Dear officer, I have a suggestion to offer from a retired white-haired white 71-year-old social worker.
Please officer, begin to look at every traffic stop and nonviolent police intervention as one where you will meet me, a white-haired 71-year-old retired social worker. Treat every traffic stop as if you are meeting this 71-year-old white-haired woman who is scared of you and nervous because you are the police. Assume every counterfeit bill or bad check suspect is a white-haired 71-year-old white woman. Put white hair and a white face on everyone you encounter during each initial intervention.
Approach these situations as if the suspect you are interacting with is a white-haired white lady who is scared of you because you are law enforcement, have a gun and is upset that she has done something you consider wrong. Assume you are dealing with me.
Try to help calm the situation. Let me know why you are stopping me and that you are stopping me to help and let me know you want us both to get through the encounter without anyone being hurt. Assume I am a law-abiding white-haired white woman who at the very worst has made a mistake that there might be a punishment for other than death. Be polite and try not to pull a gun or put your hands on me. Use your words and don’t assume I am going to try to kill you if I move.
Please officer, do not accept the assumption when you go to work that everyone you encounter is potentially an enemy combatant who has two guns, is on drugs and wants to kill you. Assume instead you are meeting a white-haired white 71-year-old woman who is nervous and scared who is trying to make it through the day safely like you.
Please officer, assume everyone you are encountering on the street or community or the road is this 71-year-old white-haired white woman and approach accordingly because I truly believe that will save lives. I believe and assume a 71-year-old white-haired white woman would have not have been shot or deprived of air, or pepper sprayed as I have seen so many times on TV this week. All of these people who have died are Black.
I believe assumptions can be deadly, but we all make assumptions, so officer please try to make them work for you and all of us.
Maggie Goodwin lives in West Haven