It’s bad enough I have to do it home with the three MClets. I have tried time and again to break them of the not-listening habit. Alas, to no avail.
At least so far.
It goes something like this:
MC: “Honey, pick up your clothes.”
MClet #3 either completely ignores me or stares at me like I’ve just resurrected a long dead language she does not speak.
MC: “Seriously. Right now. Pick. Them. Up.”
MClet #3 takes a trepidatious step forward and leans over and then pauses in midair and looks at me devilishly.
MC: “You really should have listened the first two times.”
Not for the first time in my parenting life, it occurs to me the correlation between being a parent and being a cop. Think about it. I spend my day following people around basically telling them to knock it off, straighten up, or delivering any degree of consequences when they act the fool.
But there’s one technique I’ve long appreciated and sadly it’s a dying art.
Ask. Tell. Take.
We learned this in the Academy. Unfortunately, the premise is fallible from the outset because you have to assume you are dealing with a reasonably intelligent adult, but there you have it.
The concept is simple. I’m going to ask you to do something. It can be as simple as, “Would you step out of your car, sir?” Hell, you can even through in a “please” if you want.
If the individual does not comply, the next step (said with a bit more oomph and/or authority) is “Sir, step out of the car.”
There’s no misconstruing what it is you are looking for this alleged adult to do, right? Pretty obvious we want dude out of the car, yes?
The next step? We take dude out of the car.
And here’s where the Politically Correct and touchy-feely-don’t-want-to-hurt-anyone’s-feelings crowd get butt hurt (it’s a technical term). They want to move from Ask, Tell, Take to Ask, Cajole, Plead, Bribe, Beg, Subjugate, Request, Politely Offer, Demand (albeit apologetically), Apologize Further for the Inconvenience, Call in Supervisor to Rinse and Repeat.
There’s a reason there are three strikes in baseball. Three and you’re out. It ain’t sixteen and then we’ll consider what we should do.
I’ll ask you once. Then I’m going to tell you. Then I’m going to Take you (typically to jail for not doing what I previously freaking told you to do).
I have seen the slow yet steady whittling away of the Police Presence portion of our “wheel of force” over the last 16 years. The “wheel” is the concept of the levels of force we have at our disposal. Believe it or not, our mere uniformed presence is a type of force. The badge represents authority and is, to a degree, a level of force.
Let me ask you parents in the interwebs a question.
If you have to barter or plead with your child to complete a task, does it strengthen or weaken your position as Parent?
My children live by the Ask, Tell, Take (their jail is their room and a timeout and occasional spanking…after a conversation about why/how they acted and why it was not acceptable, mind you). They are incredible kids that love the Wife and I very much…as we do them.
We are not scarring them, but they don’t live in a democracy. (If they do, it’s fixed because the Wife and I vote twice.)
I get it, though. They’re kids. It’s their job to push our boundaries and discover safe limits.
But at work? I (again allegedly) am dealing with mature adults that have grown past the pushing boundaries and understand the consequences for behaving in certain ways. When someone with more authority than you asks you to do something, it would behoove you to listen. When someone with more authority than you tells you to do something, it would be beneficial if you react with something akin to alacrity.
Because if you don’t, you are risking a journey to a place most folks don’t enjoy very much.
The collective police position in society has been greatly weakened over the last decade or so. It isn’t just Ferguson. It isn’t any other case-du-jour. It’s because we as cops have slipped a disc in our backbone from bending over backwards for fear of either upsetting the citizenry, our supervisor, our Powers That Be, or a combination thereof.
I’m not advocating abusing our powers here, my friends. Don’t read something between the lines that isn’t there. I’m saying that if folks expect to be treated with respect and as adults, then I expect them to act as such. You may not like what I’m asking you to do, but I assure you I am asking for both our sakes/safety. You don’t need to know why/how, you need to comply, because it is both your legal obligation and your duty as a responsible person.
Because that’s the way I am raising the MClets to be. They will not be the subject of some cop’s blog a decade from now.
Except mine. I own the rights, believe me.