In my opinion, there is popular over-emphasis on skin tone rather than behavior. For example, whenever I hear someone mention a color while complaining about another person, the color is supposed to prove that the complaint is automatically valid.

I do not know our police department’s training. In another town, I observed a police special team deal with a slightly belligerent, barely coherent young man who was causing problems for a small cafe. I was eating a biscuit just 3-4 feet away. The lead officer was very impressive in talking the poor guy into cooperating. Specially trained teams might be an option for Oak Park.

My advice to any person or groups who feel they have been treated unfairly by the police is to document the incident. Write down the time, date, and facts as concisely as possible. Documentation or accumulated documentation gives you or your group legal power. If you can add signed witness statements, you will have even more legal standing. If you have been mistreated, and you make the facts public, every fair-minded person will be on your side. If you do this, you are helping everyone. I think this is a public virtue.

I have seen news videos of people harmed by police officers. In each case that I have seen, I believe the person would have much better off by not resisting arrest. In my mind, resisting arrest does not make person a 1960s civil disobedience hero. The people complaining on TV do not suggest how the police procedure could be improved or how they would handle the situation in a better way. I do think some of the officers were too harsh, and in one case, I would charge the officer with first-degree murder. When I am stopped by the police, I treat the officer with respect and admit my mistake immediately. I believe this is a civic virtue. I learned a long time ago to be careful about reaching for my driver’s license.

As a young kid, the police stopped my friends or me several times to warn us about bike riding safety. When I was 10 years old, my younger brother and I were taken to a police station and then we were taken in a squad car to the office inside a juvenile prison, aka juvee. Our mother had to come to take us home, but first she was given a brief scolding and lecture by the police. OK, lesson learned.

If the police are not here to protect the children of Oak Park, who will? How will the children of Oak Park thrive if they don’t feel safe?

People say that officers must learn to de-escalate the conversation. Why is it only the officer’s job?

Robert Sullivan is an Oak Park resident.

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