PHOENIX — After a man’s Facebook post about his recent encounter with a Tucson Police Department officer went viral, he took the opportunity to thank the officers for dealing with the situation in a non-aggressive manner.
On Tuesday, Steven Hildreth, Jr., an author and National Guard veteran from Arizona, posted on Facebook about his encounter with a Tucson Police Department officer during a traffic stop.
Hildreth, who is African-American, said he was asked if he had any weapons on him after an officer pulled him over for a broken headlight.
“Yes, sir,” he wrote in the Facebook post, in response to the officer’s question. “I’m a concealed carry permit holder and my weapon is located on my right hip. My wallet is in my back-right pocket.”
Hildreth explained the officer asked to retrieve the weapon during the stop for both of their safety and he then complied.
In order to unholster the weapon, the Facebook post read, Hildreth needed to step out of the vehicle. When he stepped out of the vehicle slowly, he said, the officer did not give him a hard time and even complimented on one of his gun accessories.
One of the officers realized Hildreth’s registration card was out of date and went back to run his license. When they came back, the officers returned with an exchange that would typically be deemed unusual between African-American men and police officers.
“Because you were cool with us and didn’t give us grief, I’m just going to leave it at a verbal warning,” the Facebook post read, in regard to the officer’s comment. “Get that headlight fixed as soon as possible.”
Hildreth explained that as a “black man wearing a hoodie and strapped,” he should not have made it out of that exchange alive because police are “allegedly out to kill minorities.”
“(But) maybe, just maybe, that notion is bunk,” the Facebook post read. “Maybe if you treat police officers with respect, they will do the same to you.”
Hildreth went on to thank the officers and the department as a whole for their professional contact.
“Police officers are people, too,” the Facebook post read. “By far and large, most are good people and they’re not out to get you.”
At the end of the post, Hildreth said he hopes this positive exchange between a minority citizen and a law enforcement official can lead to change in communities worldwide.
“We talk so much about the bad apples who shouldn’t be wearing a badge,” the Facebook post read. “I’d like to spread the word about an example of men who earned their badges and exemplify what that badge stands for.”