A video has surfaced very recently of Sergeant Ericson of the Elgin Police department interacting with a group of young automotive enthusiasts in the parking lot of a Taco Bell.
This video of the interaction has been gaining a lot of traction over the last day. It’s not because people are outraged– it is the exact opposite. The officer is addressing a group of people that are in violation of Taco Bell’s no loitering policy and the Elgin Police were called to enforce the law. It is in the respectable manner that the law was upheld that is gaining traction with the masses.
We don’t typically post this type of content on The Chicago Traveler– but for me this hits home. I became rooted in the automotive scene at the young age of 15 and I found myself standing in the parking lot of a Taco Bell multiple times a week. I will say that I find it strange how Taco Bell seems to be the official unofficial car meet venue across the nation. I’ve been to multiple Taco Bells in multiple states to chat about cars.
For me personally, I have rarely had any negative experiences when it comes to police intervening in our plans. Yes, some officers are a lot more raw and it ruined our moods to the point where we would talk smack (among ourselves, not to the officer) for a few minutes to blow off steam, then regroup in a more acceptable spot.
This video is a prime display of an Elgin Police officer respectably enforcing the law– and also it seems like an reenactment of many of the scenarios that I have found myself in.
Here is a breakdown of how Sergeant Ericson of the Elgin Police Department completely nailed handling this situation.
1) He makes himself personable.
Right away at the beginning of the video Sergeant Ericson is comfortably leaning against the grill guard of his cruiser. He is in a non-threatening stance with an assertive, yet relaxed voice. This is a non-violent scenario, so there is no need for immense authority.
At one point, someone even waves to the camera and says “Hi, Mom”– Sergeant Ericson then looks at the camera and waves before returning to addressing the group without even missing a beat. He is personal, not intimidating since there is no need to be.
This may be the first time that some of these teenagers have ever been in a situation where the police have showed up. Sergeant Ericson showed these kids that just because an officer is in uniform doesn’t mean that they aren’t a human.
2) He uses this opportunity to teach a lesson.
He informs the group that they need to leave, but not to be foolish and break traffic laws as they leave. That will cause them to be fined. He even states, “I don’t want to be that guy. I didn’t like speeding tickets when I was a kid– I really don’t want to give them to young kids that are just having fun.”
This gives the group something to connect with– speed behind the wheel. Many grew up the same way; engaging in shenanigans and learning life lessons. I have met a surprising amount of police officers that are deeply rooted in the automotive scene.
Police officers aren’t fun suckers; they just want you to be respectful and responsible.
Sergeant Ericson uses this as an opportunity to connect with the youth in the community and assist them in reaching the same level that the Elgin Police Force is on. He could have just showed up, flipped cherries, yelled until everyone left– but no. He respected them and in return they displayed respect. Which comes to my next point.
3) Respect is returned.
Sergeant Ericson states, “I’d rather come here and treat you like adults”. This is precisely what everyone needs to keep in mind. Respect is given where it is deserved. Act like an adult, cooperate, use common sense and if you have something to debate– do it in a calm and intelligent manner. You don’t want people to disrespect and freak out on you, don’t expect to do it to a police officer or anyone else without repercussions. Rather than the majority of these kids having animosity towards the Elgin Police Force, they may see them in a little brighter color. After all, the police were just the messengers. It is Taco Bell’s policy of no loitering.
4) Some officers truly want to connect with the community that they are serving.
I mentioned earlier that I have met officers that have also been automotive enthusiasts. I’ve stood in parking lots and have had intelligent mechanical conversations with people in uniforms– which can be rare to find anyone these days that have deep mechanical knowledge.
At one point Sergeant Ericson asks if anyone has questions. A young man speaks up and asks how fast the police cruisers go. He replied, “They suck. But, I drove better cars when I was younger.” He later goes more into detail and regains a little bit of dignity for his heavy cruiser. His response though made the group laugh– that is the purest form of connection that you can have with someone.
The rest of the video Sergeant Ericson recaps that no more loitering and being respectful is all that he request. “I want to be on the same team”, it coined multiple times in this video and that is precisely what the public and the police force needs to keep in mind. Both need to work in unison to keep the community progressing in harmony.
The video ends with the man behind the camera introducing himself to Sergeant Ericson and shaking his hand. Perfection.
My thoughts on the Elgin Police Department.
From a diehard automotive enthusiast, I want to sincerely thank Sergeant Ericson and the entirety of the Elgin Police department for outstanding service and being a prime example of what how to properly handle a situation. Obeying the law isn’t always fun, but following the laws doesn’t have to be boring either.
Watch the entire situation play out. What are your thoughts on how Sergeant Ericson / Elgin Police Department handled this situation? Leave your comments below.