African American police leaders straddle the line between black and blue

Updated: Jun. 2, 2020 at 11:23 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - “At the end of the day when I take this uniform off, don’t get it twisted, I’m still a black man.”

Pelahatchie Police Chief Joe Daughtry echoes the sentiments of black police officers all over Mississippi. As the nationwide unrest seems to highlight the choices they make after the death of George Floyd in Minnesota, law enforcement leaders like Daughtry and Hinds County Sheriff Lee Vance share the same frustrations.

“This despicable act this guy committed in Minnesota is absolutely unforgivable,” said Vance.

The video of Floyd's death shocked the public conscience and brought more light to the recurring questions about whether members of the black community are ultimately safe.

Hinds County District Attorney Jody Owens says, “We have to believe that the system will work, and that when people step out of line and make mistakes, that they will be held accountable."

Vance says the overwhelming majority of police officers want to see decisive justice for Floyd.

“Because they know just like I know that it was unnecessary, the way he carried it out, the smug look on this guys face, the big question I have is, ‘What was he thinking?’” said Vance.

“Then as the chief law enforcement officer in the county who is in charge of prosecuting people, who works daily with many brave woman and male law enforcement officers, you understand that there are more good ones than bad ones,” Owens said.

Daughtry says when racial tensions are high, justice must be done, and there are plenty of officers willing to police their own.

“I promise you that there are a lot of officers who will stand and be the first one to take that badge off of those who don’t deserve to wear it," he said. "This is personal for us.”

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