Dayton police officer Terry Perdue can relate to kids in the community, including the ones who run afoul of police.
“I did not have good experiences with law enforcement growing up,” said Perdue, one of 32 black officers in a department with 361 sworn officers. “I wanted to get in that position and make a difference.”
Dayton police, like allpolice departments, wants to achieve a diversity in its safety force that matches the community it serves. But it is more than just a numbers game. Perdue makes sure he’s not just working in the community. He’s part of it.
“Most people I encounter want to talk to me,” said Perdue. “It’s all about getting to know the community on a personal level.”
Perdue volunteers at local schools and talks to kids about making the right choices. He spoke at Dunbar High School on Wednesday for the 100 African American Teacher of the Day Program. He also helps raise money to provide school supplies for children in the area.
He joined the department two years ago after studying criminal justice at Wilberforce University. He said a lot of officers care deeply about the community.
“My training officer made sure we engaged the people in the community,” said Perdue. “Not just drive by and wave, but step out of the car and talk to them to get to know them.”
If young, black men and women feel a gap between themselves and police, he suggests they take the effort to close it.
“If you disagree with some of the things police officers are doing, become an officer and do the job the way you believe it should be done,” he said.