Advertisement

Opinion | Crime, Guns, Race, Bad Cops: 11 Law Enforcement Officers Discuss


What worries you most about America?
What worries you most
about America?


“Cultural ignorance”


Desmond,


Black, Republican


“Division”


Ashley,


White, Republican


“Lack of gun control”


Kimara,


Hispanic, Democrat

One of the goals of our Times Opinion focus groups is to bring together subsets of Americans and explore assumptions that others might have — digging deeper into them, challenging them, in some cases stamping out stereotypes. In our latest group, with 11 police officers and other members of law enforcement from around the country, one assumption we had at the start was that some or all of them would see crime as the most important issue in the country. In fact, none of them did.

Many of them were more concerned with issues that, in their view, are among the root causes of crime: a loss of respect for parents, teachers, police and other authority figures in society; generational trauma in families and homes that leads to unlawful or violent behavior; a lack of mentors to deter kids from going down the wrong path; inadequate mental health care resources; and mistrust between law enforcement and communities.

Time and again, the conversation kept coming back to the humanity of those affected by crime, including, in some cases, the cops. Several told their own stories about being victims of violent crime growing up or early in their careers and how it shaped them. Several of the police officers recognized the deep mistrust that many Americans feel toward law enforcement and the racism and brutality that many Black Americans and others have experienced; they didn’t think such criticism was completely unfounded, but they did feel it overshadowed the work most cops do.

For anyone who has dealt with a police officer who seemed robotic, uncaring, unyielding, that image is not how many cops are, they said. They wanted people to understand that cops are human, are imperfect, have feelings and want to get home to their families. And they had hopes and concerns about America that many others have — an appreciation for the country’s diversity and concern about political and cultural divisions.

The group was far less defensive than we expected. They seemed, if anything, to want more dialogue with people and to have a chance to overcome assumptions. “Instead of trying to call me and my co-workers out, call us in,” said one of the focus group participants, a police officer who described himself as a Republican from a mixed-race background. “Call us into your small groups. Call us into your city council meetings. Call us into the meetings that really matter, where the transparency takes place.”


Alexandria


Hispanic, Democrat, uniformed police officer


Ashley


White, Republican, uniformed police officer


Christopher


White, Republican, detective


Desmond


Black, Republican, court investigator


Esmeralda


Hispanic, Democrat, uniformed police officer


Jerrod


Black, independent, uniformed police officer


Kimara


Hispanic, Democrat, detective


Michael


White, Republican, uniformed police officer


Raffi


White, independent, uniformed police officer


Reginald


Black, Democrat, uniformed police officer


Stan


Mixed race, Republican, uniformed police officer


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

Let’s start with a fill-in-the-blank exercise: What I love most about America is, blank.


Alexandria,


Hispanic, Democrat, uniformed police officer

Diversity.


Raffi,


White, independent, uniformed police officer

She stole my word.


Michael,


White, Republican, uniformed police officer

I’d have to say the same thing. America is the melting pot.


Kimara,


Hispanic, Democrat, detective

Democracy.


Esmeralda,


Hispanic, Democrat, uniformed police officer

People.


Christopher,


White, Republican, detective

The freedoms we have.


Stan,


Mixed race, Republican, uniformed police officer

Opportunity.


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

Let’s do another one: What worries me the most about America is, blank.


Desmond,


Black, Republican, court investigator

I’ll say cultural ignorance.


Ashley,


White, Republican, uniformed police officer

Division.


Jerrod,


Black, independent, uniformed police officer

Division.


Esmeralda,


Hispanic, Democrat, uniformed police officer

Freedom and rights.


Reginald,


Black, Democrat, uniformed police officer

Politics.


Kimara,


Hispanic, Democrat, detective

I’d say lack of gun control.


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

How many of you would agree with the following statement?


I believe I’m able to help fix
what worries me about America.


I believe I’m able to help fix
what worries me about America.


5 people raised their hands.



Alexandria, Hispanic, Democrat



Ashley, White, Republican



Christopher, White, Republican



Desmond, Black, Republican



Esmeralda, Hispanic, Democrat



Jerrod, Black, independent



Kimara, Hispanic, Democrat



Michael, White, Republican



Raffi, White, independent



Reginald, Black, Democrat



Stan, Mixed race, Republican


Jerrod,


Black, independent, uniformed police officer

Somebody mentioned ignorance. I can try to help educate people, as far as diversity. I can show them that as a Black man in America, I’m not a stereotype.


