Some years ago, before the days of cell phones, I saw a San Antonio policeman parked in his car just south of Commercial and Military Drive. He had his head cocked back and eyes closed. It scared me.
I drove into the parking lot of the little neighborhood grocery store (Buddies Supermarket) to see if the officer needed any help. I walked up to his window and tapped on it.
He opened his eyes. They were full of tears.
He rolled his window down and I asked him if he was alright.
“I think so, but I am not sure,” he replied. “I had a call to contact my doctor. I used a phone inside, and he told me I have cancer.”
Suprised that he told me, I assumed he just needed to tell someone. I patted him on the arm and asked if there was anything I can do to help.
“Thank you very much, but I just needed to pray and be by myself,” he replied. “I guess I need to go tell my family.”
After a little more conversation, he drove away. Later I found out he had surgery and survived to protect citizens of San Antonio for many years.
More recently, San Antonio local news stations aired a report on July 29, 2010, that a city police officer was photographed sleeping in his squad car by a man who lived in the neighborhood where the car was parked.
Claiming he was taking out the trash when he noticed the police car, Jason Peters grabbed a camera and walked up to the officer and proceeded to take photographs.
Peters, or someone he knows, reached news media and soon was sharing his photos with reporters for later broadcasting.
Instead of trying to wake the officer to see if he was hurt or sick, Peters said his first thought was “this is ridiculous” and said he “walked right up to him, about two inches away, and he didn’t even flinch.”
In front of news cameras, Peters also asserted the police officer was asleep at least a half-hour and he called 311 (the city call center for non-emergency concerns).
San Antonio Police Department’s officers are allowed three breaks during their working hours each day. These authorized breaks include two 15-minute breaks and a 30-minute break.
Police Chief William McManus acknowledges that if nothing else, on appearance, “it looks bad.”
The officer is currently under investigation, but until the investigation is complete, my benefit of a doubt goes toward a vast majority of police, including this officer. No one knows yet what he had been through, the reason for his nap, or if he was on break.
I pray the San Antonio Police Department, city leaders, media and our decent residents will give this officer consideration for the dangerous, tiring and stressful job he does to protect us and keep order every day.
(This report is an opinion article of examiner Jack Dennis, who is solely responsible for the contents).
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