect and appreciation. What will you choose today?
— G. Turner Howard III, Wreck Attorney