Retired Cop Says White Officers See Black People As Something To Practice On
As police officers across the country continue to show little to no regard for black lives, one retired St. Louis police officer sat down with the Atlanta Blackstar to shed some light on the ugly truth behind the badge for many of his white former-peers.
It was frustration with the racism he felt from the police officers who frequently pulled him over in his late-model vehicle that compelled Glenn Rogers to become a police officer in the St. Louis area 25 years ago. And it is still racism in the police force that is pushing Rogers to speak out now in anger and frustration, seven years after his retirement.
Rogers, 64, is a former police officer and undercover detective for several municipalities in St. Louis County and was a police chief for a short time in southwestern Illinois and a police chaplain in three different departments. He has watched the events transpiring in Ferguson with the unique perspective of someone who understands what it’s like on both sides of the badge.
From the first days after he joined the police force of a town in St. Louis County in 1990—a place that, like Ferguson, had an overwhelmingly white police department in a majority Black town—Rogers was stunned by the obvious contempt his white colleagues had for the Black citizens they were paid to serve and protect.
“As I began to see how Black people got talked to, treated, grabbed, arrested, how they got dealt with when being incarcerated, to me it looked like something off a slave boat when you actually saw the booking process and the handcuffing process,” Rogers, 64, told Atlanta Blackstar in an exclusive interview. “It was just a long lineup of Black people. I don’t think in the first year I saw more than one or two white people arrested. And those were usually for failure to appear for tickets.”
Rogers also went on to describe the mentality that he observed first-hand for of many of his white counterparts during his time as an officer.
Over the next few years, Rogers said he could not believe how much heartlessness and hostility white officers brought into encounters with Black people. Rogers calls this the “human element”—the part of the job where officers get to use their discretion in deciding how to respond to any given situation.
These are the situations where Black people often met danger.
“The human element has got to be put in check,” said Rogers, who has served as a police advisor to six different mayors in the St. Louis area. “There is an area of discretion involved in every job and the same with law enforcement. The human element has to decipher and make a decision when it’s not clearcut by law or by what is apparent before you. When they say cops have split seconds to make decisions, it is not a lie. The main goal of a police officer—as I told the new officers I trained—is to go home at night. You can’t trust anybody on the street because you don’t know what they’re going to do. But with that, you also have an obligation to be humane, to only use what is necessary to accomplish your job and go home at night. I found that many times white officers do things knowing that Black people don’t stick together, knowing you can always do something to a Black person and 95 percent of the time you will come out unscathed and it will go away and you can continue as usual.”
Former officer Rogers later made a disturbing revelation about many white officers viewing black people as good to “practice on” to perfect their skillset because blacks often don’t stick together and don’t know the law.
Rogers said the white officers knew Black people weren’t likely to know how the system worked, or to understand their rights, so it was easy to make them run afoul of the law.
“They saw Black people in my opinion as the people you could practice on and get your skills straight,” he said. “They were the people who didn’t know how to deal with the system, so therefore they would make all the mistakes that needed to be made for officers to do to them the things they do to people who make those mistakes. This is why I saw it is intentional that the public is never taught the real mechanics of the law.
If you do so, you will eliminate hundreds of thousands if not millions of incidents where they encounter the police or are candidates for arrest.
This is both enlightening and disturbing all at once. You can read the full details on what former officer Rogers had to say HERE and trust us, it’s definitely worth a read.