As I sat and watched the live recording of Forsyth County Sheriff Bobby Kimbrough in a recent press conference, I instantly looked at it from the perspective of a child.
His children live daily not knowing if their dad will make it home, if someone is out for them, yet they are most likely very proud of his accomplishments professionally and personally.
Professionally he has climbed the ranks in Public Safety. But the Character traits that stand out to me most are his integrity and compassion! These two character traits remind me of my dad.
My dad has been in public safety all my life. He was a police officer, a sheriff’s deputy, a detective, and a probation/parole officer. He is now retired and is a security officer.
My dad always has a story. Many of them are from before I was born but the amazing thing is he continues to share experiences and I have my own. I remember riding in the car with him. I can remember him pulling over to help this man who was bleeding and looked like a movie kidnapper to my young eyes. Sidebar… I was the kid who snuck and watched what they told me not to watch. I can recall my dad saving a homeless man from a burning trailer. I also have memories of my dad giving clothes to men trying to find employment after prison.
My dad would present to my class at Career Day as well as Community Helper Day. He would show up in his uniform some years while others he would come with his gear on and bring boards showing drugs, etc. Some of these events were to show my classmates that officers are here to protect and serve, while others were used to encourage career choices. When my dad would walk in my class, I would have the biggest smile! I thought he was the coolest.
I even once had a classmate come and tell me I saw your dad at my house last night! Can you image how big my eyes got. I figured it out but my dad never said anything, I guess due to confidentiality, but my classmate lived with someone on my dad’s caseload as a probation officer. Years later, in high school, that same classmate walked up to me and said tell your dad I said Hey and Thank you.
As Early Childhood Educators, we have students in our classrooms who have parents that work in public safety. We also have inspiring future public safety officers.
I can’t imagine being as proud of my dad’s uniforms now as I once was. Why, one may ask, because I’ve encountered “driving while Black” while on dates, I’ve seen the horrible videos of police brutality, and I’ve heard the stories of my students who are terrified of men in uniforms because of the experiences they have had.
This didn’t happen when I was little. Yes, things in the world were happening, but i didn’t see them. But since I’ve grown older and took learning history into my own hands, I realized that nothing is new under the sun! There has for a long time been “good cops and bad cops”!
Yes, Sheriff Kimbrough was elected as the first Black Sheriff of Forsyth County, but he is also his children’s superhero with or without the uniform. His sons can remember stories which have created experiences and memories.
I, an early childhood educator, know my dad’s ministry is to protect and serve (and be a service to) the community in a uniform. But I know him without the uniform as well! The man who didn’t have to go into a inflamed tractor trailer to save a homeless man. The man who spoke life into men who were trying to find their way after prison. The man who performed CPR on his unresponsive daughter after working third shift. The man who found the man who stole my mom’s purse and returned everything except for my photo. The man who encouraged and enlighten so many individuals.
This man who still wears a security guard’s uniform, once wore a police officer’s uniform just like the men on the videos that plague our TV screens, killing our Black and Brown Brothers and Sons, at an alarming rate. I, like many children, know for a fact their parent in a uniform has compassion and integrity along with other character traits any public safety officer needs. The uniform may be a calling for some while for others it’s just a job. I hurt for the children who are ashamed of their parent’s uniform because their parent doesn’t display valuable character traits with and without the uniform.
This community needs LOVE! We’ve got to begin to model this LOVE and not just talk about it! With and without the uniform, public safety officers must show compassion as well have integrity. As an educator, I’m always an educator, at school and away from the physical school building. With or without my badge. Police Officers, please be mindful of what you are displaying to our future generations, when you protect and serve. Begin to change the narrative of how our youngest citizens see public safely officers. Real Experiences! Not just on TV!
I’m grateful that (Guilford County) Sheriff Danny Rogers lead an initiative to increase community connections. We had two sheriffs deputies visit our class this past school year. To be honest, the thought was great, however the officers looked really uncomfortable, which it could possibly be because I teach 4 and 5 year olds. They seem like they were doing it just because they were told to, almost like a check mark off the list. Our children, need to see public safety officers in other places other than in their neighborhoods arresting people or in their homes negatively. It is vital for them to see those uniforms protecting and serving and not just enforcing the law.
Just as many Black People have experienced racism within their professions, many have also became brainwashed due to fears and desires to just live. We’re masking the hurt for momentary gratification because of years of hurt. Imagine the cops who killed Breonna Taylor having children. The child has seen their parent with and without a uniform on. What impact has this incident caused children of parents who wear uniforms?
Black People are so forgiving. We culturally give chance after chance. Black People in any profession are tired right now, even the ones in uniforms. So I leave you with this question: Is a Black Man in a uniform innocent until proven guilty? Or Without a uniform, same man, with compassion and integrity, guilty until proven innocent?