Friday, September 2, 2011

Love Through Justice

Paul and Leslie had spent months looking for the new house. The kids were growing and the old house was way too small for the family. The house was set back behind the others which was just the way Paul liked it. The yard was shady and large enough for the kids to run around and play without disturbing anyone else. The neighborhood was quiet with many elderly people living in it. The lawns and houses were well kept in spite of the fact that it was an older neighbor.

Moving day was stressful, but with the help of other police officers, Paul moved the family quickly and Leslie put things away as soon as the officers brought the boxes in. By nightfall, the family was settled enough to enjoy a desperately needed peaceful nights rest.

As Paul was working in the yard the following day, he heard voices in the yard next door. He was anxious to meet the neighbors and become a good neighbor, so he walked over and introduced himself. "Hello, my name is Paul. My family and I just moved in next door."

Paul saw a petite blonde woman of about 20, who was more than attractive. She was friendly and personable. She introduced herself as Janet and her husband as Curtis. Her husband was considerably older, about the same age as Paul. He was covered with tattoos, with ears pierced and had shaved his head. He looked like Mr. Clean with tattoos. He was in great physical shape and had the physique of a body builder. His silence and glower at Paul spoke volumes and was a stark contrast to his classy, friendly wife. He wasn't disrespectful or openly angry, just cold and distant. It wasn't the first time Paul had seen the look. He had been a police officer long enough to know that some people didn't like the office he represented and learned a long time ago not to take it personally.

Paul knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that God had called him to be a police officer. He worked hard to show the balance of God's love and justice. The residents knew him to be polite, friendly and helpful. In Paul's mind that was just the way a Christian police officer ought to be. After meeting the neighbor, Paul went back in the house and got down on his knees before the Lord. "Lord, please help me to show your love to this man. He gives the appearance that he doesn't know you. Please use me in any way possible. Amen."

Paul and Leslie both liked Janet immediately. Leslie sent a batch of cookies over to her each time she baked them for the family. Leslie confided to Paul that Curtis made her nervous. Paul told her to follow all the safety procedures that he had taught her and everything should be fine. Besides, the police station was less than a mile away.

Paul was in the middle of watching a football game on television when he heard the yelling. It was a gruff, angry voice. He stepped to the door and looked outside. Even though Curtis and Janet's house was next door, Paul and Leslie's house was set back far enough from the street that from his front door, Paul could see their backyard. He saw Curtis standing over Janet, berating her unmercifully. He was not physically abusive, but his demeanor, stance and voice were certainly scary. Paul looked at Janet and saw the resemblance of a frightened puppy. He made a mental note to watch out for her.

As soon as he had time, Paul looked through the police files to see if Curtis had a record and found that he had been picked up several times for minor drug possession, but nothing major. Then Paul ordered a profile created on Curtis. "The profiled shows that he has many characteristics of a bully, which means if backed into a corner, he wouldn't fight, but enjoys intimidating others." The profiler told Paul. Janet was just the type Curtis would pick on. She was small, mild mannered, and forgiving. Paul determined that he would not allow Curtis to hurt her.

Paul began making it a point to 'work in the yard' when Curtis was home. He also invented reasons to visit their house. Curtis never allowed him to come in the house. When Paul was working late, Leslie would send him reports. One day when Curtis wasn't home, Paul saw Janet out in the yard and asked for her cell phone number to check on her. He gave her the number to his private cell phone and that of Leslie's. He noticed that she saved it in her contacts, but did not assign names to the numbers.

After that day, Paul and Janet talked about once a week on their way to work. Paul could usually tell by her voice how things were going. Leslie made it a point to call Janet on her lunch hour. The couple was committed to Janet and worked together to ensure her safety.

One evening as Leslie arrived home from the grocery store, she heard a lot of noise coming from Curtis and Janet's house. She listened, trying to determine the source. She could hear Curtis yelling, although she couldn't tell what he was saying. It was obvious from the tone that he was angry. Then she heard noise like something hitting wood. Taking out her cell phone, she called Paul and described the situation. "Go in the house and don't come back out no matter what happens." Paul told her.

It wasn't long before Leslie saw Paul's squad car pass in front of their house. She was sure he was at Curtis and Janet's house. She was praying for the safety of everyone involved when she heard the noise from next door get louder. She looked outside to see several police cars lining the street. She recognized Officer Murray's voice as he yelled "Drop the weapon. Drop your weapon, now." She saw that the incident had moved to the backyard. She and the kids did what Paul had taught and hid with several walls between them and the exterior walls. They were huddled together when they heard the gunfire. All the children started crying. "Daddy, Daddy. I want Daddy." Leslie tried to comfort them as much as possible, but was just as anxious to see if Paul was alright. This was the first time they had been this close to his work.

In just a few minutes, Leslie heard her front door open and Paul's voice calling her. With relief she went to hug him. Standing beside him was a tear streaked Janet. "Please take care of her while we finish up our work." He told Leslie.

"Would you like to go to the bathroom and wash your face?" She asked Janet. As soon as Janet was out of earshot, she asked Paul for an update.

"We found Curtis in the back room standing over Janet with pistol in hand. He refused to surrender, ran outside with the pistol, then turned and took aim at Beck. Murray shot him before he got off a shot. Now we just need to do the paperwork and take care of Janet."

"You take care of the paperwork and I'll take care of Janet."

Janet made it through the funeral with the help of many police officers. She began attending counseling and church. Within a few weeks, she had made a profession of faith in the Lord. Janet knew her life had changed and would always be grateful that one officer knew how to balance the love of God and justice.
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