When I was little I was always taught the police were your friends. They were the people you could go to if you needed help. They were the ones who came if you got in a car accident or were on the other line when you called 911. They were our protectors and our first responders. I trusted them.
As an adult I still believe they are all those things. I trust them to protect me. I trust them to be on the other end of the phone when I need them. I trust them to pull me over if I have a burned out headlight. I trust them to be well-trained for the worst possible scenario and know how to respond accordingly. I trust them completely and have a huge amount of respect for them.
Here, things are completely different.
In Dushanbe, I have very little respect for most of the police force. I’ve seen cars break every single traffic rule you can imagine and they turn a blind eye but then pull over the law abiding Range Rover because they appear to have money. All they want is a bribe. All they care about is money.
We’ve had a few encounters recently as a community where the police acted completely inappropriately. Running people off the road, banging on windows, shouting “you deserve to be punished!” and overall conducting themselves in a completely unprofessional manner. If something happens to me I can’t rely on them to be quick to respond, or be honest and truthful if and when they do.
It’s frustrating for me. The people I’ve always viewed as our protectors and responders are now the ones I see as the most corrupt and untrustworthy.
When we go home I want to hug every single police officer I see. And I might. Sure it’s annoying to get pulled over for going 10 MPH over the speed limit or making an illegal left turn when you didn’t notice the sign but those are legitimate rules that need to be followed and enforced.
I know the climate is very strained right now, but we are so incredibly lucky to have the police force we have in the States. Yes, there are deep issues that need to be addressed but I know at my core the majority of our officers are good people who joined the force to serve our communities.
They are the protectors. And we are lucky to have them. We have to remember that.
For the record, we do have an Embassy Mobile Patrol that are our first responders and protectors and they are very much appreciated. They make me feel much safer and confident someone will help us out if we ever need them.