MY TWINS HAVE ENDED UP IN A POLICE CAR AGAIN. I EVEN HAVE PHOTOGRAPHIC PROOF. AND I’M NOT WORRIED. IN FACT, QUITE THE OPPOSITE.
You see, this isn’t a reflection of an already poorly spent youth catching up with them, but the continuation of a rather odd family tradition. A few years ago, I spied a police car at our local shopping centre. The police officers were walking back to it with their coffees and I asked if the girls could look at it. I was surprised by the enthusiasm the officers responded with. They happily talked to them, even allowing them to sit in the car. They actually took some time to actively engage with these two little girls. They might have even flashed the lights for a few seconds (unless you’re a police supervisor reading this, in which case they totally didn’t). They laughed with the twins and told them stories.
When I thanked one of the officers for their time she said, “No, no. Thank YOU for bringing them over. You don’t know how scared of us most kids are”. Somewhat surprised, I queried her about it and she said most parents use police as the boogeyman.
“So many parents tell their kids that the police will come and take them away if they’re not good,” she said. Her partner agreed, saying it was the opposite of what they stand for but extremely prevalent.
“It’s so frustrating because it’s against the spirit of what we do and why we do it.” I checked in with one of my best friends who used to be a federal police officer and he confirmed a lot of kids shied away from them when in uniform and that some parents even loudly scared their kids in front of the officers.
“We’d hear people saying ‘Look – there are the police. They’ll take you away if you don’t start behaving’ and we’d want to go over and say ‘We should take you away if you keep scaring kids that way without cause’ but of course you can’t.”
So since that day we’ve regularly said hi to police officers in the street and even in the local station. I want the girls to recognise that our emergency services are populated by good people doing a difficult job. Whether it be the police force, the fire service or our ambos, these men and women risk their safety and lives to do what’s right for all of us. They deserve respect. And if my girls ever need help in the future (heaven forbid), I don’t want them second-guessing whether these brave souls are the people to call. Because even if you’re a Star Wars fan or just a member of society, you need to remember the Force is with you. Always.