By Yako and Krystal

July 25, 2014, 8:34 am

 

The policeman

The policeman

I would like to share a story with you about an encounter I had with the police in The Netherlands. It must have been around the time that I was 20 years old. I was studying for my MBA in Groningen, a city in the north of The Netherlands. And very much engaged in student life, I loved going out going out to bars, drinking beers with my fellow students.

One night, around 4 o’clock in the morning, we found ourselves in the main square in front of one of the city’s theaters. For some reason one of my friends tried the door of the theater and we found it unlocked! Adventurous as we were and without concern of repercussions we entered the building and started to snoop around.

There we found the main stage! What an opportunity to put up a performance and be world star actors for a night! After about 5 minutes we were bored with our mediocre improvisation play and we made our way to the exit. Once outside, we decided that all of sudden we were upstanding citizens and would inform the police of the situation. After all we would not want anybody to gain unlawful access to the premises, right?

We called the police and they arrived within 5 minutes. We explained the situation and even told them that we were inside, but did not mean any harm. The two police officers searched the building to make sure everything was ok. When all was done, they asked us where we were headed and we said jokingly that we were on our way to the beach. They joked back that they would take us there.

But then it dawned upon us that it would not be such a bad idea to sleep of the booze for a couple of hours on a beach and take a refreshing swim when we woke up. And surprisingly the police officers agreed. So what followed was a 30 minute ride in the police car to a lake not far outside the city. We had a great conversation about our lives and plans for the future and the officers wished us good luck when they dropped us of at the lake.

I’ve had other involvements with the police in The Netherlands, but every time I felt respected as a human being, even when I was completely in the wrong. Now, I don’t think that I am a particular difficult person and the police will find me a cooperative subject, but even then. They are compassionate and great at preventing situations from escalating.

Not my impression of the police here. I had only one situation here that involved the police and that was when my life was threatened. I don’t want to go into detail, but when I reported it at the precinct, there was no compassion whatsoever and they made me feel I was in the wrong. They interrogated me as if I was the criminal! They just follow a fixed procedure with a lack of sense of how to interact with a human being.

The police in New York do not interpret situations the way the police in The Netherlands is trained to do — they just uphold the law. In The Netherlands and some other countries in Europe, the focus is on preventing crime in daily operations by interacting pleasantly with citizens while patrolling their blocks. Here, I see two or three police officers hanging disengaged at a corner waiting for something to happen so they can arrest or fine someone.

I would like to end on a positive note, because I also understand that it is quite a task for the NYPD to keep a city like New York safe for us to walk the streets at night and on occasion you do find a police officer that is friendly and that you can joke with.

Let them make the first joke though, because you end up in jail before you know it.

Yako


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About The Author

Yako: Born on a farm in The Netherlands, Europe, I was always on quest for adventure. As a small boy, I was already interested in learning about other cultures and pretended I was fluent in American (I later learned that Americans speak English). At the age of 23, I traveled to South Africa where I lived for seven months to finalize my thesis for my master's in Business Administration. After that, I worked for eight years for a bank in Amsterdam, but I became restless and decided to quit my job and make the big leap across the ocean to New York. Studying arts and culture management at Pratt Institute helped me eradicate some of the prejudices I had of Americans. I never thought I would stay this long. But now eight years later, I'm still here. I live in Central Brooklyn and work for Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation with great satisfaction. So far, my life feels as if I’m on one big adventure. | Krystal: As a native of Michigan, I moved to New York with a limited perspective of the depth and importance of social differences. Having a passion for creativity, I accepted the various ideas behind expression and equality that poured out from this beautiful, diverse place called Brooklyn. After graduating from Pratt Institute in 2006 with a degree in Communications Design and barely surviving the effects of forced independence, I started an open relationship with the nonprofit world and began to willingly become my own person. Since then, I have been employed and freelance as a graphic designer, with tons of exposure to the things that fascinated me as a child. Living in two culturally different environments has granted me a faceted understanding of social norms and injustices that I feel compelled to speak on. Though visual art and design have been my concentrations since grade school, writing and sharing thoughts socially has been my core calling. In keeping my promise to my parents, I have finally decided to write for social impact. Standing up for my truth while seeking and discovering the truths of others is the way in which I've chosen to take that on. So far, I've discovered that the most direct route to societal improvements begins with the coupling of self-awareness and humility.

Yako: Born on a farm in The Netherlands, Europe, I was always on quest for adventure. As a small boy, I was already interested in learning about other cultures and pretended I was fluent in American (I later learned that Americans speak English). At the age of 23, I traveled to South Africa where I lived for seven months to finalize my thesis for my master's in Business Administration. After that, I worked for eight years for a bank in Amsterdam, but I became restless and decided to quit my job and make the big leap across the ocean to New York. Studying arts and culture management at Pratt Institute helped me eradicate some of the prejudices I had of Americans. I never thought I would stay this long. But now eight years later, I'm still here. I live in Central Brooklyn and work for Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation with great satisfaction. So far, my life feels as if I’m on one big adventure. | Krystal: As a native of Michigan, I moved to New York with a limited perspective of the depth and importance of social differences. Having a passion for creativity, I accepted the various ideas behind expression and equality that poured out from this beautiful, diverse place called Brooklyn. After graduating from Pratt Institute in 2006 with a degree in Communications Design and barely surviving the effects of forced independence, I started an open relationship with the nonprofit world and began to willingly become my own person. Since then, I have been employed and freelance as a graphic designer, with tons of exposure to the things that fascinated me as a child. Living in two culturally different environments has granted me a faceted understanding of social norms and injustices that I feel compelled to speak on. Though visual art and design have been my concentrations since grade school, writing and sharing thoughts socially has been my core calling. In keeping my promise to my parents, I have finally decided to write for social impact. Standing up for my truth while seeking and discovering the truths of others is the way in which I've chosen to take that on. So far, I've discovered that the most direct route to societal improvements begins with the coupling of self-awareness and humility.

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