New York Daily Headline: NYPD Officer Gives Freezing Homeless Man Shirt Off His Back
A couple of NY’s largest daily papers ran the same story this week. It was titled: NYPD Officer Gives Freezing Homeless Man Shirt Off His Back.
The story, in brief, describes how officer Carlos Ramos, 29, was walking his beat, on Manhattan’s East side, when he came across a shivering homeless fellow by the name of Robert William.
Robert had removed his boots, which were soaking wet – in sub-thirty degree weather – and was trying to rip his shirt to cover his exposed feet. Carlos offered to give his own shirt to Robert. The latter refused, saying, “You, yourself, will be cold.”
Carlos persisted and won. So did Robert’s freezing feet.
The story is noteworthy. What makes it remarkable, though, is a quote in that article a few paragraphs near the end.
“I’ve helped out other people, especially when it’s cold,” Ramos told the Daily News. “A nice cup of coffee, a tea, whatever seems appropriate… always wanted to help those that need help, protect the city, protect the country.”
Reread that sentence, not the details (cup of coffee, a tea, whatever seems appropriate), rather the motive. Ramos said, “… always wanted to help those that need help, protect the city, protect the country.”
“Always” is a long time. Did he mean since childhood? Then, he nurtured that feeling for a couple of decades. He finished junior high and high school wanting to help people.
It’s guaranteed that people like that were already helping kids in trouble back then. Did he fight bullies off potential victims, help kids do homework, did he help his own grandma carry her groceries?
My money is on the fact that he did.
Ramos also went to police academy and according to the reports he was assigned as the NYPD anti-terrorism unit. He’d been uniformed for six years.
To me, it’s important for people to know that many law-enforcement people are like Ramos.
For thirteen years, as an officer in the Israel Prison Service, I knew intimately the thoughts of thousands of law-enforcement personell. People from that country, and from the many, many groups of delegates visiting from all over the world. Wardens from Czechoslovakia, sheriffs from Virginia, Massachusettes, Royal Canadian Mounted police. All members of the IPA (International Police Association).
It’s politically ‘in,’ and socially ‘cool,’ to dump on police and all law-enforcement as corrupt, power mongers, aggressive. There is, unfortunately, a horrific disbelief in our culture in the inherent good nature of anyone serving the public.
Politicians are all corrupt. So are clergy. Even professional athletes don’t play for the “pure” love of the sport anymore. It’s all about contracts, sponsors and power.
Maybe not ‘all.’
People like Ramos remind me of the inumerous men and women I served with and knew personally who “always wanted to help those that need help.”
Sure, there are bad cops. Even really bad ones. And they need to be thrown out. Dumped. Anyone who disrespects and undermines the power vested in his position for personal greed or ego must be punished.
But, remember, cops are humans, too. They respond exactly like you and I do.
In any given human confrontation there is always two stages. The initial response, then the adjusted reaction according to the perceived circumstance facing you.
Cops’ initial response, in any situation, is always, justifiably, caution, self-preservation. Any traffic stop can potentially be fatal. Their first concern leaving their home every day for work is to make sure they return that night. So is ours.
In the last four decades, I can remember being stopped three times for speeding. This is how I handled it, each time.
I rolled down my window. I placed my hands on the steering wheel. I looked straight ahead. When spoken to, I simply said, “Good morning, officer. I’m sorry.”
I let that sink in, and continued, “I was speeding. I’m a speaker, late for a talk. I was wrong, and I ask for your understanding and forgiveness.”
I know the “legalists” will say you should never admit guilt, it could boomerang if you ever need to appear in court. That’s what I say. You could adjust that withouth admitting guilt.
What is important is to give these guys and gals the benefit of the doubt.
Granted, I have the added confidence that inside my wallet is an IPA badge. But, rarely have I had to show that to evoke the camaraderie element.
If, in the above example, you were speeding, they’ve got you on radar. If they want to issue the ticket, you’re already in the inferior position.
Try the personal approach. You may be facing a Ramos who got another opportunity to realize his “always wanted to help people……” by letting a nice person get to their son’s birthday party or to work on time. Or just to be nice.
People are funny that way. They react according to how they’re treated.
The cops I’v known have all been people.
(One of the original articles from which this post came is found here: http://tinyurl.com/lj2mosx)