Trust The Police? (A children's story...)
came home from school with a D.A.R.E. sticker. He wore it proudly on his
shirt. His father asked him what he had learned that day. George
told his father how Officer Friendly warned them about taking drugs and how
drugs were bad, very bad. George told his father he would never take
George's father was happy to hear that his son would not take drugs.
He smiled at his son and the two of them went out into the backyard to play
catch. They threw the ball back and forth. George liked playing
ball. George was thinking about what Officer Friendly had told them that
day and he looked at his dad and said, "Dad, do we have any drugs in the
His father was taken aback by the question, but children are naive so he
let his suspicions pass. There were no drugs in the house and George's
parents did not take drugs. His father decided to answer the question
first and then to probe a little more deeply into what was behind the question.
"No, George," said his father. "We have no drugs in
the house. We don't believe in taking illegal drugs."
George smiled and said, "Good."
His father was curious so he asked George, "Did anyone ask you find
out if we did have drugs in the house?"
George smiled and said, "Yeah, Officer Friendly told us that we
should ask our mommies and daddies if there were drugs in the house. He
said they could trust Officer Friendly and that Officer Friendly would help
their parents if there were drugs in the house."
His father was unhappy that Officer Friendly was using children to spy on
their parents. This is the kind of thing that happened in Nazi Germany and
Soviet Russia. He needed to explain to his son that you cannot always
trust the police.
"You know, George," said his father, "sometimes police
officers are useful and do good things, but they sometimes do bad things.
The police are not your friends. They are police officers because it is
their job. When people do things because it is their job, they don't
follow the rules that friends follow. Officer Friendly is named 'Officer
Friendly', because he wants you to think of him as a friend. If you think
of him as a friend, you will tell him whatever he wants to know. If he
learns something he doesn't like, he will use it against you or your
"I don't get it, Daddy," said George.
His father paused and then continued.
"Let me explain by giving you an example. You know how you like
George smiled, nodded and said, "I love firecrackers!"
"George," asked his Dad, "did you know firecrackers are
illegal? If the police catch you, your mommy or your daddy with fire
crackers, they could put you, your mom, or me into jail. "
"Why are they illegal?" asked George with a surprised look on
his face. "They're fun. Why would anyone make them
"Laws don't always make sense," his father said.
"Laws are created for all kinds of reasons. A law could be created in
order to make some particular business owner rich. A law could be created
to boost the popularity of the politician supporting the law. Sometimes
laws are actually passed because they make sense. However, often laws are
passed merely to give the police more control. This law might be one of
"Now, since firecrackers are illegal and since Officer Friendly wants
you to think of him as a friend, you just might share your love of firecrackers
"I do talk with my friends about firecrackers," George sighed.
"There is nothing wrong with that, George. But if you told
Officer Friendly, he'd come and arrest us because Officer Friendly is not your
friend, not my friend and not Mommy's friend. Officer Friendly is a police
officer and his job is to put people in jail. They pay him to put people
in jail. He wakes up in the morning just to put people in jail and he will
use fake names like 'Officer Friendly' just to get you to talk with him so that
he can put more people in jail."
George looked mad. He was thinking about how mean it was of Officer
Friendly to pretend to be a friend when all he really wanted to do was to put
people in jail.
"I get it," said George. "I can never trust the
"Well, that's not exactly true, George," his father
replied. Sometimes you have no choice but to trust the police. For
example, if you are lost and cannot find Mommy or Daddy, trusting the police
might be a good thing. Some of them are good people and some of them are
not, just like the rest of us. Some will try to help you if you ask and
others will not. The important thing is to remember that the police will
arrest someone if they can find a reason to. So long as you keep that in
mind when you talk with them, you will probably be OK. On the other hand,
since the police use tricks, like using the name 'Officer Friendly', and often
lie, it is probably best to avoid them unless you really must talk to
them. Wolves are not always bad, but they might eat you if they are
hungry, so unless you have a really good reason, you should avoid wolves.
Police are much the same.
The two continued playing ball. George learned an important lesson
that day. He never asked his father, or anyone else for that matter,
questions on behalf of the police.