Police: Help or harm? Relief or fear?

During the ride to my sister’s house in yesterday, my niece had to pull off the freeway because her infant son appeared to be choking. Caution lights flashing, we parked on the shoulder of Maryland’s very busy I-95 freeway between the far right lane and an entrance ramp.

While my niece sat in the back seat comforting her son, flashing lights flooded the vehicle as a state police cruiser pulled in behind us.

“Oh good, someone’s here to help!!”

BUT no, our collective response was fear, not relief.

So, while the officer approached the car and my niece went into defense mode, we resolved to stay calm and explain the situation. After all, we wanted to survive the encounter.

The officer approached the front passenger door, flashlight in hand, and asked if everything were ok. My niece hurriedly explained what had happened and defended that she needed to get her son home quickly. The officer—who seemed confused as I think about it now—retreated without offering assistance, and we went on our way.

Yes, it’s sad that our first response to seeing those flashing lights was fear instead of relief.

It might sound melodramatic to some, but it’s the harsh reality for a people who’ve been brutalized and killed during minor traffic stops.