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Episode 24: WOKE Law Enforcement

March 15, 202231 min read


Time to re-educate for the sake of our children’s futures! Everyone has an opinion on why the way things are. Today, we’re reflecting on the interactions between the Black and Brown communities with law enforcement. We’re discussing with Stephan Walker, a certified police officer, about how to build bridges in our communities. FIND OUT WHAT ELSE YOU CAN DO ON YOUR RE: WOKE JOURNEY


Speaker 0 00:00:00 Hello, my active and conscious tribe and welcome to revoke rewriting our kids' education. My name is Michelle person and we are on a journey. We are rewriting rethinking and re-educating ourselves and our children. Black lives matter. Blue lives matter, community policing, defund the police. The talk, if they would've just complied resisting arrest, I can't breathe. Police brutality, no doubt. Those words and phrases elicited strong emotions within you, as I said them. And that is because this country's history with law enforcement is to multipurpose to say the least everyone has an opinion on why things are the way they are and whether or not anything can be done to change the situation for the better today, we are going to be reflecting on the state of black and brown communities, relationships with law enforcement and what we should be teaching our children so that these words no longer elicit such visceral responses. Reverend Al Sharpton once said, we're not anti-police we're anti police brutality. My guest today is to find Garrison, a certified police officer in the state of Florida. And he is here to share his views on what we can do to establish better relationships with law enforcement and our community. And oh yeah. Speaker 0 00:01:49 Brianna Taylor, Mike Brown, Tamir rice. What do these names have in common? Well, there's a bunch of things. Actually. They were all young. They were all loved by their families and they all had incidents with police that led to their untimely death, black and brown people have had issues with police since the inception of this country. And it's not hard to understand why from the beginning, white Americans have used the police department as a way to force their belief systems and promote their self-interest above the beliefs and self-interest of anybody else by whatever means necessary, they need more land to expand agricultural pursuits. They took it native site back. They killed them. They meet people to work. The newly acquired land. They steal them. Those people fight back. They terrorize them. All of those things were backed by law enforcement, every step of the way. But instead of acknowledging this very traumatic and horrific past our country often pretends it didn't happen and expects black and brown communities to embrace enforcement officers based on the merits of what they do now, instead of what we have actively seen them do in the past. Speaker 0 00:03:07 Unfortunately, a lot of what they do now is just as traumatic as what they have done in the past are all law enforcement officers bad, of course not do brown and black communities trust law enforcement agencies, of course not, but like it or not, police officers are necessary to a civilized society. So the real question is how do we break those generations of trauma and create a relationship of respect and security for both parties? How do we begin to cultivate that with our children? Our guest today has some ideas on how we might begin that process. Stefan Garrison, thank you so much for joining us today. Welcome to the show. Speaker 3 00:03:48 Hi, thank you so much for having me. It's an honor to, to be able on your show with your titles and everything. When you messaged me, I was like, this is, this is the blessing. One of the God's light, just coming. I'm going to, I'm going to talk to you for a little bit. Speaker 0 00:04:04 Yeah, that'd be awesome. So well, so, you know, we're talking about, um, um, policing, uh, the history of it in our communities and how we can better equip our kids. What should we be telling them? Um, and before we get into all that heavy stuff, history of why things are the way they are, the conversations we need to be having with our kids. Can you tell our listeners, give them a little bit of a background about why you are the person that we need to be listening to about this topic? What is your, what's your background? Speaker 3 00:04:34 Um, so my background, I grew up in Chicago. Um, I didn't have a lot of money, have a lot of money whatsoever. Um, and I've always wanted to become a police officer. Um, just cause I wanted to see the other side. I always saw the civilian side of it. Um, or like our side of it where, you know, the cops are always killing this and I was like, all right, I need to go into that side and see if it's actually the same way. Um, so that's what I did. So I'm, I'm a certified police officer down here in the state of Florida. Um, I worked for an agency called Castleberry, um, and for over a year. Um, and now I, I mean, I'm young, I'm still new to it, but I'm learning so many different things, but I'm also bringing a different aspect to the agency as well. Like, you know, we need to have a different output on it, um, of how we see individual people specifically, how we see African-American descent people, um, to, you know, to one, uh, one person walking on the street, um, and someone wanting