Michael,


White, Republican, uniformed police officer

I can’t fix America, but I can contribute to the fixing of America. I think, as a law enforcement officer, we’re doing that now. It’s just harder than it was 10 years ago.


Alexandria,


Hispanic, Democrat, uniformed police officer

I can contribute. I can lead people, show them examples. But I can’t fix it myself.


Christopher,


White, Republican, detective

The way the division is in America, the way some people are so polarized with certain topics, people have just become hardened or ignorant. They don’t want to hear another side.


Moderator, Patrick Healy

Chris, have you ever felt criticized or attacked for something that you’ve said?


Christopher,


White, Republican, detective

I live in Pennsylvania. One of my more liberal friends posted something on Facebook. I didn’t attack him. I didn’t say anything negative towards him. I just stated my opinion on how I felt about both candidates and how terrible both candidates were. I was cut off. We were neighbors. We were friendly prior, several years ago. And he went on the attack and just kind of kept attacking and saying stuff. Obviously, he’s not open to a different way of thinking.


Desmond,


Black, Republican, court investigator

I think we cancel out the opinions of others and what they feel instead of just respecting just the right to disagree with someone.


Ashley,


White, Republican, uniformed police officer

So “powerless” is definitely a big word. I can see powerlessness in our own department or profession. You start to feel powerless as everybody begins to be held to the standards of one person who makes a terrible mistake in states that are nowhere near you. I don’t feel powerless, though. I’m very strong in my beliefs, and whether my political signs get taken a million times, I put them right back. But you get worn down in this job. It feels hopeless to try and change people’s minds of what law enforcement is — that we are the good people — even if you’ve never done wrong in your entire career.


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? Mike?


Michael,


White, Republican, uniformed police officer

A cop.


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

What made you want to be a cop?


Michael,


White, Republican, uniformed police officer

Well, I grew up on “Adam-12,” shows like that. And you see the good that these guys did. When I was a kid, everyone respected other people’s parents, your own parents, teachers, police, firemen, any adult. And that’s just not the case anymore.


Raffi,


White, independent, uniformed police officer

Same. I wanted to be a police officer. I’m going to echo what Mike said. When I was younger, we just respected the cops. I mean, you’d approach a cop and wave at him. He’d wave at you.


Kimara,


Hispanic, Democrat, detective

I wanted to be a veterinarian, then I got bit by a dog. So that was out. I thought, “I’ll be in law enforcement.”


Esmeralda,


Hispanic, Democrat, uniformed police officer

I wanted to be a lawyer. I didn’t make it down that path, but I’d wanted to advocate for myself back then.


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

Where would you say crime ranks as an issue for you personally, compared to other things that are facing our country? How many say not that important? [Nobody raises a hand.] Somewhat important? [Three people raise a hand.] Pretty important? [Eight people raise a hand.]


How many consider crime the most important
issue facing the country today?


How many consider crime the
most important issue
facing the country today?


0 people raised their hands.



Alexandria, Hispanic, Democrat



Ashley, White, Republican



Christopher, White, Republican



Desmond, Black, Republican



Esmeralda, Hispanic, Democrat



Jerrod, Black, independent



Kimara, Hispanic, Democrat



Michael, White, Republican



Raffi, White, independent



Reginald, Black, Democrat



Stan, Mixed race, Republican


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

Ashley, tell me why you said “somewhat important.”


Ashley,


White, Republican, uniformed police officer

The real issue is the lack of respect and parenting and these insane ideologies and teachings that we’re bringing into these schools. If you don’t change it, you’ll never change crime. We got out of Philly a couple of years ago. My children are in the public schools in the suburbs, which are great. I’m fully behind them being exposed to everything and culture and respect. But some of the critical race theory books that have been brought on the table are absolutely insane when you read them. And this theory of “You can use whatever bathrooms you want” — my daughter’s confused as to why there’s a boy in the bathroom. And the pronouns — my own kids come home and don’t understand, but this person wants to be called that. I just think that it’s a very confusing world for little minds.


