My Near Arrest

I have some sympathy for the cops in the Prof. Gates case. A couple of guys seen trying to push in a front door does look a bit suspicious, and I am reminded of my own near arrest. Earlier this summer we visited our oldest daughter in the well-to-do suburb of New York where she lives. Everyone but me left to do morning errands, and eventually I went out the back door, down the driveway and off on a quick one mile jog. A neighbor, knowing that no one was home, called to report a suspicious white man sneaking out of their house and briskly walking away. I was on the return leg and a couple of hundred yards away when I saw two patrol cars in front of the house, then a neighbor, then my daughter’s car coming back home, then a bunch of people all pointing at me. The way I later heard it was that the cops were ready to come pick me up when my daughter showed up to ask if the old guy sauntering toward them was the suspicious intruder, and if so, he was her dad the priest. If they had stopped me, what would have been their protocol? Safety first! After all, the suspicious person was thought to be a possible burglar. That would have meant the old spread eagle on the side of the car, a quick pat down, and a search for ID. Embarrassing as anything, and if I had got angry about it things could have become pretty nasty. The president was right. Gates’ arrest was stupid, but everything up to that point appears to be good sensible police work.

8 thoughts on “My Near Arrest”

  1. I'm reminded of a story I heard once.In his retirement, the Archbishop of Canterbury Michael Ramsey (ga'll I love his writings) spent most of his time at Nashotah House Seminary. Close to Nashotah is a facility for the mentally handicapped, and as it so happened someone had gotten out so police were on the lookout.On that very day the Archbishop was walking and praying in his purple cassock and the police pulled up and asked him who he was. He replied: \”Why I'm the Archbishop of Canterbury\”

  2. CP:A great story! Thanks!I, however, disagree with the president's assumption. I think it was unfortunate for him to wade into the fray without knowing all the facts, which he admitted last night.If you read the officer's report, which I am linking below, it looks as if Gates was clearly at fault here for not letting the matter rest.Now Gates says that it didn't happen this way, and if it didn't, the officer was stupid, but since what has actually happened is far from clear, no one, especially the POTUS should offer commentary.Having spent two years as a police chaplain I got a first-hand education on how the public always jumps to conclusions about law enforcement without having facts in hand.Here is the link:

  3. Thanks Allan, as a long time Fire Chaplain I'm glad to learn of your Police Chaplaincy experience. Oddly enough, in my college years I spent a couple of years working part-time in a small town police department – the original Barney Fife. I still have my old badge. It's in a box somewhere in the garage. I'll let the next generation find it. I imagine they'll wonder what other stories grandpa never told them.CP

  4. CP:It is great to know you were I fire chaplain! I discovered as a police chaplain and hanging out with the firefighters, that they needed chaplain ministry as well. They didn't have a formal chaplain, so when there was a particularly horrific event, I would go to the station and hang out and talk with them to see how I might help.The one thing I discovered is that while there are certainly some bad eggs out there in law enforcement and in firefighting, most of the folks involved are good and decent people who simply want to make a positive difference.As far as the \”original Barney Fife\” I wonder if you were permitted only to carry one bullet in your shirt pocket! 🙂

  5. OK, now we're getting personal. Actually I still am the fire chaplain and love the work, and am also on the critical incident team for our region. As to my younger years, I actually carried a fully loaded .38 but was always carefully supervised by the wary Sgt. Bentley who had some justifiable doubt as to my abilities. After college I became the assistant city manager of that same town.CP

  6. CP:You are obviously an accomplished individual. As far as doubts about firearm abilities– the police chief invited me to join the other officers at a firing range one day, but none of them wanted to attend since they were afraid of putting a gun in my hand!

  7. i was delighted to hear the telling of the adventure from the daughter's mouth prior to reading your account. many smiles had by all 🙂

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