As a child who'd just learned to read, I looked over at the police car from the back seat of my mom and dad's lime-green Maverick.
The officer inside seemed dignified and imposing. The shiny black-and-white vehicle with its bar of lights atop seemed equally imposing. I'd seen many police shows on TV and had come to hold officers in fearful respect.
Then my eyes moved to a quote on the back quarter panel of the officer's car: "To Serve and to Protect."
It was an epiphany. To serve?! Officers had to serve us?! I never looked at officers the same after that moment. I realized in some youthful understanding that officers were not just our protectors, but also our servants, rightfully speaking -- that they got their right to protect from my parents and eventually from me.
In America, the motto was first used by the Los Angeles Police Department in 1955 after it ran a contest for the best motto for its police to use. It was adopted nationally by PDs soon afterward.
It should be the motto on the walls of Congress and the front door of the White House. It should be touched each day by legislators and the president. It should replace the ugly motto "in god we trust."
Officials are our servants, our protectors of individual rights. We are not the servants of police or government officials. It's high time the American public understands this fully and puts these jackals in their proper place.