ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Being A Black Police Officer In America

Updated on March 7, 2013

What is it like to be a Black Officer In America?

Growing up, in East Palo Alto in the shadows of Stanford University, I used to ride my bicycle all over the affluent neighborhoods of Palo Alto and the extremely affluent neighborhoods of Atherton. I was always well aware of where I stood when I ventured into those neighborhoods. I was from the wrong side of the creek. I was from over there. I was one of them. I could see it in the eyes of the people driving by, wondering if I was looking to break into one of their houses or vandalize one of their expensive cars.

It did not bother me at the time because I knew what the great equalizer was going to be. I was being educated at a private school, I was going to go to college and one day, and unlike many of those I knew from the neighborhood, I had no criminal record. I was on track to become someone who commanded respect, admiration, and appreciation from all. I would be a police officer.

This dream came true for me many years later. As I went through the academy, I thought a lot about those days riding through different areas. I thought about how different it would be once I was wearing a badge and wearing an official police uniform. I was excited, and the future was bright.

Following graduation from the academy, the reality of the job became apparent to me quickly. I knew that the criminals did not like the police. That made logical sense. The police were trying to stop them from doing what they wanted to do. What took me by surprise was the number of educated, non-criminal folk out there that did not like the police. To me this was illogical. The officers I knew got into the profession in order to do good. They were willing to risk their lives every day because they were following a calling to protect society. These people saw media depictions of crooked cops beating citizens, and heard reports of cops using their authority for personal gain and attributed that to the rest of the officers in America. Appalling, but not to surprising. But wait, there's more!

While on a call at a local park, a citizen reported to me that there was an white male in the park swinging a rope with a knife at the end. When I stopped the subject and spoke with him about the knife, an older black man approached me. He said "Why don't you quit harassing that man?" I told him I would talk with him when I was done with the weapon wielding man. When I was done, I spoke with the older black man.

I asked him why he thought I was harassing the guy with the knife. He promptly informed me that he walked with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and that he thought I should be ashamed to wear the uniform. My reply:

"I appreciate what you did, fighting for our rights to do what at the time only whites were legally able to do. In fact, I would venture to say that because of what you did, and what you fought for, I am able to wear this uniform. You should be proud! The unfortunate thing is that though you don't know me, and you don't know the situation, you assume that I am doing something wrong. Isn't that exactly what racist whites did to you during the civil rights era. They would look at you, not knowing anything about you or your situation and assume you were up to no good. And if you are against me wearing the uniform, then you are really saying you think only non-blacks should be wearing it."

So the question is this; What is it like being a black officer in America? It is difficult to say the least. Every police involved shooting sparks debate in the family and with friends. Like many of my black officer friends, I have those in the family that are, well, ghetto. The debates can be particularly colorful with them.

At work, often black officers are made to feel invisible. That is to say, when the group is brainstorming or analyzing a situation, their comments are often blown off and never considered. What they say can easily be misunderstood. I have felt at times that I am speaking another language. And when they demand to be heard, the question is why are you being so confrontational and angry?

I think the main tool a black officer has to find is a mentor. A mentor can help a black officer navigate the minefield of mistakes and image breakers that makes up a law enforcement career. As a black officer, every move has to be thought out. Every reaction is political and has to be calculated because it can easily result in that officer being blacklisted. Your mentor does not have to be black. They just have to be someone who has navigated their career successfully and who is willing to help guide the officer in their career development.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Jay C OBrien profile image

      Jay C OBrien 

      3 years ago from Houston, TX USA

      Fourth paragraph last line, "Appalling, but not to surprising. But wait, there's more!"

      "to" should be "too."

      Add more examples of what it is like to be a "black" officer, distinguish.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      In my opinion black skin would be like a bodyguard for most white men. People will usually not mess with you if you are a black male. And black skin is good for attracting the ladies. I think if the white man went black he would not want to go back.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)