My 87 Year Old Father Fears the Police

My father is for the first time in his life,  afraid of the police!

My father was born in 1928, is 87 years old, a voracious reader, and one of the brightest and wisest people I know. Ok, so I'm a little biased. However, many people including medical doctors, lawyers, engineers, and PhDs have expressed a similar sentiment about my father.

Dad was the youngest of twelve children and is now the sole survivor. Six of his brothers served during World War II, he served during the Korean War and is retired from the U.S. Postal Service.

In 1993, my father suffered an aneurysm. At that time, 95% of people with that type of aneurysm died, fortunately, my father survived. In fact, he may have actively participated in saving his own life. While recovering from surgery, the hospital served my father grapefruit with most of his meals. Dad read a magazine article about how grapefruit can cause a fatal reaction to certain medications. The hospital was providing two of the medicines listed in the article. On his own, my father immediately stopped eating the grapefruit. Evidently, this information was not widely known, even his cardiologist wasn't aware of the grapefruit reaction.

Last night my father revealed that he is now afraid of the police.  We were talking about Yvette Smith, a black 47-year-old mother who was shot twice without warning by a white police officer as she opened the front door of her home. The officer was found not guilty.

My father's aneurysm affected his mobility and he now uses two canes when he walks.

My father expressed that until recently, he was at ease whenever he encountered police officers.  But after hearing about so many incidents of police shootings of unarmed people, he now fears those encounters. He wonders if one day, a fearful police officer will mistake one of his two canes for a rifle. I immediately looked at his canes and realized that in the dark, a police officer could claim my father pointed his cane at him and that he thought it was a rifle.

Stock photo of a cane similar to my father's

Additionally, my father wonders because he moves so slowly if a police officer might think he's trying to sneak up on them.

I never knew my father felt like that. It was discouraging to realize that my 17-year-old son and 87-year-old father both have an anxiety of the police. The sad reality is that unless a video exists, the officer actions would be ruled justified.

I understand that police officers have a stressful and dangerous job. My friend, Lorenzo Rodgers, a St. Louis City Police Officer, was killed.  However, according to the bureau of labor statistics, there are fourteen jobs including roofers, garbage collectors, drivers, farmers and grounds maintenance workers whose jobs are more dangerous. In fact, last year, there were more unarmed people killed than the combined total of all law enforcement officers.

The fact that your job is dangerous should not give you license to kill when no real or reasonable imagined danger exists.