Growing up in a community that is diverse and vibrant, because of its location and its real estate, sheltered me from the truth of racism. I always knew it existed as I read it in our history books, watched it on the news, saw the changes that it was causing, in the profession I have spent the last 21 years serving in, yet I had never actually experienced it. It was not until I traveled to a different state that I was exposed to racism first hand. I was told that I was the wrong color and race to be applying for the top cop position in that community. After a few days in the community, I realized that I was indeed not welcomed and was only brought in for an interview to meet some affirmative action quota.
I was exposed to racism again after becoming the Police Chief of a town in East Texas and was shocked at how openly racism was accepted there. It was then I knew I had to make a change.
The main issue here was that it had been going on for so long that it almost seemed to be accepted as natural or normal behavior. I arrived at a time when the anti-police sentiment was beginning to brew heavily around the country. I was shocked at how several people in the community were treated because of the color of their skin or because of their social-economic status. In talking to the community, many felt that the police were racially motivated and did not trust us. The reality was that this was a misconception built on by years of misunderstood criticism on both ends of the spectrum; which is what led me to initiate the No Colors No Labels Initiative. Through education, transparency, partnerships, food, unity, and faith the world could change and unite to put an end to racial misconceptions.
No Colors No Labels is a simple initiative with a complex mission. The mission is to bridge the gap between the police and the community. The mainstream media will have you believe that the police look at policing as us against them or that the community believes that the police provide services based on racial or social economic status. The misconception is an issue that we have been faced with for some time now. The police will always address this issue by issuing a blanket statement of “We are committed to community policing,” but what does this mean? Community policing has been around for a very long time and has changed its look a few times, but never changed the concept. NCNL will attempt to make the changes by proactively engaging the community and making a concentrated effort to erase the misconception that the police are racially motivated. Changing the misconception will not be an easy undertaking, but an undertaking that must be taken. With the use of social media, education, unity, food, and a lot of elbow grease we will turn the tide and make a change.