I oftentimes scroll aimlessly down the “digital rabbit-hole” that is Facebook, but when I did so recently, this video stopped me in my tracks. It’s a video of Sergeant Timothy Jenkins, Public Information Officer for the Lawton Police Department; speaking out about one of the biggest pet peeves for many police officers. According to him, “It’s seeing a kid with their parents & they tell them that he (or any police officer in general) is going to take them to jail if they don’t act right.”

The Real-Life Boogeyman

Could you imagine dedicating your life to protecting and serving the people who live in your community every day, but every time a little kid sees you, they’re kicking & screaming at the mere sight of you?

"We don’t want them to be afraid to call us."

Not because of anything that you’ve done specifically, but simply because your occupation & life’s work are being used as a very calculated disciplinary scare tactic for wayward kids.

How would you feel if every time a kid is characterized as a “naughty little boy or girl,” you instantly become the boogeyman that will steal them away from their family as a consequence for their disobedience or bad behavior? Kids are afraid of getting coal from Santa, because they were naughty, only once a year… police officers have to deal with kids fearing them a lot more often than that.

We’ve All Done It, or, It Has Been Done to Us.

We've all been there. We’ve either done it, or, it has been done to us. “You better quit acting up or I’mma get that police officer over there to arrest you!” Or, “You’d better behave or I’mma call the po-po’s and tell them to come pick you up!”

“Listen...please listen. We want the children to know we are the good guys and they can come to us for help, not run away.” ~Sergeant Timothy Jenkins

A lot of us, if not most (depending on your upbringing) have all experienced the parental gaslight of their law enforcement scare tactics. They even created an entire television show out of it. Scared Straight. I detest that show, FYI.

I remember growing up, every time we heard a siren blaring outside, it didn’t matter if it was coming from an actual police cruiser, a fire truck or an ambulance, if we heard it, it put the fear of GOD in us immediately! We were in such a debilitating fear of just the mere hint of a siren, even the slightest suggestion of one put immediate “act-right” in us, periodt!

For all we knew, it coulda been coming from the television! Didn’t matter…. we instantly became terrified. The one thing we were guaranteed to hear next, especially if we were “actin’ up” was, “Ooooh, they coming to get yoooou! You’d better sit down.” Mission, or rather, scare tactic accomplished.

Lawton Is a Vacuum

Living in Lawton can sometimes feel like existing a vacuum. What happens in other communities across America does not resonate with us because our police-citizen relationship, for the most part, is really good. In fact, being from NYC & seeing what the community relationship with the police is like there; I’d even go so far as to say that Lawton’s police-citizen relationship is actually pretty great. This is where Lawton can sometimes seem kinda disconnected from the rest of the world.

It would be remiss of me to not state how there are people in communities across America who have a genuine fear of police. There are people in marginalized communities across this country who have very valid reasons to fear police; not only statistically, but by example, and by the experiences of simply living their lives.

We should never be dismissive of, or explain away someone else’s truth simply because we exist in a law enforcement-community-relations utopia (or any other utopia for that matter).

“We want to be that help for them, not their consequence.”

With that being said, we should also not manipulate our children into thinking all police officers are bad or are representative of an entity they should immediately fear on-site.

*Sidenote* Don’t get it twisted... you act up (bad enough), you will get snatched up (depending on the crime), & rightfully so; but to use the police as a scare tactic for a little kid who’s done something harmless (arrest-wise) is just wrong. Stop it!