Cynicism in law enforcement is wide-spread and to some degree, self-perpetuating. But sometimes you strive for optimism. You try to picture many of the juvenile criminals you deal with years later, as adults, having turned it around. One day you’d run into them and they’d be healthy and gainfully employed. They’d remember you and you’d remember them and you both would look back at that day in question and shake your heads knowingly at the folly of youth.
You snap back to reality as you book the 13-year-old auto thief. There is food stuck in his hair and he smells bad. He lives with his grandma because he doesn’t know his father and his mother is in prison for the next decade. When you’re filling out your arrest paperwork and ask him how to spell his middle name, he takes a stab at it before admitting he’s not sure. You stare at him, trying to penetrate his thoughts, to mentally peel open his brain to see what’s going on in there. To see if he’s going to make it. And you don’t know. What you do know is that, for better or worse, he’s the future.
And the future has to start somewhere.
December 6, 2014
More from Plantinga's 400 Things Cops Know: Street-Smart Lessons from a Veteran Patrolman.
Labels: police culture