A Christmas Saga: Cops, Kids, and Bicycles?

I ended The Unforgotten Gift by referring to my eventual involvement in law enforcement. Between the bicycle Christmas and my first Christmas as a cop, a lot happened. Yep, nothing was boring about being a part of the Jackson family.

I was in the sixth grade when my brother and I were blessed with bikes. By the time I graduated from high school, we’d moved five more times, I almost died from a heat stroke, lost two friends to suicide, and had to turn down an academic scholarship offer because my parents were divorcing, not to mention a few other embarrassing problems that unsettled our family.

A few years later, a bicycle was again part of my life. I became the first bicycle officer in Denton, Texas. I didn’t patrol on a bike, but many folks referred to me as Denton’s bicycle officer.

The truth is, we’d just bought our first house. My wife and I worked, but our combined salaries were insufficient to afford two cars. So, I commuted to work on a bicycle, in uniform.

The cop commuting on a bike story is amusing. However, it is not the memory I want to share here. The bicycle is only a humorous anecdote. The memory that makes me smile from those years had nothing to do with a bike.

One evening just before Christmas, the dispatcher notified me someone was at the P.D. wanting to see me. That happened occasionally, and usually because someone wanted to know about an incident or wanted to complain about something. This one was different.

A well-groomed young man was sitting in the lobby when I arrived. He had just driven in from Baylor University and wanted to say hello. He wasn’t anyone I remembered, and I had no idea what he wanted. As it turned out, there was a good reason for me not recognizing him.

Years before, while I was still in the rookie-cop phase of my career, I detained him and some friends for minors-in-possession. Now by minors, I mean junior high or middle school-age kids. They took some adult beverages from their folks’ bars and headed to another kid’s house for a party.

I spoiled their little plan and got them in hot water at home. Parents do not appreciate being called to the police station in the middle of the night to pick up their wayward children.

While waiting for their parents, I gave each of them a business card and told them they could call me if I could help them in the future. This young man kept the card. He also remembered the lecture I’d given them about doing foolish things. Unfortunately, he said, some of his friends threw my card away and ignored my advice.

He stopped by that evening to wish me a Merry Christmas and thank me for the way I handled him and his friends. He said I changed his opinion of police officers, and my little lecture had been a wake-up call. He credited our contact with helping him make it to college. It was touching and nice to hear until he told me he was studying to be a lawyer. Oh, well! You can’t have everything.

I wish all of my Christmas memories were like the bicycle story and the visit from the young man. That would be nice, but that is not the way life works.

The saga continues, Dealing with the Dark Side

© oneoldcop.com 2022


About S. Eric Jackson

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