'Policing begins internally': Police aim to recruit more minorities, minority instructors as law enforcement faces public scrutiny

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Pelted with profanities and calls to defund, police officers are walking the high wire of public scrutiny.

"It's kind of a push-pull scenario," said Rama Jones.

For recruits, especially those of color, they often feel the pressure of their own race.

"The stigma; you don't snitch you don't tell," said Jones.

In turn, recruits like Rama find themselves between two worlds. On one hand, they feel the pain of seeing a black man murdered by police but just as strongly the passion that inspires them to serve and spark change.

"I felt that if I were to come into law enforcement I could actually be that voice not only for people of color but for someone that can be in law enforcement that can say we're not all bad. We're here to help," said Jones.

Jones is going through Basic Law Enforcement Training at Wake Tech (BLET). The tension is top of mind but also a discussion inside the classroom.

"The duty to intervene is something that a lot of academies and agencies are talking about where if you see your partner or someone doing something you have that duty to say 'hey you're doing that wrong.'" Jones explained.

Sadly, that didn't happen in the death of George Floyd as prosecutors charge three officers who failed to step in.

Jeffrey Robinson, Dean of Public Safety says it's time for officers to step up.

"Policing begins internally and being able to police themselves. Anytime a law enforcement officer goes out, if you can't police yourself, you're going to have problems," said Robinson.

Wake Tech Community College leads the state in training, requiring 100 more hours than the state does for graduation. In efforts to make sure they're cadets are fully prepared, they're adding even more coursework on the following topics.

"Implicit bias, race relations, community relationships," Robinson listed.

For Robinson, it's deeper than understanding and embracing diversity, it's also about seeing it.

"So we're trying to recruit more diverse students but also instructors," Robinson noted.

Meanwhile, as the cries grow louder for change, future officers like Rama Jones and Mann are ready to step in to be the difference.

"Trying to rise to the opportunity and be the change and that's all anybody can do," said Will Mann.
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