Perspectives: For a better community, have lunch with a cop

OPINION – Some people seem mildly surprised to learn that I have a number of friends who are in law enforcement. Because I regularly question whether government power is being exercised properly, it is often assumed that I must hate cops. I do not.

My commitment to good government is simply stronger than my desire for approval from the powers that be. That means being willing to question some aspects of the state that the public has been taught to regard as sacred cows. Law enforcement is one of them.

Allow me to illustrate.

Ask the average person on the street what goes through his or her mind when they realize a police car is behind them in traffic and most individuals will say that their first reaction is a sense of anxiety.

That’s a rather curious reaction when the words “to serve and protect” are written right on the officer’s car. Why wouldn’t our first reaction be a sense of happiness or comfort instead?

This topic came up as I was having lunch recently with my friend Isaac who is a police officer in Cedar City. I was surprised when he informed me that he has a similar reaction when he is traveling in other cities outside his jurisdiction. It’s not because he’s a scofflaw.

It’s because he too recognizes that state power is always prone to abuse and requires constant vigilance. I’m proud to be friends with a number of police officers who regularly ask themselves if what they are doing makes them part of the solution or part of the problem.

They understand that the vast majority of citizens in our community govern themselves and do not require supervision.

Unlike heel-clickers who see things purely in terms of legal or illegal, these good officers are also guided by a profound sense of right and wrong. They are likely more representative of law enforcement than it sometimes appears.

Their willingness to consider what they’re doing can be problematic for them as most bureaucracies tend to consolidate power by promoting and encouraging order-takers. Gratuitous enforcement, coupled with a growing nanny state, is why we feel trepidation when we see a black and white in the rear-view mirror.

Thankfully, there are officers who put on the uniform for the right reasons.

Isaac and I share a common love of liberty and good government. We also have common ground in that his late grandfather Jerry was my writing mentor when I first moved to Southern Utah. Few people have had a greater impact on my life and my thinking than Jerry did.

Shortly after I moved to Cedar City some nine years ago, Jerry told me that his grandson would be joining the Cedar City police force and that I should get to know him. He told me that Isaac was a young man who understands and takes seriously the protection of liberty. Over the years, I’ve found this to be absolutely the case.

As we ate lunch, Isaac and I discussed the public’s changing perception of the police and why it was happening. Both of us recognized a growing divide between the government and the people and we talked about how this gap affects local law enforcement.

The “us vs. them” mentality works both ways. It can be found in citizens who believe that all police are little more than robotic code enforcers and it can be found in officers who view the public as a resource to be controlled.

Both of these broad-brush viewpoints are lacking perspective.

Instead of allowing this divide to grow further in his community, Isaac is taking a positive approach. He suggested and received permission from his chief to host a community event called Lunch With a Cop this coming Saturday.

Local businesses have agreed to help underwrite the costs of pizza and donuts for the event.

Nov. 1 from noon until 2 p.m. at the Main Street Park in Cedar City, the public is invited to come and enjoy lunch with local police officers. Rather than showcasing the latest tactical tools of the trade, it will be a chance for community members of all ages to freely talk to their local police.

Nothing tends to bring down the walls that separate us from one another like having an actual conversation with the person on the other side of that wall. The simple act of breaking bread with others likewise creates common ground.

It will be a chance to see our police for who they really are: members of the community who are employed to give full time attention to the duties that are incumbent upon each of us.

It will also allow them to connect with the public whose trust is essential to the work they do.

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Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and opinion writer in Southern Utah. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: bryanh@stgnews.com

Twitter: @youcancallmebry

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.

 

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33 Comments

  • Mark October 27, 2014 at 8:02 am

    Only if I can dance!

  • tinmanfree October 27, 2014 at 8:12 am

    Well written and encouraging article. Isaak is a great example, and I too have had good encounters with several So. Utah officers like Isaak. It is critical, however, to have these lunches with our County Sheriffs and local police chief’s, as they are the ones who set the tone for proper screening and training to ensure their officers are like Isaak.

  • Not buying it October 27, 2014 at 8:47 am

    Your living on a pink cloud. Your buddy Isaac sees police corruption every day he goes to work and turns a blind eye just to keep his job.
    I’m not buying it.

  • Koolaid October 27, 2014 at 8:53 am

    How about go dancing with cops? Maybe even have a round of drinks or two?

  • JAR October 27, 2014 at 8:56 am

    Some good points you bring to the table Bryan. Their profile training of someones licence plate is just part of the job. It’s a revenue thing. When their off the clock, their just as human as the rest of us. Same could be said of a NSA employee and/or a IRS inspector. Just doing their jobs.

  • Wilbur October 27, 2014 at 9:23 am

    hard to see how this squares with weekend SGPD cops shutting down a harmless dance with obviously bogus permit paperwork. no thinking required. nope. no siree.

    me, i’d give ’em a heaping plate of dog food for lunch.

