Given the negative image of police officers these days, I thought it was important to highlight the good work our local police can do.

I attended the theater last Saturday night with 12 young adults from around the globe. One young man, Richard, had lost his phone just as I picked him up, and he was in a panic. We tried calling the phone from his friend Jean Pierre’s line, but no one answered.

At the end of the play, Jean Pierre received a call from Richard’s phone. He handed it to me, and I realized it was Portland police Officer Jakob Demchak. He said the phone had been turned in by a taxi driver, so the officer redialed the last number called. He told us he would have his blue lights on steady and waited for us in the Back Cove parking lot to return the phone.

These young men of color were shocked. Coming from countries where police are corrupt, they found themselves here, where they heard only negative stories of police conduct, especially toward people of color. I introduced them to Officer Demchak, took pictures and everyone shook hands. All they could say was, “Wow!” They talked more about that experience than about the theater.

Officer Demchak was kind, polite and professional. Richard had thought he would never see his phone again. Afterward, we discussed the meaning of stereotyping – to understand that kindness or helpfulness is not genetic and that members of any one group are not the same.

Officer Demchak went above and beyond. I was grateful for his example. Let us remember to treat everyone first as an individual and not judge all by some members of the group.

Rosemarie De Angelis

South Portland

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