What is D.O.P.E. the Movement? As a black man of 46 years who grew up in the ghetto, a father of two amazing adult children, and a proud American, I find myself heart-broken over the amount of deaths on the rise against people of color at the hands of police officers. As a retired Police lieutenant with friends and family that I love, still active in law enforcement, I am EQUALLY saddened by the senseless attacks on officers and hundreds of police killings across the nation that do not make the news. These facts bother me and I, like you, want change. I am tired of being disgusted at what I see and I’m choosing to shift my energy into what I CAN do. In a minute I’m going to ask you to join me in something personal and bigger than any one individual. This task or personal challenge will save lives. It is the DOPE PLEDGE, and by taking it WE can do something together to decrease shooting incidents involving police officers and citizens.
It began with a question presented to me by my sister (Tisha Campbell-Martin) nearing the end of June this year. She asked, “What could be done to slow down all of these officer related shootings?” She wanted to share the training I presented to her a year ago; how to properly respond to police officers on a traffic stop. The initial plan was to create videos to share on her social media so citizens understood ways they could make traffic stops safer for themselves and the officer. Prior to releasing the videos we all entered into the month of July and it seemed as if things were spiraling out of control. We had the police-related shooting deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. This quickly was followed by a lone gunmen targeting Dallas police officers assigned to crowd control at a Black Lives Matter protest. These officers (Brent Thompson, Patrick Zamarripa, Michael Krol, Lorne Ahrens and Michael Smith) were not engaged in any altercations with citizens at the time of the ambush. And then there was the accidental shooting of Charles Kinsey. In the middle of the street of north Miami, while on his back with his hands up, he was shot trying to alert police that his autistic client did not have a firearm. There were more protest, a speech of outrage by the president, riots and the media pushing only one narrative; RACISM. I knew a few videos were not going to be enough. We needed not to just engage in “moment”… We needed to start a MOVEMENT. This is why D.O.P.E. the movement was created and I decided to use the acronym which stands for De-ecalating Officer Patrol Encounters. We needed to created something that speaks to and provides de-escalation tips for police officers and citizens. Why am I the right man for the job? I have a way of getting through to people and communicating a point of discussion even opposite of another in a way that can easily be accepted. I have a level head and don’t allow my thoughts to be driven by emotion to the point I won’t listen and respect another opinion or truth.
The reason I became a police officer was to make a difference in my community and protect those in need. Teaching police officers became my passion and came natural to me. I dedicated OVER 15 years of my career to training and created curriculum which allowed me the awesome opportunity to mold new officers. This became my new contribution through the development and continued education of thousands of police officers and hundreds of citizens collectively. My passion was equally distributed in bridging the gap between the community and those sworn to serve them. I instructed in the areas of Cultural Diversity, Police ethics, Academy Training, Arrest and Control, Patrol tactics, Handgun retention, de-escalation techniques and community relations. I was a field training sergeant then supervisor for eight years providing on the job training for rookies. I developed use-of-force curriculum, trained other instructors and was the head of my department’s self defense program for six years. Although I had a tough exterior, I really embraced the importance of how our law enforcement interacts with our citizens. As a result, I volunteered to provide instruction in the area of minority relations to the police academy and a police sponsored faith-based intervention program.
In my life and career I’ve seen a lot and I know there are struggles on both sides of the fence that creates further divide. Although it’s important to identify problems, I’m moving towards positive solutions and what I know is, we have to do this together. In my career, I’ve worked over one hundred use-of-force complaints, executed approximately 700 drug raids and supervised the tactical unit for ten (10) years… Yes, in that time I’ve used force on criminals during arrest situations and pointed my firearm at approximately 1,000 people without being forced to pull the trigger because of my confidence, training and the grace of God. Yes, God.
Let me be clear, the majority of our nation’s law enforcement officers are good and respect the oath they have sworn to uphold. There are approximately 850,000 police officers across the nation and recent statistics (2015) has shown that 849,000 were not involved in the shooting death of a citizen. The same study documented of the 990 shootings there were 94 listed as involving citizens that had no weapons (34 white, 32 black, 18 latino, and 10 other). These are the real numbers and yes one bad shooting is one too many and this is why we all have to take on the challenge of controlling these encounters and do our part to de-escalate. REMEMBER, police departments are a reflection of OUR society as a whole and there are some that give ALL cops a bad name. The police community has got to do better. Even with that being said, I tip my hat to the majority of the police officers continuing their efforts despite the tension, manpower issues, lack of less-lethal equipment, and poor training. And for our citizens filling the void of leadership and speaking for those who cannot, I do the same. That especially goes for anyone exercising non-violent means of expression and ringing the alarm to force us into recognizing there is still an underlying issue of racial tension and a true disconnect between police and community.
You may be asking, what can we do about it and what is this pledge about? Well, my mission for this initiative is to take a different approach. In my opinion the greater problem is shared on both sides of the encounter. This is by the uninformed citizen not understanding their rights, police practices, conduct expected, and some of whom challenge the authority of police by being resistant. On the other side of the coin, we have poorly trained or equipped officers that use unnecessary force due to the failure to employ de-escalation techniques, recognize the need to call for assistance, and being quick to push the encounter towards a physical altercation out of fear. I am not talking about those legitimate use of force incidents in which someone forces an officer to use appropriate force or places them in a position to do what the majority of us dread; to take a life. I’m also not speaking of the cases where it’s obvious the officer is violating the rights of a citizen, those that are proven to be racially motivated or deserving of criminal charges. There is a larger problem… I believe that police and citizens both are operating on the foundation of bias and fear that is deep rooted due to the history of their relationship in general terms, which is now being fueled by technical advances of the internet, political agendas and the need for major media outlets to push 24-hour news stories. Don’t get me wrong, the racial issue is real but I truly believe the untrained “Barney Fife” type will pull the trigger ten times faster than the racist officer every time.
It’s my hope that these tips and techniques will provide guidance for ALL involved and at least one person takes advantage of a turning point to change the outcome. The importance of solutions being presented by someone who has been behind the shield and has first hand knowledge of what works in the practical “Police World” is imperative. I don’t have all the answers and I believe through this platform many of you will take on the pledge with me and add to its impact! The masses will easily see that being educated, controlling your own behavior, recognizing the need to de-escalate and having an understanding of the fear of the person on the opposite side of these encounters will decrease the amount of times it ends with violence or death.
It is my plan to share information that comes from research, personal experience and present a universal messages so it could sustain a longer life. So not to be divisive I am not attaching this program to any other hashtags because for me, toe tags matter.
So what’s next?!! Join the DOPE PLEDGE by clicking the link and entering your email address. Share stories and solutions with me. Spread the word (#dopethemovement, #Itookthedopepledge, and #IAMDOPE) by sharing tips, articles and videos on social media with those you care about!
Until the next time, let’s all go home alive…
I’m Stan Campbell and that’s DOPE!