Kimara,


Hispanic, Democrat, detective

My son is 3, so I have a couple more years until I have to really attack this. But I think as a parent, I have to do the work at home with my child, explaining to him about the world he’s growing up in. And it’s very different from how I grew up.


Christopher,


White, Republican, detective

People see on TV that you can go into a Walgreens and just take what you want. There’s no consequence to any of your actions, and that speaks volumes. I mean, growing up, I was scared to get in trouble. I was scared to do anything wrong, for the fear of getting in trouble with the police or, more so, my parents.


Stan,


Mixed race, Republican, uniformed police officer

Seeing what I’ve seen growing up and then becoming a law enforcement officer for the last 15 years, it’s the reason I moved my family to the suburbs, out of the city. I don’t want my kids to grow up where I grew up. Criminals know what they can get away with, and some of them know the law better than we do. You take that, and you mix it with a district attorney who does things certain ways, and it’s a recipe for what we have. So being born and raised, and New York City being home, it saddens me to watch it go back to where it was in the early ’80s.


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

Reggie, what do you think about all this? How important an issue is crime to you?


Reginald,


Black, Democrat, uniformed police officer

I definitely agree with what everybody’s saying. I was born in Baltimore City. And if anybody knows Baltimore, you know you get a lot of things going on down here. I moved my family from Baltimore City into Baltimore County. Being a product of public schools, I walked those same streets as these kids. If it wasn’t for somebody stepping in and saying something to me, I could have been on the wrong side of the law. But going back to politics and going back with Stan said, these criminals know the law better than we do. We are handcuffed. Because some new law is always being put in place, we’re handcuffed, and we can’t effectively do the job that we swore to uphold.


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

I want to jump to my next question. What do you know or think about crime that regular Americans may not when it comes to that issue?


Jerrod,


Black, independent, uniformed police officer

Regular people, they think that a lot of criminals are bumbling and stupid. But no. The criminals are quite smart. We have a no-chase policy, and criminals know what our boundaries are. They know that if they hit that certain street or freeway, we have to cut it off. Regular people don’t think of it in terms of “Let me do some things to help alleviate the crime.” They think we’re superheroes. They think we’re robots, that we have no feelings. So you want me there for you, but at the same time, I’m the bad guy. You only need me when you need me.


Alexandria,


Hispanic, Democrat, uniformed police officer

We constantly get told, “Do your job.” But they don’t know what our policies are. They don’t know what our job is. I’ve worked throughout the city of Chicago in every neighborhood. And no matter where I go, it’s point the finger, point the finger. “What are you doing for us? You don’t do anything.” My response to some of them is, like, “Hey, tell the mayor. Tell your politician. She’s the one who enforces the policies.” It makes me angry that I have to explain myself to regular citizens that I encounter in the street, because they don’t understand our policies.


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

Let’s talk about violent crime for a second — robbery, assault, sexual assault, murder and the like. What do you think are the main causes of violent crime today?


Stan,


Mixed race, Republican, uniformed police officer

In one word, desperation.


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

Tell me what you mean.


Stan,


Mixed race, Republican, uniformed police officer

In the inner cities in New York, people feel — I can’t speak for them, I’m just relaying what I’ve been told — there aren’t enough opportunities. There aren’t not enough programs. There aren’t enough resources. After being incarcerated and released, there’s literally nowhere to go, nowhere to turn. So the natural instinct is to turn to what they know.


Desmond,


Black, Republican, court investigator

A lot of this is mental health and the lack of mental health resources that we have to try to combat this.


Raffi,


White, independent, uniformed police officer

I do believe that the family structure is letting down kids. A lot of the kids, they don’t have a good family, where there’s a father or mother or an uncle or a cousin, somebody looking after him, a big brother saying, “No, this is not the right way to go.” They need somebody to depend upon, give them a path.


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

Have any of you ever been a victim of violent crime? What was it like dealing with law enforcement as a victim?


Stan,


Mixed race, Republican, uniformed police officer

I’m not someone who grew up wanting to be a police officer. My career was headed down the path to professional athletics. God had a different plan. Unfortunately, when I was 18 years old, I was stabbed on the New York City subway, Herald Square, 34th and Sixth Avenue. Wrong place, wrong time. By the grace of God, I survived. It was an off-duty police officer who got there first and was able to stop the D train, take care of business and pretty much save my life. That’s when I said, “Here’s my calling.”


