Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Dear Officer Bent

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

4:45 p.m.


Dear Officer Bent,

I learned to drive on gravel roads. Where I come from, the road generally isn't wide enough for two cars, wise drivers watch for stray cows and meandering tractors, and people wave at one another with two fingers. In my experience, getting pulled over in a small town is a professional exchange. Officers are polite and to-the-point.

When I moved to Atlanta, I was shocked at the local attitude toward law enforcement. When Kathryn Johnston, the 80-something Georgia-Tech-neighborhood dweller was killed in a faulty drug bust, I was waiting tables and heard the public flack. I actually defended the law-enforcement vocation. What a tough job--ladies and gentlemen risking their lives to keep the streets safe.

Soon after the drug bust talk died down, there was a huge drama in the parking lot at the restaurant where I worked. After breaking half a dozen car windows and stealing items, a man pulled a gun. A few things of mine, including my wallet, were stolen. Some officers actually found my stolen wallet in a ditch and drove to the restaurant to return it. One Point: JUSTICE and SERVANTHOOD!

A few years later, I moved to the Norcross area and was working out in John's Creek. I got pulled over (rightfully) and experienced my first taste of Atlanta's Finest. After writing the citation, the officer informed me he could follow me home and give me a ticket every single day if he wanted to. I felt absolutely bullied and unsafe. I was alone in the car. I had just worked out. It was late at night. Was it really necessary to speak to me that way? One Point: UNPROFESSIONAL BULLIES!

You pulled me over this afternoon saying I pulled into an emergency lane and almost struck a van "who was waiting to do the right thing." Most days, I'm the one who is waiting while other drivers move right before the white lines dictate it's allowable. Today, I was the idiot who didn't see the cop camped on the corner. Today, I was the idiot hurrying home to make picture frames for my classroom. I did not "almost strike" the van. The van had been in the position to move right for at least 30-seconds and hadn't. I understand you're just doing your job. I know times are tough. In south Georgia, the State is about to put convicts to work maintaining school grounds. Convicts. In schools. I know times are tough.

I know it's hot out. I know you have a job to do. I know what it's like to work in a business where you interact with seas of faces, books of names, and snapshots of situations that play over and over.

I don't know where you're from, what's important to you, or what music you listen to on days off. What I do know is that I would have appreciated a "hello" before you wrote the ticket. I would have appreciated a "good afternoon" so I knew when I could drive away. I am a person, not just your paycheck. My name is Aubrey. My eyes are GRN, not BLU, and I'm a public servant, too. I believe that no job is so important and no uniform is so blue black that it gives the wearer the right to rudeness. Though I know there are plenty officers like the Bully I mentioned above, I hope there are more out there who don't use their position as an excuse to be flagrantly unprofessional.

I got into the "right lane" before the white lines officially allowed it. I'm a damn criminal. My crime will cost me $300 bucks and my summer plans.

Thank you, Officer, for keeping the streets safe for us all.

Aubrey
Eyes
GRN

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