"If I’m not putting myself in the position to really effect change then what am I doing? Hopefully somewhere I have the opportunity to change someone’s mind", she said.
Renata Phillip, a 36-year-old woman, had been a teacher for 11 years before she decided to become a police officer. She made her decision in the thick of the growing concern over police brutality after numerous deaths of Black men at the hands of officers in the recent years.
Phillip grew up in an upper-middle-class neighborhood which consists of mostly whites, 30 miles east of Los Angeles. She was never motivated by race, but that is her major motivation now as she nears completion of her training to become a deputy of the L.A. County’s sheriff. She hopes to wipe away the perception a lot of people have of police officers. “If I can have a positive experience with someone and maybe help them change their mind, why not?” she said.
Asia Hardy, a Black 26-year-old, who also joined the police a year ago, works as a probation officer in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Los Angeles. She had few words of advice for Phillip and what she could expect on the streets. “I get called a sellout sometimes,” she said. Some will tell her: “Why are you doing the white man’s job?” However, others see her as a shining light. “They’ll say, ‘I’m glad you’re out here representing us,’” she said. “Or you get the little girl pointing at you and saying, ‘Look, Mommy, there’s a girl cop.’ Things like that make my day. I want that little girl to know she can grow up and be a cop if she wants to.”
Phillip, the former teacher at Ganesha High School in Pomona, made her decision to join the police after she found herself helping her students with problems outside the classroom on numerous occasions. She found it fulfilling and she enjoyed it. One of her students was suffering from depression after losing a friend to gang violence. He started to cause problems in the class and ventured into using drugs. Phillip offered as much help as she could by building a rapport with the student and gaining his trust. After some time, he opened up about his problems; Phillip helped him move to another school and that helped him to recover from the trauma he went through.
When Phillips told her parents about the decision she made, her mother cried because she was concerned about the safety of her daughter, because she believes the job of a police officer is dangerous. After praying about it and seeing how passionate her daughter was about law enforcement, her mother said she’s now fully on board. “I’m just really proud of her and I just really want her to be safe,” she said.
The courage and commitment this Black woman shows is really something to admire. In a society where police brutality on Blacks is rampant, she has decided to take a stand and help to make it a better place. We hope to have more decent Black people in law enforcement, so as to curb the growing number of cases of police brutality on Blacks.
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