What Cops Can Teach Christians about the Critical Use of Language
J. Warner Wallace
“Officer Stevenson, tell us what happened on October 20th at about 4:30 p.m.” The officer on the witness stand spoke directly into the microphone. He began to answer the prosecutor’s question without glancing at the jury. “I was dispatched to 1235 Westmont Street at approximately 1634 hours in response to a 415 Family. Once I was 97, I contacted the RP. She was concerned about the assailant being 5150. I requested the 10-20 of unit 503 and ran a 29 while I was waiting.”
Sitting at the prosecution table, I watched the facial expressions of the jury. I knew most of them had had no idea what Officer Stevenson said. The district attorney recognized the problem. “Can you try to say that in English, Officer Stevenson?” he asked.
“Sorry about that. I got the call from our radio dispatcher at about 4:34 p.m. The dispatcher told me there was a family disturbance of some kind at 1235 Westmont Street. When I got there, the woman who originally called us met me at the door and told me her boyfriend was violent. She was afraid he was mentally ill. I asked the dispatch operator for the location of the nearest additional police unit so I wouldn’t have to go into the house alone. While I waited for my back-up, I asked the dispatcher to run the woman’s boyfriend in our computer system to see if he had any warrants for his arrest.”
Stevenson’s first statement reminded me of some of my Christian police partners back when I was an obstinate atheist. There weren’t many outspoken Christians in my department, and the few I knew seemed to have a language all their own. I wasn’t raised in the church, and I didn’t become interested in Christianity until I was thirty-five, so I was unfamiliar with the words my friend Dennis used when he first talked to me about Christianity…
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