*For the last 55 years of my life – before I was ever Blue – I was Black. Undeniably black. While spending 30 years in law enforcement, before I was ever recognized as a Senior Special Agent with the U.S. Department Justice, they saw and see a Black man.
Whether I, Bobby F. Kimbrough, speak to you from a perspective of a seasoned Law Enforcement Expert or an extremely proud Black Man born and raised in the 60s – I must give you what is true. The truth is there are times when the police deal with the stereotype instead of the individuals.
There are indeed times when those on the inside of the system must ask themselves, “Are we doing what is right or what is white?” Conversely, there are times when the Black man lives up to the stereotype in grand fashion.
In our society we function on the rules of law. Within those rules of law there is a moral justice that circles the universe which exists or gets ignored. African American males become the victim of the stereotypes of a white culture. Whether our adornment is given at birth or dispensed over the counter, we are often stereotyped based on our pigmentation, our style and our decoration.
The truth in America, while we are advancing in certain parts of our society, there are areas where we are at a standstill. Stagnate. If law enforcement would be honest, there are still some cities that fall under the good ol’ boy culture. As one presidential candidate called it – “locker room talk.”
This locker room talk goes far beyond gender and shows up in encounters people have with law enforcement professionals. There is a distinct culture in law enforcement. There is undeniably a culture within a culture. Many people know it exists but have no clue the depths of its impact. We know there is racism. There is unbridled hatred. Some do not how expansive it is until they become a victim of it.
As a Black man and a law enforcement expert, I understand the need for one culture. I recognize the need for law enforcement to understand the Black, the Hispanic, Islam.
If you look across America to those who protect and serve, the numbers are skewed and it impacts how society is served. Go to an even higher level, federally, the numbers are even more disproportionate to the population.
In order for us to change the current atmosphere between law enforcement and communities of color, we have to begin an ongoing dialogue that equips everyone with the knowledge to make sound decisions and take appropriate actions.
It is essential to start the consistent training of law enforcement to manage their emotions when they come face to face with the stereotypes embedded in their minds.
It is imperative that we teach children at the youngest ages in our school systems how to interact with law enforcement officers. It is the things we do not know that harm us and jeopardize our lives.
The Truth: 1. We must know the system. 2. We must prepare for the fact that the system has issues. 3. We must realize that sometimes the system reacts to the stereotype and not the individual. Moving forward armed with knowledge is the only way to disarm and alter the system.
Bobby F. Kimbrough, Jr. is a retired Senior Special Agent with the U.S. Department of Justice. He is the author of “Surviving the Stop“, a law enforcement analyst, security expert and keynote speaker. Contact him at [email protected]com.
Bobby F. Kimbrough