Police Strife Post Dallas Attack: Being Black As An Officer Is 'A Burden We Carry'
LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:
It's been a week since five police officers were fatally shot in Dallas during a peaceful protest against police shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota where two black men died. Since then, the city has mourned, honored its dead and hosted a visit from President Obama. But where does Dallas go from here? We're joined now by Lieutenant Thomas Glover. He is the president of the Black Police Association of Greater Dallas. Lieutenant Glover, welcome to the program.
THOMAS GLOVER: Good afternoon to you and your listeners, and thank you very much for having me.
WERTHEIMER: So tell me how you and your fellow officers are doing one week later.
GLOVER: Well, this is a very trying time. It's a tragedy that we have never faced before - losing five officers in one hour or two or less - but we're grieving. I knew three of the officers personally myself. One of them was a former subordinate of mine, and I'll be attending his funeral. But - it's been tough, but Dallas has gone through some tough times before. And we are going to pull together, pray and gather with our community and work out whatever needs to be working out to get beyond this.
WERTHEIMER: How are relations with the community?
GLOVER: Well, fortunately for Dallas, we have made tremendous strides over the last 10 to 15 years. We are in - we're at the forefront of what many people call community policing. We started back in the '70s and '80s having major issues in the community. And we went through a congressional hearing. We went through a Justice Department investigation. There were some things that went on in the way of the application and use of deadly force, as well as, you know, complaints about police brutality. We went through all of that. Our city fathers, as well as the police chiefs, instituted a bunch of reforms. And so we are much better than a lot of places in the country, but we're not where we need to be.
WERTHEIMER: Do you think there's been a special burden on black police officers in this time period?
GLOVER: Being an African-American police officer is one of the most difficult things that you'll do because there are African-American police officers all around this country and in this city who I talk to on a daily bases that, even before recent history, believe that there were issues between police officers and young black men. And one of the things that I think creates the problem - I've heard the word utilized a lot in describing the relationship - is that African-American men and particularly young men - say late teens to early-to-mid-30s - are - the word used is demonized.
And there are black officers that you talk to on a daily basis who will tell you that it's tough. I see this, and I still have to be accepted. I still have to be a part of the police culture, living in two worlds.
But I'll say that if you're a black police officer in America, there are some difficulties simply because you know that your race and gender has been on the receiving end of some very serious and questionable uses of force, whether they be deadly or just plain force used to make an arrest. So it is seen as something that - a burden that we carry as African-American men who also work in police profession.
WERTHEIMER: Lieutenant Thomas Glover is president of the Black Police Association of Greater Dallas. Lieutenant Glover, thank you very much.
GLOVER: Thank you very much. Appreciate it. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
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