Last week a task force appointed by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel found racism contributed to a pattern of failures by the Chicago Police in which officers mistreated people, operated without sufficient oversight and lost residents’ trust. Recent headlines about police shootings of unarmed African Americans suggest the task force’s findings are not unique to Chicago and that many of these dangerous patterns are likely to be found in police forces across the country. As the debate rages on regarding body cameras and implicit bias among police officers, there is little doubt that there is a crisis in law enforcement and its credibility is at stake in many communities.
Regardless of whether you think the killings of unarmed African Americans by police are the result of implicit bias or believe law enforcement should be given the benefit of the doubt in every circumstance, Quentin Williams is the man we all have been waiting for.
Inspired by the birth of his son four years ago, Williams wrote “How Not To Get Killed By the Police: A Survival Guide,” long before police shootings of unarmed African Americans made national headlines. Williams will speak at North Mecklenburg High School on Tuesday.
Williams speaks from a unique vantage point. Having grown up poor in New York City, he used football as a ticket to a better life, graduating from Boston College with a degree in economics. He later attended law school. As a former FBI agent and prosecutor with the U.S. Attorney’s office in Connecticut, Williams understands police officers, the risks they face and their fears.
In his book, Williams shares stories from dozens of his experiences being stopped and interrogated by police. Even as an FBI agent, Williams was stopped by police and held for over five hours while on vacation in Newport, Rhode Island.
Given the book’s title, one might not expect his former law enforcement colleagues to be among his biggest champions, yet they are because they recognize his message can save the lives of officers and those who are stopped. Williams intentionally brings local law enforcement officers to his presentations to underscore that virtually all police officers are committed to keeping a community safe.
Williams is the founder and president of Dedication to Community, the nonprofit platform for his program, Choose2Live. He is clearly a man who has discovered his calling and life’s work.
While the debate rages on, let’s focus on what we can agree upon – that teaching both law enforcement and civilians about how to communicate with one another is a sure-fire strategy for saving lives.
Chris McLeod is president of Giving Matters, Inc. Reach her at chris@