September 3, 2014
What to do when stopped by the police?
Ooowee! It was Thursday 12:15 a.m. when I looked at the time while pulling over from the left lane to the curve on the right side of the street. I was driving my SUV, just leaving a wonderful dinner and social event in Shaker Heights. With the police car right behind me, flashing their lights, I asked myself that famous question, “What did I do?” While driving, I was listening to one of my favorite up-tempo gospel songs, “Jesus Can Work It Out.” And as I turned off, the music I started praying at the same time asking Jesus to work it out for whatever I was being stopped for. This bishop, pastor, community leader, household name I’m told in the Greater Cleveland community and even this police chaplain became up-tight because even, as a police chaplain counseling and praying with police officers and their families, I also know they are human and I also know there are bad officers as well as good officers. But what made me up-tight was that I know on their hip, they carry a gun. I’d rather be judged by twelve than carried by six and I wanted and hoped this officer and his partner was one of the good ones. Sitting in my SUV, I began in my mind to remember all the things I’ve told young Black males to do and not do when stopped by a police officer as they ran a check on my license plates. I knew that my police chaplain badge was in the glove compartment with the registration and title to the vehicle but I was not going to even mention I was a Police Chaplain. Also in the glove compartment were my auto insurance papers and I had no weapon in the car. I was so clean that I squeaked but I was praying that these were the good guys. While sitting and waiting for the officer to approach my vehicle, I remember a movie where a Black women had just be robbed and, as she screamed, a man ran up to her out of uniform and said, “Don’t worry I’m a police officer” and the women yelled louder, “HELP, I’m really in trouble.” Looking out my rear view mirror another police car pulled up, I could feel the sweat on my forehead as I asked myself, “What did I do?” I started asking the questions to myself, “Was I driving over the speed limit? Did I run the light or a stop sign?” I knew I was not talking on my cell phone I told myself. What did I do and why is it taking so long for the officer to approach my car? The officer got out his car with another officer on the right side getting out as well. The officer on the passenger side approached very slowly with his one hand on his weapon as the other officer approached my open driver’s side window. With both of my hands on the steering wheel in view for the officer to see, he asked me, “Why are you going so fast sir? Where are you coming from and going? And may I see your driver’s license and registration to this vehicle. Politely answering the officers questions, letting him know that my license was under the seat in my wallet I slowly moved to get it he continued letting me know I was driving ten over the speed limit. I didn’t respond nor ask the officer any questions but let him take charge and totally let him feel he was in control of this situation. The officer continued, “Well I see that your seat belt is on and that’s good at least.”
The officer looked at my license stating, “Looks like I’ve seen you somewhere.” I didn’t respond as he continued to look at the Registration, Title papers and the papers showing I had full Coverage Insurance. “I’m impressed that everything is in order and how you handled this situation so I’m just going to give you a warning Mr. Moultry but slow down a little.” When the officer said my name, the other officer who on the other side of my vehicle responded, “Man, this is the, Bishop, Bishop Moultry. He’s on TV all the time and he’s a police chaplain.” Ooowee! Driving while Black is no joke, no matter who you are and what title you have. As I drove off as both officers said their good-bys to me I put back on the song, “Jesus Can Work it out” and thanked him for doing just that.
Check out the bishop on Face Book or Twitter under Bishop Prince J. Moultry or The Singing Bishop.