The cop and the kid: Officer looks to soothe child’s fear

February 17, 2013
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Rueben Brock II tries on Officer Jonathan Miles’ hat.
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Getting ready for a ride in a police cruiser are Rueben Brock II and Officer Jonathan Miles.
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North Strabane Township police Sgt. Keith Hutter shows Rueben Brock II how fingerprints are taken.
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Rueben Brock II with Officer Jonathan Miles
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Rueben Brock II talks with a 911 dispatcher, with Officer Jonathan Miles holding the microphone.

Rueben Brock and Jonathan Miles II have been friends since childhood.

Their lives have taken different paths. Brock is an artist and educator and has even written a book, “A Young Man’s Wisdom.” Miles chose a career in law enforcement, now working as a North Strabane Township police officer after spending a few years with the Washington police department. But both would likely tell you that their most important job is that of dad.

So when Brock posted on Facebook about his 8-year-old son’s fear of police officers a few months ago, his lifelong friend offered to help.

“I sent a message to him that I’d love to try and change his son’s perception of police,” Miles said.

“It was sad to see,” Brock said of the trepidation shown by his son, Rueben Brock II, toward officers. “You tend to see police as an ally, a friend.”

“But despite my best efforts, he was still afraid,” he added. “So Jon offered to help.”

Young Rueben spent part of a Saturday afternoon with Miles and other officers on his shift. The boy even got to talk on the radio with 911 dispatchers. He also got to visit the fire department and see a LifeFlight emergency helicopter.

“I love dealing with kids, especially now that I am a parent,” Miles said. “I enjoy interacting with them.”

During the boy’s visit, Miles said he tried to tell him about the effect of a police officer on a child’s life and why officers do certain things.

“I tried to tell him not to be afraid and that officers are really there to help people,” Miles added. “I tried to share with him the good and honor of this career. I wanted to show him the personal side.”

Unfortunately, Miles said, children have to interact with police during some awful situations.

“It breaks my heart every time,” he said. “We just want to make the world a better place. We are in a unique career that allows us to have a positive influence on people who deserve it.”

Miles said he tries to reach out to children. It is not unusual to find him sitting at a lunch table with Canon-McMillan students. He usually has some stickers in his pocket to hand out to youngsters.

The weekend after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, Miles worked on a plan to improve safety at district schools.

Brock, who lost his own father when he was 7, said it upsets him when he hears people tell their children that they better be good or the police are going to come get them.

“That scares kids, and the fear trickles into their subconscious,” Brock said. “What Jon did for my son was great. I like to think my son now thinks differently when he sees an officer.”

Miles said educating the public and helping with public relations is a facet of the job he enjoys.

“I thoroughly enjoyed my day with Rueben,” Miles said. “I hope I made a difference.”

Kathie O. Warco has covered the police beat and transportation for the Observer-Reporter for more than 25 years. She graduated from Duquesne University with a degree in journalism.

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