Letter to the Editor: Comply

The word comply means “to act in accordance with a command.”  If I told someone I know to be quiet, they most likely would not act in accordance with my command.  But if a police officer tells me to be quiet, I act in accordance with that command.
Recently, and more importantly for a long time now, we have learned of the tragic shootings in several of our cities by the police.  In most of these cases — though not all — the victims simply did not follow the commands of the police officers.  I’m sure they all had what they thought were valid reasons for not complying, but them not complying is what escalated the incident.
I was married to an officer of law and during our time together I met many other officers of the law.   They were all okay people.  One of them explained to me how, when making a traffic stop or walking into a building on a domestic violence call, he would tense up much like a rubber band getting pulled tight to just before its snapping point.  The tenseness came from others he had known or others who were simply brothers and sisters in the force, having got shot or otherwise harmed.  He told me that a lot of his training was for his safety, but his training was also for the safety of everyone involved.
There is no perfection in humanity.  We all know that, and knowing that is why there are good people and bad people, and those people are everywhere.  They’re in government, they’re in sports, they’re living amongst us!  And while I agree the bad people need to be weeded out, I also believe that there needs to be a social consciousness that is taught in our homes and schools that says when an officer of the law stops you and gives you legal commands then you should comply.
I am saying that, in most cases of police involved shootings, if the person had simply complied, the situation would not have escalated to where it did.  I have watched the videos and it does seem obvious to me when the situation escalated.  On the news some of the broadcasters said “The police seemed to be hostile as they approached the car.”   I say “Duh, and so what?” to that.   There is no equality between a citizen and a police officer during a traffic stop.  The citizen should simply comply!  Afterwards, if there was a problem or an issue, is the time to address the issue or the problem.
I got stopped by the CHP for speeding one afternoon and as he approached the passenger side of my truck I reached down for my dogs leash so he wouldn’t jump out the window, and when I raised my head the officer had drawn his gun and it was pointed right at me!  I laughed and said, “I guess that wasn’t too smart?” and he could see the leash, my hands were raised, the situation calmed down. He asked for my drivers license and insurance, I complied, and I wasn’t given a speeding ticket.
I am suggesting that instead of a large majority of our society demanding that police reform, that they should instead, or also, try educating their own people to simply comply. Treat the police not as the enemy, but as who they are!
To remind everyone the definition of police is “the civil force of a national or local government, responsible for the prevention and detection of crime and the maintenance of public order.”  You do not have to comply when confronted by an officer of the law, that much is true, but if you do not comply there are going to be consequences.The question is what do you want?
Peter Skeels
Lake Almanor