CAPE CORAL, Fla. — Keep your hands on the wheel, don’t reach for anything, listen to the officer, are some things African American parents have to tell their young black boys and girls before leaving the house, to ensure a safe return home.
David Thomas a Professor of Forensic Studies at FGCU and a former police officer says, for those who don’t understand the importance of the talk -- it’s a matter of life and death for some.
“Now other parts of society might say well police wouldn’t stop you if you weren’t doing anything wrong. We know that that's not true it happens all the time. and oftentimes they create excuses in order to do this,” said David Thomas.
Thomas says he had “The talk” with his parents growing up, and passed down the conversation to his son, but despite him being a police officer it was necessary, but he says we still have a long way to go.
“This issue that we are talking about has been here for over 100 years. So just think it just keeps cycling, it cycles and policing cycles and it’s failure cycles. So until you get those leaders that are forward-thinking, city leaders and county leaders that are forward-thinking, and until you get communities where everybody wants to sit and talk and figure out those problems we’re going to continue to have these issues,” said Thomas.
We reached out to Cape Coral Police for comment and they tell us “We’ve had no issue of that kind in Cape Coral because we have a strict policy against bias-based profiling and treat all citizens equally as well a stringent hiring process for our officer,” said Philip Mullen, Cape Coral Police Department Public Information Officer.
Fort Myers Police also responded to last night's debate question telling us “ Traffic stops are a leading cause of death for officers so they are trained to take precautionary measures. FMPD hopes the reference to this topic during the presidential debate will prompt parents, regardless of race, to have an open and productive discussion with their children about how to interact with a police officer,” said Kristin Capuzzi, Fort Myers Police Department Public Information Officer.
However, Marcus Murphy says, growing up black in America he’s had this conversation with his mother, and now much older he feels it’s disheartening we are still discussing the same issues.
“I think now that the conversation is out and we’re able to have a civil conversation and really put things into perspective and not that argumentative thing they did the first time. I’m not going to say it’s going to happen overnight because Rome wasn’t built overnight but I think to have the conversations it’s not so much about the conversations, now it’s more about the policies,” said Marcus Murphy.
Experiencing encounters of racial profiling with police he says, is indescribable, and the nation has a long way to go before this issue is resolved, but he’s glad we are starting somewhere.
“Last night after seeing the debate they should have a better understanding of what we go through. If they didn’t know before they have a better concept, because again in order to see the change we the people are the change we wish to see,” said Marcus Murphy.