The Beat Cop

My heart is prompting me to tell a story and I hope I’m not too long-winded for you.  With all the bad press regarding police officers, and I’m sure there are a few bad apples as in any profession, I decided to tell my story. I want to tell you of a cop, a flashlight and a 10 year old girl.

When I was 21 years old, I began working for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington, D.C. and continued to working there for the 6 years.  I was surrounded by police officers, detectives and a variety of law enforcement officers of every sex, ethnicity, religion and age in almost every branch of the Metropolitan Police Department.  I was a young woman who interacted with those who had experienced almost every inhumanity man can think of, on another.  It was the time when DC meant Dodge City and it was “open season” on police officers.  Murders were over 500 per year, thus the distinction of being known as, “The Murder Capitol”.  I often received sage advice concerning my safety, such as, don’t park next to vans, park under lights, have car keys in hand and survey your scene;  was among some of the wise advice. Even after Sgt. Tony Silva from 7th District proposed and with a resounding yes,  Detective Kanjian, who worked in the Career Criminal Unit as a seasoned investigator, and also a man of few words, in his deep gruff voice, advised, “Girl, don’t marry no roller”, then shaking his head.  I have to laugh whenever I remember Kanjian speaking those words.

But really this story is about a little girl who lived in N.E., Washington, D.C., in the old 12th Precinct and a cop who walked a beat. I wish he were still around to tell him thank you. I had horrible insomnia as a child.  I would stare out of our 2nd story window looking down onto Randolph Street anticipating the arrival of my father with very mixed emotions.  Little girls love and want to please their fathers, yet I was also afraid of mine.  Sometimes he would come home late at night and there were many times he did not come home for days.  But almost always, on the nights at that window, there was a policeman walking his beat who noticed me and said hello by flashing his flashlight on and off. The first time he did this, I was a little scared. Perhaps little girls should not be up so late. Just the act of him saying hello in such a specific way made me smile and feel valued. I’m not sure how long this happened, but I do know that after a while I anticipated this policeman’s hello instead of my father. I’m almost 60 years old now and this incredible memory is still capable of positive emotions and smiles when I think of this officer’s “light” and the significance he brought to this little girl. It is in those little things that we can impart the touch of God, even without knowing it.

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