Raffi,


White, independent, uniformed police officer

Hey, Stan, thank God you’re here, buddy. It’s a bad wound there. You don’t make it a lot of times.


Stan,


Mixed race, Republican, uniformed police officer

I appreciate it. Yeah.


Alexandria,


Hispanic, Democrat, uniformed police officer

My daughter and I were victims of violent crime about 15 years ago. My daughter and I were walking home. A van pulled up in front of us, two masked men jumped out and wanted to kidnap my daughter. So they’re pulling and pulling at her. I didn’t have my weapon with me, because we were coming from a florist two blocks from my house. All these cars are going by, and nobody stops. Nobody does anything. My daughter, I yelled at her, “Bite! Kick! Scream! Do something!” Meanwhile, I’m punching and fighting two offenders. I solved the crime myself. Being in law enforcement isn’t what everyone thinks. Some people want to do their job. Other people don’t want to do their job. You get four detectives, a sergeant, a lieutenant, the captain. It took three months for a response. “Did you find the truck? Did you find the plate? The offenders? Anything?” So what does that tell you about cooperation amongst us? It’s hard. It’s hard. But I did end up —


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

I’m so sorry it happened to you. But you said you solved the crime yourself?


Alexandria,


Hispanic, Democrat, uniformed police officer

I solved the crime with my partner and the tech force, yes.


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

Wow.


Alexandria,


Hispanic, Democrat, uniformed police officer

We located the truck. Fingerprinting. Finally got somebody — “They park up here. They live down the block.” Where is everybody to do their work? I don’t know. This is my daughter. They tried to kidnap her. They took her from my arms. This is where the public, again, says, “Oh, you guys are all family. You guys are all blue. You’ve got your own little gang going on in the system.” Really? Yeah, no, we don’t. No.


Raffi,


White, independent, uniformed police officer

In any occupation, including ours, about 20 percent of people do 80 percent of the work. You give me eight cops, two will be great, two will be subpar, four will be average.


Alexandria,


Hispanic, Democrat, uniformed police officer

I mean, yes, you can’t judge everybody by one or —


Raffi,


White, independent, uniformed police officer

Of course not.


Alexandria,


Hispanic, Democrat, uniformed police officer

And crime and with the public, it’s the economy. They don’t have any money. So many people here in Chicago have been in the penitentiary. They live with their great-grandmother, grandmother, aunt. They’re all in one house. So how are you supposed to help these people to get educated, to get out of that house, to get out of that system? There’s no money. There’s no jobs. There’s no resources.


Christopher,


White, Republican, detective

Well, I agree to that point. But I think there are definitely jobs that are available. People just don’t want to do the jobs that are available. You shouldn’t have a family that’s generationally on welfare. You don’t take ownership of anything, because you didn’t work for it. You don’t care about it. The root cause of a lot of crime is a lack of respect for authority. They don’t have respect for life in Baltimore. You disrespect somebody, you mouth off, and they pull a gun out and shoot you, because there’s no respect.


Raffi,


White, independent, uniformed police officer

I think Chris is correct. We have a lack of self-respect, a lack of respect for others in society. You have a lack of respect for other people’s opinion. Because if their opinion is not yours, then hell, just shoot him or beat the crap out of him.


Esmeralda,


Hispanic, Democrat, uniformed police officer

I was a victim of violent crime at the age of 16. First boyfriend, domestic violence. I lived in the projects. I was a girl from Queens. I now work in the Bronx. And I deal with a lot of people that, today, are me when I was 16 years old. I see the lack of opportunity that they have. And I do see those three generations in one apartment, where none of them graduated from high school, where they’re all on welfare and relying on that check. But sometimes, when you know better, you do better. And they just don’t know better. This is how they were raised. This is what they saw. They didn’t see mom and dad get up and go to work every day. They waited for that check to come. A lot of them can’t even read or write. I don’t think it’s that people don’t want to work. Yes, you have a large group of people that just don’t want to work. But I do believe that, as sad as it is to say, some of these young people and old people, they make that fast money — illegal jobs, selling drugs on a street corner or whatever else. They’re not going to make that money at McDonald’s or anywhere else. And they want that fast money. This is what they see.


