Do you remember words like ‘yes sir’ and ‘no ma’am’? Do you remember concepts like don’t read or play with your phone at the dinner table? Remember the idea of holding a door open for another person to go through, and then the person who passes through that door might actually take the time to say ‘thank you’? These words and ideas are collectively known as manners.
In a world full of millions of people going in different directions trying to get the things that they want and need, manners are a form of social currency. Manners help you obtain the things that you want as quickly as possible through cursory social interactions.
Let’s say for example, you need to have a legal document signed. In order to get this document signed, you must first present it to a clerk who earns minimum wage while standing on his feet all day long. The better your manners are when you address this clerk, the more likely it is the clerk will feel respected and will aid you in getting the signature you require. However, if you address this clerk with unflattering and abrasive language, I can assure you, the clerk has a number of ways to make certain your signature quest takes far longer than is normally necessary.
There are manners for business, family, high-end restaurants, sports games, great-aunt Millie’s visits, so on and so forth.
I find it striking that it seems one day I woke up in a country to discover that the vast majority of adults suddenly forgot there are manners we are to use when addressing police officers. The results of this amnesia have been horrifying to say the least.
I thought we might review these manners, so that some who have forgotten them might remember, and some parents or grandparents might be inspired to share a few of these manners with the children in their lives.
First off, I’ve always referred to police officers as ‘cops’, and I see nothing disrespectful in using that term in general conversation. However, when speaking to a police officer, the officer should be addressed as ‘officer’. It is a title he or she has earned.
In all your conversations with this officer, speak clearly, directly, and use your best manners.
When you are stopped by a police officer for whatever reason, do not argue with the officer. Sometimes this is a difficult thing to do, but arguing will gain you nothing and may earn you a ticket or an overnight stay in jail.
Follow the officer’s instructions to the letter. If an officer asks you to pat your head and rub your stomach, do it. If at any point you feel your civil rights are violated, you can contact a lawyer later.
If for some reason you do not understand the officer’s instructions, tell him you do not understand the instructions.
Tell the officer what you are planning to do prior to doing it. If you are going to reach into your glove box, either tell the officer are about to reach into your glove box, or better yet ask the officer’s permission to reach into your glove box. If the officer says he does not want you to reach into your glove box, then don’t do it.
If you are stopped in your vehicle, do not under any circumstance get out of your car (unless instructed to do so by the officer). Officers are trained to see this action as a hostile maneuver. If you get out of your vehicle, the very next thing an officer expects to see is a weapon. By getting out of your vehicle, you place yourself in danger from both the officer and oncoming traffic.
When you are stopped in your vehicle, place both hand on your steering wheel where the officer can see them. Passengers should place their empty hands in their laps. These postures will show the officer you have nothing in your hands, and will hopefully put him at ease, so you can get back to whatever it is you would rather be doing as quickly as possible.
Regardless of the outcome of your encounter with the officer, you say, ‘thank you’. This officer just has risked his life to keep you and the community safe. That might mean you just got a ticket – you say, ‘thank you’.
Never antagonize or threaten a police officer or a police dog; both actions can end with you being ticketed or jailed.
Never under any circumstance point ‘finger’ guns, toy guns, BB guns or any other type of gun at an officer regardless of your age or any other qualifier: this action could very well cost your life. Pointing cell phones, pens, wrenches and other objects that in indistinct light could be mistaken for guns at officers could also result in unhappy outcomes. Officers are trained to react very forcefully and swiftly to any weapon attack. Do not give them any reason to think you are in possession of a weapon or have any intention of attacking.
There is no us against them. Police officers represent society, us, and they are dedicated to protecting society, us, against those who would harm hard working, vulnerable and innocent members of society, us.
Some people dislike police officers because they represent authority. I will tell you this about police officers: a police officer will do things for you that no one else in the world will do. A police officer will do things that your best friend will not do.
You can go up to a police officer and say ‘that man just stole my car,’ and the police officer will attempt to get it back for you. You can tell a police officer you are afraid to go into your house, and the police officer will go in and make it safe for you. When you are lying, bleeding on the ground, a police officer will bring you aid and help you find justice. When you run down the street in fear, with nothing but your children in tow, a police officer will protect you from whoever is threatening you.
On the day you need a police officer, you will be ready to invite that officer to Thanksgiving dinner. That officer will have a place on your Christmas card list forever. The position of police officer is not one to be taken lightly in this society, and it is not one to be treated thoughtlessly.
If you choose not to stand behind the emblems of our country because you are angry about the actions of a few police officers, I will defend your right to free speech and freedom of expression to the very last.
But in return, I would ask that you take a long, hard look at the ground upon which you choose to kneel rather than stand. Look long enough and you will see that it is not merely soil and grass, but land soaked with the blood of warriors, officers, and peacemakers. Settlers and emigrants have camped on that land, children of every description have been educated on it, the chains of slavery were broken across it and left there to slowly rust; it echoes the ideals of individual freedoms. It is hallowed ground that should not be walked across carelessly.
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