Another Closet

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I was in uniform and walking to a meeting when a citizen yelled, "You effing pig!" at me.

Two things:

1. 99 percent of the people who meet me on the street do not call me an "effing pig." Even when I meet people who I've arrested, they usually tell me that they're doing well and express pleasure that orange is no longer the new black.

2. I used to wear a non-descript jacket over my uniform when I walked from meeting to meeting, but lately, I've started to wear my uniform openly in public.

I guess you could say I was coming out of the closet as a peace officer. Now, I'm pretty comfortable coming out. I've told my straight friends that I'm gay, and I've told my agnostic friends that I'm Catholic. And I've told my friends who hate children that I am a Dad.


But I found that I was still withholding. When people asked what I do for a living, I was reluctant to disclose. In the 21st-century, telling people that I work in law enforcement is something of a buzz kill. Worse, unlike my gayness, my copness is a chosen lifestyle.

I'm not saying that the reputation of peace officers is completely undeserved. We all know about Rodney King, and just last week six cops were indicted. I want to be careful to say that I don't know whether they are guilty. Not for me to decide. But a lot of people just assume that women and men who wear a badge are somewhat untrustworthy and automatically guilty.

I'm here to take back my reputation. Twenty years ago, I swore an oath to serve mankind, and I meant it. That day I started wearing a badge as a symbol of public trust.  

The star has seven points on it. Cops in San Francisco have worn this seven-pointed star for more than a century. Ever wonder why seven? Not six or eight?  These seven points symbolize the seven virtues, and that includes fortitude and honor.

I'd like the chance to earn back that honor.

With a Perspective, this is Kevin Fisher-Paulson.

Kevin Fisher-Paulson is a captain with the San Francisco Sheriffs' Department and manages its Community Engagement programs.