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

Are there any policies or reforms that could change to make people safer? Or is it something that can’t necessarily be fixed with reforms and policies?


Esmeralda,


Hispanic, Democrat, uniformed police officer

While kids are in school, teach them about what happens after school. How is it that you’re supposed to dress when you go to work? How do you speak? How do you conduct yourself? I think that if there were some of these opportunities, perhaps people would gain the knowledge that they don’t gain at home. I wish they were taught so much more about life, about relationships. Maybe even as they get older, about parenting and what exactly that’s going to take. It’s so easy for you to say “I do” and get married. Wait till you see what comes if you have to get a divorce later on. But as far as policies, I just think so much comes from home, really. And I just don’t know what policies force people to learn that there are other ways in life.


Reginald,


Black, Democrat, uniformed police officer

I agree with Esmeralda. This all has to start from home. But I think the one thing where I would want the policy made is community involvement. If we can bridge that gap between law enforcement and community, I guarantee the crime will go down. But where I grew up, it was always this one lady on the block that knew every single thing that was going on. And if you got in trouble with her, you got trouble when you got home. Now there’s no accountability.


Desmond,


Black, Republican, court investigator

Until we take our own accountability for our actions, for our child’s actions and be held accountable for them, that’s the only way we will possibly be able to somewhat reduce crime.


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

Well, I’m going to hand things over to Patrick for a moment. He’s got a couple of questions about some policy proposals that have been made.


Moderator, Patrick Healy

Do you think that more funding for police and law enforcement would result in keeping more Americans safe?


Christopher,


White, Republican, detective

I mean, yes and no. I mean, the more that police officers get paid, the more better-quality people that you’re going to get. I think now, I mean, every department is having trouble filling spaces in their department, getting the boots on the ground. They’re having trouble getting that because of everything that’s going on.


Ashley,


White, Republican, uniformed police officer

When too much money gets thrown at a department, they get these great ideas that no one thinks through. And they just waste money implementing things that just don’t make any sense. But about respect: No one was going to mess with me while I was on my shift. I wasn’t going to stress them out if they’re just doing what they’re doing and not causing problems. I will pull up on the corner and say good morning to them. I know who I could go to who’s going to tell me what went on last night. I knew when I saw somebody, they’re not supposed to be there. So I think that if you had more funding and more incentives to bring young officers on and got them out there and left them in the neighborhoods and showed them how to be there, that’s the way you get to the criminals. That’s the way you get respect. That’s how you keep violent crime down. So if you’re going to sell a couple of bags of drugs on the corner, but there’s not going to be any shootings or homicides, I think I can be OK with that.


Desmond,


Black, Republican, court investigator

There’s no amount of money that can be thrown at an officer that’s a substitute for integrity and morals. When you establish a relationship with certain defendants or offenders, when you talk to them, when you’re trying to get information out of them, you can get something. Personally, from what I’ve seen down here in Georgia, the more money you throw at some of these officers, the lazier they get.


Moderator, Patrick Healy

We have seen increases in violent crime in many places where there also have been increases in funding. Why do you think an increase in police funding wouldn’t lead to a decrease in crime?


Michael,


White, Republican, uniformed police officer

Sometimes, you give the brass more money, and the brass buys the stuff that they want to buy — new cars, new weapons, new graphics, new badges, whatever. It’s not going to be used for community outreach. It’s not going to be used for mental health officers. It’s going to be for whatever they want to spend it on. And us, as the troops, as a patrol officer, I have yet, in my law enforcement career, been asked by a superior officer, a sergeant or above, “Hey, Mike, we’re going to get $50,000. What is it you, as a patrol officer, what do you think we should spend it on?” We have no say.


Desmond,


Black, Republican, court investigator

Yeah, I think that’s universal. We got a surplus of money down here in Georgia, and before I knew it, we’re getting Dodge Chargers. We’re getting Dodge Challengers. We’re getting these tricked-out Tahoe trucks. We’re getting all this, and the only people who are benefiting are top brass.


Esmeralda,


Hispanic, Democrat, uniformed police officer

I agree. They’re not allocating the funds properly. I don’t know where that extra money goes, as far as New York City is concerned. I mean, I can’t even get a vest that fits me properly. It doesn’t trickle down to us.


