Re: Police policies
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Sun, 6 Jun 2021 15:00:04 -0700 (PDT)
> On Jun 6, 2021, at 7:50 AM, Maggie McGovern via Cohousing-L <cohousing-l [at] 
>> wrote:
> Thank you Liz and Sharon for sharing. The confusion around when to use 
> authority seems to be a theme. I appreciate all the examples! Wow! I’ve been 
> writing funny cohousing skits (really as therapy haha) and some of these 
> stories are inspiring. 

People have very different ideas about what calling the police means. For some 
it seems to be equivalent of calling in the gestapo and forever branding a 
person as an undesirable. They equate a police visit with a threats, bullying, 
and physical violence. Harassment.

Calling the police about loud music, unruly parties, barking dogs, incessant 
car alarms, etc. is viewed as causing trouble — and you are the trouble and you 
are a reprehensible busybody who hates anyone having fun. Your mission in life 
is starting wars with normal people.

On the other hand the police often prefer that you call them because it leads 
to fewer confrontations between neighbors that fester into a continuing 
discord, and worse. Contrary to Hollywood, officers can be very effective with 
teenaged boys because they talk “man to man.” 

My students who were policemen in NYC were very sensitive about cultural 
differences and considered themselves to be peacekeepers not law enforcers. In 
fact they spent much less time studying the law than in things like crowd 
control, street behavior, and defusing family arguments.

One of my favorite quotes from a police officer: Working holidays is the worst. 
That’s when families get together and start killing each other. 

 Their concern was keeping things peaceful — meaning keeping don’t do anything 
that will make a situation worse. And that didn’t mean looking around for a law 
a person had broken so they could be arrested.

But it’s impossible to convince the gestapo committed that police officers are 
most often helpful and not out to make an arrest. My son the police officer 
said an arrest is not advisable. All that paperwork. And going to court to 

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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