  • Jon R. Cocktoasten October 27, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    I’m going to chime in… First off, there are a lot of Officers in our community that put on the uniform for all the right reasons. Now, I will say there are more that put it on because it is a secure job with good benefits. Those people who put the uniform on because they like the power and its a good job, etc. are the ones we need to be scared of. I know for a fact that SGPD has a lot of good men. On the other hand I also know that the Chief of SGPD surrounds himself with “yes men” and order takers who will do anything he wants, right wrong or indifferent. The administration is where the problem lies with most agencies. I can bet you that at least 4 of the 6 Officers that showed up w/ Capt. Staley the other night, did not want to be there and were ashamed to be there. Staley is affectionately referred to as Lord Farquah (sp) by his subordinates. (If you don’t know who I am referring to, watch Shreck.) Yes, most Officers are human when they are done with work, but the ones who aren’t, those who live that life 24/7 in order to flex their power whenever and wherever possible… Those are the ones next to be promoted, at least at SGPD. Get to know a cop or two, some of them are very cool. Be careful though, you will end up paying for lunch!

  • My Evil Twin October 27, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    Bryan actually has friends? I find that hard to believe!

  • Another Thought October 27, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    My son passed a cop that had somebody pulled over and he did not change into the other lane. Granted he is a fairly new licensee. A motorcycle cop was waiting at the scene and proceeded to pull my son over. There was no speeding involved. License, registration and seat belt – check. Rather than using this as a teaching experience and giving a warning, the cop wrong a ticket that came with a fine, traffic school and increased insurance rates for 3 years. Do you think my son is afraid of cops because of this experience? With a nice teaching experience, especially being a new driver he would forever grateful, but instead, he feels like cops are not here to protect and serve, but are here to punish and intimidate.

    • ladybugavenger October 27, 2014 at 4:30 pm

      That in iteself is a learning experience. Now, he sees the other side. They are not all their to protect and serve like we are taught when we are little. better to learn now then later this other motto To enslave and terrorize

    • DAVE RABBITT October 27, 2014 at 6:44 pm

      Instead of being upset with the police officer’s failure to be lenient, perhaps you should be upset with the Driver’s Education Instruction that failed to teach your son this rule of the road?
      41-6a-904.
      (2) The operator of a vehicle, upon approaching a stationary authorized emergency vehicle that is displaying alternately flashing red, red and white, or red and blue lights, shall:

      (a) reduce the speed of the vehicle;

      (b) provide as much space as practical to the stationary authorized emergency vehicle; and

      (c) if traveling in a lane adjacent to the stationary authorized emergency vehicle and if practical, with due regard to safety and traffic conditions, make a lane change into a lane not adjacent to the authorized emergency vehicle.

      “Forty three states have passed “Move Over” laws, which require motorists to “Move Over” and change lanes to give safe clearance to law enforcement officers on roadsides”.

      Law Enforcement IS here, to protect and serve. What can WE do, to protect and serve them?

    • Mark Vinclio October 27, 2014 at 8:24 pm

      always someone else’s fault hu….your poor children.

    • Megan October 28, 2014 at 4:15 am

      So the cop should have been a mind reader and known your sons life history.

      • Another Thought October 28, 2014 at 9:21 am

        Megan, I don’t understand your comment. Mind reading and life history is not an issue.

  • Am I Being Detained? October 27, 2014 at 4:33 pm

    If Issac is writing any citations or appearing in court where the City of Cedar or State of Utah is the plaintiff (Which I would guess is 99%) then he is nothing more than a corporate revenue agent fleecing the peeps. If he engages his emergency lights to pull someone over who has not committed a crime (not a traffic infraction) he once again is acting as revenue agent for the matrix. Police were our last hope putting “good guys” in public service to use their power to enforce or abolish millions of these crap statues that are passed every month. Instead the whole law enforcement system has turned into the 1930’s mafia. We need to cut all police budgets, do we really need new cop cars every 6 months, or cameras at every intersection? Swat gear and military tactics for the local drug dealer. Once in a blue moon a person who can see through all this smoke a mirrors goes a little crazy and force is needed to stop that. Citizens out there never say a word to police, make them commit felonies by lying on their reports. Always film police and never say more than what crime am i being detained for? Am I free to go? or Im going to remain silent let me know when Im free to go. Never give Id just your 1st name and address only after they have told you what crime your being detained for.

    • Mark Vinclio October 27, 2014 at 8:26 pm

      well i was not sure at first but after reading your post i agree they need that stuff for protecting the rest of us from nut jobs like yourself.

