Eyes wide shut

I was at the park the other day with a friend and her 4-year-old daughter when a "bathroom emergency" arose. Her daughter began to cry as my friend explained they'd have to walk to the nearby police station to use the bathroom. Through her alligator tears and heartwrenching sobs, her daughter said she was afraid "the policemen would be mad at her" for using their facilities.

Whether 4 or 40 years of age, some people both inside and outside the profession seem to have their eyes wide shut about those who fill out the blue line. Many times the public sees the police as all bad, while many police professionals view the blue line as all good. Neither perspective is 100-percent correct, and both views probably need to change.

The unfortunate reality, as evidenced by the recent case in Ohio where an officer was charged with murdering his estranged girlfriend and unborn child, is that a few bad apples tarnish the image of the entire profession. Those are the stories the public hears about; the stories people talk about; and the stories their children overhear — and another generation of cop-fearing people is born.

The best offense here is a good defense.

So what can you do?

Get involved in your community. Put a face on law enforcement. Don't let the only time people see an officer be at a traffic stop or other altercation. Don't ignore the "community" good public service creates. Anything you can do to enhance the positive presence of police in your neighborhoods — be it through school presentations, school resource officers and community policing — can help alter such negative views. Promote the good deeds your officers perform day in and day out. It pays to get the word out about your community policing efforts. In this endeavor, the media is your friend. Negative publicity comes to them, often by way of the police scanner or citizen complaints, but positive reports must come from you — reporters won't dig for them.

As for my friend, she too did her part to polish the "apple." She told her daughter the police are there to help her as she needs it — even when that help involves using the facilities.