Media changes stigma for officers

Sometimes seen in a negative light, police officers  are working on bridging the gap between them and their surrounding communities.

Sgt. Aram Choe, adjunct professor with online and professional studies at California Baptist University, has been in law enforcement for 14 years and has recently worked with the activist group Humanizing the Badge.

“We are not robots. We are not just a uniform and a badge,” Choe said. “(But)at least for me and many of the people I come in contact with, it is a professional – it’s not who we are, it’s what we do.”

Stemming from the Ferguson riots in 2014, the non-profit organization Humanizing the Badge, began with a single letter written by Elizabeth Shiftwell titled, “Dear Officer, I See You.” The letter went viral, and thus began the efforts to bring positive views of law enforcement.

Choe’s page, 911Strong, has close to 60,000 followers on Facebook and 18,000 followers on Instagram. Through his growing social media presence, Choe was chosen to take part in the growing Humanizing the Badge movement.

Working alongside Ken Nwadike Jr., otherwise known as the “Free Hugs Guy,” Choe traveled to Detroit and filmed two concurrent documentary series with Project Human, an event held by Humanizing the Badge.

“We reach out to communities that are hard hit with strife between law enforcement and the community, and we try to rebuild that gap,” Choe said.

Although some of Choe’s projects are still in development and will possibly be in partnership with Netflix, the documentaries will be seen on Motorola Solutions’ YouTube channel in a series called “Duty Runs Deep.”

“Duty isn’t just in my profession – it is to my family; it’s as a representation as a Christian,” Choe said.

Choe said effort within this organization is a step in the right direction. However, there is still  plenty of work left ahead.

“Our end goal is to do away with the negative stigma,” Choe said. “Realistically, (our goal) may never happen. As long as there is a human element to any profession, it’s susceptible to human scrutiny. We are going to make small impacts in every community that we are in.”

About Hannah Preston

A&E Editor

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