While I have always had a sense of fairness and justice, it did not strongly emerge until I had the opportunity of working the night shift as a police officer in Minneapolis and then, after a few hours of sleep, getting up and attending classes at the university. How was I to merge and manage these two life-changing experiences?
It was those two impacts – street experience and a university education – that formed a vision deep within me that our nation’s police could play an essential role in maintaining the basic values our democracy – fairness, equal treatment, and respect. And that police could do much, much better than what they were doing.
I came to realize that unless citizens were respectfully and fairly treated, it was a long, expensive, and arduous journey for them to try gain justice and fair treatment from our court system when they should have initially received it from police.
Justice and peace in our democracy can only be assured by a high level of police behavior. And to make that happen means the current and next generation of police officers must step up to lead to lead us out of the present crisis in which they find themselves.
I sense we are about to enter into a new era and way of policing that is characterized by strong community involvement, control in the use of force, and authentic respect to everyone with whom police have contact.
Trust can be regained — one quality contact at a time.
This must begin now. Lead on!