CLEVELAND — Police patrol streets daily and some said they are seeing and feeling some of the same emotions as the communities they serve.
News 5 spoke with Cleveland police officers who agreed to speak on behalf of the Black Shield Police Association, an organization that provides support for officers in the Greater Cleveland area, focusing on the issues that Black and minority officers face and work to enhance the quality of public safety in the city.
“I worked in the community for years before I became a police officer and had no desire to become a police officer until I had the opportunity to work with officers,” Sgt. Charmin Leon said. “I had negative experiences with officers in the past—a condescending nature, an accusatory tone. We have pain. Our community is still in pain.”
Leon said change will come within police departments once officers begin to hold themselves accountable.
“I am dismayed when coworkers say there are bad people in every profession. We carry a badge and a gun. Our standards should be higher. You took an oath,” Leon said.
Black Shield President Vincent Montegue has worked Cleveland’s streets for 12 years and said that a culture change is needed in the profession.
“We go to work, if we don’t agree with everything our coworkers think about policing- like we're not all in with them- we’re anti-police. But just because we agree with police reform and want change, that doesn’t mean we’re anti-police,” said Montegue. “We love what we do. We love serving the community. It is challenging. You’re caught in the middle sometimes. We’re like chameleons, we always have to adapt to our environment because in our profession we’re the minority. We take a lot. We take a lot of pain. We accept a lot of things where people say things that may be offensive to us. We accept it because we’re a part of the culture.”
The Black Shield has been vocal about what they have faced. They feel it is important to continue the conversation considering what is happening now.