It Starts with Relationship

Growing up in a small town I knew all of the police officers, and their kids were my friends. The Chief of Police lived a couple of blocks from our house and he and his wife were friends of my parents. When my brothers or I got caught ‘misbehaving’ they sent us home and called our parents. Such was life in a small town.
When I went to college, and my circle widened, I became aware that my friends of color had a completely different perspective of the police.

When 9/11 happened, the first person at my office door was a police officer from our congregation. As we gathered for prayer that evening every  person in law enforcement and their families in the congregation  were at the church. I’m still in relationship with a couple of those folks and a couple of my best friends are in law enforcement.

From this history and these relationships, here’s what I know: everyone I know in law enforcement does so as servant ministry. They care about people, they care about their communities. They and their families live with a quiet but constant concern that they will be hurt on the job.  And particularly relevant to our present situation, they take it personally, and it angers them greatly, when another person in law enforcement abuses their authority.

Unquestionably, deep systemic change needs to continue to happen with policing across our country. Yet, what I have always valued about all those I have known in law enforcement,  is the relationship I have with them. And that is key, as it always is – we must start with relationship. As people who are called to God’s mission of reconciliation, the starting point is always hearing each others’ stories and beginning to build relationships.

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