HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Black lives matter. The thin blue line. Tensions between the two have left Americans of all colors black and blue.
“You can’t have a conversation about improving relations between communities and police if you continue to drive home that all cops are racist murderers,” State Troopers Association President Dave Kennedy said.
Kennedy also says mistrust of police in minority communities has only heightened since George Floyd and he understands why. “Your entire life you’re told cops are bad, every news media and medium out there cops are bad, cops are racist, cops want to kill people of color, it’s gotta stop,” Kennedy said.
But about to start, a push by the NAACP to prioritize police recruitment. “To develop black officers for black communities,” Harrisburg Area NAACP President Frank Allen said. “You must put more black officers that understand the culture of the community and understand the culture of the city and how it works to deal with the problems that the cities have.”
“It’s a tough sell now because of racism and degradation,” Allen said.
“I have not met any African American people or people of color who are-anti police,” PA Human Relations Commission Member Chad Lassiter said. “They are anti-police who engage in inappropriate behavior.”
Lassiter wants to break down inappropriate myths and stereotypes about cops. He notes police are human and sometimes heroes. “A lot of times they lose their lives on behalf of communities of color. They die a noble death and we need to highlight those,” Lassiter said.
Recruitment will be in African American churches and campuses and maybe even among protestors. Lassiter says this moment may be the perfect time to flip the script.
“You get to serve the public right so we have to reframe policing in my earnest opinion where it’s a matter of service not a matter of surveillance,” Lassiter said.
That sounds good but it will not be easy. “How do you say to a person of color ‘come and work with these racists’? How do you do that?” Kennedy said.
Skeptics point out that police departments have been trying to recruit minority officers for years, mostly unsuccessfully.