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Monday, May 22, 2006

Todd Nearly Jailed Over the Weekend

ClevelandpoliceOK... I bet that title got your attention.  Alright... I actually wasn't almost jailed, but I did find myself in an altercation with two Cleveland, OH police officers over the weekend that kind of jolted my existence for a few minutes, anyway.

It all started out as an innocent time away for my 12 year old son and me.  A weekend trip to see the Cleveland Indians play.  Since it was a Sunday game, we left on Saturday afternoon; stopped by Saturday night church at CedarCreek; and then continued on to Cleveland, getting to our hotel after having a guy's night out at Buffalo Wild Wings.

The next morning, we wanted to get to Jacobs Field early to try and grab some player autographs (which we were able to do); but as we got to downtown Cleveland, they had the downtown streets shut down for the annual Cleveland Marathon.  So, we sat there for over a half an hour watching marathon runners go one-by-one-by-one down the main street of Cleveland (nothing against runners, Perry, but this was a little annoying).  :)

Finally, the police started letting people through the intersection as the runners started to let up.  A car here, a car there. Then wait for more runners.  Then a few more cars would go through.

Well, it got to be my turn; The policeman  waved the car in front of me though; then moved over to other lanes; and I lost sight of him.  I had a clear path in front of me (no runners or anything) so I inched forward into the intersection, which was wide open by now.  I thought I was good to go, until I hear a voice screaming and a face outside my son's window.

"What the &%^$# are you doing?"

(He was either angry or doing the best 'emergent pastor' impression I've ever heard.)

Turns out he was angry.

And screaming the F-bomb in front of my 12 year old son made ME instantly enraged.

I looked at him, pointed my finger, and yelled back... "You don't use that kind of language around my son".

To which he responded back (and I could swear that at least every other word was the F word, including the threat to yank me out of my van if he needed to).

At that point, I figured I better just do what he said (which was nothing but four letter words and bodily threats at that point.)

Then, another officer heard his yelling, and decided to join in (you know, just for fun).  He was also very emergent in his language and thought.

I slowly backed up the van and eventually made it through the intersection. 

So... that's the story of how I almost had a tough day with the long arm of the law.

Maybe they were having a bad day.  Maybe they hadn't had their prozac.  But they didn't need to treat us that way.  It was very unprofessional; and actually made me want to rebel rather than obey the law.

Thankfully, I didn't do anything in front of my son that I had to apologize for.  Actually, I think it was good for him to go through, because he got to see his dad stick up for him.

I think today a letter will go out to the mayor of Cleveland; and the Police Chief.  And maybe one to the Chamber of Commerce to let them know what a fine ambassador for the city some members of their police department are.


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May 22, 2006 in Personal Items | Permalink

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It is sad to see that we resort to this kind of thing, obscenitiesn so quickly. Manner are importnat in any arena, but especially in those who have authority. I cannot imagine you look that threatening.

Posted by: Kent | May 22, 2006 3:54:44 PM

Kent said: "I cannot imagine you look that threatening."

I'm just a weasily-looking 42 year old man driving a mini-van with a twelve year old boy. It's not like the tatoos and body piercings threw him off.



Posted by: Todd Rhoades | May 22, 2006 4:07:49 PM

That kind of behavior is absolutely ridiculous, and it makes the police officers who do their job professionally look bad.

"I cannot imagine you look that threatening." Are you going to take this lying down, Todd? :)

Posted by: Nora | May 22, 2006 4:09:42 PM

You're absolutely right, there is no excuse for behavior like this. And it's not unusual for Police Officers. It is such a destructive occupation that a lot people in law enforcement are negatively affected in their personal lives and relationships.

When I got out of the Army I was going into the Austin PD, but after going on a few "ride alongs" and an intern stint at the county jail I decided it was not the occupation for me (this after being an Army interrogator for half my life). Almost every officer I came in contact with had a very, very negative view of humanity. The "everyone is guilty of something, we just haven't caught them yet" attitude and the view that everyone they will come in contact with is the scum of the earth was prevalent across the board. The stress of the job contributes I'm sure, but it seemed they were trying to instill this attitude in me before I even started the academy. The decision to walk away from the employment opportunity with no job prospects was actually easier that I thought it would be, and one of the better decisions I've made.

I can't imagine being the Christian I am if I had stuck with it and gone in the Police Academy. It's a job someome has to do, and I respect those who do it, even if I don't like their attitude and don't want to do the job myself.

In this case I think I would agree with your decision to let it go at the time, "Discretion is the better part of valor" and all, but write away. Civic leadership can't hear from citizens too often.

I do wonder how being a police officer and being a Christian mix?

Posted by: DanielR | May 22, 2006 4:14:55 PM

My cousin is a police officer and he would NEVER use that kind of language, especially around a child. I also have been around several local police officers at church and they are all remarkably polite individuals. Maybe it's because we're in Texas and we are taught to be polite?

Perhaps your police officers were new and they had been motioning to you to stop and they thought you were ignoring them? Regardless, there's no excuse for yelling obscenities.

I don't know if you were serious about writing a letter, but you might think about writing one to the local news editor.

Posted by: Sarangel | May 22, 2006 4:34:15 PM

Wow! I think I saw you on C*O*P*S* last night!

Posted by: Randy Ehle | May 22, 2006 6:11:45 PM

Way to stand up in front of your son Todd!

It's one thing to talk the talk... Way to drive the drive!!

Write. Call. E-mail. Stand up for some other child whose dad won't be willing to or who will join in and try to out-do. You just never know.

Posted by: Camey | May 22, 2006 6:42:07 PM

You know what's weird DanielR? We got over 300 resumes recently in a pastor search and a noticeable number who had had secular jobs were former police officers and even more were former military. Hmmm....

