Welcome to First Step, a video series featuring athletes engaging the communities most affected by today’s social issues, from education and unemployment, to child hunger and homelessness among LGBTQ youth. In this installment, Michael Thomas of the Miami Dolphins takes a first step in helping the youth of Fort Pierce communicate with law enforcement.
Honestly, before I went to high school, I had a fear of law enforcement. They weren’t going to give you the benefit of the doubt. They weren’t going to ask you questions. They were just going to deal with you. That was the perception that my friends and I had.
But one time after my teammates and I won a big game in high school, I saw a cop patrolling the neighborhood. He stopped me, and he said, “Good game last night.” And he kept going. I just thought, Wow, O.K. That was different. That was when I realized that these cops are people too. You can have relationships with them. Ever since then I looked at them differently.
For the youth here in Fort Pierce, the only time they have a conversation with law enforcement is if they’re doing something wrong or if they’re getting questioned. That shouldn’t be the only time they have a conversation with the law enforcement.
These law enforcement officers are actually making change the right way. They’re trying to bridge that communication gap and develop a relationship with those they serve and protect. It’s showing that if we get out there and work together, we can see the positive results we want to see.