Do you personally know anyone who became a police officer? I have witnessed first hand a number of transformations. An officer said, “All of my life I got my ass beat, but it is my time now.” I’ve witnessed that they grow in their minds from 160 lbs. to 200 lbs., from five foot eight to six foot eight. I will always remember a regular customer of a neighbor bar, who was one of the worst at using profanity, but upon graduating from the Pittsburgh Police Academy came in the bar and stated emphatically that from this day on there will be no more cursing in this bar. And the tragedy was that he was serious about his newfound power. This was at the beginning of a police career that he proved to be power drunk and color of skin made no difference.

I have witnessed how the system works from every aspect as a detective, city of Pittsburgh investigator, Allegheny County investigator, and from being arrested five times. I was never found guilty, but I was often branded by some police as a smart Alec, because I could quote my constitutional rights and truly understood that I am an American citizen entitled to all of the rights that any other first class citizen is entitled.

Police will state regularly that the citizens must understand the risks they take as a police officer and they are correct, but when they applied for the position they clearly understood the risks involved. For example when the city advertises that there are 20 police positions available more than a thousand people apply, the potential dangers do not discourage them. As a detective I was made aware a number of times that people are people no matter what they do for a living and racism has no barriers.

When Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated I was called into the office to help enforce some of the police departments in Allegheny County. Upon entering the office a minority of the detectives were singing at the top of their voices, “Thank God the Coon is dead.” The majority did not engage, but never intervened to stop it. I live in the 12th ward and we recognize the importance and need for police, but definitely not police who duplicate the despicable actions of Alabama’s Bull Connors.

Kingsley Association needs your financial support.

(Louis “Hop” Kendrick is a weekly contributor to the Forum Page.)


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