Yes, we’re going there today.
I know this is a bit different from our usual mental health chats. But if you’re anything like me, hearing about another innocent life taken, another victim of police brutality, or an innocent officer shot in the line of duty does enough to bother my mental health!
In fact, it infuriates me!
There is no way that I can sit idly knowing that people’s lives are endangered and taken.
What we will be talking about today will be considered controversial. But as always, all types of thinkers are welcome here. I want to know your thoughts and what you can personally do to promote peace.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Matthew 5:9
This whole conversation for this post started a few months ago when my husband and I were talking about racial profiling and human prejudice. It was no coincidence that my pastor talked about this very topic later that Sunday. As I sat in my seat at church, I began to ask God what he would have me do.
“God, what can I do to bring walls down? I want to show your unconditional love.”
If you’ve met me in person, you know that I am not the largest of statures. I’m 5’2, petite build, and have what I have often been told to be an “easy to talk to” face. Definitely not someone who can break up a fight or physically separate people for discussion like my friends Ken Nwadike Jr. or Officer Tommy Norman often do.
Because of this, I thought I didn’t have a voice. Until I realized that I do! Right here!
In my community, on my blog, with my friends (you guys)!
Although my neighborhood of Pensacola Florida may not be a place you have heard of on the news for police brutality crimes, I have come to the realization that it is going to take all of us. All of us reaching out to our local authorities, getting the details, asking questions, to keep peace in our neighborhoods. What you do in Kansas, New York, or South Dakota will not be held together by what we as a community do here in Pensacola. Youare needed to keep the peace, you!
In today’s thinks I want to share with you guys some information gathered from my community as well as a conversation I had with Captain Davis from the Pensacola police department. My hopes are that you are able to take away a positive message and become challenged to actively look for ways you can build your local community.
“I think some people think that if there’s a problem there’s never a resolution and you just have to argue about it. And I don’t believe in that. I think there’s always a solution to the problem. We just have to sit down and talk and listen to each other. And that’s what I’m hoping to start.” -Joy Daehn
Interview with Captain Davis of the Pensacola Police Department:
Me: I’m sure you get asked a lot, but what exactly is community policing?
Capt. Davis: Prior to the proliferation of vehicles and police work, community policing wasn’t a thing. It was just something they did. The cop walking the beat (jurisdiction) in the neighborhood, you knew who your cop was. Before many agencies had 24 hr policing, still you knew, when the sun came up the cop was going to be walking down there talking to the guy delivering eggs.
He knew who belonged there and he knew what they did and why they were doing it. So that was the basis of community policing. In the 90’s it became a thing again. Like many agencies we received federal funding and we started adding programs. But it was nothing new. It was just going back to that cop on the beat. We don’t have the programs per say anymore. The last 20 years or so we’ve taught from the beginning of our training program that a everybody is a community police officer. We try to lose that term (community police) because people do believe it’s a program and we don’t think that way. So we train them that, you’re going to get out there to help these people and really emphasize this.
Me: It’s not necessarily a program and it might be more of a mindset per say?
Capt. Davis: More of a lifestyle.
Me: And How long is the average police officer’s training here for Escambia
Capt. Davis: Well, at Pensacola Police Dept., from the time that we get them (candidates) identified as being eligible to be hired until the time they’re a solo police officer by themselves, it’s almost a year and a half.
Me: Wow that’s a lot of training!
Capt. Davis: That’s the problem we have sometimes filling our ranks. This process is long. We could hire somebody today but don’t expect them to be useful to us for a year and a half.
Me: And then of course community policing, this lifestyle, is talked about in the training during that year and a half?
Capt. Davis: Yeah, there’s no chapter of the book that says “community policing”. But our culture dictates the way we do stuff and we’re really seeing the fruition of that in our relationships with the community on the front side of things and on the back. You’re well aware of the problems other cities are having, you know after things go bad quickly. Well, hopefully we don’t have those incidence here. But when we do, we hope we’ve built up enough credibility on the front end to say, “Hey, give us just a minute let’s look at this and figure out what’s going on”.
Me: So, I also wanted to ask some difficult questions. I know there is a lot of stigma and a lot of fear when it involves police officers or racial profiling. And I feel as though those are the two things that are always in the news. And there’s a huge fear and a lot of it is legitimate.
You do hear of cases where things aren’t taken care of appropriately or things happen that shouldn’t happen. What is the Pensacola Police Department specifically doing to eradicate those fears and work in a way that we’re making sure we’re not part of that issue?
