Help purge bad cops, black Dallas police leader urges Obama

These are especially difficult times for black law enforcement officers who, painfully sometimes, see that the complaints that some of their fellow cops are racist are real. Hari Sreenivasan holds a frank discussion with Lieutenant Thomas Glover, the president of the Black Police Association Of Greater Dallas, who makes a special plea for President Barack Obama to make a difference.

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    The past week has underscored just how deep some of the dividing lines are in the country, and none more so than when it comes to law enforcement and criminal justice.

    African-American police are walking an especially difficult tightrope.

    Hari Sreenivasan spoke this weekend with Lieutenant Thomas Glover. He's the president of the Black Police Association of Greater Dallas.


    What's happened to this city in the last couple of days?

    LT. THOMAS GLOVER, President, Black Police Association of Greater Dallas: I don't know.

    I think it's symptomatic of a move that may be sweeping the country. It's symbolic of people crying out to get the people in charge to listen to them, and I think we will have to listen this time.


    These were your fellow officers. These are people you served on the force with, your friends.


    Yes. One of them was a subordinate of mine for about a year three years ago, and I know him and love him dearly.

    And I think it's — again, I am extremely saddened by the fact that five officers lost their lives in the city of Dallas, and it took this to get attention to a problem that people have been screaming about for years. Violence toward the police is not the answer. It has never been the answer, and it will never be the answer.


    Are the concerns of African-American communities in the United States right now against police departments and how the police are treating them, are they legitimate?


    Yes, I think so, definitely.

    I would be a fool to sit here and deny that. I have been pulled over and profiled. I used to own a vehicle that had 22-inch rims. It was totally black, blacked out with dark-tinted windows, and over the four-year period that I drove it, I probably got stopped a half-a-dozen times, and most of it was five, six, eight blocks from my church.

    When you state that they are not legitimate, people want to paint you as being anti-police, anti-law enforcement. Well, I'm pro-police, I'm pro-law enforcement, and I'm anti-police misconduct. I am anti-police mistreatment. I am anti-police discrimination.

    When there is misconduct, that officer needs to be, I will use the word crucified, because when one officer, whether it be in a small town in New Jersey or a major city on the West Coast or a mid-sized city in Central United States, anytime an officer commits misconduct, it reflects what I have to deal with, what almost a million other police officers have to deal with around the country.


    When you see a video or videos like the ones that came out this week, as a member of the African-American community, that could have been a member of your family, what goes through you?


    I'm appalled that it happens.

    I will be honest. I didn't cry, the first one I saw that came out of Baton Rouge. I was very concerned. But the second one that I saw in Minnesota, I shed tears. I was sitting on the sofa in my house, and I began to cry and boo — just like I knew the person, because I knew it was symbolic of a major problem that we have in this country.

    As an African-American police officer, every day that you serve, it's almost like you're serving two masters. And I hate to be so straightforward. Many people expect us from the blue side, and I mean law enforcement, to be quiet, to walk a tightrope, and to just be indifferent.

    On the other hand, in your community, you are expected to make a difference. I know in all my years, I have heard it, and now I have people calling me saying, Glover, we told you so. You see it? A guy got shot in the back running away from a police officer, and he never would have been in trouble had not someone covertly recorded it on a cell phone video.

    And all I can do is say, yes, you're right. We become adept at doing both of them very well. We do the police job extremely well, and we live in our community extremely well, but, sometimes, and oftentimes, when you talk to African-American police officers, it's one of the most grueling and taxing things that you can do as a human.

    And you saw it in a video that went viral on Facebook this week where the African-American mother, who was a member of a police department in Ohio somewhere near Cleveland, a seven-minute video of her screaming. And she is vehemently and emphatically denouncing the fact that she thinks very poorly — and I do, too — of someone who polices our community, whether they be black, pink, purple or green, and are so full of fear, so full of fear, that they mistreat people.


    When the president comes, what do you want to say to him? What do you want him to do?


    Mr. President, do the right thing. I'm telling you, as a 35-year African-American police officer, that there are problems in the way we police in the black community. And I think you need to take that charge, Mr. President, and do whatever is necessary to incite Congress to pass laws that would allow us to rid the law enforcement and the police profession of these type of people.

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