When should I call the cops?

So, with the advent of so many news stories featuring people calling the cops, I have to share when I have had the opportunity, unbeknownst to me, to call the cops.

  • Once I was at a coffee shop and someone who appeared homeless sat next to me. So I smiled and nodded. They had their coffee and I had mine–no desire to call the cops.
  • Once two teenagers walked into the coffee shop and put their stuff down to study. They got two free waters and proceeded to study. They studied, I drank my coffee. I did not call the cops.
  • Once five teenagers walked into a different coffee shop. Two sat on top of each other on the couch, one sat on another couch to charge their phone, two others sat on chairs. The five of them spoke amongst themselves. They sat in the back, bought and got nothing. I sipped my coffee. I spoke with one teenager at one point. I made a joke, we laughed. I went back to my coffee. I did not call the cops.
  • Once there were two middle schoolers, before school, walking to school, stopped inside the coffee shop and picked up their mobile order. They were not accompanied by an adult. They sat down and spoke amongst themselves and were most likely going to be late to school. At the time, I worked for the local school district and yet I did not call city police or school police.
  • Once I sat down and was in a frantic state to get something done, something I realized on the drive to the coffee shop. I worked for a full 15-20 minutes before purchasing anything. I did not call the cops on myself, nor did anyone call the cops on me.

Call me insulated. Call me relaxed. Call me oblivious. Call me what you want. I have yet to feel the urge or the inclination to the call the cops. I have not seen the need.

When people are quiet, minding their own business, enjoying themselves, using a space appropriately (yes, sitting down and just working or charging your phone is appropriate), I just see no reason to call the cops.

Would I approve of someone asking any of these patrons to buy something? Yes. It is a business. Here’s another angle though–do I know anything about these people?

What if these teenagers are someone’s kids that work at these places? What if these teenagers have only this place that is safe in their lives? What if this person is not actually homeless? What if this person that is homeless, and bought their drink, just needs 5 minutes of peace before dealing with a life that I cannot fathom as anything but exceptionally difficult. What if my smile is the only smile these people get?

I do not pretend to know everything that has happened in publicized events. Nevertheless, I do know that due to publicity I have taken greater note of my surroundings and wondered how we have come to the point where we seem to be calling the cops first, or calling the cops at all . . . there are so many other things, more productive things, we could do . . . 



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