For What It’s Worth

Cop in, not cop out for kids

Recently, two youth several states apart decided that rather than being a cop-out, they would seek action from a cop in entirely differing situations. In both situations, there was a cop-out in a manner of speaking.

In Baytown, Tex., 14-year-old Annie James spotted a police car illegally parked in her neighborhood. The car was parked in a fire zone in the Bay Oaks apartment complex.

Now, let’s be honest. Okay? Most of us, seeing a cop car illegally parked, would probably think or say something like, “If that were my car, the cop would be right there giving me a ticket.” Or, “Cops don’t think they have to live by the rules we do.” Maybe those wouldn’t be the exact quotes, but most of us would probably think or say something like that.

Certainly, we wouldn’t report the cop or say anything to him. Why not? Fear! We would be afraid of what might happen to us. Right? The cop would make a nasty or haughty comment to us or wait around the corner to nab us speeding. Probably not, but we would think that, though we might not admit to thinking it.

Not young Annie James. She took action. “He was parked on the side of the building and it was a fire lane all the way around,” she told a TV reporter. So, she took a piece of paper and made a handwritten parking ticket citing the offense and instructing the officer to pay a $10 fine to the manager of the apartment complex.

When the officer, Tommy King, returned to his patrol car, he saw the piece of paper on his windshield. He removed it, opened it and read the citation. He started laughing immediately. “I thought it was neat that she made that for $10 but not to herself,” King said to the reporter.

He was a cop in a situation, but to his credit, Officer King did not cop out. He paid the fine and also gave Annie a $40 gift card to Toys R Us. “It’s interesting,” he said. “I made a friend. A lesson would be not to be shy or afraid of law enforcement. We’re here to help.”

In Waterford, Conn., 9-year-old Isaiah McLoughlin tired of watching cars whizzing down his neighborhood street while he waited each day for the school bus. He talked to his grandmother, his primary guardian, about it. She said speeders sometimes “fly” down their residential road at speeds up to 60 mph. She suggested to Isaiah that he write a letter to the police and tell them about the speeders.

My guess is that many adults would do nothing excepts perhaps complain privately about the speeding and voice comments like, “Where’s a cop when you need one?” Or, “Maybe they’ll do something if a kid is hurt.” Isaiah opted to do something. He sent a handwritten note to the police and signed it, “Your friend, Isaiah.”

He mailed the letter on a Monday and Tuesday evening the department’s youth officer came to Isaiah’s house to discuss his concerns. She promised to pass the information to the traffic department, and Thursday morning a cop with a radar gun was stationed on the street. “He was a very busy man,” Isaiah’s grandmother said. “He just kept going back and forth with his lights on, pulling people over.”

Again, thanks to a plea from a youth, the cops were in on the situation, not copping out.

Two young people took action where many adults could have, but did not. And, despite what some may have expected, the results were positive. When reading these two stories, I couldn’t help but think how many times I have not done something I should have done either because of fear, probably unfounded, or because of lack of faith that my action would be useful or productive. How about you? Can you identify with this?



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2 Responses to For What It’s Worth

  1. Judi says:

    Exactly right Harry! I always think it would be a huge waste of time.
    I got this message when I tried to reply:

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