This resumes an occasional series by a neighborhood police officer in Northwest Detroit’s Eighth Precinct. Two recent Facebook posts are adapted with permission.
By Baron Coleman
I am out and about, doing my police thing, when I see a large crowd of young black men on the side of their home, being loud and having a few drinks. I drive closer and slow down near the house.
One yells: “Get the fuck away from my home!”
So I pull down my scout car window and ask if he’s talking to me.
He keeps yelling, so I get out to have a conversation. He quickly states: “You cannot come on my property, so stay on the sidewalk.” I talk him into inviting me on his property after we have a sensible exchange about how I am the police, but I am not your enemy.
It’s about 12 brothers in the yard. Most seem to have a negative view of police. My female partner then arrives in a different vehicle and we both are now kicking knowledge with these young men.
We eventually break the barrier or bridge the gap.
Amid this communication, a third car arrives — a special enforcement unit with two officers. This gives the young men reason to amp up again. They dial back to 10, trying to make it negative, so I quickly ask the pair of officers to leave and they do.
That shocks the gathering. They did not get tased, frisked or “harassed,” to use a word tossed out. They got treated differently from past police encounters.
They saw that all police are not alike. My partner spoke to them as a mother figure. I spoke to them like a big brother.
They wanted to believe we are not a part of Detroit, but I informed them I came up on Schoocraft and Wyoming, and my partner grew up on Puritan, and we both still live in Detroit.
The third car had a white officer, which they tried to make an issue. But that wasn’t going to work, and it felt good to break that stereotype. It also felt good to hear the original antagonist apologize to me for his opening statement.
Now the reality is that the home may be at a troubled corner, so police may come hard on that location. I felt compelled to reach them and to get an apology is huge and more than I expected.
I thank God for giving me the words to reach people and not letting me become cynical. I try to let people know me as a man just like them — a brother or father figure – not just an officer in a uniform.
I will always come with respect, and that alone breaks down barriers.
Discretion, compassion and a memory
I did a traffic stop today on a young lady trying to beat a light. Low on gas, obviously struggling, two little ones in the back.
So instead of writing a ticket, I gave a verbal warning, I saw someone who could benefit from a verbal warning.
Her boyfriend happened to walk up to the area of the stop. He asked me: “Is she going to be OK?” I told him that she was going to be fine, and this young man joyfully became so humbled and respectful.
Both residents looked under 25. He just got a new job and is trying to help her raise the two babies.
I do an interesting job that sometimes is disheartening because it lets me make people’s lives miserable. But being an officer also lets me use discretion.
Everyone does not need a ticket, so today was one of those days.
I saw this young couple and saw me as a 23-year-old with a beater car, my infant child and my cutie pie lady.
It takes compassion to see the difference between good people making a mistake and someone who needs to be issued an ordinance violation.
A lot of Detroiters are really struggling with insurance rates and many other problems that plague the city. Sometimes you have to be helpful.
It made my day.