When Kids and Cops Pay Uno
“I don’t like cops. Why are they here?”
I’ve heard these words every Thursday for the past few months. When the big, intimidating, fully uniformed Dallas Police Department comes in, the students get a little bit nervous.
So, why are the police at Incarnation House?
As part of their new partnership with us, officers from our district have started hanging out at Incarnation House on Thursdays to build relationships with the kids and help heal wounds and misconceptions.
“Listen,” I replied to the students’ complaint last week, “They are probably just as intimidated as you are. They aren’t used to letting their guard down and they probably have no idea how to start a conversation with a bunch of teenagers. Just give it ten minutes and it will be fine.”
Sure enough, just ten minutes later there is laughter emanating from the tables and I look over to see the kids playing multiple games of Uno with the cops. One of the students comes back up to me in the kitchen with a big smile on her face. Without provocation she says,
“I really like those cops at my table. We are having great conversation!”
I knew it would turn out this way. As the police officers and the students let down their guard, as they become stories and people rather than just figures of conflict, barriers are being broken down. The change between the police force and the inner city community is happening right before my eyes.
And it is the best view of reconciliation that I have seen in a while.