Form Letter I: background checks
Dear (choose one or more) family, friends, neighbors, school board, educators, general public, etc.,
It is with much regret that I inform you that I will not be able to take your (insert young child's age) year old into custody because he or she is acting his or her age and embarrasing you in public. Unfortunately the handcuffs and other sundry restraints issued to me are not small enough to safely secure their tiny limbs during transport to the yet to be constructed county minor holding facility for rambunctious and disobedient tots.
Sadly, I will not be able to back up your threats of violent police action against your children, reinforcing the horrible and inaccurate stereotype associated with those in my fine profession. Recognizing that this will make you look powerless, I apologize in advance for being unable to be your parental muscle during your child's public temper tantrum at the (insert public place). To better assist you in your attempt at parenting I have included a list of things I cannot do to your young child during their periods of misconduct:
No, I will not "taze" your child
No, I will not handcuff your child
No, I will not handcuff your child to a chair, door frame, fixed object, etc.
No, I will not arrest your child when they refuse to come to you when you call, disobey you, etc.
No, I will not use my collapsable baton on your child
No, I will not pepper spray your child for not eating his or her vegetables at a restaurant, meal times, etc.
No, I will not shoot your child in the leg, or at all for that matter
No, I will not take your child to the station
No, I will not take your child to jail
No, I will not sick the police dog on them
This list is ever growing but should cover the most common threats made against children by parents in the presence of police officers. I realize that you may think these threats to your child or children in my presence appear cute and even hilarious, during your moments of exasperation. Unfortunately they do so much more harm than good, especially when your child or children stop their behavior and look at me with eyes fearful of what they believe to be impending violence.
You are priming your child/children to fear and then hate police officers. This creates a complete misunderstanding of what we do and causes a great rift between us and you, the very people we have sworn to serve. While you may not believe that little (insert child's name) will not develop a negative perception of law enforcment, your very actions are indicative of your own negative perception of what we do and you do your child/children a great disservice by passing those beliefs down to them, as innocent as you think these comments are. So to help you understand how I can better serve you, here is a list of the things I will do:
Yes, I will give your child police stickers
Yes, I will take time to show you and yours my police car
Yes, I will let your child/children run the lights and sirens (when appropriate)
Yes, I will take time to explain my job to your child/children
Yes, I will take time to explain the tools I carry for my job
Yes, I will be understanding of your predicament
Yes, I will directly contradict you when you attempt to use me as a weapon to intimidate your small child into compliance. I will assure them in your presence that I will never hurt them or follow through with your threats as cute and witty as you may think they sound to the other adults around you.
In conclusion, the greatest threat to law enforcement is the misperception that we are the bad guys. I assure you that we are not the bad guys. We are the good guys and the more people who grow up to believe that we are the good guys, the better. I hope this letter provides you with some additional insight into parenting. Many of us are parents ourselves and have been in your shoes many times, myself included. There is always a better way to gain compliance than using me as a weapon against a temper tantrum.
(your name and title here)
This form letter is brought to you by many recent encounters that HF and I have had. HF went to our son's orientation meeting for kindergarten while on duty to drop off some paperwork and a father was there with a few young children that were acting up. He went on and on about HF doing stuff to his kids if they wouldn't "shape up" and everyone in ear shot was busting up about it. HF was nice and polite and assured the children that he wouldn't do any of the things his father mentioned. The other recent incidents involve my friends. We take our kids swimming and they tell their kids that HF will take them to jail if they don't get out of the pool when it's time to leave. They haul it outta there at that point, scared. I haven't said anything because 1. I don't know what to say and 2. I don't think they would understand.