Imagining a Better Way
Imagine this. Imagine that you're driving your car home from a party. Your boyfriend is in the passenger seat. Your five-year-old son is in the backseat, sleeping in a booster seat. Imagine that you get pulled over by a police officer because you made an improper turn without signaling. During a routine check the police officer realizes that you are driving with a suspended license and takes you into custody. Imagine that the police officer hands your boyfriend the keys to the car and tells him to drive to the police station.
Imagine that your boyfriend has a blood alcohol level three times the legal limit. He doesn't go to the police station. 40 minutes after being pulled over he crashes the car into a tree less than half a mile from home and kills your son. He walks away from the accident unharmed.
Now imagine that you're a Chicago Heights police officer. You've been a police officer for two years. You pull a car over for something routine, run the plates, and realize that the driver is driving with a suspended license. You arrest the driver and put the keys to the car in the passenger's hand. You don't notice that he has enough alcohol in his system to impair every single one of his motor, cognitive and perceptual skills.
Imagine that he crashes that car, killing the innocent five-year-old boy in the backseat.
Now, let's all imagine for one minute that someone, anyone, did the right thing in this situation. The woman tells the police officer that her boyfriend is drunk; the boyfriend tells the police officer that he's had too much to drink; the police officer notices the obvious and calls a cab instead of having an intoxicated passenger take over. The boy is still alive.
It's too late for that, so instead let's imagine that at this point in time someone does the right thing. What does that look like? Well, right now the mother is filing a lawsuit against the city of Chicago Heights and its police department, the boyfriend is being held on $500,000 bond and will undoubtedly spend time in prison, and the Chicago Heights Chief of Police is exonerating the police officer of any wrong-doing. Everyone is looking to pass the blame to someone else. No one wants to take responsibility for this, and with good reason. Who wants the blood of a five-year-old child on their hands? But everyone is responsible. Each person had a role in this tragedy.Continued on the next page