What's your first reaction when you see a police officer on the street?
Do you go and thank her like a returning war hero? Run over and make sure he isn't writing you a parking ticket (don't do that -- that's a different city department that writes those)? Wonder if there's been a crime committed nearby?
Most of us in German Village greet the police as friends ... because they are.
Why am I thinking about this now?
Time Magazine's The Awesome Column had a piece last month dedicated to the police-civilian relationship. It's pithy and it's based on a new study that shows a program in LA, called "Coffee with a Cop" that is making real headway in bolstering those relationships.
Coffee with a Cop, the researchers said, is not only helping citizens have a higher opinion of cops -- even residents of "bad neighborhoods" -- but the police officers leave the events with a huge morale boost. Not a bad investment in your cup of joe.
For more than a decade now, the Civic Relations Committee of German Village Society has been hosting a monthly Police Luncheon on the last Thursday of the month. Jerry Glick has taken on the planning and leadership role for that sit-down for the past several years.
It is a chance for people from throughout the South Side to gather face-to-face with 6-15 uniformed police officers from the 11th Precinct.
The Society buys the police lunch and residents get a chance to ask their questions directly of officers. And of the commander, who is usually in attendance, which is uber cool.
I've heard the officers talk about "their neighborhood" and mean it. They are us -- and they are just as interested as we are in keeping this a neighborhood with safe streets and low crime rates.
And the fact that they put their life on the line for us hour after hour makes the camaraderie portion of this relationship even more special.
When I sat in the March Police Luncheon, the commander was making the point that no matter why you call 911, the officer that responds is in danger.
A neighbor quarrel could escalate. A bike burglar might be high on drugs. A car thief may be part of a gang.
One of the stories Jerry loves to tell (and that I like to retell as though it's my own) is how one of the officers often says: "You know how we know who the 'persons of suspicion' are in German Village? Anyone who isn't walking a dog probably doesn't live here!"
They know us. They get us. And we are in their debt.
German Village Society Director Shiloh Todorov submitted the Village notebook column.