Bridging the Gap between Community & Law Enforcement Relations
As one who grew up in a city where community and law enforcement were not friends, I got to see firsthand the fear individuals faced as the police road through our neighborhoods.
Unlike many children who were taught, if you see a police officer go up and shake his hand. We were taught to run and run for your dear lives. They are not your friends. They will tell you to sit down, shut up and call you every name but your name all the while using racial epithets to describe you while taking off to jail.
Growing up, I heard the stories my mom and dad shared of maltreatment and police brutality of people of color, of the dog bites, water hoses, lynching’s and other horrific killings.
As a young child, I remember my mom crying and screaming, “No Lord!” as she peered out the living window telling a police officer to stop kicking a young black man who was up against our fence. Seeing my mother’s tears, screams and fear in her eyes only solidified the horrors she experienced in her lifetime.
These stories and more made it difficult to understand why my mother would call the police after my two brothers were robbed outside of our home. In an instant, all the stories I heard, began to race through my mind and all I could say was, “No!” as my mother dialed 911.
I stood beside my mother as the police officer, a young Caucasian male, walked through the door. My mother escorted him to our dinner table and offered him something to drink. He listened to my brothers tell their account of the incident. He made no promises, but closed with, “We will do everything we can to find the people who did this.”
As he got ready to walk out of the house, he shock everyone’s hands. When he shock mine, it was at that moment I felt a transference of power so to speak, as if he were passing the torch onto me. After he left, I looked at my mother and told her, “I know what I want to be when I grow up.” She said, “What’s that baby?” I said, “I want to be a police officer.” She said, “No, no baby, you want to be a nurse.”
In a twinkling of an eye, my whole view of law enforcement went out the window and the trajectory of my life had changed forever. I wanted to do what he had done, changed lives for the better.
Needless to say, I didn’t become a nurse my momma wanted. I’ve dedicated my life servicing others, as a veteran police officer helping, having a radio show host that focused on bridging the gap between community and law enforcement relations, by bringing them together at a round table of peace.
You see, it is possible for community and law enforcement to not only be friends, but to work together collectively, to see things as the community sees it and to address the problems that impact them because every community is not the same.
You just have to be willing to just listen without judgement.
Listen to the heart of those who need you the most. We are not the enemy. This is a not we verses them mentality.
One person’s wrongs does not reflect the whole community.
We just want to live peacefully just like you.
A community will have your back if they know you are not trying to shoot them in theirs.
It’s time to right the wrongs of the past. It’s possible. It starts with communication. A willingness to hear it from both sides.
Will there be pain at first? Absolutely! But as you talk, you begin to heal.
“For blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
Edie Darling – Ambassador of Peace