Much is told lately about cops who do the wrong thing. Today on the streets, some people I was talking to decided to celebrate the good cops -- with three good stories.
Being homeless and sleeping outside is illegal in certain places. The sixty-plus year old man I was talking to told me he was sleeping up under a bridge when a lady cop pulled up next to him. He thought, "I'm about to get arrested."
Instead, she rolled her window down and asked, "When's the last time you've eaten?"
He said, "I thought in my head ... one, two, almost three days."
She shouted, "Okay, don't go anywhere."
A few minutes later, she returned, but not to arrest him. She got out of her car and handed him a Happy Meal from McDonald's.
My other friend Charles -- who up to that point we thought was asleep -- sat up and jumped in at this point.
He chimed in with a good cop story, "You know that house we sit at?" We nodded.
"Well, an SUV cop car pulled up next to us, and we thought they were going to run us off, but instead, one of them got out and started handing out five dollar bills to everyone sitting out there."
The last story told was about a cop who used to pull up where my friend would wait to get into the shelter on Sunday morning. He'd get out of his car, roll the windows down, and they'd sing gospel music together.
There are cop stations near where we work, so they drive all around that area all the time. You could say, from a legal perspective, it's a bad neighborhood in which to be homeless. But these friends told a different story.
The way my friend summed it up is that some cops take seriously the admonition "to protect and to serve," with an emphasis on "serve."