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MITCHELL: A happy surprise when I got pulled over by a white cop

Mary Mitchell. | Rich Hein / Sun-Times

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When the sleek, white Corvette blew past me going waaay over the 70 miles-an-hour speed limit, I followed like a dog after a squirrel.

Then, I saw the dark-colored Dodge Dart with flashing blue lights in my rear-view mirror and pulled off the highway. The Corvette had pulled over ahead of me.

“Ma’am, I clocked you at 92 miles per hour back there,” said the uniformed officer, who was with a police department from a small town outside Atlanta. “Is there any reason you were going so fast?”

“No, sir,” I said sheepishly, already fumbling for my driver’s license.

Meanwhile, the driver of the Corvette, a young, white woman, had gotten out of her car.

When the police officer waved her off, I laughed at how quickly she scrambled back into her vehicle and sped away.

OPINION

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Dark thoughts crossed my mind. Why is he letting her go? Why isn’t she getting a ticket, too? This just ain’t right.

The police officer, who didn’t look even 30 years old, waited patiently as I dug through a purse loaded with travel debris.

When I finally handed over the license, the officer went back to his squad car. A few minutes later, he came back. Then, he did a surprising thing.

“I never do this, but I’m going to let you go if you promise to drive carefully,” he said. “I’ll help you merge back onto the highway.”

I was stunned.

The last thing I expected was to drive away without facing a hefty fine.

At a time when deadly interactions between white police officers and black Americans are sparking protests across the country, it’s easy to ignore the fact that most police officers do their jobs in a professional, courteous and fair manner.

A new New York Times/CBS News poll — conducted after the killing of five police officers in Dallas — found that when it comes to policing, Americans are sharply divided by race.

“While most white Americans think their local police are doing good job and make them feel safe, 57 percent of black Americans rate their local police as either fair (34%) or poor (23%) ad nearly half of black Americans say their local police make them feel mostly anxious,” the poll found.

Additionally, “54 percent of whites were surprised by the Dallas sniper attack, but a slight majority of blacks, 52 percent were not,” according to the poll.

Closing this gap is the most pressing domestic concern facing whichever presidential candidate winds up in the White House.

While Hillary Clinton seems up to the task — based on her sentiments, at least — Donald Trump is shockingly clueless.

“Even against me the system is rigged,” Trump told Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly.

In a speech in Springfield on Wednesday, Clinton urged whites to put themselves “in the shoes of African Americans and Latinos when it comes to policing.

“Try as best we can to imagine what it would be like if we had to have ‘the talk’ with our kids about how carefully they need to act because the slightest wrong move could get them hurt or killed,” she said.

The massacre of five white police officers in Dallas shows that blacks need to put themselves in the shoes of white officers as well.

That’s what happened when the white police officer stopped me.

I was wrong. It didn’t matter that someone else was wrong, too. I was the one who got caught.

As a result of this police officer’s professional and courteous attitude, I was able to pull back onto the highway in a calm state.

Most of all, I’m grateful that this police officer was able to walk in my shoes.

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