to pull them over versus just, okay, well he's just normal. Why can't he just walk on the street? Why, why is it always, uh, a bias against other or primarily just us? Speaker 0 00:05:45 Um, well, I mean, that actually leads into my next question. So you've been doing this work for a year. Um, you wanted to see the other side, you've had a chance to peek behind the mirror. Um, I tell people all the time, that's why I do this show because I've had a chance. I know what's on the other side of the mirror and education and I'm trying to lift that bale so people can see what, what I've seen. So, and there are a lot of misconceptions, you know, one of the ones I talk about all the time is that there's a common misconception that principals have like all this power, we have none. And so, um, you know, that that's a common misconception that I just wanted to spell right off the bat. What are some misconceptions that, uh, that, uh, in your year, your first year on the job that you learned that people have, they're just not true. Speaker 3 00:06:24 Um, misconceptions about office. Um, we don't all eat donuts and coffee every single time. That is a huge misconception coffee. Yes. Donuts. No. Um, um, so that's a huge misconception. I don't, I didn't understand that when I first started, I was like, do we eat coffee and donuts? You're like, no, we don't. I was like, okay, well one of them made sure I got that one out. Speaker 0 00:06:49 So any, any other ones? Speaker 3 00:06:51 Um, I mean, that's the only one I've worn so far. All the other ones probably been a little bit more accurate. Speaker 0 00:06:58 Oh, that's unfortunate. Well that's well, before we get into the ones that were unfortunately accurate, I'm curious, did you get a lot of flack when you tell people, you know, you're a black man, did you get a lot of flack when you tell people that you were going to be an officer? Speaker 3 00:07:12 Um, not really. No. Like my mom, my mom was very nervous. Um, she was like, are you sure you want to do this? Um, and I was like, yeah, I want to do it. You know, it's something that I've been wanting to pursue for awhile. Um, friends have been very supportive. I think the only flag I've been getting back is actually from the community itself. Um, because some see you as, almost as like a trader, because they're like, well, you went over to the other side now, you know, as they say, you work for the white man now. And it's like, that's not why I went into this job, not to be the trader, but to be the person who changes the agency from the outside to have that different aspect of, okay, now we have a young black male in our agency who can help us with some of the difficult, some of the difficulties that we've had with, um, diverse communities, um, in a sense. Um, so that's pretty much who I've been getting the flat from, um, more, most of the older generation. So like where I'm other generation they've been supportive. So, um, you know, they'll thank you for your service, but it's taught the younger generation where you have that negative connotation. Um, that's where you're not getting that support. That's when you know, they're still disrespecting you, they're still calling you a trader and all these other names where you're like, I'm just trying to help you out. Speaker 0 00:08:30 Well, well, let's talk about that because obviously there are some, there are some real reasons behind why they view the police like that. I mentioned some of the names in my, and my intro. I'm Brianna Taylor, Tamir, rice, um, Mike Brown, like all of these are young people who, the young people who are calling you, these names have watched these other young people, um, be unfortunately murdered at the hands of police. Um, you know, they're in there sitting there different cities and around them. So their frame of reference, um, is unfortunately not extremely positive. So, um, obviously we know there are issues there. And, um, so my, I guess my question to you is, um, now that you're on the other side, what do you see as the biggest issue that keeps us from being able to not necessarily, I guess, move past as the wrong verbiage? Speaker 0 00:09:21 Cause I don't want to say we need to move past these issues because we, I think we first need to acknowledge them. So I guess maybe my question, I'm changing my question. What do you think it is that keeps us from, um, from where you sit, um, from acknowledging these huge elephants that are in the room and um, what can we do to try to rectify and address some of these huge elephants in the room? So that, so that the young people who are the people who are giving you the most black and, you know, start to change their, their view of the police department. And then I have another up question, which is who's responsibility. Is it, is it the people who are giving you the flack or it's the police department's responsibility? So that's a mouthful, I'll let you talk about. Speaker 3 00:10:05 Um, so I think the biggest difficulty that we have is that we're like agencies need to come with the community, like have a community conversation, like actually have a sit down. Um, some communities are really good at that. Like Seminole county, um, their community is fantastic with that, their agency, um, they love having like town hall meetings. Um, the sheriff loves going out to like different events that support the different diverse communities. I think the