My father shined a flashlight into a police officer's eyes and told him to do his job

Tracey Folly

*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand; used with permission.

When we lived in the city, there were three young men who lived across the street from us. They were brothers, and they were drug dealers. Believe me, you didn't want to live near a drug dealer back then because their customers made so much noise. I think things are quieter now, but I'm not sure. We've since moved out of the city.

My family didn't object to their chosen profession; it wasn't any of our business. We objected to the noise. They wouldn't let us get any sleep, especially on hot summer nights when we tried to sleep with the windows open.

All night long, all we heard was car horns honking and front doors slamming. A customer would pull up in front of the neighbor's house and honk the horn until one of the three brothers came outside with the product, slamming the door behind him.

When my parents couldn't fall asleep, my father would open the window that looked out onto the street and shout at the drug dealers, who would shout back. Now we had car horns, door slams, and shouting to contend with.

I was only a little girl at the time; I wanted my sleep. After all, I had to get up early the next morning and head off to elementary school while the young men across the street would be nestled snug in their beds, sound asleep.

It wasn't fair to keep us up all night. I could understand my father's preoccupation with the noise. He had to work early in the morning, too.

Calling the police did nothing. They couldn't or wouldn't respond.

My father decided to fight the noise with light. He bought a police tactical flashlight and hung his upper body out the living room window every night, shining the beam of his new flashlight into the face of everyone who appeared on the street.

The folks across the street didn't seem to mind. They were focused on making money, and nothing would stop them, not even my father's flashlight. Nothing would stand in their way.

On a hot summer night, my father was shining his flashlight out our window at a drug deal as usual when a police officer drove by and kept on driving. My father was very upset that the officer hadn't paid attention to the neighbor's transaction.

The following night, he brought his flashlight outside. He stood on the sidewalk, and the next time he saw a police car passing by the intersection on the main street, he shined that flashlight directly into the police officer's eyes to get his attention. It worked.

The officer slammed on the car's brakes and came looking for the source of the light, which you will remember was my father. When the officer spotted my father proudly brandishing his very own police tactical flashlight, he reprimanded him.

"You scared me," the officer said, "and you could have made me lose control of my vehicle and caused a car accident by blinding me with that light."

My father explained he was simply trying to get the police officer's attention so he could do his job and stop the drug deals "going on right under your nose," which didn't win him any points with the angry cop.

"Mind your own business, and leave the drug busting to us," the officer said, and we never saw a police officer on our street again until the night the neighbor's house burned down several years later when I was in high school.

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