Of course, I didn’t ask him that — “Excuse Me, Officer, Do You Have ADHD?” Not exactly. Especially while he was writing my traffic citation. But afterward, we chatted and I happened to mention Adult ADHD. He assumed I could somehow tell that he has it.
Let me explain.
Neighborhood merchants have been complaining to the police department about drivers making dangerous U-turns. The ensuing dragnet caught me.
(Who knew that turning left into a diagonal parking slot on a pokey little street constitutes a U-turn?)
At any rate, I’d never pulled this move before. Parking was tight, rain was falling, and my post-surgical gimpy foot limited the distance I could walk to the bank. But alas, that’s been my lot since the first day at parochial school: never getting away with a darn thing, even on the first attempt.
I Got A Warning. He Got A Tip.
The officer was cordial and professional. I apologized for my unwitting transgression. When he handed me a warning, my gratitude prompted me to offer him one of my books (a case is always in the trunk).
After all, I knew the greater risks of incarceration among the undiagnosed ADHD population. I’d even helped, pro bono, to edit ADHD and the Criminal Justice System: Spinning Out of Control (by Pat Hurley, a veteran law-enforcement officer, and psychologist Robert Eme).
Tragic escalations can take place when police officers don’t realize the person they’ve stopped has ADHD—or do not understand what ADHD means.
“By the way, do you know about Adult ADHD?” I asked him. And before I could say, “I’d like to give you a book that might prove helpful on the job,” he responded, “Know about ADHD? I have ADHD. Diagnosed 12 years ago by Dr. X.”
I knew about Dr. X, a kindly psychiatrist who was a local pioneer in treating ADHD. He’d died recently, at age 72, in a tragic motorcycle accident.
“Lots of Cops Have ADHD, You Know”
In that psychiatrist’s obituary, I mentioned to the officer, his daughter said that her dad would sometimes lose his focus on the windy mountain road near their home and underestimate a turn. Reading it, I remember wondering if the doc had ADHD himself.
“I love riding motorcycles, too,” this officer said, with a big smile. “Lots of police officers have ADHD, you know.”
“But how did you know I have ADHD?” he said. “Can you tell just by looking at me?”
Not at all, I told him. I mentioned it solely in the context of his work, that he might find the knowledge helpful. Then I handed him a copy of my first book: Is It You, Me, or Adult A.D.D.?
“You know,” he continued, eyeing the book’s cover, “I’m 56 and have never been married. I was engaged once but it didn’t work out. Relationships just don’t work for me.”
“Maybe it’s not you, maybe it’s the ADHD.,” I said.
Of course, I couldn’t give him the book, he pointed out. We might be accused of bribery! Yet, I felt sure it would offer him some answers and, I hoped, some solutions. He accepted a bookmark. Then, noticing another illegal maneuver a few yards away, continued keeping our streets safe from the scofflaw likes of me.
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