Yes Officer, I Know Why You Pulled Me Over…

16 Mar

A few days ago while driving in an unfamiliar city, I committed a minor traffic offense. I was hopelessly lost thanks to MapQuest and not knowing that there is a big difference between avenues and streets in Phoenix. There were virtually no cars on the street save for the officer’s, which looked like a plain clothes automobile.

“Do you know why I pulled you over?” the policeman asked me.

“Yes, I do.”

I think he was used to people denying their actions.

I looked him straight in the eye. “Perhaps it’s Providence you pulled me over because I’m totally lost. I can’t find my hotel.”

I then shoved my MapQuest papers into his hands. Upon looking at them, he too was perplexed.

He didn’t write me a ticket. Instead, he helped me out.

Cops get a very bad rap. They’re accused of brutality and killing innocents. Yet I’ve worked with a number of officers, training them to teach a public education course called Mental Health First Aid http://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org and I think it’s time we start airing some of the positive stories. Stories that highlight their deep dedication to helping others and to showing up day after day in an incredibly stressful job.

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My mom was pulled over many times by cops for driving under the influence. She was cuffed and taken to jail, and while in jail, she was often put on suicide watch. So every officer I meet who cares about mental health issues and the lives of others, heals a piece of my heart. I am grateful to the police who bring Mental Health First Aid to their precincts and who are making a difference in their communities. Hats off to them!

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