852AM | Del Taco, Aliso Viejo
It’s rare for me to finish the evening that late since my day usually starts early in the morning. If it weren’t for all the documents that needed filing, the incident would have been missed. It was just a few minutes past 10:00PM when my short trek to my sleeping spot began. Both my feet were already on the parking lot across the street, barely a moment after the door at Barnes & Noble had closed behind me when a man came running around the corner. His cadence was off considerably, with one foot landing louder on the pavement than the other. A distance away chasing was the owner of Kampai Japanese Restaurant, Tom. If the man had not stumbled, Tom would not have caught up to him, judging from the differential of their running speeds. Then, Tom yelled – hey!
Instantly, the situation became obvious to me. The man had tried to leave the restaurant without paying his bill. Instincts kicked in, and within a moment my face was within inches of his as he got up. And the question was asked, “Are you okay?” He tried mumbling something and his breath smelled of alcohol. My arms pushed into his body placing him on some brushes between two palm trees, effectively ending his run.
Then, the owner Tom caught up to him. “You can’t do that. You pay your bill.” There was a moment of hesitation, perhaps to calculate his chances of escaping. Then, came the reply. “Sorry,” the man retorted and started walking back towards the restaurant. Then, the rest of Tom’s restaurant crew caught up around the corner. “Call the cops on him, Tom,” was my advise before the man was surrounded by the rest of the restaurant crew.
Moments like last night evokes from a person what comes naturally. It did for me. In a criminal moment the reasonable thing to do is call the authorities. This came up in another conversation with an employee at Barnes & Noble. We resolved that if he came home one evening to find a strange man sitting in his living room couch that the best thing to do is dial 911 and get the cops on their way to his house. In a moment like that, the homeowners would be well within their rights to do what is required to subdue an intruder. But, that may not be wise because you may not be reading the situation correctly. What if the intruder had a weapon. And how sure are you that you are not outnumbered?
Yesterday afternoon saw two members of the NYPD gunned down in cold blood as they were sitting in their patrol car. If there is a person on this earth who would have a reason to be angry at the police, it would be me. But, those feelings are tempered by the knowledge that there are three kinds of cops. There’s the officer who was born to be a cop – the exemplar of selfless service who really keeps the public safe. Then, you have the mediocre cop who could, with considerable effort and resources, be trained or be led better. Finally, you have the cop who shouldn’t be one. These are the people who joined the force for all the wrong reasons, whose badges give them immunities to do things that are more harmful than good. Those are the people who we should work towards removing from that line of work, lest they stain the sacrifices of those who put their lives on the line every day they are on the beat.
My sympathies go to the families of Officers Ramos and Liu and every individual and family who have lost a loved one while in the service of the public as a member of the law enforcement community. They are the reason why we at RobertsJustice do what we do – to make sure that only the finest serve among the finest. That way, people like Michael Brown and Eric Garner would not end up in the morgue.