Do you think stricter gun control laws
would lead to a decrease in violent crime?


Do you think stricter gun
control laws would lead to a
decrease in violent crime?


2 people raised their hands.



Alexandria, Hispanic, Democrat



Ashley, White, Republican



Christopher, White, Republican



Desmond, Black, Republican



Esmeralda, Hispanic, Democrat



Jerrod, Black, independent



Kimara, Hispanic, Democrat



Michael, White, Republican



Raffi, White, independent



Reginald, Black, Democrat



Stan, Mixed race, Republican


Kimara,


Hispanic, Democrat, detective

I might be off on my stats, but I think we’re at around our 600th mass shooting in the United States for the year. So I know there are some people who love their guns. But I honestly do not understand why people need AR-15s. I don’t see the purpose. I can’t go to a supermarket. I have to be careful going into a nightclub, sending my child to school. Like, I definitely feel like they need to regulate the gun laws — 100 percent.


Esmeralda,


Hispanic, Democrat, uniformed police officer

I agree. And it breaks all of our hearts to see what’s going on in the American school system in general. And so many of those AR-15s.


Moderator, Patrick Healy

Reggie, you didn’t raise your hand, but I wonder how you see it.


Reginald,


Black, Democrat, uniformed police officer

I think all of us are going to protect the Constitution and understand the Second Amendment right to bear arms. But what the two ladies just said, I have to agree. I don’t want to take anyone’s freedom away, because we’re all Americans. But when I’m going to these active shootings and these suspects have better weaponry than I have, it becomes very much a problem. And until we regulate that or we get something in place, that’s going to be more mass killings.


Christopher,


White, Republican, detective

Can I say something real quick?


Moderator, Patrick Healy

Chris, yeah, but briefly.


Christopher,


White, Republican, detective

I understand people’s viewpoints on gun control and the regulation. But if a criminal wants to get a gun, they’re going to get a gun. Bottom line. Do you think a criminal is going to follow a law saying that they can’t have an automatic weapon? The weapon doesn’t kill somebody. It’s the person that kills. That’s just how I feel. A criminal is not going to follow the law, because they’re a criminal. It doesn’t matter what law you have in place.


How many of you would agree
that the daily work of being a police
officer isn’t necessarily policing?


How many of you would
agree that the daily work of
being a police officer
isn’t necessarily policing?


7 people raised their hands.



Alexandria, Hispanic, Democrat



Ashley, White, Republican



Christopher, White, Republican



Desmond, Black, Republican



Esmeralda, Hispanic, Democrat



Jerrod, Black, independent



Kimara, Hispanic, Democrat



Michael, White, Republican



Raffi, White, independent



Reginald, Black, Democrat



Stan, Mixed race, Republican


Christopher,


White, Republican, detective

I’m like 50-50.


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

OK. I’m interested in some of these 50-50s. Mike, you put your hand up first, so I want to hear from you why you were a yes.


Michael,


White, Republican, uniformed police officer

You’ve got to be a babysitter. You’ve got to be a social worker. You’ve got to be a problem solver. You’ve got to be a psychiatrist. You’ve got to be a shoulder to cry on. You can’t just be a cop. You can’t just do your job. Again, it’s not 1960. You’ve got to be all-faceted. And honestly, yeah, I work for a college. But we’re on patrol just like everybody else. Ninety percent of my day is problem solving with BS non-police-related issues.


Stan,


Mixed race, Republican, uniformed police officer

I think Mike summed it up great — psychiatrist, doctor, social worker, friend.


Raffi,


White, independent, uniformed police officer

But you know what? I might be a bit older than everybody else here, but it’s been that way for a while. I would say the mental health issue has exploded. But other than that, I mean, you think domestic violence started last year? It’s been going on since the ’50s, ’40s. So that hasn’t changed. But I mean, I think that’s one of the good things about being a police officer, actually, having all those different hats, helping people in different ways, impacting lives positively. That’s what you want. If you just put a little seed in there — as opposed to when you’re on patrol and you see kids coming over to shake your hand and maybe the mother grabs the kid, says, “Get away from him” — you want to impact them in a positive way, not having people think that police officers are bad in some way or violent in some way. You want people to respect us and come up to us and be there for them, like, whatever they need. You can come and ask us. I have no issue with that at all.