biggest, the biggest elephant is that we're not having those conversations of how we can help each other because if we don't have those conversations or, you know, we're always having these one-sided, it's always just one person coming to the table when an issue happens. It's never both sides. It's never both sides coming to the table to talk about, you know, a cop shooting or, um, whatever the case may be. It's always one side coming and protesting. And the other side is like sitting back like, okay, well, we'll just let this, you know, breeze on by. But if we finally sit down and have these conversations about our diverse community, what the black community needs from the police and what the police need from the black community, maybe then we'll actually have some type of peace. Speaker 0 00:11:15 So whose responsibility do you think it is to begin to initiate those conversations, those town halls? Like, is it the, is it the, it mean, is it the community's responsibility to, to, to reach out? Or is it the police responsibility to read? Speaker 3 00:11:27 I think it's both sides. Like both community leaders on both sides need to finally just, you know, say, okay, let's have this conversation. And if you want a middle person, like a mediator, you can get, you know, city officials, whether that be the mayor or the governor, whoever, you know, runs your town, um, have them be the mediator to be able to, okay, well, I'm wanting to reach out to the black community, get some of their community leaders to come reach out to the law enforcement agency gets into their community. There's an, there we go. Now we're bringing all of them to the table at one time you have your one middle person. So you have the, the city official, whoever that may be, um, be able to ask each side the question. So it's not like, oh, well, you know, you know, no one, both organizations, aren't just sitting there looking at each other. Um, what's the word? Um, stupidly, I guess, um, they actually have someone in the middle and they're like, okay, these are the questions. This is what we're going to ask. And we're going to ask each five, like, what do you guys need? Speaker 0 00:12:28 So I guess I'm going to play devil's advocate for a second and I'm going to say conversations are great. You know, um, we know that historically there've been many, many conversations over the years about, you know, what, you know, oh yeah, we promised we'll do this. We promise we'll do that. And, and to that, I think a lot of people listening will be like, yeah, but I still ain't got my 40 acres and my mule. So, you know, I mean, like we can listen all day, but you know, I, you know, how do, what do we do or how do we, you know, address the fact that one, we can have conversations, but there are policies and procedures that are ingrained and, or our regulation and or law that disproportionately affect black and brown communities. So when you're having that conversation, how do you address those very heavy topics? Speaker 0 00:13:20 And the second thing is after you have these sometimes very hard, but oftentimes very helpful conversations whose responsibility or how do we make sure we hold both parties accountable so that, you know, we don't go backwards and, you know, the, the great things and great things that get talked about at these town halls and get meet, and then these meetings actually get done. Um, you know, how do we, how do we do those two very hard things address the other huge elephant in the room, which is that there are literally procedures and policies and regulations and laws that disproportionately affect black and brown communities. And how do we make sure that if we talk about it, we can take you at your word that you're really going to do something about it. Speaker 3 00:14:04 Um, so to address the first one, it's a large elephant here's. Um, so that, I mean, there there's two people to that side, you have the city officials, right? And then you have the black community, um, the black community actually like when laws and things like they have, they have a vote. So before anything goes into effect, usually there's a vote there's town hall meetings to discuss your concerns about it. And I think for the black community, we actually need to show up for those conversations. And I think that's the part where you get all these different laws or regulations that go against us, because we're not there. We're not there to speak our part and be like, whoa, this is, this is, this is unfair. I don't like this. You know, this is not going to affect my community well. So if we don't have those conversations and go to those, the city officials are going to be like, okay, well, I guess they're good with this. Speaker 3 00:14:54 It works. You know, it works for you because you may be, you know, you may be a white guy. You don't know how this is going to affect the black community. And if no one shows up from the black community to protest, speak your part and how, how are they going to know that this doesn't work for them? And then when the law already takes a bet and now you're sitting here, like, I don't like that law. Well, you have plenty of chances to, to try and do something. Whether go to a town hall meeting or even vote, most black people don't even vote. Um, I know in the last presidential election, at least 10 of my friends didn't even go vote. And I was like, there we go, right there, you can't