Mistaken Identity

While working early this morning, I was stopped at the side of the road in an area well known for its drug dealers and those struggling with addiction.

The passenger side window of my unmarked/blacked out police SUV was partially down, and I was surveying the goings-on in the block when a woman called out.

“There you are!” she said, as she shuffled over to the window.

There are several old-timers still cruising around who know me from my days walking the beat, so I craned my neck to see who she was, but I didn’t recognize her.

She moved up to my window and halted. I was curious but cautious, so I simply watched her as she realized who she had approached.

“Shit. You’re a cop?”

“Yes,” I replied, making sure to maintain my dead-pan expression.

I wanted to let loose with a sarcastic remark, but thought it was not the right time nor place as this woman was so clearly expecting someone else – her hunger for her fix was almost palatable, and I felt bad about even considering the sarcasm of my first response. Who was I to second guess this woman’s need?

“Oh,” she said, “I thought you were my dealer.”

She couldn’t get away from me fast enough, and a little part of me broke as I watched her leave.

***

Where have we, as a society and a community, gone wrong?

I walked the beat in the Downtown Eastside from 1995 to the early 2000’s. I made dozens of drug arrests, helped those with addiction, put predators behind bars and hunted those who would prey on others.

The first eight years of my career were spent policing the Downtown Eastside and surrounding areas, but in 2012, not much has changed.

Not much at all.

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