Moderator, Patrick Healy

We heard a lot of talk about the defund-the-police movement. And I wonder if you thought that that call to action was about having social workers take stuff off your plate in a certain way or if it was about something much different than that?


Desmond,


Black, Republican, court investigator

I think defund was just a political ploy that was used in the height of what we had going on.


Jerrod,


Black, independent, uniformed police officer

To me, the people I spoke to, they didn’t really think of it in terms of getting social workers there, that type of thing. Here in Dallas, if somebody is panhandling, you’re supposed to call a certain number. And they’re supposed to come out and talk to the person and see if they can get them to go to some type of counseling. But say they do that and then the person attacks them. You’ll need someone to go in there that’s going to take care of business and handle the situation. But again, people don’t see it like that, because they’re not there for every single situation that we go through. They only see the videos on YouTube and everything else, where an officer reacts to someone who’s having a mental crisis. And unfortunately, the person gets shot. They possibly die or whatever else. But that’s just a part of life, unfortunately. And people want everything to be nice and sweet and whatever else. But sometimes, life gets messy.


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

I want you to think about examples of times when you personally felt a real sense of pride or accomplishment about something you did on the job, and then I’m going to ask, if you’re comfortable sharing, about something you wish you’d handled a little bit differently.


Reginald,


Black, Democrat, uniformed police officer

Well, I was a school resource officer for 16 years. And I did it for elementary, middle and high school. And just to interact with those kids on a daily basis, to try to change what their mind-set of policing was, to now. And now that I see them out and about — some of them graduated, and some of them come say to me, “I appreciate everything you did for me, because if you hadn’t said something to me on that day, I probably would have did this.” So just to see them become better human beings, better citizens. And now they have their own children that they have to do the same thing for. I see a little bit of what I taught them, because of all my experiences I try to give to them. And it’s, like, going on. It’s like a domino effect. Some of them are lawyers, doctors, professional athletes. So that makes me feel good inside, that I had some type of impact with them at a stage where they didn’t know which way they was going.


Ashley,


White, Republican, uniformed police officer

Since I was a little girl, I just always wanted to be Olivia Benson from “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.” I was probably way too young even to watch that show. But I feel privileged and honored to be the voice of some of these children in severe sexual assault cases. The pride when a jury comes back with a guilty verdict for somebody who just did horrific things that the media will never cover — I think that’s, like, my high. And I think that it was worth every second away from my family and everything like that.


Alexandria,


Hispanic, Democrat, uniformed police officer

Once, I was getting my coffee at 0500 hours at Dunkin’ Donuts. I see flames in a building, drop my coffee. My partner and I run over there. There was a battery on the back porch. The sun was hitting it, and the flames engulfed the back porch. We rescued two people in their 80s, and I had to run back up and get her cats, because she wouldn’t leave without her cats. I’m proud of that moment. The bad part, I guess, is when you feel that you didn’t do enough for somebody else. In domestic violence situations, you try your best. But am I helping enough to get them out of that situation?


Stan,


Mixed race, Republican, uniformed police officer

Thank God, I’ve been able to save a number of lives. I’ve been able to teach recruits in our academy, hundreds of recruits and make a difference in their lives. They still reach out to me years later. And as far as the other side of the fence, there was one incident where I could have done things. We work in a split-second job. And unfortunately, I wasn’t able to save that person. And I think we can all close our eyes and see those certain people. Because actually, in a crazy world, at a dinner party, I found out that person’s story. And they really shouldn’t have killed themselves. But people are in a dark place sometimes, and I just couldn’t get out of the car quick enough. And that’s — I’ll leave it there. So it’s rough, but that’s the job we have.


Moderator, Patrick Healy

Many Americans have great respect for law enforcement. And many are suspicious or deeply suspicious of law enforcement. One of the primary criticisms of policing these days comes from the view that there’s a serious problem of racism within law enforcement. And I want to ask you, what do you think it would take to build more trust between law enforcement and those who are suspicious of law enforcement? What can police do to kind of increase that trust?