Capt. Davis: For about 15 years now at every traffic stop, what we do is track the reason for the stop, the age of the offender, the race, and the gender.
Me: Oh wow!
Capt. Davis: Rather an arrest was made, a citation was issued, or a warning given. Those sort of things. So we’ve been tracking this for about 15 years now. Best we can figure, and you know statistics are just that, they’re statistics, we see no trend, in Pensacola, of anything either approaching racial profiling. We are very aware of that and it’s a hot button issue so we are constantly looking at these numbers. And you know, obviously, they don’t tell the entire story but it’s the best we can do. If there is a better system we’d love to see it but we are very aware of it and keep track of it.
My entire police experience has been here in Pensacola. So, I can’t speak for agencies across the nation how they do things or what their culture and attitudes are. I can only say that here we will never put up with anything even approaching that.
Me: I know there’s an up and coming generation that has this view and stigma like I was talking about earlier. And these are, I would say kids maybe 19 and under? All they see is what they hear about in the news or social media. There’s not really a lot of positive news that’s fed to them. And I know this because when my husband was doing policing on the air force base, he had a hard time with the younger generation because they wouldn’t even want to have a conversation with him regardless of race or gender. They were just terrified and it shouldn’t be that way. So I know even though there are positive things, they’re not necessarily hearing about it. So what is the best advice you can give to the up and coming generation as far as changing that mindset? Or things that might reassure the next generation coming up?
Capt. Davis: It seems to be, I’m afraid, that we’re raising a generation of nihilists. Were all they see is a fatal side of things. Because as you know in the media, that’s what gets clicks that’s what gets views that’s what gets likes. Controversy and bad news it’s always been the way to some regard with the mainstream media. But now, it’s in your pocket. You’re more exposed to it. Unless we train these children, I mean as parents, unless we train these kids individually to be free thinkers and not just take the status quo of what they see, in the headlines, I’ll tell you 90% of the time it’s not even close to the truth.
I’ve been involved in incidences in my career that I read about in media and didn’t recognise the incident I was involved because it was reported so poorly. And I had to think, “Is that the same thing I was involved in?” because that didn’t happen!
So train your children to be critical thinkers. If something sounds outrageous it probably is, and probably didn’t happen the way it’s reported. We can’t just be consumers of the news and these different websites , but be critical thinkers figure out what’s going on. Put it(news sources) to the test.
Me: What would be some ways that people in the community could be more involved. I have this belief that if you take ownership of something you’re going to be much more proud of your work than if you were a bystander. So what are some ways that the community could be more involved as far as building a more peaceful outlook or just working with police in general to create more of that mindset that we’re definitely working together and creating unity
Capt. Davis: Really it all starts just with neighborhoods. I mean a block at a time taking care of your neighbors. Have a cleanup day. Things that aren’t necessarily law enforcement related. As simple as getting the abandoned cars out of the neighborhood tearing down houses with empty pools in the back yard. I don’t know if that’s going to solve all the world’s ills with something simple like that, but it’s a good place to start. It doesn’t need to be a huge grand gesture. Just the smallest things
Me: I guess creating more community?
Capt. Davis: Exactly!
Me: So definitely a lot more face to face contacts and relationships?
Capt. Davis: Yes.
Me: Is there anything that you like to share with the Pensacola community as far as what we can do better? Any advice or any good news that you can share with the community?
Capt. Davis: Matter of fact, I was just talking about that. You know, our town has come a long way the last 10 years or so and we tell stories about how down town was almost a ghost town years ago. It’s not a case anymore; it’s very busy there! And we were sort of patting ourselves on the back saying, “Well you know a small part is because of the Pensacola police department. Because, we were for the culture of a community where there were things could flourish. (A place) Where people couldn’t walk downtown on weekends and not feel threatened or intimidated. They can (now) walk around freely to our museums and historic areas”. We’re hoping that Pensacola is on the cusp of this revitalization. We have got to keep momentum going and the PD certainly has to do our part.
Special thanks to Captain Davis of the Pensacola Police Department for taking the time to have the conversation above and to the Escambia County sherif’s office for providing documentation to share on this blog (See here: Policy Community Oriented Policing).
I hope today’s thinks has inspired you to make a difference in your communities. As always, love is stronger than hate, and hope is brighter than fear. All are created equal in the image of God.
Thank you for reading, and hope to talk to you soon.