I once spent an entire Friday night in the back of a police car. It would change my perspective of the police forever.
It was the Fall of 1992 and I was a “1L.” 1L is shorthand for a first-year law student. One of my classes that first semester was Criminal Law. Our professor made an announcement after one class.
“Anyone interested in riding along with the Philadelphia Police, sign up for a Friday night.”
I jumped at the chance. After learning theoretically about the law and our rights, here was an opportunity to witness policing firsthand.
The program was run by the Highway Patrol. In addition to enforcing traffic laws, the group is also utilized as an elite high-crime task force.
No one called these men and women Highway Patrollers. They were known as the “Boot Police.” They wore knee-high black cavalry boots and double-breasted leather coats. They are badass.
A fellow student and I spent six hours patrolling the streets of Philly with two African-American officers. We went on a variety of calls, but one stood out. “OFFICER NEEDS ASSISTANCE” came across the radio.
We rushed to the scene and I felt the pressure they face in high-risk situations. I experienced how difficult their job is.
There is truth to “walking a mile in someone else’s shoes…”
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