Ashley,


White, Republican, uniformed police officer

I think if you got into the areas where you would expect to have racism and talk to the people that actually live there, you would get a very different answer than what you’re getting from some people who are very far removed and just think that they know. Even with the defund-the-police movement — if you go into those neighborhoods, they want the police there. They don’t want less police; they want more police. But at the same time, we definitely have racism within the police department. How could we not? It’s in every culture, every occupation. I think it’s about separating from those cops. Other cops standing up against it, And just building that trust one at a time. I’m me. Each one of us is ourselves. The only thing we can do is go out there and make sure every single encounter that we have with the public is the best that they could have and that I handle a job the way I would want it handled from my loved one, myself. When they start to have positive reactions with police officers, it will change.


Kimara,


Hispanic, Democrat, detective

Definitely agree with Ashley. There needs to be more transparency, checking your partner.


Jerrod,


Black, independent, uniformed police officer

Sometimes we have calls that are a little silly or whatever. But instead of going and having an attitude with the person, just talk to them. If it’s something that’s kind of silly or whatever, I normally joke and laugh with them. And I try my best not to be what they consider to be the stereotypical officer, the hard-ass, the robot, no emotions. I can laugh and joke with you. Just showing them that we’re actually human beings and that I go through the same things that you go through. Just because I have a gun and a badge as my profession, that doesn’t mean that I’m any less of a human than you are.


Moderator, Patrick Healy

Does anybody have a different view or see this question kind of differently than what we’ve heard?


Esmeralda,


Hispanic, Democrat, uniformed police officer

I think the young children need to see people that look like them. There’s absolutely racism within the police force and just in general here in this country. But young people need to see people that look like them. New York City, specifically, is very diverse. But I do think it’s very important that some of these smaller towns have people that look like these kids.


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

Is there anything that you would want to leave New York Times readers with, as sort of a final thought?


Jerrod,


Black, independent, uniformed police officer

I’m out here trying to do the best I can just like anybody else. I’m trying to make a living just like anyone else is. I’m trying to do my best. And I’m a human, and I have feelings and emotions like anyone else. So don’t treat me like I’m a robot. Don’t automatically assume that I’m the bad guy when you’ve never met me before. Give me a chance to show you who I am.


Reginald,


Black, Democrat, uniformed police officer

Every officer on this panel is held to a higher standard. And I would hope that the media will be held to a high standard. Don’t always look at us in a negative light.


Michael,


White, Republican, uniformed police officer

We’re people, too. I make mistakes. We all do. But I try the best I can do to serve the public.


Stan,


Mixed race, Republican, uniformed police officer

I think, for me, what’s going on in this country the last couple of years is a perfect storm of a lot of nonsense. If I had to say one thing, instead of trying to call me and my co-workers out, call us in. Call us into your small groups. Call us into your city council meetings. Call us into the meetings that really matter, where the transparency takes place. That’s where I want to be.


Alexandria,


Hispanic, Democrat, uniformed police officer

We’re all human. We’re human.


Ashley,


White, Republican, uniformed police officer

Just remember that every single law enforcement officer that works those streets has made a decision to come to work and understand that they could exchange their own lives for yours and that they will. And at the end of the day, we just want to go home to our families, the way everybody else does.


Kimara,


Hispanic, Democrat, detective

We’re here to help. Definitely people will have bad experiences with that 1 percent. But we are here to help, and we do want to return home to our family.


Esmeralda,


Hispanic, Democrat, uniformed police officer

We’re stronger together.


Raffi,


White, independent, uniformed police officer

By and large, all the officers I’ve worked with, I mean, 99 percent, are doing a great job. Their hearts are in the right place to do the right things. So the perception is that, oh, these guys, they’re not helping or doing some kind of crazy stuff. Not that I ran into, not that I know of.


Christopher,


White, Republican, detective

We aren’t the enemy. We are humans. We put our pants on like everybody else does every day. And unfortunately, if we make a mistake, it could be a life-or-death situation. And we don’t take those mistakes lightly, and we try to do the best that we can to keep everyone safe and make sure that we get home to our families and that everyone else gets home to their families, too.


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

Desmond? Last words to you.


Desmond,


Black, Republican, court investigator

Hey, at the end of the day, we’re just like you, just in blue.




Source link

Advertisement

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.