How I Define “Home”

Reader Contribution by Liberty V Justice
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Police officers care about us; they wouldn’t take such a dangerous job for such measly pay if they didn’t have the heart of a hero. Heroes love. Heroes help. Heroes support, encourage, and lift others up. If you see a police officer, go shake their hand. Say, “Thank you. I appreciate you.” Don’t take for granted what they do for us. There’s a lot about them that you’ll never see in the paper or the news.

What I didn’t write in The State article last year was that I’m an ex-addict with no record, but multiple arrests. Without going into detail, I have good reason to fear harm from police. Officer Greg Alia came at time in my life when I felt the most insecure, worried, and distrustful of people in authority, and he unshackled me.

Our 2 a.m. meeting at Groucho’s Restaurant in Forest Acres was Greg’s opportunity to do something about injustice. I sarcastically asked, “Are y’all that bored?” — that was the lubricant that oiled us up and we had a real conversation. “We’re that bored,” he said. I’ll never forget that. I felt so comfortable with him, just as I do my own brother. Greg felt like home.

He respected me, and even admired me for sticking by Christ. I distinctly remember his response when I said, “Love ain’t what ya say, it’s what ya do.” I immediately saw a spark in his eyes. He must’ve been thinking about his wife, Kassie.

He said, “What if I paid for your hotel room tonight?” Greg didn’t know I prayed specifically, “God, I know you’re going to provide a place for me to sleep tonight. I trust you.”

You can call it “Southern Hospitality.” I call it Christ. Greg gave me more faith. My only regret was not giving him a hug.

Having the Forest Acres P.D. around made me not only feel safe, but, for the first time in my life, I felt connected. I feel I’m a part of something. Like Cheers, they all know my name. I feel they’re part of my family. The last time I felt a sense of community like this was when I was 11, only a few years before my life took its turn.

The next time you wanna bash the police, think of someone you love turning to a life of drugs and alcohol and self-harm all because of a lie told when they were young: “All people are bad. If something bad happens to you, the last person you want to tell is a cop. You can’t trust cops.” Instead, speak highly of those in authority and introduce the police to your children. That way they know to trust the police in a crisis, and the officers recognize them, too.

If you see police officers sitting for hours at a Circle K or Dunkin’ Doughnuts, don’t think they’re not doing anything. Sure, maybe they’re drinking coffee, but I assure you, it’s so much more. I’ve seen several robberies occur, and because the cops and all the businesses’ employees know each other, it leads to better cooperation, less fear (and better planning) of it reoccurring, and more crimes solved more quickly.

The biggest story is that a 37-year-old woman finally has people in her life she can trust and look forward to seeing every day. Even without Officer Alia’s reassuring presence, it’s similar to a feeling of being in love, but with a whole group of people — the Forest Acres Police Department. Imagine what they could do for your community. Thank an officer and connect with them today!

Photo by Fotolia/majorosl66

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