There are a few things officers in uniform hear more than anything else. “I didn’t do it,” for example. Most officers have heard this hundreds of times within the first few years of their career. The statement doesn’t necessarily come from someone in custody proclaiming their innocence. Actually, more often than not, it comes from the fun loving individual who is making a jovial statement. We try to laugh this off no matter how many times we hear it. While the “I didn't do it” comment can be funny, there’s another comment officers hear just as frequently and it usually makes an officer cringe. For it to be understood best, we will probably have to set up the scenario for you.
Imagine for a moment that a mother or father is standing with their young child in a restaurant. A pair of officers, in uniform, walks in to the restaurant to grab lunch. The mother or father turns to the child and says, “You better be good or they’ll take you away.”
Here’s another scenario for you, and one that could very easily happen. That same child gets separated from their parent at the mall. They become frightened because they can not find their parent. In a child’s mind, they might think they are in trouble or they have been bad. Remember that moment when that parent told their child, “You better be good or the police will take you away.” Do you think that child is going to want to find a police officer in uniform to ask for help?
One can’t deny that teaching children right and wrong or to respect law enforcement at an early age is important. Helping them understand there are consequences for our actions is part of the “right and wrong” lessons, but the last lesson we want a child to learn is to be afraid of police.