Driving down Olympia’s west side, I was pulled over by an officer, and naturally, I felt tense; but I decided then to maintain a respectful attitude. The officer informed me that I had failed to use my blinkers for three lights and I apologized for the mistake. He was very gracious from then on and I observed that my attitude was determining the tone of the interaction. Although I am a black man, and he a white man, I didn’t feel it affected our mutual respect and I suspect this is normal for most officers. Because I had shown him respect, he returned it in kind, and left me with a kind word and a warning.
Anyone can see tension between the public and the police force, but there need not be. The higher than normal standard that officers are held to today is good, but a societal standard of individual responsibility is better, because it sets an equal standard in that everyone is held to the same bar. This equal standard will create an environment where circumstances, not public opinion, determine what is right.
“Character, not circumstances, makes the man.” Booker T. Washington