Ray Essa is a police officer in Dearborn, Michigan.
When I was 14 years old I was shot hanging out in my uncle’s gas station. A Detroit police officer rode with me in the ambulance to the hospital and they stayed with me the whole time. That left a big imprint on my heart.
At first my mom was scared when I said I wanted to join the police force. I explained to her, “Mom it’s not what you see on TV. I’d be helping the community.”
Nowadays, policing is totally different. You need to get the community involved. Back in the day, people thought they were invincible when they wore a badge. That’s gone. Nowadays, I’m going to respect you 150 percent and I expect the same.
I’m not going to call you out. I’m not going to disrespect you. I’m not going to pull you over for no reason. In my opinion, respect starts from home. Kids learn, they’re like a sponge. They learn everything from when they’re first born till they’re five years old. If they don’t learn respect—whether it’s your aunt and uncle, your grandmother, police officer—they are not going to have respect.