Shaunte Southern is a Sergeant in Gaston County, North Carolina. He has served primarily with patrol and the SWAT team. In a recent essay he wrote for The Undefeated, he opens up about racism in law enforcement. He writes, “[t]o be honest with you, I think that African-American males are treated differently by law enforcement, and that’s my honest opinion. I think this fear of black men is real. As a black officer, sometimes you feel like people expect or want you to pick a side- when in fact you can be both pro-black or pro-police.” He traces this fear of Black men back to historical depictions of Black men as dangerous. Despite this sobering belief about our past and present, Southern expresses hopefulness about the future of relationships between law enforcement and the public. Though he believes that greater transparency has made it easier for police to hold each other accountable, he notes that more of this accountability is needed. He hopes that police officers will find more opportunities to interact with community members outside of their traditional roles, and that the public will be willing to learn more about the challenges officers face. Read the full essay here.
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