my father was a police officer.

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My father was a police officer.

In fact, he wasn’t just any police officer. He eventually became the First Black Police Chief in Omaha, Nebraska; a place later deemed most dangerous in the US for black people. (per capita)

We lived next door to another police officer, a black woman who worked as a detective. As a family, my siblings and I were taken under the wing of a cohort of police officers – both men and women – who all looked exactly like us…. black.

This was my view of the police growing up. My vision. Seeing my father and his police friends in their uniforms work off-duty as security for the rivalry basketball games in the community. Seeing my father and his police friends coach countless inner-city little league teams on the weekends. Seeing my father and his police friends come up with initiative after initiative to keep kids off the streets.

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I loved the police so much, I would tell people that I wanted to be one growing up. I would defend the police with claims that the same people who said, “Fuck the Police” were the ones dialing 911 – calling my dad – for help. My feelings would be hurt because anytime someone said these things, I imagined them spitting in the face of my father and his friends who were doing right, putting their lives on the line to protect and serve.

What I didn’t realize, however, was how small of a section of the police force my father and his friends represented. You see, my father was one of a small group of black men – maybe four or five – to join the force back in 1983. And when he did, it was with every intention to protect and serve HIS community.

So he did, patrolling the streets that he grew up on before moving into higher ranking positions that also directly served the area he once lived. While our physical residence may not have been in the community, our hearts and minds lived and grew there, from the schools we went to, to the community centers we loved, and everything in between. My father became a staple of the community for more than just his badge.

And that’s how policing is supposed to be. That’s when policing is most effective. That’s what I believed policing to be.

Until I grew up and watched black men – MY black man – be preyed upon simply for existing.

It was literally days before my boyfriend was set to go off to college, so obviously we were spending as much time together as possible. Sitting on his porch, we watched police car after police car rush down his street, looking for two men that had robbed a Taco Bell nearby. There was no tension, no worry, as we watched the scene unfold with two of his family members. But as he walked me to my car, two more police cars slowly drove down his street and stopped by where we were standing. They hopped out and immediately began to question who he was, where he lived, etc. all things insinuating that he could be a suspect as if suspects just hang out in broad daylight after committing a crime. But he was a target, all because of the simple description that has cost so many – black male.

His sister rushed to his side, explaining to the police that he obviously had nothing to do with it, that he was getting ready to go to college, had no criminal record, all things to imply for them to move along. And I stood there stunned, not understanding, wondering why my boyfriend was automatically considered a suspect instead of someone that might be able to help them with a lead.

(“Apparently” the robbers had ran through their backyard… according to the police.)

It wasn’t until I asked for their last name and badge number that they paid me any attention, but not without becoming defensive and asking for my name. I told them proudly, feeling like I had nothing to be afraid of because… my dad was a police officer. Sure he might’ve been retired by this point, but he more than likely knew these guys. Hell, he probably swore them in. And it was obvious that my last name rang a bell as smiles came to their faces, and they backed off. But not without making a joke about my car being parked too close to the fire hydrant.

Still, I can’t help but wonder what would’ve happened if I wasn’t there. I can’t help but imagine how things could’ve easily escalated without cause, how my boyfriend and his family could’ve been treated. I never realized how much of a privilege I had being raised in a “police-world”, where bad cops were present but I knew way too many good ones to believe them all to be that way. I never realized that the sick reality most people face is the exact opposite of my experience.

That situation happened in 2008.

Fast forward to 2015, when my boyfriend and I – with our degrees and ambitious spirits -decided to move to Houston, Texas. The drive from Omaha to Houston is a very… desolate one, filled with lots of grasslands and small towns. Things that most people believe to bring comfort, to be beautiful to the naked eye. But in an era now filled with hashtags such as, #SandraBland, you can understand the uneasiness one may feel traveling through towns with – being as blunt as possible – no black people.

While in the middle of nowhere, a sheriff pulled us over for going 74 in a 65 (or something pretty regular like that). By this point of my adult life, I had a good understanding of being non-confrontational, taking things at face value. Oh, and making sure something is recording the conversation for my own safety.

Before the sheriff even gets out of his car, I’m already getting my registration out, and my boyfriend is getting his license out so we can get a ticket and continue on about our drive. The sheriff was white, but he was also kind, explained our violation, and took the information back to his car. Still, I couldn’t help but notice this whole time, my boyfriend is completely stiff… he hasn’t said a word. Even when the sheriff returned with our information and a warning, while I’m telling him thank you, etc., my boyfriend isn’t saying a thing.

I didn’t understand.

I mean, we had gotten off with a warning, the sheriff wasn’t an asshole, this is a victory. But when we pulled off and I questioned his actions, I realized the experience of a black man and his relationship with the police is wilder than I could’ve ever imagined. I asked him why didn’t he say thank you. He told me he wasn’t going to say anything that could’ve been taken the wrong way. This whole time I’m thinking of a thank you as a normal gesture, but he’s imagining a thank you being turned into a whole new situation that could later justify the cop becoming disrespectful and furthermore, physically confrontational. It obviously doesn’t take much of anything for a police officer to feel justified in his actions to kill a black man, so in his eyes, why would this be anything different?

A teenager walking home, a boy playing with a toy gun, and now a man selling CDs. If these are the reasons, why couldn’t a regular traffic stop be added to that list? Oh wait… it already has. #WalterScott (and unfortunately updated a few hours after posting to include #PhilandoCastile)

So now, in this world of blatant police brutality on every news station, videos of a man’s murder at the hands of police going viral, why wouldn’t I feel like everyone else? Why wouldn’t I scream, “Fuck the Police”? Why wouldn’t I stand on the front lines, protesting against the failures of our justice system?

