Warrior vs. Guardian

 

Pauline Nevins  June 25, 2020 - Auburn Journal

 

The recent brutal, callous killing of George Floyd, an unarmed African-American man, by a white police officer who swore to protect and serve, spurred me to examine my own perceptions of policing.

I am biracial, live in California and grew up in England. I have a positive opinion of British policing, formed by television and personal experiences. Along with millions of other Brits, I was once glued to the telly on a Saturday night waiting for the familiar greeting, “Evening All,” from the country’s beloved police constable, George Dixon, star of the police drama Dixon of Dock Green. This London Bobby knew the area and the people where he patrolled and solved crimes with compassion and humor.

I wandered the streets as a young child and often got lost. A Bobby on patrol could be relied on to take me by the hand and lead me home. The house he led me to was often in turmoil. During one frightening event, I was old enough to sprint across the street to the red phone box on the corner. I dialed 999 – Britain’s emergency number. A policeman arrived and calmly settled the disturbance. For my trouble, I got a clip round the ear from my mum.

To my Irish mother, the police were not your friend. She was born just after the Irish War of Independence. The stories of police atrocities during the conflict had never left her. So, there we were, mother and I. She, fearful of the police based on her experiences. And I, viewing them as protectors based on mine.

My positive opinion of police, however, did not stretch across the Atlantic. In my teens, scenes of civil unrest in America beamed across the pond – protesters fleeing in terror as police drew guns and lobbed tear gas. These violent confrontations have continued. Why hasn’t anything changed? Is anybody even trying?

Then I remembered an article entitled: “U.S. law enforcement gets lessons from U.K.” by Al Baker, New York Times reporter.