Rookie cop seeks change from within

Video Credit: Reuters - Politics
Published on August 1, 2020 - Duration: 03:39s

Rookie cop seeks change from within

[NFA] A look at one rookie police officer from Detroit, and a student advocate from New York City, who vow to help reform policing from within.

Gavino Garay has the story.

Rookie cop seeks change from within

STEPHANIE ROBINSON: "Definitely some tension between being Black and being a cop." Twenty-three-year-old African American rookie police officer Stephanie Robinson faces an internal dilemma.

She's been challenged by Black residents about her loyalty while on patrol since the death of George Floyd, and her duties on the force, where she hopes to make a living.

The rookie from Detroit's West Side has faced significant pushback for her career choice, since Floyd was killed after a white police officer knelt his neck for nearly nine minutes in late May, triggering worldwide protests against police brutality.

But Robinson says, in her view, there can be some middle ground to policing.

ROBINSON: "I guess they feel like you can't be both.

So it's like you're either going to be Black or your going to be a cop.

And then when I'm like, well you know, I'm supporting Black people, but at the same time I'm supporting police officers too, good police officers anyway." Growing concern among young officers and cadets about racism and brutality after Floyd's death is the latest complication for police recruiters already struggling to hire and retain new cops.

Some experts are calling it a workforce crisis.

This next generation wants better training; a more transparent, flexible and accountable police presence; and closer ties to the communities they serve.

A patrol officer for just over six months, Robinson can already see areas where training is desperately needed to better serve, like mental health crisis scenarios, or 'mentals'.

ROBINSON: "We learn how to deal with criminals.

We learn how to arrest people, how to do takedowns.

We learn how to deal with criminals.

Honestly, 90% of the runs that I go to everyday are mental runs.

We deal with a lot of mentals and have zero training." DeCarlos Hines is the president of the Black Student Union at New York City's John Jay College of Criminal Justice -- one of the biggest feeders into U.S. law enforcement.

He's demanding change now, urging the entire college to take a more wholistic approach at understanding systemic racism to create change from within.

He wants classes on institutional racism and systematic oppression to be a requirement, not an elective.

Karol Mason, President of John Jay, says she's listening and vows to take action.

John Jay's 15,000 student body is about 80% people of color, but about two-thirds of the faculty is white.

JOHN JAY COLLEGE PRESIDENT, KAROL MASON: "As the first African American president of John Jay, as the first woman, the first woman of color to be president of John Jay, I will consider it a personal failure if I don't figure out how do we change and give our students people who look like them so they can see what they can be.

You often hear people say 'you can't be what you can't see'." The college will convene police, community members, researchers and young people in August for a series of public dialogues on how to redefine the role of police in creating safe communities.

Some of the young students who aspire to be officers say they want to put their nuanced understanding of communities of color in areas like the Bronx to good use, and want to be viewed as a support system, rather than an oppressive force.

Others, whose own parents have been victims of police brutality, say they won't stand for it any longer, and want to be the generation that steps up and reforms the police from within.

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