Good Guys Wear Blue
Rarely does a week go by that we don’t have a parent who wants to bring their child in to the police station to let them sit for a few hours. Sometimes this is only to get the kids to mind better at home or to clean their room. How many parents out there have told your children to “Put on your seat belt or the policeman will get you” or “Stop hitting your sister or the police will come and put you in jail”. While these tactics may seem to solve their behavioral problems at the moment, take a minute to stop and think about what you’re teaching them. What you’re doing is reinforcing to your kids that the police are to be feared, an organized group that can and will take small children away for wrong-doing, no matter how slight.
When we get these “scare them straight” requests at the department we will politely refuse. Instead what we will do is sit down with you and your child and talk about their behavior. We won’t yell at them, make them cry (on purpose), or be the bad guy. The reasons for this are many, but the best reason is that we can’t imagine why you would want them to grow to fear a police officer. Think of recent news stories where lost children actually hid from rescuers because they thought they were going to be in trouble.
Beyond you as parents, policemen are the first people that your kids should feel comfortable in approaching when scared, hurt, alone, or in trouble. Believe me, you wouldn’t want to be the bad guy when a child victim is involved and any policeman that I know is looking for you. There aren’t enough places to hide. We take the safety and security of all of our citizens very seriously, but we make an extra effort to look after our kids, and trust me… they are all our kids when they’re hurt or scared.
Some kids make serious mistakes, and at times we have to interview them, charge them with serious offenses, and, occasionally lock them up to protect the public, and themselves, from their actions. We try to never forget that they are kids and that they’ll make mistakes.
So, if your child needs to talk about their behavior and how to fix it, we may be able to help. We can’t do much about them chasing a muddy dog through the house, but we can do some good with small thefts or after they’ve punched out another 5 year old. Please do your part on the small things first and use us for more serious matters. Teach them that policemen are their friends and to wave at police cars. They might spot one for you so you can slow down!
Chief Cody Cullimore