Police diary: ‘Damn squatter cats’ and other tales from the street

October 12, 2019, 5:56 PM

The writer is an 8th Precinct neighborhood police officer in Northwest Detroit. This is adapted with permission from two Facebook posts Saturday, plus a few earlier reflections at his page there.

By Baron Coleman

Scare from a four-legged surprise

Working today with a city board-up crew, I checked vacant houses to make sure nobody is inside -- alive or deceased.

As I went in one home and announced "Police" several times, a very large orange cat suddenly stormed at me. My finger was near the trigger, instinctively, before the feral animal turned at my feet and bolted out the door.

I back-pedaled two quick Matrix steps and it was gone as fast as it came out of nowhere.

No dead cat to report, but a brother's adrenaline was racing. Those damn squatter cats.

Showing respect to earn it

I drive through neighborhoods that look pretty beat-up. When I see folks standing around and enjoying the street, I try to make eye contact and nod my head or wave.

Baron Coleman: "I will never look down on those who live in Detroit." (Photo: Facebook)

If time permits, I pull over to make conversation with pleasantries. I find it simple to break the ice and give them a greeting or a fist bump.  When an officer does that, it can change the mood of those who may not like police.

It takes the right person to police in the black community -- someone who respects that community. Everyone who lives in a poor community is not bad and everyone who lives in a well-to-do community is not all good.

I have earned respect as a police officer because I will never look down on those who live in Detroit, where my family and friends also live. We train to help, and I try to show residents how much I care about Detroit.

I proudly police in the City of Detroit, and not just as a job. I can work anywhere. I do it because my people deserve so much better. They do not deserve BS or any hatred -- the world already gives plenty of that.

One thing I constantly preach to our youth is to be respectful. I also preach the same to young officers -- respect the community and you will have a lot of success on your journey.

Policing in Detroit for me is not hard. I feel like I am actually making a difference, and that feels pretty good.

So wave at the next officer you see. It could make for a different experience.

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