Dialogue of Aspasia
Dialogue of Aspasia
An Honest Conversation Between an Officer and Citizen
by Joshua Brownlee
Aspasia: What’s going on?
Officer Ness: Please stand back ma’am!
Aspasia: Why does that officer have his knee in that man’s back?
Officer Critias: SHUT UP or you’ll be next!
Officer Ness: Critias worry about keeping him under control I’ll worry about the crowd. Miss we had a group of trespassers in the private community garden and they scattered when we showed up.
Aspasia: Is that man one of them?
Officer Ness: We’re not sure to be honest, that’s what we’re trying to find out.
Aspasia: Do you know his name?
Officer Ness: No.
Aspasia: Why is he on the ground?
Officer Ness: Officer Critias saw him running and told him to stop.
Aspasia: Did Officer Critias see him in the community garden?
Officer Ness: No but he didn’t listen?
Aspasia: Was he running when Officer Critias first saw him?
Officer Ness: I’m not sure.
Aspasia: The man has jogging pants on maybe he was getting exercise?
Officer Ness: Well hopefully we’ll find out one way or another.
Aspasia: I noticed your comrade has his knee in the man’s back and is pushing the man’s face into the dirt. Is that the best way to find out his identity?
Officer Critias: She may be one of them, bring her over here!
Officer Ness: She’s not one of them, they’re all black males. Get the cuffs on him and put him in the car.
Officer Critias: Turn around and get her she’s recording this! She’s going to put this on the internet and we’ll be hearing about this for weeks!
Officer Ness: Are you recording this?
Aspasia: Yes and I will resist if you try and make me stop.
Officer Ness: It’s your right to record this as long as you don’t interfere. When did you start recording?
Aspasia: I started when I walked up to you.
Officer Ness: May I ask for a copy of your recording? Here’s my card, your video may help clear up who was here. Would that be ok?
Aspasia: Sure, I don’t mind helping, but I want to know why that man is being treated so violently?
Officer Ness: Officer Critias is a new to the force. His first assignment was a bad neighborhood and it made him overly paranoid.
Aspasia: Was the neighborhood a black neighborhood.
Officer Ness: Yes it was.
Aspasisa: My father and brothers are black, it bothers me that they would automatically be treated with such violence.
Officer Ness: As long as they didn’t run, I think they would be treated fine.
Aspasia: My brother runs track and my Dad was in the military. They run a four mile route around town. They like to race on the straight parts of the road together.
Officer Ness: They should stop if ordered to do so.
Aspasia: My Dad served in artillery when he was in Vietnam, he’s half deaf. Even if he could hear, he’s too proud to just stop because someone like Officer Critias says too.
Officer Ness: Your father seems like a good man.
Aspasia: He’s the best and he taught his children not to tolerate racists.
Officer Ness: He’s right. What’s your name?
Aspasia: My name is Aspasia.
Officer Ness: Everyone calls me Ness or Officer Ness if you want to be formal.
Aspasia: Ness, people who are black don’t trust police. A lot of us are taught to run from you especially if we’re not doing anything wrong.
Officer Ness: I didn’t know that. I’m retiring next month so I’ll be honest with you.
Aspasia: I appreciate that.
Officer Ness: I’ve been on the force for 30 years and race is a part of police work. We have Black officers, Hispanic officers, and Asian officers. All of them will tell you privately that race is at play in police work.
Aspasia: It shouldn’t be. It seems like police pick on blacks more than whites for stupid little things.
Officer Ness: You’re right that race shouldn’t be a factor but it is. The communities we serve want us to keep the streets safe and they don’t want to know the realities we face every day. The supervisor that trained Officer Critias’ had his partner shot in the stomach at a routine traffic stop by a young black man and now has a colostomy bag for the rest of his life.
Aspasia: That’s sad. How often do officers get shot?
Officer Ness: In our city, every other year or so. Police officers are a small community and we’re very close. One shooting has a dramatic effect for every person that knows or trains with that officer.
Aspasia: Does officer safety trump my race’s constitutional rights and presumed innocence?
Officer Ness: The politically correct thing to say is no, but the actual answer is yes. Last year I collected 58 illegal guns, countless kilos of cocaine and heroin, 3 murder suspects, 9 armed robbery suspects, and about two dozen others for various petty theft crimes. Most of those didn’t come from warrants or informants, they came from traffic stops and gut instincts.
Aspasia: Were most of those suspects black?
Officer Ness: Yes.
Aspasia: Do white people commit crimes?
Officer Ness: Certainly, I have just worked in majority black neighborhoods for most of my career.
Aspasia: So with a neighborhood like this, do you and Officer Critias still look for black faces or do you learn to recognize white criminal suspects?
Officer Ness: I sincerely try to adapt to each little community I serve.
Aspasia: I believe you do. What about him?
Officer Ness: I don’t agree with Officer Critias’ methods, quite frankly he’s kind of an asshole. At the end of the day though I don’t trust anyone else on this street with my life. Before I leave, I hope to guide him to a less authoritative approach.
Aspasia: But I’m a law abiding citizen, why are you afraid of me?
Officer Ness: I’m hope you are, but I don’t know if I can trust you.
Aspasia: That’s not ok.
Officer Ness: No, it’s not, but I’m sad to say that’s the way it is.
Aspasia: What will you do with the man in the back of the police car?
Officer Ness: Dispatch just came back that he has a bench warrant from State Court.
Aspasia: That court is for misdemeanors like traffic tickets?
Officer Ness: Correct.
Aspasia: So isn’t that why he ran, because he couldn’t pay for a ticket?
Officer Ness: Possibly. I have a duty to enforce the warrants though. If you have a problem with your courts blame your elected judges, mayors, and politicians. People always blame us, but I can’t turn a blind eye to an active warrant. If this had been your father or brother I probably would’ve let them go.
Aspasia: I don’t think you would have.
Officer Ness: Why?
Aspasia: My father didn’t surrender at Khe-Sanh, he won’t surrender to you. That makes me scared for him.
Officer Ness: Keep my card, call me if you ever need anything.
Aspasia: I’ll send you my video tomorrow.
Dialogue of Aspasia
By Joshua Brownlee
Visit us at: andresbrownlee.com