Rooftop Revelations: Policing in the aftermath of Michael Brown, George Floyd

on Feb26
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After the deaths of Michael Brown and George Floyd rocked America, the policing profession came under immense scrutiny, unfair or not. Many Americans grappled with how to better policing, but their often politically motivated agendas caused them to talk past one another. Look no further than the defund the police debacle that cost innocent lives, demoralized many police officers and left many citizens cynical. 

However, beneath this political noise, there were police officers who saw this as an opportunity to reevaluate their profession. Lou Jogmen, police chief for the Highland Park Police Department, was one of them. Pastor Corey Brooks welcomed him to the roof on the 98th day of his 100-day rooftop vigil to raise funds to build a transformative community center on the South Side of Chicago. As they sat before the campfire, the pastor welcomed the officer warmly.

“You’re the chief of police of Highland, but you’re going to be the president of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police,” the pastor said. 

“Yes, sir. A 1,300 member organization trying to professionalize law enforcement,” Jogmen replied.

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“We all have seen the turmoil and the hardships that have gone on across our country,” the pastor said. “What are we doing in the state of Illinois, the chiefs, to help with that tension that we’re experiencing from police and community?”

“In Illinois, we are trying to take the lead in that area,” Jogmen said. “The more hearts, minds and voices that we can put together, we’re really going to make a difference. And so one of the groups that we’ve partnered with years ago and are continuing that partnership, was the NAACP, Illinois. And we’ve come up with what we think is a groundbreaking kind of agreement in law enforcement, and it’s called the 10 Shared Principles of law enforcement.”

“What makes that different than the other states?”

“There is no other state where the leadership at the NAACP and a police organization has come together to work together through these issues,” Jogmen replied. “We really owe it to each other to focus on the things that we all have in common. And what we all have in common, every one of us – doesn’t matter where you live, black, white, what country you live – is that need for security, the need for safety, the need to not be victimized.”

“Absolutely.”

“We talked about valuing life. That’s certainly [principle] number one, and treating people with dignity and respect,” Jogmen continued. “The eighth principle is [that] there is ownership on the community to understand what it is the police do. The community’s going to say, ‘Listen, I may not agree with everything I see. If I see something, I may think for instance, I see it in the movies, it may happen in TV and I hold that officer to that standard,’ and it’s not realistic, right? And then our officers are held to this unrealistic standard. Sometimes things happen, and they’re lawful, but awful. I mean, violence is ugly—”

“That’s a good way to put it—”

“But it’s legal and the officer had to do it. So when the officers aren’t supported on those [incidents], they retreat. And the community’s retreating. So, when we get it wrong, we mess up, we fess up, and we have to own that. And we have to deal with those folks. And we will. When our officers get it right, they need to feel like they’re being supported.”

“They need the support.”

“They have a million contacts a day in law enforcement across the country, and we are getting it right the vast majority of times. But when we don’t, we want to hold ourselves accountable, and the NAACP, they want to hold us accountable,” Jogmen said. “The eighth shared principle, the ownership is on our community to say, ‘I’m going to take the time to attend a citizen’s police academy. I’m going to learn about what the police do, so when I do see it on TV, I’m like, okay, that looks terrible, but that officer did their job to keep people safe.'”

Jogmen added that it is not just law enforcement and NAACP that are beholden to these 10 principles. He then revealed that AT&T recently signed onto these principles and now shares them with their massive employee base. 

“I would say to Fox, I would say to Verizon … NFL, NBA, we’re open. Everybody come and we will share, like we did working with the NAACP to have that peace so the officers feel valued. And when we get it wrong, we own it,” Jogmen said.

“So that’s [principle] number eight. Give us another one, like number 10, maybe,” the pastor asked.

“Number 10 is a really a priority on deescalation,” Jogmen said. “These things, if you’ve never been involved in a rapidly evolving dangerous situation where you’re concerned for your safety, these things happen fast. And now with body cameras you can see kind of how fast things are happening.”

“Absolutely. To the second.”

“To the second. But I will tell you, and I’ll just use a story,” Jogmen continued. “I’ve got an officer who was dealing with the neighborhood complaint, and the neighbor was not happy. [The officer was] talking with her … they ended up having some words. It didn’t go well—”

“Right, right.”

“And so the woman called me and complained about this officer – she’s a great officer, she’s been doing this 25 years – and said she was treated with disrespect. So I called my officer and says, ‘Hey, what’s going on?’ And she’s like, ‘Listen, I tried. She wants me to write a ticket [against her neighbor], but we don’t have the lawful authority to do that.’ So she had expectations that we couldn’t meet.”

“Right, right.”

“[The officer is] like, ‘I’m going to call her back. I don’t want her to feel that way,’ Jogmen said, continuing with his story. “She calls her. It gets worse. The lady starts yelling at her more. She’s drivin, as she’s talking, and goes to this woman’s house, unbeknownst to this woman. [The officer] says, ‘Hey, listen, can you step outside?’ And the woman’s like, ‘What? I’m going to call the chief and complain more.’ ‘No, come outside. I want to give you a hug. And I want to tell you that I care about you, and we’re going to try to help you. And we’re going to try to get through this, and that you mean something to me.’”

“That’s definitely going the extra mile,” the pastor said. 

“I’m going to tell you, 25 years ago, somebody called to complain about me, I’m probably not going to want to give him a hug,” Jogmen admitted. “That is what I’m talking about with these shared principles. When it’s part of the culture, those are the officers you get. Now we can’t go around hugging everybody. I mean, there are some people out there, unfortunately, that are hurting other people. Need to be locked up for the time, and we need to deal with them. And our officers need to be safe, but we got fantastic officers in Illinois, and we need to support them. And I hope that this program gains traction. I hope chiefs associations and other states reach out, work with their NAACP. This has potential to bring us together. And to get us through where we’re at right now.”

“From the chief of police perspective, what do you think we can do to make things better across the country with police and community relations?” the pastor asked.

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“It’s the shared understanding. There’s nothing worse when the police don’t understand what’s going on in these communities,” Jogmen replied. “That’s why I want to come down here … I want to come down here and see what you’re doing. I want to understand it. Right? How you’re living, what’s going on here. How these folks are being victimized, things like that. We need to understand what the public needs to understand: it’s a relationship. If you’re a police officer and you do everything right and everybody still is angry with you, I mean, where do you go with that?”

“Yeah, yeah.”

“The only way I see us moving forward is that we have the shared understanding. Ten Shared Principles is a roadmap. We can do it. Like I said, I’d love to get companies of everybody involved. We need to talk to our people … so they understand the reality of it.”

Follow along as Fox News checks in Pastor Corey Brooks each day with a new Rooftop Revelation.

For more information, please visit Project H.O.O.D.

Eli Steele is a documentary filmmaker and writer. His latest film is “What Killed Michael Brown?” Twitter: @Hebro_Steele.

Camera by Terrell Allen.



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