“I was taught to hate the police….”
It was a shock when I heard it years ago and the sting remains every single time I hear the words. Just last week, I asked a teenager to tell me what he thought of law enforcement.
“They are corrupt, they are brutal, and they are racist.”
And then I asked a question that exposes the media, the politicians and those that are teaching hate and divide in our communities.
I asked him if that was his experience with law enforcement and he told me that he had several encounters with law enforcement and they were all positive?
When I questioned that his description of law enforcement did not match up with his experience, he simply told me that he was “taught to hate.”
It wasn’t the first time I’ve heard it and unfortunately, it won’t be the last. I’ve even heard some teenagers tell me that their mother taught them to run from the cops and before you think that was one isolated kid, you’d be wrong. Many, many kids have told me that they were taught to run, fight and argue with any police officer they came into contact with.
This is hatred that I was never around until I came into law enforcement.
As a kid, i was taught to respect those that serve. I was taught that the street was not the place to argue with law enforcement and that my behavior mattered.
Apparently not every parent gives that message.
But all hope should not be lost.
About the time I had given up on a generation of parents and their kids, I heard a story out of Wagoner County (OK) where a teenager saw a man running from deputies.
16 year old Aundra Rhea (above) is a local wrestling star and when he saw the suspect running, he asked his dad if he should help and instead of this parent telling him to avoid cops, run from cops or fight cops, this parent said HELP THE COPS!
Aundra chased the suspect, tackled him and waited on the deputies to arrive.
Just like that, my hope was renewed and while Wagoner County Sheriff Chris Elliot warned others to be careful of getting involved like Aundra, he said it correctly when he told the News on 6, that his actions spoke “volumes about his honor and his integrity.”
I couldn’t agree more.
After close to 30 years in law enforcement, I don’t know much but I do know this. There are two types of individuals in this world.
Those that respect others and treat others with dignity and that strive to be good people and there are others that are full of hate and division.
Unfortunately for law enforcement, we run into the second group far too often.
My hope is that we point at citizens like Aundra as the model for all rather than praising and celebrating those that bring nothing but hate and divisiveness to others.
Travis Yates is a writer and editor at Law Officer. An ILEETA Trainer of the Year, his Seminars in Risk Management & Officer Safety have been taught across the United States & Canada. Major Yates is a current Doctoral Student in Strategic Leadership and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy. He is the Director of Training for Law Officer (www.lawofficer.com) and the Founder of the Courageous Leadership Institute (www.courageousleader.org), providing leadership consulting and training to law enforcement around the world.