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Author, police chief discuss policing, accountability

CNN analyst Matthew Horace sat down with Winston-Salem Police Department (WSPD) Chief Catrina Thompson to discuss the relationship between law enforcement agencies and people of color, the systems in place that regulate the American prison system, and the importance of holding officers and elected officials accountable for their actions.

Author, police chief discuss policing, accountability
September 13
09:05 2018

It’s no secret that the relationship between African-Americans and law enforcement agencies across the country is one of distrust, paranoia and bias.

While promoting his new book, “The Black and Blue: A Cop Reveals the Crimes, Racism, and Injustice in America’s Law Enforcement,” security expert and CNN analyst Matthew Horace sat down with Winston-Salem Police Department (WSPD) Chief Catrina Thompson to discuss the relationship between law enforcement agencies and people of color, the systems in place that regulate the American prison system, and the importance of holding officers and elected officials accountable for their actions.

For nearly an hour, Horace and Thompson discussed the book, implicit bias within law enforcement agencies, community policing, mental health and several other topics before taking questions from the audience.

In the book co-written by Ron Harris, a former reporter and editor for the Los Angeles Times and St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Horace uses his own encounters with police and expertise of the U.S. prison system to explore the root causes of implicit bias and ways to build a better relationship between the Black and Blue  while exploring some of the most infamous cases where the loss of life occurred by the bullet, hands or choke hold from law enforcement.

An officer for 28 years, Horace said he decided to write the book shortly after he was called in by news networks to provide commentary for cases like the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, the Laquan McDonald shooting in Chicago and several others.

“When I was being called to provide commentary by CNN and all these other networks, it began like a monthly thing and then at some point it started to be weekly. It was Walter Scott, it was Philando Castile, and it just kept happening,” Horace said

Horace said he wants people to understand that often times with police-involved shootings, not only the individual acts of police officers should be held accountable. He said there are levels of leadership involved sometimes including city council members, administrators and others in the “chain of information.”

“… If you take the case in Chicago, there was a whole string of people that were involved. In Chicago the video was kept private for over a year and in Chicago there were at least 100 people who knew what transpired on the video,” he continued. “… It was the mayor, it was the city council, it was the chief at the time, it was a lot of people who knew this was out there. So in many cases as much as eyes are drawn toward police and officers, there is a whole string of people in the chain of information.” 

Horace admits we are a long way from mending the relationship between law enforcement and the African- American community, but there is hope. During his research, Horace said he came in contact with numerous law enforcement agencies, making sure officers are held accountable for their actions. Chief Thompson stressed the importance of accountability as well. She said while it is good to talk about accountability, action is what’s really important. Thompson, who has spent her entire 24 years in law enforcement with the WSPD, said throughout her career that’s always been the culture.

“I don’t doubt in any way accountability has always been the culture here. Now does that mean we haven’t had bad officers, absolutely not, but when we identify those officers that are not following the policies and laws of our agency, our city and our country, we have to get rid of them,” continued Thompson. “I tell my team we’re going to do the right thing whether someone is looking or not because that’s the right thing to do.”

Following the open discussion, Horace signed copies of his new book and chatted with fans.

Horace’s visit to the Twin City was part of the 14th annual Bookmarks Festival of Books and Authors, the largest annual book festival in the Carolinas. For more information about Bookmarks, visit bookmarksnc.org.

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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