My Sons Want to be Police Officers When They Grow Up
By Evelyn Richardson
July 08, 2010
Growing up in the North end of Hartford all of my life has left me with some memories of a community that distrusts the police. As a parent, I noticed that most of the time my children encounter the name police they usually associate it with putting on seat belts or driving while using a cell phone; immediately the rush to fix the problem ensues, which has most likely helped with some of the reinforcement of how police officers are viewed in the eyes of my kids. ďHurry up!Ē is heard often when realizing that someone has forgotten to put on a seat belt at the moment a police officer has been spotted. Not to mention that I probably told the kids three times to do so, but only looked to check when I spotted a police vehicle or was approaching a spot check.
But what about the many bad publicity stories my children hear from friends, family, community members, and the numerous funerals I have attended to their knowledge over the years that were directly connected to the behaviors of some members of the police force? As a mother of seven children with four adults and three still at home, I do my best to teach my children to respect their community and to treat others the way that they want to be treated. This, for me, is very important because I believe this is a value that our communities lack at times.
There was a specific encounter that helped reinforce my oldest sonís view of the police after he witnessed what he called ďmany unfair and unjust encountersĒ he had finally decided to always question the police. He had taken the bus to a West Hartford computer repair business to pick up his computer that was ready. Once he got back in Hartford he was waiting for his connecting bus on Main Street to return home to our clay arsenal community. Computer in tow! He decided to walk while he waited for a bus to come. Well, they donít have bags that can hold an unboxed computer, so as he walked a police officer in a cruiser stopped him, searched him, and questioned him. The officer assumed that it was stolen property and my son told him how it was his personal computer from home and why he was downtown with it and eventually ended up proving his case in the back seat of the cruiser with the receipt for service he had obtained after paying the shop owner. My son missed his bus during all this and the officer who must have known he unjustly judged my 20 year old son offered to ride him home because it had turned dark outside during his investigation. My son came home offended that he was stopped and felt that the color of his skin played a big part in the reason this officer felt that he was in possession of stolen goods. He said he didnít want the ride, but also didnít want to walk all the way home after missing his bus. As a result of this encounter, he was left with a taste of racial profiling on behalf of the Hartford Police Department in the year of 2002. Today, he is a grown man but the memory of so many stories of similar impact has scarred his trust and at times trickles down to his younger siblings who are still learning the roles of police officers in our communities.
What do you want to be when you grow up is a question mostly all parents ask their kids? Certainly as a mother I am thankful to have adult children one who has a bachelors of science majoring in business, and one with a bachelors of arts majoring in language and passed her certification and is teaching at Carmen A Race Intermediate School in Bloomfield. And then I have another child who after completing high school in 2008 graduated from Goodwin College with her nurseís aide certificate and is presently taking classes at Fox Institute for medical assistant and did an externship at Weaver High School this past school year. And let me not forget that one of them is presently working on their masterís degree. I donít have to tell you all how happy I was to see all four of my adult children complete the requirements of high school and three of them pursue higher education. Although when I asked these children what they wanted to be when they grew up only one of them actually became just that, thatís the teacher. The others replied lawyer, singer, and amazingly enough my oldest son from the story above to my amazement changed from wanting to be flash Gordon the fastest runner in the comics to a football player and drug dealer at the age of 6. You say drug dealer! I say amazingly enough when I had asked my 6 year old baby over 20 years ago what he wanted to be when he grew up he chose exactly that. When in shock I asked him why in the world he would want to be a drug dealer he said because they have all the money. We lived in Charter Oak Terrace at a time when the drug criminals made this illegal activity look very appealing to children who lacked so much. My kids were some of those kids. But I always wanted more for them. Thank God! As he grew older he changed his mind!
Now I have three minors still at home, 12, 9, and 6 years old and the 2 youngest who are boys always say they want to be police when they grow up. And usually, and honestly, I confess that based on my memories I sometimes find myself worried if this is what I want for them even though I always encourage them to follow their own dreams as long as they are godly and beneficial to society in a positive way. So why do I recoil when my boys want to be enforcers of the law? Because some officers have hurt many families in the communities of Hartford and even on a more personal note, my community is my internal response. Well I usually beat around the I donít think so bush by saying why donít you think about and consider another line of work for your career choice because police donít make very much money. And every time I say that I feel funny because I know that I have a hidden motive for trying to discourage them so I have since stopped doing that.
As of today when my sonís say they want to be police officers when they grow up I can say well you have to study hard in school and build up your social skills and truly care about the people in the community that you will police in. And as a role model I can refer them to a memory they and I have had the privilege to encounter today after picking up a permission slip on June 26th at the Keney Park Community Day event. It was a permission slip for my kids to take a trip to the Rock Cats baseball game with no other than a policeman. Sergeant Robert Ford and two others took my two sons to the baseball game and allowed them to experience the Hartford Police Department in a positive light. As a result of this encounter I am truly grateful for Sergeant Ford, my kids say that one of the women chaperones may have been his wife and another woman was a police officer for the department. Thank you all for reaching out to the kids of the community and allowing my kids to see that police can, do, and should be about building quality relationships within the communities they police. My boys came home with new Rock Cats T- shirts, baseballs, and baseball mittens and wonderful stories of nice police men and women. Again thank you!!