Posted by: Abbey | May 22, 2006 8:08:43 PM

I completely agree that individuals who are sworn to keep the peace have no business losing control of themselves to that extent. This must be some sort of aberation, I hope. I encounter police officers frequently (and not for criminal activity) and I have yet to see or hear one behave in that manner in those kinds of circumstances. Write the letters, Todd, thank the police for the work they do in protecting us and remind them that is not a license to engage in inappropriate and contentious behavior.

Posted by: Dean | May 22, 2006 8:13:28 PM

Todd, Sounds to me like they didn't get they're Coffee and Donuts. To bad you didn't have any that would have blocked out all the cuss words at least.

I have the utmost respect for the law and law enforcement. But it is just like anything else in life... You always have bad fruit in every basket.

I am proud of you standing up for your son. Way to go Todd.

Posted by: Jeff Ruble | May 22, 2006 8:52:58 PM

Way to go Todd! Those officers were unprofessional...period. It may be a generational or local cultural thing...I don't know. I have known some Christian police officers who would never use such language. It is a choice to use such language ... I was a soldier for 20 years and I went through a couple of years of that myself until I got discipled in a Baptist church. I got over it ... these officers can, too. Yes, their jobs are demanding and yes a lot of the people they deal with are not nice but that does not mean all persons are to be treated as potential criminals.

Again, great example to you son! They need to see Dad handle a tough situation from time to time.

Posted by: Dan Moore | May 22, 2006 10:19:49 PM

Hey...why are you picking on the "emergent" leaders? We are the next generation of leaders? Should you be nice?

Posted by: luke camara | May 22, 2006 11:11:25 PM

Be sure and let us know how all this turns out, I think you should post the letter you send online as well.

Posted by: Jason | May 22, 2006 11:31:12 PM

Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Pray for those who persecute you. Maybe the example to your son will be how to handle life when it is not fair.

Posted by: ld | May 23, 2006 12:59:58 AM

Luke wrote: Hey...why are you picking on the "emergent" leaders? We are the next generation of leaders? Should you be nice?

Luke, clearly a joke... we've had discussions here in the past about the trend among emergents to cuss a little. That's all it was.

(and it was quite funny, I think.)


Posted by: Todd Rhoades | May 23, 2006 8:59:44 AM

["What the &%^$# are you doing?" (He was either angry or doing the best 'emergent pastor' impression I've ever heard.)]

I'm sure that brings glory to god (lack of self control - NOT of the Spirit).

Imagine if they knew you were a Christian and being so was against the law.

Posted by: BeHim | May 23, 2006 11:40:21 AM


I emergently agree that it WAS funny!

Posted by: Jeff | May 23, 2006 12:14:51 PM

Bad boys bad boys, whatcha gonna do?
Whatcha gonna do when they come for you?

"emergent" in their language... hee hee...

Posted by: Peter Hamm | May 23, 2006 1:17:48 PM

Am I the only one who thinks that you should get over it?

I agree that he was a poor example of a public servant, but do you think helped ratchet up the situation by pointing your finger at him and telling him off?

You could have just apologized for making a mistake (which you apparently did) and then used the moment to teach your son about appropriate behavior, especially from those in authority. Instead, it was all about you "standing up for him." What? The police officer didn't do anything to him. You were standing up to the challenge to your own manhood.

And DanielR, thanks for being light in the darkness. "I do wonder how being a police officer and being a Christian mix?"

Very nicely for many good, Christian police officers I know. Like many professions, there are a lot of challenges to faith. But, unlike you, they have the courage to wade into it and be a Christian influence rather than whine about some imagined entitlement that they should never be offended.

Why must Christians whine so much? Get over it. The world is not Christian. That's why Jesus said to be salt and light.

Posted by: john | May 27, 2006 11:01:45 PM

Wow, John. I don't think Todd was whining at all, but rather making a very justifiable complaint that receiving a barrage of four-letter words for a minor misunderstanding is not treatment that an American citizen should expect to receive. He is not expecting the officer to act Christian, but professional, which as a taxpayer, Todd has every right to expect. For Todd to just shrug his shoulders and say, "oh well," is not Christian behavior, but rather enabling this officer to continue his abusive and unprofessional behavior.

Posted by: Nora | May 30, 2006 11:10:48 AM

Sure, we all have the right to wave our finger at a police officer and yell back at him. But is that fulfilling Paul's admonition to "overcome evil with good?"

Perhaps, if Todd has responded differently he might not have been subjected to a barrage of 4-letter words. And, the police officer might tell an entirely different story. He may have already been ordering Todd to stop.

I'm not excusing the behavior of the police officer, but to raise the level of confrontation and then claim to be the victim is a bit much for me. But maybe the Scripture only counts when we're beating others over the head with it rather than letting it form our own character.

Posted by: john | May 30, 2006 11:35:54 PM

John, I don't want to get into an argument with you, because Todd can certainly defend himself, but I really don't think you're being fair to Todd. Perhaps this is a personal issue to you? All I can think is that if a minor traffic misunderstanding invokes such hostility from this officer, what would something really serious like a car chase or hostage situation do to him? And I really do think that Todd's reaction was within Biblical parameters.


Posted by: Nora | May 31, 2006 9:30:29 AM

Thanks, Nora...

I've chosen not to respond simply because I fear anything I say will not be taken correctly.


Posted by: Todd Rhoades | May 31, 2006 9:32:47 AM


If you were a pastor, it would, of course, be all your fault!


Posted by: Peter Hamm | May 31, 2006 9:47:07 AM

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