complain about who the president is. You can't complain about the laws that he puts in the fact that you don't actually go and go voice your opinion about it. Speaker 3 00:15:35 Um, and then, so not only, I'm sorry, I'm probably jumping all over the place. Um, and then, like I said, with city officials, you also vote for them as well. You put them in place, they have their advertisements. They're like, oh, put me in district, whatever. So if you don't vote and those people automatically get into that seat, you don't know what they're representing. You don't know if they're representing your values that you don't know if maybe they only, maybe they have their own agenda. Um, so I think boating and coming out to those town hall meetings, discussing how you feel about these legislations or these laws before they go into effect, that's how you're going to be able to accomplish that. Speaker 0 00:16:15 I definitely 100% think that we need to rethink, uh, and reeducate ourselves about the voting process. I can not tell you how many conversations I've had with people about how your vote doesn't matter. Um, and for me, um, I think that the, the, I learned in the last administration when I was in, uh, actually in a school and it wasn't even the president that was negatively affecting me. It was the people that he appointed that are not elected, but because we voted him in, he appointed, um, and I go on this tangent all the time, Betsy, the boss, secretary of Speaker 3 00:16:49 Education for Terry of education. She, Speaker 0 00:16:51 And, but, but because that's who got in, they have, you know, but, but people are, people didn't understand that. Um, it, it, and then, so when people were saying, um, you know, why does it matter? Like, why do I need to vote in this next election? Oh, it matters because the people that he appoints make decisions that directly. And I mean, every day impacted the job that I was trying to do. Um, but you know, you have those people that say, oh, it doesn't matter. It, it totally matters. And not even just at the federal level, it matters. It matters actually more at the local level, um, to make sure that you're because that's where a lot of these decisions and ordinances and regulations are passed. And so 100%, you know, make sure our voices are heard. I love that. Um, now the second part of that conversation is once we have these conversations, let's say we do go out, we do vote. Our voices are heard. We've had the conversations. We've decided that, you know what, we need to figure it out for our community, how we're going to move forward. We've talked to the, we've talked to the community leaders. We talk to the community organizers, how do we hold everybody accountable to make sure the work that we talked about gets done. Speaker 3 00:17:59 Um, follow-up follow-up is, is a huge thing. Following up with your steady officials, um, emailing calling, um, or, you know, getting involved yourself, go out there and find different volunteer jobs that you can do that maybe pushes your agenda in the right direction. Um, because if you're not following up, if you're not volunteering, if you're not looking for different types of opportunities then, and you're just sitting back, you're like, well, I'll just let them do it, but then you're not doing your part. Then it's kind of like, okay, we're not, we're not moving forward with whatsoever. Um, so you have to hold them, you know, accountable. Um, and then something that I love when most, when politicians, um, when their reelection is coming up, they love to try and do everything that they said they were going to do really quick. And it's like, no, no, no, no, no. You had two years to do this and you didn't do it now. And I think your time is up. So, you know, telling the people who you will let pay, your reelection is coming up. You want these people to vote for you. You need to start making headway because I can, I can make sure that my side, the African-American black community, they don't vote for you. You need them, but you need their support to back you up. You ain't got their support. You're not getting reelected. So, I mean, Speaker 0 00:19:13 Yeah, and that, I think that it goes back to the vote. The vote is how we hold them accountable. We organize and we make them understand that if they don't make good on the promises, then we will find somebody else who will, it's a long process. I mean, it's not, it's not a short fix and it's not for the faint of heart, but I mean, it, it is a prod. It's the only process that we have right now. So I feel like we have to make that work. Um, so I, I guess the next part is we, like, we, I just mentioned it's a long process, so it, it's going to take some time. So in between then between, so the reality is we have to live in the world as it is, um, until we can see that change. So for, so being that, that is our reality, that things aren't changed yet many black and brown families have to have, um, conversations, the talk with their boys and, and, and even their girls about how to interact with law enforcement, um, in order for them to come home safe. Um, as an officer, um, someone who has worked in the system, what things do you wish parents were saying to their children when they're giving them that talk? Speaker 3 00:20:20 Um, one thing I always tell people is that that officer is a human person as well, forget the badge, forget the gun thing of that