COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Lexington Police Chief Terrence Green sat down with Pastor Mike Turner of Lexington Baptist Church for a conversation about race on Wednesday night.
The two discussed a number of topics from racial stereotyping, to how Chief Green believes young black people should interact with law enforcement.
Green offered a unique perspective during that conversation, referring to himself as both black and blue.
“When everybody sees me in this uniform, it’s ‘how you doing officer,' but when I take this off I’m just a black man in America,” he said. “You get these looks -- or the infamous, you go by a car and all the doors lock, and I think man if she really knew who I was.”
Green also mentioned “the talk” that many black parents feel they need to have with their children about interacting with law enforcement.
“Don’t take your hands off the wheel. Wait until he instructs you. Yes sir no sir, yes ma’am no ma’am. I’m going to reach over to the glove compartment, I’m going to get my items and I’m going to give them to you,” Green recalled.
It’s a reality the black community across the country is forced to face.
Green told Pastor Turner he believes African Americans are placed into a box and racially stereotyped based on society’s view. The police chief added that even with his position and title, he isn’t immune to being placed in that box.
He recalled a conversation he had when he was out of uniform with a man he didn’t know.
“He said, ‘I am from Lexington.' I said, ‘Oh I work in Lexington.' I said, ‘I’m chief of police.' He said, ‘yeah right buddy,' and he turned around and moved on,” Green said. “Then his wife came up to me and said, ‘hey Chief Green how you doing?' And I’m looking at him like yeah... He’s like, oh my God I just insulted the Lexington police chief.”
Green also discussed how he believes the idea of defunding the police could actually make things worse in the long run. He said he thinks the solution would be to give law enforcement more funding so agencies can attract more upstanding individuals.
“Law enforcement is like infrastructure -- like your roads your schools your bridges,” he said. “If you don’t put nothing into it, it will decay. And for years we have been putting nothing into law enforcement.”