Living Out Loud: : Copping a New Attitude

Who would've thought it would actually feel good to be proven wrong

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Last August my friends and I held a shindig at my brother's residence in Corryville to celebrate a friend's 20th birthday. The party continued into the wee hours. No complaints from neighbors about hanging outside until 6 a.m. were brought to our attention.

Nevertheless, the police made an appearance.

Why? At about 3:30 or 4:00, one of my friends had had enough partying and went to bed. Thinking he was the last resident still up, he moved us outside, said to keep the noise down if we elected to hang around and set the security alarm.

For lack of anything better to do, and with a strong desire to continue swiping a gulp of brandy whenever possible, we loitered on his porch, causing no trouble at all. Then, at about 4:30, another friend living in the house thought he saw a trespasser outside his bedroom window. He opened the door leading to the porch and, seeing it was us, chilled outside.

A few seconds later the alarm started screeching.

About 15 minutes later a Cincinnati Police SUV pulled down the street, flashing a spotlight on the houses opposite where we were. Being a bit inebriated, I thought they were after a fugitive or just looking to harass. I had by then completely forgotten about the alarm. The SUV made one pass and turned back toward us, this time placing us in the spotlight.

I'm instinctively hostile toward cops — not actively, but emotionally. I just don't like them, and I've never trusted a person whose job description includes carrying a gun. A gross generalization, I know, but so is the idea that all firefighters are good guys.

Firefighters just happen to fall under a positive generalization, which is viewed as acceptable, while police fall under a negative one.

I avoid cops at all reasonable costs. Not because I'm afraid of arbitrary arrest (after all, I'm a white suburbanite) but because they can easily push my buttons by just being there.

I resent what they represent, which, in my eyes, is an abuse of authority waiting to happen. I'm afraid of what I might do in response to their power trips.

At protests or demonstrations, I purposely move to the back when cops are around. In order to avoid confrontation, I do what I can to avoid cops. And I use the word "cop" the same way I use "Nazi," "bigot," "fascist" and "Nixon." The words leave a sour film in my mouth.

To illustrate it best, there's a patch that kids put on their leather jackets or book bags showing a stereotypical cop doing the Uncle Sam "I Want You" point. Surrounding the picture are the words, "I'm Going to Kick Your Ass and Get Away With It!"

If you don't get it by now, I don't like cops. I sneer at even a passing police cruiser.

Anyway, the SUV stopped in front of our friends' home. I immediately began to snarl and stood my ground knowing that backing up might appear suspicious.

You have to be careful around people with guns and authority. In my mind, I was welcoming a confrontation. I'm one of those people who act like a lawyer when confronted by cops.

My friend, who'd accidentally triggered the alarm, approached the vehicle. He spoke briefly with the officer and then asked me the name of the landlord. Thinking the officer was going to write a ticket, I cooperated and acted almost friendly, knowing I wouldn't have to pay it.

Instead, the officer had me sign a slip stating that they responded to the alarm and that everything checked out just fine. It might have been the booze, but she seemed to radiate genuine camaraderie toward me. I was quickly subdued by her good nature. I felt like I was dealing with a firefighter, feeling goodwill and total cooperation with her. She didn't feel like a police officer to me. I almost fell in love, but that's probably because I have a weird fetish for female police officers.

I signed the slip, handing back her pen and pad, and she gave me a copy, wishing me good night.

She sat in her SUV filing a report, sent another officer away and left without any indication that being out at 5 a.m. drinking was a problem. Maybe that's because she didn't see any of the booze, but she had to have been able to smell it on my breath.

After looking the Cincinnati Police Department Alarm Response Report, I noticed in the "other comment" part that she had recorded, "Everything appears OK." She didn't use wannabe military police jargon like "Perimeter secure" or anything like that. She wrote it down in simple terms.

I'll admit that this seems petty, but give credit where credit's due and all that jazz.

So let me close by saying Officer Williams, Badge No. 285, I was wrong and I thank you for proving me so, although you probably didn't know it at the time.

Officer Williams, Badge No. 285, is not a cop but a peacekeeper. As one who takes cynical delight in non-fatal police blunders, I'm pleased to see that there are such examples of what a public servant with a gun should be.

Thank you for proving this skeptic wrong.

LIVING OUT LOUD is a rotating blend of essays and editorials by CityBeat staff and friends about life or something like it.

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