Black officers like me are poised to play critical role in reform


It is of utmost important that our voices be heard. Now is the time to unapologetically inject Black into Blue.

Earlier this month, I had the honor of participating in a panel discussion with retired police Officer Howard Saffold.

He spoke about the discrimination and intense racism he faced as a Black officer a mere 50 years ago. Today, as a front-line supervisor, I work in an era in which my immediate boss is Black and his boss is Black.

For the first time in history the three highest-ranking members of the Chicago Police Department are all African American.

No better time

This year has taught me that there has never been a better time in American history to be a Black police officer.

Our nation has faced a critical reckoning in 2020. In every corner of the country the impact caused by COVID-19 has been felt.

Loss of employment, health risks, hunger, insufficient access to education and constant uncertainty have been introduced to many who, before this year, had never experienced such pain.

The murder of George Floyd put into full view the centuries old practice of dehumanizing Black Americans. The marginalization and neglect of the people whose blood and tears seeded the foundation of this great land is not a new revelation.

This struggle has been ignored for far too long by large segments of the population.

Time for reform

As a Black police officer raised in Austin and a current resident of North Lawndale on Chicago’s West Side, I am proud to say I am a member of the community I serve.

This gift provides me the ability to view our neighborhoods with authenticity, achieved through the acknowledgment of the vast number of narratives that exist on the South and West sides of Chicago.

The lived experiences of Black police officers can play vital roles in police reform. We are positioned in the optimal place at a time when the country is primed to make substantial repairs to its patterns and practices.

It is of utmost important that our voices be heard. Now is the time to unapologetically inject Black into Blue.

Jermaine Harris is a sergeant in the Chicago Police Department. The views expressed are  those of the author and do not reflect those of the Chicago Police Department.



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