It was summer, and I was with my best friend Greg. He was seven and I was five.
We stood at the corner of the street that went by our houses. Greg looked up at the street sign and dared me to climb to the top and sit there. I shinnied up the pole and hauled myself up to the top.
My panoramic view of my neighborhood from my lofty perch, was interrupted by Greg’s shout: “Cop!”
What Are You Doing?
I saw the black and white approaching. I froze and hoped I wouldn’t be seen. It drove by, down to the next corner and turned right.
I breathed a sigh of relief.
I didn’t know then the cop trick of pretending to not see something, taking a turn at the next corner, and doubling back in the alley. I caught the black and white coming into view as it approached stealthily up the alley, then turned and parked below me.
Greg did what Greg always did in those situations - he ran.
The officer got out of the car and said to me, “What are you doing?”
“Si-si-si-sitting,” I replied.
“I think you should probably get down from there before you hurt yourself.”
I got down. I was already starting to shake with fear when he asked me to have a seat in his car. I got in and he shut the door.
“Are you going to take me to jail?” I asked, my eyes already starting to fill with tears, fearing that I would be eating “bread and water” as I had been warned so many times.
He just chuckled, told me no, and asked me where I lived. I told him.
Remanded to Custody (Without a Trial)
We sat and talked about the wisdom of small boys, climbing tall poles on dares from their friends. As I listened I was in awe of him. He was the only cop I had even been close to — let alone talked to.
I asked a few questions about his job and all his equipment and he patiently answered.
“I guess I better take you home and talk to your parents,” he said.
I was crestfallen — the only thing that made it OK was getting to ride in a “cop car."
The walk from the squad car felt like the last steps of a condemned man. Mom was at the door, hands on her hips.
He asked, “Does this belong to you?”
I was remanded to her custody and was sentenced to house arrest without benefit of a trial.
The Day I Became a Cop
That was the day I decided I wanted to be a cop. Every time I’ve come into contact with small kids on duty, I try to remember that mix of fear and apprehension coupled with that sense of awe.
Never underestimate the impact you can have on a small child. What can you do to make a positive impression that will last a lifetime?
Click here to enter your own story about the officer who made you want to become a cop.