Many years ago I was visiting with a guy at a party and he told me he had come to this country from Poland, which was still behind the Iron Curtain at the time. I asked him what most impressed him about America and he unhesitatingly replied, “You don’t have to be afraid of the police.”
In the past two months five uniformed members of the San Diego Police Department have been charged with crimes. Not trivial stuff, either. One was charged with felony stalking and violation of an order of protection. Another was charged with driving with a blood alcohol content of .32, four times the legal limit, causing an accident with injuries, and fleeing the scene. Another was soliciting sex from women stopped for speeding.
The other day after dropping my wife off at the airport I was passing a security booth manned by three uniformed officers of the SDPD and thought I would stop and offer them an encouraging word of support. As I got closer and could see the expression on their faces I changed my mind. All three of them looked like they were in a very ugly mood, and I decided that I wanted no part of being anywhere near them. I gave that station a wide berth.
That Polish guy’s words sound a little hollow today. I would not go so far as to say that I fear the police, but I find myself being very, very careful whenever I see a policeman nearby. It does not feel like they are my friend.