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1967 C.R. Dig. 1 (1967)

handle is hein.civil/newprspc1967 and id is 1 raw text is: 












U.S. COMMISSION ON CIVIL RIGHTS


SEPTEMBER - 1967


Police-Community Relations

Atlanta Police

Walk New

'Poverty Beat'


   (Police Departments are criticized fre-
quently for the poor relationships which exist
between policemen and minority residents of
the community they serve. This is a report of
the program adopted by the Atlanta, Georgia,
Police Department aimed at creating a posi-
tive image for its law enforcement officers,
particularly those assigned to low-income
neighborhoods.)


Bureau officers wear regulation uniforms while working at their unconventional police
duties so that the public recognizes them as policemen. Leaving police headquarters
are (1 to r) Patrolmen Louis Graham, Henry Bolden, Harris, A. L. Cardell, and
Walter Nefloms.


tacked him with a sickle. The youth had been
identified as the suspect in an assault on a
woman.
  Nothing said to Harris before or since then
has impressed upon him so sharply the dis-
trust and disrespect many ghetto dwellers
felt for Atlanta policemen. Harris wondered
if his six children also believed that police-
men are men who go around shooting people.
  When Harris spoke to the fourth-graders
that day, he had just been assigned to the
Atlanta Police Department's Crime Preven-


tion Bureau. This unit was formed in Janu-
ary 1966 in an attempt to improve relations
between policemen and residents of the city's
economically distressed areas.
  A day after beginning his new assignment
with the Bureau, Patrolman Harris, whose
working day is typical of that of the seven
other police community relations specialists
assigned to poverty neighborhoods, was con-
fronted with another example of the break-
down in communications between citizens and
police.
                           continued on page 4


Patrolman Harris briefs Bureau commanding officer
Captain Morris G. Redding (r) on community
problems in Perry Homes area.

  The Atlanta, Georgia, elementary school
teacher concluded her introduction of Patrol-
man A. A. Harris with a question. What do
policemen do?' she asked her fourth-grade
class.
  Policemen are men who go around shoot-
ing people, answered a youngster, matter-
of-factly.
  The child's words were particularly unset-
tling to Harris, because months earlier he had
shot and killed a teenage boy who had at-


  In its study of Racial Isolation In the Pub-
lic Schools, the U. S. Commission on Civil
Rights found that a Negro youngster's belief
regarding his ability to affect his own destiny
is an important factor in his achievement as
a student.* This finding demonstrates the im-
portance of a sense of self-determination as a
factor in the Negro American's fully achiev-
ing his civil rights. Its special significance
is the indication that this feeling of control
over one's destiny is a vital preliminary to
achieving that control.
  The way of stating this is to say that while
* Volume I, pages 84, 114, 204 and Volume II,
pages 62-65.


the fact of discrimination clearly limits the
self-determination of Negro people, the abil-
ity to overcome those limits is dependent upon
a belief in self-determination. Understanding
the implications of this apparent paradox
is vital for those in government who are re-
sponsible for developing programs to promote
equal opportuniy. This is especially so in the
case of those who legislate and administer
programs designed to have special impact
upon Negro people who live in inner-city
ghetto neighborhoods. For it is in those neigh-
                            continued on page 7


Civil Rights Digest


Feeling of Control Over Destiny

       Vital To Ghetto Progress

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