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Once a victim of police brutality, I’ve developed several biases against officers of the law. It seems that every time I turn on the news, serious and unfortunate cases continue to pile against police departments throughout the United States. I decided to put aside my biases and to reach across isle. Despite not wanting to provide an identity, a recently retired D. C. police officer, agreed to answer several of my questions. Below is the entire transcript of the interview.
Examiner: What or who inspired you to become a police officer?
Retired D.C. Officer: I had just left the military, and it was the best paying job at the time. I was motivated to pursue the job based on economic convenience, but as time went by, I gained more respect for the demands of the job.
Examiner: In your opinion, what are the duties and role of a police officer?
Retired D.C. Officer: Policemen have many hats to wear. We are social workers, teachers, and peacemakers. We are responsible for keeping communities safe and responsible serving citizens.
Examiner: What is your assessment of the many charges of extreme police brutality and violence against people of color within the US?
Retired D.C. Officer: This is a very hard question and I have mixed feelings about this. The media does not always report both sides of the story. It’s unfortunate that some officers jump the gun and are too quick to react, but in a split second, our lives can be at risk. It’s a tough situation to be in. I’ve seen both sides of the issue. When I was growing up, I had friends who were victims of police brutality.
Examiner: What type of difficulties did you come across as an officer of the law?
Retired D.C. Officer: Many of my friends distanced themselves from me after I joined the force. We would still speak, but the relationships were not the same.
Examiner: Did you ever witness police brutality or racism while you served as an officer of the law?
Retired D.C. Officer: I’ve never witnessed police brutality. I did however notice slight racial divisions within the force. I’ve been in situations where, upon my arrival to the scene, citizens complained about having been racial profiled by other officers.
Examiner: How can the negative generalizations of police officers be changed, and what should police departments do to build better relationships within their districts, wards, or communities?
Retired D.C. Officer: There has to be more community outreach and more visibility. I think every officer should be required to spend time (like once every three or four months) volunteering with the boys and girls clubs in their zone or district. More bonding needs to take place between officers and citizens within each community. Police block parties should be utilized to bond and provide valuable resources within each community.
Examiner: Would you encourage others to pursue a career as officers of the law?
Retired D.C. Officer: Indeed. I think law enforcement is a great job if you like people and dealing with challenges. The job allows for a lot of freedom and flexibility.
Examiner: Why do you think people use the term “pigs” to describe police officers?
Retired D.C. Officer: I’m sure I was told the history behind it, but I currently can’t recall why that particular derogatory term is used. Many other terms are used as well, but people need to remember that we are human. We have wives, families, children… you understand. In the human family, some people are good and some people are bad. There is no difference in law enforcement. In many cases, officers are constantly dealing with the problems of others, but few have others to turn to, when deal with their own problems. I lost several friends during my time in the force, and those individuals were good people, as well as officers.
Examiner: What problems currently exist in the DC police department?
Retired D.C. Officer: I would say morale is a bit low due to economics. Many officers have been asked to do more work, while their pay has remained the same over the last seven years. That needs to change.