person as your neighbor. Right. So think of that. So that officer is a father, a brother, a son, what have you, your interactions? Cause they want to, at the end of the day, they want that. That's our goal too. We want to go home at the same. I walked out of my front door. I want to walk right back in at the end of the day. Um, and I think having those conversations with our black and brown children is that just, I mean, just do everything possible that you can to not make. I don't, I don't even know, like, like it's, it's one of those like, like how do you interact with law enforcement? Just treat them like a normal human being. Just like how they are. They tell you to do something, just, just do it. You can always get a lawyer, you know, if you feel like your, um, constitutional rights are violated, um, you always have that option as well. So just do what you can not, I don't want to say, do what you can to make it out alive, but just do everything that you can to not make that I don't. Speaker 0 00:21:28 Right. It's hard. Like, you know, it's, it's hard. I get it. Like you want, you want to make sure that, and I, and I, I can only imagine, um, as an educator, obviously, you know, teachers get baths all the time, you know, test scores are horrible people aren't teaching, you know, um, you know, and, and you don't, you know, you don't care about kids. You guys are just in it for the, for the, the early dismissals and the, and the, in the summers off. And it's like, no, we, we actually are human too. And, um, and when we are working with your children, we are trying to do what's best, but we, because we are people, we also, in our mind have the experiences that come with the 20 years in the classroom. So for example, I sometimes might sit in a meeting and I have to check myself because I know that my experience tells me if a kid is presenting with unable to sit in their seat. Speaker 0 00:22:17 If a kid is presenting with, um, you know, um, you know, constantly blurting things out, constantly forgetting to turn in their homework. You know, I I've been through enough of these cases and conversations to know, and my mind that kid has ADHD and I will 100%. And that will, and if, if my mind has already decided that that's what that kid has, I'm going to approach the problem or, you know, the situation differently. Um, I might be recommending sit down with the counselor. I might be recommending medication. I might be doing all of these things. Um, and the parent, you know, who's, who's, this is their first interaction with, you know, an administrator of the school, the teacher on this level, they might get offended, you know, like, how are you automatically characterizing my child as having this thing when we've not checked out this, this, this, this, and this. Speaker 0 00:23:06 Um, and therefore, how are you treating them like this, this, this, this, and this. And I, and I have to understand that I get that. Um, but when you've done the job, as long as I have you do start to develop some, some pat, some things that you've noticed as patterns, I know that when a kid presents this way, they typically, you know, have this. So not saying it's right. And that saying that there are not systematic reasons why sometimes interactions between law enforcement and black and brown communities are the way that they are, but to your point, that people are human. I think we have to playing devil's advocate. Remember that they, you are not the first person they've interacted that day, um, that week, that year. Um, and there are patterns of, and experiences that they've had that are making them in that moment, approach you in that way. Speaker 0 00:23:58 There is responsibility, just like their responsibility on me to check my, whenever possible, check my assumptions at the door and try to treat each child like an individual case. But in the heat of the moment, you know, as a human, sometimes you're, you're the patterns of behavior and what you've seen over the last year, year. I'm sure you've seen some stuff. And so you probably unconsciously developed, uh, okay. When I see this, I automatically know that this is about to go down this way and I need to do this, and you do it unconsciously without thinking not to be racist, not to be, you know, you know, um, you know, uh, aggressive, but because it's pattern that you've seen. Um, and so I think it's, it's unfortunate. I think that the onus falls on us to be cognizant of their patterns. You know, I do think there needs to be some training because at some point, if you're allowed to carry a gun, you've got to as aware as I am. Speaker 0 00:25:02 When I walk into a meeting to make sure that I don't offend that parent who is sitting there with her child for the first time and not that child is not the 15 other children that I've seen over the course of my career, the same way I have to check myself, um, and come into that room and see that child as an individual. I also think that the police officer's responsibility have to see each person, they stop as an individual, but I agree to your point that we are human. Um, and so to give each other grace when possible. Um, so I mean, it's tough. I know that that had to be a tough question for you to, to kind of figure out a answer for Speaker 3 00:25:37 Yeah. It was like, oh, okay. Speaker 0 00:25:40 Right, right. Um, so do you have any recommendations for improving community relations