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Black Officer Resigns After Being Profiled

When Bernard Robins saw the three officers eyeing him from their department cruiser, it was a familiar look. He’d been stopped by police multiple times before as a teen and young adult, but previously chalked up those encounters to being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It was also familiar because he’d logged plenty of time in a cruiser himself, as a member of the LA Police Department.

So, he conducted himself as he always does in these scenarios – he kept things polite, kept his hands in plain view, and informed the officers that he also wore the badge. None of that mattered to these officers, who still handcuffed Robins, despite no wrongdoing on his part.

Off duty that day, Robins had been spending time in pursuit of his passion, filmmaking. Having just come from a shoot for a film he’d written, Robins was chatting with a lighting tech that he knew. Police eventually detained Robins because they suspected the tech of criminal activity, but failed to release him even after he supplied them with identification confirming his status as an officer.

Robins says that after returning to work, his supervisor and many of his colleagues were generally supportive. Nevertheless, he wondered if his fellow officers would have his back out in the field, particularly after he discovered rumors that he was gang affiliated, a charge he vehemently denies. Robins eventually sued the department, accusing members of a gang unit of racially profiling him.

Robins said the incident shook his faith in policing, causing him to reconsider whether he could still participate in the organization he’d been so excited to join just three years prior. During his mandated sessions with a police psychologist before his return, Robins had been encouraged to just put on the uniform and see how it felt. It was the same unform that he’d previously been proud to wear. Robins said, “All I did was put the uniform on, but it just felt too uncomfortable.” And after that, he told his supervisor that he was done.

Possible Preaching Angle:

Sometimes taking a stand for what is right involves relinquishing power and position. It also means telling the truth, even when it comes at a cost to one's career prospects.

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