I’ve been around cops since I was a kid. Right off the bat, we learned police officers were the good guys and that if you did something really bad, you might end up in a horrible place called jail.
Back then, we had an officer who lived in the neighborhood, simply known as “Bobby the Cop.” He’d be visible at movie theaters, church fairs, schools, you name it. All the kids knew Bobby, and he knew all the kids, many of whom stayed on the straight and narrow thanks to him.
When I was about eight, my Dad told me we were taking a ride to see Bobby at the police station. What my father didn’t tell me was that I was about to get a tour of the prison. If you really want to make sure your child never breaks the law, a walk through a cell block before the age of ten is a good way to do it. It was a real-life horror movie.
My mom lived in a two-family house, and the tenant upstairs was a police officer. Frank the cop. Since this was a bad neighborhood, it was nice to always have a police car in the driveway.
And my best friend’s father was a New York City detective.
So I knew from personal experience early on that the cops were those who had my back.
I was fourteen when my Dad started his delicatessen, and shortly after we opened, an officer came in for lunch. I made him a sandwich and was about to ring him up on the cash register when my father stopped me. “No charge for cops.” Any officer who came by got a sandwich, soda, and a dessert for free. They didn’t abuse it either, coming by every two or three weeks. But they really appreciated it.
And the one time we got robbed, you never saw cops move so fast. Sirens everywhere, officers running after and catching the bad guy. Within minutes an officer came back with the bag of money that had been stolen.
So when I first heard about the “defund the police” movement, I thought this was insane. More important, it’s pretty insensitive to those who would take a bullet for us and aren’t paid a whole lot. What are we supposed to do without police officers, wait for a social worker to show up, give the burglar a hug, and then hold hands while we all sing Kumbaya?
While I’m not making sandwiches for cops anymore, on holidays, I’ll make a batch of brownies and bring it to the local station. I take a walk every day, and if a police car drives by, I give the officer a thumbs up. These brave men and women need our support. Even stopping to say, “Thank you for your service,” helps.
So perhaps you’d like to “fund” the police on a personal level. Does your child look up to the resource officer at school who has become a big brother or sister? Bring lunch for the cop. Is the officer behind you at the checkout line buying a cold soda? Pay for it. Made too much food for the gang on a weekend? Bring some to the local precinct. Are the local cops collecting money to buy bulletproof vests? Cough up the loose change jar.
Perhaps we all can “re-fund” the police. Since the word “refund” means giving something back, it sort of makes sense, doesn’t it? It’s simple to let them know we have their backs since they’ve always had ours.
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