Saturday, 10:30 p.m., February 1, 2020, there was a series of loud knocks on our front door. We were not expecting anyone and felt rather uncomfortable. We wondered whether to ignore it or call the police. Within a few seconds, I chose the latter on speed dial. Interestingly, the police indicated that it was one of their officers at the door, and to please answer it. David obliged.
Here is the back story. An off-duty police officer from Bloomfield Township – whose name shall be withheld for a reason that will become obvious later – was on northbound I-75 in his private vehicle with his pregnant wife. They noticed a car with no lights. Because of erratic driving, it was clear to the officer that the driver behind the wheel was intoxicated, posing a potential danger to the public. Since the officer was off duty, he called the police department to alert them about it. The drunk driver got off I-75, came into our subdivision, and went southbound. The off-duty officer continued to follow him. Then, the drunk driver decided to turn around 180 degrees, presumably at the end of our driveway, but ended up in our yard instead, digging up about 25’ of snow-covered grass and dirt. From there, he sped up northbound toward the officer’s vehicle. To avoid a collision – to keep his wife and unborn child safe – the officer backed up his car, which caused him to hit our mailbox. The drunk driver kept on going, went back on I-75 southbound, and was picked up shortly thereafter by the City of Troy police. Troy is located to the east of our township.
The loud knock on our door was by the off-duty officer, who wanted to apologize for the damage he had caused and to let us know that he would replace it Monday afternoon.
He kept his promise, just as he said. First, he dug up the ground and replaced the old posts (one for our neighbor across the street, and another for us) with a new one which he made himself; he then stabilized it by pouring cement into the ground. He also replaced both mailboxes with new ones, with our street numbers affixed, by placing them on the horizontal bars of the new post.
As an immigrant who has always felt a sense of profound gratitude to the U.S.A. for its treatment of post-WWII Japan, I have been a life-long admirer of the role America’s Judeo-Christian culture has played in how it shaped its society and its relationship with the rest of the world. Consequently, for the last several years, I’ve been reading the Bible first thing every morning. My humble wish is simply to be a good person, just like those who preceded me in this country.
As I walk on the treadmill each day, the mailboxes have always been visible straight out of my home-office window. Now, they sit on what seems like a beautiful wooden cross from a distance – especially first thing in the morning when the sun shines on it from the east. It was made by the off-duty officer who cared enough to do what he believed was the right thing to do. I cannot help but think that this turn of event was more than a coincidence – to keep faith in the future of the U.S.A., despite the many disconcerting trends that began manifesting themselves during the last few decades both here and abroad.
This off-duty officer’s post-accident action is identical to how most people in Japan, the country of my origin, would have reacted. In other words, it does not matter if anyone saw what had happened. If you cause damage to someone else’s property, you apologize and restore it to the original condition, if not better.
Today’s America is a country where many choose not to take responsibility for the damage they cause to other’s property and pretend that nothing happened. (In fact, I’m embarrassed to admit that I’m guilty of it myself, after accidentally having scratched a parked car a few years ago. Sure, the damage was nominal but the fact that I walked away from it without leaving a note for the unknown owner makes me feel ashamed to this day. My conscience would have been clear if I had done the right thing right there and then…) And, here, a young police officer shows us how to behave responsibly in a civil society. I am humbled by his action.
In recent years, the FBI’s image has been tarnished due to the behaviors of its upper echelon, starting with James Comey, its former director. We all know that most of its agents are hard-working people who strive to do the right thing daily – just like the example of our local police officer. Yet the damage was done. It will be a long time before we begin to trust the FBI again, if ever.
Unfortunately, an equally egregious situation is being created by Bloomfield Township Supervisor and “some of his board buddies.” Here is the key point I made in my May 2019 blog: “Worse, the board is using a scare tactic by suggesting that if we refuse the proposed solution to increase taxes, then we’re putting public safety at risk. They’re doing so by dangling carrots in front of the Police and Fire Department personnel to rally around its proposed solution. In effect, they are weaponizing the Police and Fire Departments against residents, making many of us feel uncomfortable to speak out against the proposed solution. No one wants to make enemies of the police officers and firefighters, and the board knows it. This is tyranny in the making.” Much like the case of the FBI, this is a clear example of abuse of power by the top echelon of our local government.
I hope that this young officer (or someone like him), who clearly understands right from wrong, becomes our Chief of Police in the near future – before Bloomfield Township becomes bankrupt like the City of Detroit or the butt of a joke like Enron. I believe his ascension is entirely possible so long as he remains strong and courageous to right the wrong – of fraudulent activities, using taxpayer funds – which continues to be perpetrated by those in power above him.
In the U.S.A., our form of government is of the people, by the people, and for the people. This means those who work in government, all the way up to the President of the United States of America, are being paid by us, taxpayers. In other words, we – the taxpayers, and not institutional superiors – are their ultimate bosses. This should enable any public servants with conviction and courage to do the right thing on behalf of the people, the taxpayers, who are being wronged by fraudulent and/or incompetent government officials. Taxpayers who understand the core issues at stake will support those who right the wrong on their behalf. When public servants have the support of their ultimate bosses, the sky is the limit as to what they can accomplish on behalf of “we the people” whom they represent.
Footnote: “Public office is a privilege, not a right, and people who accept the privilege of holding office in the government must, of necessity, accept that their entire conduct should be open to inspection by the people they are serving.” Harry S. Truman
p.s. Listed, below, are historical events in the U.S.A. from this month:
- February 4, 2020: State of the Union Address by President Donald J. Trump (Starts at 27:46)
- February 5, 2020: President Trump Statement on Senate acquittal (Starts at 14:50)