Chatting with a Police Officer

A few years ago, I had an interesting conversation with an African American police officer. Our short exchange began when I said to him, “Thank you for your service.” I added, “I bet you don’t hear that very often.” He responded, “Actually, we’re hearing it more now.”

Without me saying a word about Michael Brown, Freddy Gray, or Eric Garner, African Americans who lost their lives in confrontations with the police, he added, “You know, there are millions of interactions between the police and citizens every day and the media focuses only on the bad ones.” He was right!

To make matters worse, this biased reporting has led some to the conclusion that they have a God-given right to resist those in authority. Though there undoubtedly are abuses in law enforcement, they seem to feel that police officers in general are criminals, whereas those who confront them are the altruistic defenders of justice.

This reminds me of the words of the prophet Isaiah when he wrote, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20)

It also reminds me of the words of the apostle Paul when he said, “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil” (Romans 13:1-4).

Of course, there may be a few “bad apples” among the police, but this in no way gives anyone the right to treat them with disrespect, to resist arrest, to hate them, or to take their lives, as witnessed a while ago in Dallas and Baton Rouge.

–Jerry Falk