between black and brown communities? And officer's, Speaker 3 00:25:50 I would say the, like, there's always, like, there's always like town hall, either meetings or like community events, right. Where the community comes together. Usually there's always officers present. Right. So that's your time to meet in that kind of like a neutral zone and just ask them like, how's your day, like, you know, how's it being a police officer? Like what can I do to better, you know, help myself. I do get pulled over by a police officer. Just those questions alone can help you build that better understanding of what they go through. You know, not every traffic stop is the same. Um, as easy as it for you to get shot, going to a domestic violence is easy as you to get shot on a traffic stop because someone is, you know, maybe they were too nervous or maybe some people just don't like cops in general, you know, they get pulled over and they're already like, I'm gonna shoot them or I'm a do something. Speaker 3 00:26:42 Right. So meeting those neutral zones, ask those questions. Um, it's always good for someone to be like, Hey, look, I honor your service, but explain this to me, you know? Um, so then that way, like I said, you're in the neutral zone, no one, your it's not like you're getting pulled over. It's not like they're coming to your house, but meeting those nice neutral zones and ask them, ask them those questions that you want to answer and they'll answer you, you know, it's not, or if they don't know it, maybe they'll find someone who does know the answer, but at least you're having that conversation. Um, and it goes the same way, you know, instead of, you know, let's say, I, I would, I wouldn't even say the same thing about even like, for an officer, like, let's say that you see a birthday party in a public park right over there, you know, talk to them like, or you see that you see, you know, sometimes you always have the senior citizens who sit on the same block, drink coffee at the same time, go over there and have a chat with them. Speaker 3 00:27:34 Like, or I know like back in my neighborhood, back in Chicago, like we would have officers, um, at least probably like once a week you would pull into the neighborhood, you know, the kids would approach him and they would ask questions and like, he would turn on the siren. He would do things that would help build that relationship. Because if you can build it with the kids, the parents are seeing that. They're like, okay, they're not that bad. You know, kids are saying, oh, you know, we turned on the sirens and they're having all this fun. Um, we even had another event where, um, it was, I think it was like pool for the day, or it was some event where like the officers of our town would come into and pick us up in a school bus. They would take us to a local pool. Speaker 3 00:28:13 Um, and they would feed us hot dogs and chips, and we would get the pool for like five hours. And that was their interaction that was them giving back to the community. So for both ways, you know, if you see an officer behind you and, you know, I did this recently, um, I want them to McDonald's and I was like, oh, there's an officer behind me. What, you know, what did he order? Oh, he only ordered an iced tea. Okay. I'll pay for it. Um, so just generous gestures like that. I'm not out there looking for all. Well, thank you, Stefan. No, it's just, it's something nice, you know? Um, just pay it forward, putting, okay. Speaker 0 00:28:47 Definitely. Well, I think that, that, I, I tell people all the time when I'm training teachers, that, um, the, the very first thing that I say, if you want to have great classroom management is you reach out to your parents before the first day of school, before Johnny has cussed you out before he is strongly with your head, you know, so you can just, so it's neutral and you can have that conversation, um, you know, and build that relationship. And I, you know, and you just said the same thing you have to build, you have to build a neutral relationship on neutral ground. Um, before there are these incidents, you know, before you've got stopped for speeding before he comes to your house for domestic violence, like these are the things you need to be building before. Um, so I think that's actually a really good tip. Speaker 0 00:29:28 And I, I do agree with you. I think it goes both ways. Stefan, I want to thank you so much for your insight today. Um, and all of your tips on, on how we should try to reeducate ourselves and our children on this very touchy, very, very explosive subjects, but you were great to talk to. Thank you so much. Thank you. Have the hard conversations, meet and neutral spaces to build relationships and volts. Thank you again to my guests to find Garrison for speaking with us today, and thank you for listening. Show notes and resources to the things we discussed are available on our website at www just like me, presents.com, share this podcast with other parents and educators and your circle, and be sure to subscribe. So you never miss an episode. And if you like what you heard, leave us a review reviews, help others discover our show and begin their own journeys. Have a great week. And remember if our children can see it, they can achieve it. Speaker 4 00:30:37 Parents are you frustrated with traditional education? I was educators. 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