Fact of the matter is, my father was a black life long before he was a blue one. And once he’s not in his uniform, the fact that he’s a blue one doesn’t protect him from anything. #JacaiColson

Now this is not to say I hate the police. I can’t. It’s not in my heart. My father put his life on the line night after night to protect his community, and I still cringe when people forget about those that do so. But do I strongly believe that these cowardly police officers who get a hard-on from wearing their badges and killing our black men like animals can rot in hell?

Absolutely. 

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35 thoughts on “my father was a police officer.

  1. I played ball for ur father when I was a kid Kountze Park Bills lol I’ll never forget ur father and the respect I gained for law enforcement from him

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  2. I remember him most by his smile. I did not know him but, knew of him. I always thought not only is this many putting his life in danger but, at the same time you could not help to think. This was one fine tall glass of chocolate milk. Not all police officers are bad. Those who have a criminal background and/or live a criminal life. Of course, you will always hear. Fuck the police. Until that day your life will depend on them. Then you will hopefully learn to respect them.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I absolutely love this. My father is a Nebraska State Patrol Trooper, so I know all too well, the defending of his honor to those who had/have a dislike for law enforcement.

    Despite learning at a young age how to deal with police officers, I still fear interaction with them. I fear it more now than ever, due to this handful of rogue cops that are popping up.

    As much as I can say #BlueLivesMatter, my #BlackLifeMatters more.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Beautifully expressed, Alex. Your Dad (and Mom) are tremendous influences to all who know them. While soft-spoken, your Dad is a powerful, force of character for what is right and good. You make them proud!

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  5. I was one of the group of black police friends that Tom came on the job with. We called ourselves the buffaloes. All of us worked in the neighborhoods we grew up in. My dad was also an officer so I had the point of view also. Good men.

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  6. I LISTEN TO A BARBERSHOP CONVERSATION WHERE SOME YOUNG ME CONSTANTLY WERE BASHING THE POLICE. I ASK THEM IF THEY WENT HOME AND SOMEONE WAS BREAKING INTO THEIR HOUSE, WHO WOULD BE THE FIRST PERSON THEY CALL. THE HARDEST CRIMINAL AT THE RIGHT TIME WOULD CALL THE POLICE AND FORGET THEY HAVE WARRANTS. EVERY PROFESSION HAS CORRUPTED PEOPLE.

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  7. Alex I have known your parents for many years and likely before you were born. I met your mom in Leadership Omaha. They have set an awesome example for you. Continue to make them proud and thanks for sharing your perspective. #awesome

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  8. This needed to be said from someone who has experience both sides, and you did it eloquently and honestly.

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  9. Thank you for sharing this. There is such a gap between everyone involved that I do think it’s important to have a discussion amongst police, citizens involved in police contact and even the people that will judge these incidents from social media. Truth be told, there is much to learn from ALL three perspectives and changes can be made by all sides. You definately bring a unique perspective to all sides.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. my father too was in law enforcement, he was a douglas county deputy sheriff and i was always so proud of the job he did and how he was respected because of who he was,and where he had come from.i really enjoyed reading your story. keep up the good work!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Thank you for sharing your story. It was very well written. I enjoyed reading it. Your story had me feeling all types of ways. And now what has happen in Dallas it made me feel more . Keep up your writing , you are very good at it .
    My husband is a state trooper

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  12. I remember your dad and yes he was in the community and made a difference to us youth. We could tell he had a passion for us and that he was concerned about our well-being. Tariq, Ronnie Buggs, and Joe Hodges were always there too making sure we were doing the right thing by talking to us and showing is major love.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Thank you for writing this, it truly moved me. I know your father (he knows my family), your aunt, (your cousin was one of my closest friends in elementary/junior high) and he is always someone I have and always will look up to growing up and living in Omaha.

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  14. Alex, I graduated from Tech High with your father. Like Tommie, you are eloquent with your thoughts and words. Thank you for sharing the differing perspectives and feelings that are experienced when being stopped by our men and women in blue. If everyone would show respect for each other that would be a big start towards working together.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Nice to see this perspective and very well written. I can’t believe what this country, blacks, and police officers are being put through right now. Please hold hope and have faith that one day, we can ALL treat each other as equals ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  16. There are good policemen, there are policemen that actually believe in justice for all people regardless of their race, but let’s be real they’re corrupt policemen as well as politician, I not condoning taking lives, I’m a mother grandmother, sister and I weep constantly my tears are for all people, society has changed, the young folk curse in front of grown ups like they’re sing a song. Children disrespecting their parents as though it’s a common thing. Grandparents are a thing in the past. I have witness in the very court room here in Jacksonville Florida,there are different laws for African American then it is of a Caucasian, I didn’t hear this I witness this. The same exact crime committed by a white man he received a slap on the wrist a black man got time. But do it constitute taking another person life “No” The two young men was murdered by two white policemen, it is as clear as the color in the sky, just like Trayvon was murdered, excuses were found.The dispatcher specifically told Zimmerman not to pursue this young man he disobeyed an direct order. I’m sure they are getting tired of injustice, our forefathers prayed for many years as well as died. Enough is enough. I can’t understand we all are exact in mankind, sure we have different features, color, hair,eye color but we all bleed the same color blood, teeth,tongue, heart I’m trying to understand why should a practical person or race of people be treated differently.

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    • I hear you, Teresa. It’s a sad reality, but a lot of what you said is so true. The flaws of the justice system must be addressed if we expect any real change to occur. Praying for better days, and thank you for reading. ❤

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