  • Burton October 27, 2014 at 6:46 pm

    I have a very close working relationship with a lot of southern Utah officers and for the most part they are pretty good to work with. But I wouldn’t trust any of them as far as I can throw them and they most all seem to have control issues. But no matter how out of line police get, you better kiss their behind or you’ll be sorry.

  • Are you paranoid? October 27, 2014 at 6:47 pm

    Why are you scared when you see a cop? Did you do something wrong?

  • Burton October 27, 2014 at 6:52 pm

    With that being said, I work with them and wouldn’t go to lunch with them. I do thank them for the crimes they do fight, however a lot of their duties is being a code enforcer against anyone that crosses the city council members.

    • Mark Vinclio October 27, 2014 at 8:28 pm

      tell them your feelings or use your real name don’t be a scared little pansy.

      • Mark's An Idiot October 27, 2014 at 9:20 pm

        Anyone else notice in the picture of the officer it looks like he is wearing a Nazi SS pin? Mark probably has a pair of magic underwear with an SS logo on them.

        • Voice of Reason October 28, 2014 at 6:22 am

          It’s a pen and pencil set.

        • Doug Bringhurst October 28, 2014 at 8:29 am

          Why? Because this Burton person is to faced? Mark is just calling it like your post reflex’s. Go to lunch with them and work with them but no balls to tell them they are corrupt. You and Burton must be democrat.

          • Burton October 28, 2014 at 4:53 pm

            Not a democrat. Sorry Dougie!

      • Burton October 28, 2014 at 7:46 am

        You notice your one of the only ones who use Thier name on a forum there marky? You think there might be a reason for that? Use your head genius.

        • Mark Vinclio October 29, 2014 at 10:21 am

          I wouldn’t expect you to ?? Burton??. Your scared enough I see. Some men are not afraid to use their given name. Wanna buy lunch and tell me about it. Your obviously not going to say anything bad or tell the truth about being a to faced coward. You don’t have to like them or agree with them but be truthful and don’t pretend to be their friend or lunch buddy because they proboly already know and proboly careless.

          • Burton October 29, 2014 at 7:23 pm

            Hey genius, first off. Your comment about “Lunch buddy” What part of “I wouldn’t go to lunch with them” are you to dense to understand? Second, Who said anything about being their “buddy”? I have a working relationship with them. Read and understand the comments before making ignorant and un-educated remarks. And assuming!

  • S Steed October 27, 2014 at 8:59 pm

    I think its about time for something like this. I know cops who have left the force because of corruption, in Hurricane, Washington County Sherriff’s Office, and Utah Highway Patrol. Something is very wrong with the system. I don’t trust anyone who claims authority over people who they aren’t personally responsible for and that goes for cops and those in government. We have trusted these people with taking care of our land and money and that trust is violated at every turn. Its time to rebuild that trust, and I believe that starts with showing the people on a day to day basis that they are here to create solutions and not just filling an illegal quota, flexing their “authority”, or responding to pressure from the treasurer to collect revenue. The one suggestion I would make for this event is to lose the uniform. Show me that you are my neighbor first and a cop when the situation requires it.

    • Megan October 28, 2014 at 4:18 am

      “Something is very wrong with the system” No something is wrong with the community. Where do you think the pool of officers they hire come from? The local community.

  • panda October 28, 2014 at 8:53 am

    I think the majority police in St George and Cedar City are doing their job appropriately and effectively. The majority Washington City Police, Hurricane City Police and Washington County Sheriffs on the other hand are totally out of control. They abuse their power and don’t follow up on crimes committed. My teenage son was beat up in Washington City and during the report the police were provided with names and everything, but because the officer that took the report went on vacation 2 days later no follow up or investigation was ever done. Then my youngest son was slapped by a Washington County Sheriff because he was scared and tried to call me when his grandfather was pulled over and yanked out of the car and hand cuffed because he was Hispanic and officer assumed he was illegal. In the end his grandfather was released without even a ticket. The office slapped my 7 year old son in order to take away the cell phone he called me on because it’s illegal to make a phone call during a traffic stop. That is an abuse of power. Those are only a few examples of their abuse of power. I work for a local attorney and I see examples of such corruption everyday.

    • Burton October 28, 2014 at 4:59 pm

      Kinda makes me think back to a long time ago, like august. When a Cedar cop was arrested and fired from the department for a DUI with a minor(child) in the car. A POLICE CAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yeah, you people keep thinking cops are honest and on your side.

  • el jefe October 28, 2014 at 9:58 am

    There are good cops, and there are bad cops……life is a gamble, act accordingly.

  • Burton October 28, 2014 at 8:27 pm

    Hey all you that think law enforcement officials are all outstanding citizens who do no wrong. How does the new top “St George news” story grab you. “Correctional officer has sexual relationship with young male”? Yep folks, law enforcement can do no wrong! I am sure it was the minors fault right?

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