I would like to commend the Oak Park Police Department for the great work it does in the Village of Oak Park. I have to say that after a recent personal brush with the “fuzz,” I can understand the nickname “finest,” for the police officers do indeed run over everything with a fine-tooth comb.

It was on the night of Saturday, Nov. 22, that I was in my house. I decided to take the garbage out, and I stayed in the alley to get some fresh air. It was then that I saw a police car pass by the entrance to the alley nearest my house. Suddenly, the police car stopped, backed up (probably at about 20 to 30 mph, as they do), and turned north into the alley, straight where I was standing. I didn’t want to interfere with any police activity, so I quickly rushed out of the alley into the yard of my family house to wait for the police car to pass.

But the police car didn’t pass. It stopped right by the gate that goes into the yard. I noticed the officer stopped there, and I became very concerned. So I started to walk towards the alley, and the police officer was walking toward me. I asked him if something was wrong, and he told me to put up my hands. I was becoming frightened. He asked me a series of questions, such as where I lived and what I was doing in the alley, and then asked to see some identification.

Finally, after all of that, the officer informed me that someone’s purse had been stolen in the area, and officers were out on the look for the thief. This officer had seen me in the alley, and took suspicion to me. I plainly informed him that I was simply out in the alley, taking out the trash. Then, the officer asked me to open up my coat so he could check to see that I wasn’t hiding a purse. I opened up, and he shined a flashlight on my chest, and, seeing there was no purse, departed.

This experience certainly demonstrates that the police do an excellent job keeping our community safe. They do it so well, in fact, that they sometimes go after innocent people.

Yet, this makes me think: I was innocent in this situation, yet it could have been very easy for me to do something that could have gotten me arrested anyway. It makes me wonder if all residents of Oak Park, and other communities, know what to do if stopped by an officer. What should they expect the officer to do? What would get a person arrested, even if innocent of any suspected crime?

It is my hope that perhaps the appropriate groups in the community, in cooperation with news/media agencies, can arrange some sort of public education efforts to ensure the public is aware of such matters.

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