Published on February 23rd, 2017 | by Aasha Francis0
Recap: Police and People of Color
Professor Susie Bonner of Wright College brought together a panel of current and former law enforcement professionals to discuss the controversial topic of the relationship between police and people of color. Panelists included Wright College security officer Chester Bromby, and former law enforcement officers Lorenzo Davis and Michael Davis, who are also brothers. The event was a part of Wright College’s black history month, and it served to expose the Wright community to how people of color view police, unpack police brutality, and how to improve the relationship between these two parties. A 2016 report from the Chicago Tribune found that about four out of every five people shot by police were African-American males.
Lorenzo Davis, a former investigator with the Independent Police Review Authority, began his career as an African American History teacher, and later became a police officer due to his desire to help people. His former role as an IPRA investigator with the Chicago police department, involved looking into police misconduct which drew some criticisms when his review didn’t match up with police accounts, however, he continues to use his voice to expose those who may use excessive force.
“Personally, I participate in some activism. My brother and I are members of the criminal justice committee of the NAACP, and what a few people realize is that we were instrumental in bringing in the Department of Justice. Much of the information gathered by the Department of Justice when they were here, came from me, they interviewed me multiple times on three separate occasions for a number of hours and I told them what I had learned both about the police department and the workings of the IPRA, we’re also members of the criminal justice committee of COAL, the Coalition of African American Leaders,” Davis said.
Guests who attended the presentation asked several questions; ranging from “how to prevent racial profiling?” to “what is being done to improve police accountability?” One suggestion from Michael Davis, a retired CPD sergeant, was having police officers that reflect the racial makeup of the community. “You have people on the force who’ve never interacted with black people before policing our communities which is a problem for a segregated city like Chicago, you have the most reports of those who are black or Latino,” Davis said.
Davis also mentioned that the use of body cameras will help people see what’s actually happening and training has increased within CPD to help tackle some of these issues. WGN news reported late last year that Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Supt. Eddie Johnson now plan to have every patrol officer in the city wearing a body camera by the end of 2017. The roll out was expanded following the release of the shooting death of Laquan McDonald.
Chester Bromby is a current Chicago police officer and security personnel member at Wright College. He grew up on the west side of Chicago, referred to as “K-town” and expressed his desire to see people of color get treated fairly by police, but also for minority perspective of police to improve as well. “The problem won’t be fixed overnight because there is a lack of communication right now but the police department is implementing new procedures to have better communication between citizens and police,” Bromby said. “I think it’s important to have people in place that understand that everybody is not guilty based on how they look or by their responses to questions when stopped by police.” Bromby said.
With movements such as “Black Lives Matter” and other protests culminating as a result of police brutality, many community residents are desperate for change. David Navarrete, a Wright college student, is a son of police officer, who benefited from attending the event. “I’ve been reading reports from the Washington Post and black people’s experience with police and I watched the ’13th’ documentary, which sparked my curiosity but I felt I really learned today that everything is not so black-and-white but there’s a lot of gray,” Navarrete said.
Though the U.S. Justice Department opened an investigation on the Chicago police department, offering some transparency for citizens, many lingering fears and doubts still remain. However, there is hope that those who serve and protect our city will work together with citizens to use better judgment and come up with solutions to decrease the death toll and improve race relations in our city.