I am not a political person. I watch the news and try to be informed about current issues but I do not write letters to the editor, or protest in the streets etc. To me it is important to have peace and calm and live as stress free as possible (due to past health issues). But today I had an interesting experience that I invite all of you to reflect upon: I had an encounter with a policeman. I can only remember speaking with a policeman one or two times in my life, so this was a rare encounter for me.
This morning, I went to the beach to capture some photos or video of a sunrise. I have never done this before but I could not sleep so I thought it might be time wise. It was overcast and there was no sun, but since I am rarely outside so early in the morning I was excited to go to the ocean. I have a pass for CA beaches so I may visit nearby beaches with guests or with family. This morning I went to a local beach with a cup of coffee to enjoy the sunrise. I was a few minutes early (20 minutes) from the opening time, but another car was in front of me so I followed on in to grab a spot and settle in and enjoy the quiet of the morning. I found a great parking spot and started to videotape, planning to video every few minutes to catch the moment when nighttime becomes the day. While filming I became aware of flashing red lights so I turned to my right to look behind me and saw a police car.
As I left the area, I watched other vehicles begin to pull into that same beach area where I had been. I was so rattled. At that moment I was aware that that policeman had so much power. He could have arrested me. He could have put me on the ground in the sand. My little dog was in the car and I worried what would happen to him. I had a flood of emotions.
To my surprise, the rush of recent news stories about the police flooded my mind. If I were black, I believe I would have been treated differently. I felt fortunate this morning, but also guilty for the privilege I maybe had at that moment. He seemed so angry, so gruff, so tough in his tone and manner with me. I do not think I am a threatening person in my shorts with my cell phone and tank top. For the twenty or so minutes of violation, his attitude surprised me. Thus, today I am thinking about these young policemen and their training, and behaviors. They do not seem kind. Perhaps they need to project a tough attitude to all strangers they encounter. Perhaps early mornings at beaches are tough places, and I am just so sheltered and naive that I am unaware of what policemen face regularly.
I am not advocating to defund the police, but I do think some civil conversation may be in order for communities. I share this experience with all of you to foster conversations about police roles in your own communities. As for me, I will not go to the beach early ever again. This was my first and last time. But, my little town is peaceful and has little crime or activity on a daily basis. I have lived here for many years. I am now rattled. Perhaps I needed this wake up call. Perhaps I am naive. Perhaps I am entitled. I feel fortunate he did not give me a ticket, but verbally his tone and behavior did not seem to match my crime. Since I have always tried to help the disenfranchised as a career, I am left with a sad feeling that if what happened to me can happen, how does this man treat other people who visit our community? What do they experience from this man?
I am such a law abiding person. I follow the rules. Today I entered into a public beach area 20 minutes early. Other people were there as well. People were walking their dogs and riding bikes. There is a large campground there for overnight guests. I was pulling into the daytime parking area. I was caught off guard.
I am grateful that I may reflect on today’s police action, but I do not think the action fits the crime. Since he never left his car, and I did not go near him, I will never know who this man is, and why he appeared so angry with me. For the record, I do not intend to go to the beach again early in the morning, so I will never be able to answer my many questions.
I share this story in order to begin a civil discourse. I bring this experience to your attention to encourage you to reflect on your own experiences and expectations. What do you think?