CHICAGO – Former Chicago Bears running back, Matt Forte, experienced a taste of disdain police officers routinely experience as kids on the street thought he was a cop.
While on a ride-along with Commander William J. Bradley of Chicago’s 6th district in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood, kids who would have idolized him in a Bears uniform, hurled insults and expletives his way thinking he was a Chicago police officer.
“See, the narrative even to the young kids is that all police officers are bad. And that’s not the case.”
– Matt Forte
Forte tried to convince the insulting kids that he played for the Bears, but they apparently didn’t believe him. Specifically, one kid said, “F*** you cop.”
“See, the narrative even to the young kids is that all police officers are bad,” Forte said. “And that’s not the case. So we’ve got to find some kind of common ground.”
Forte continued, “He didn’t even know, or realize, that I played for the Bears. And then once; even when I told him, he said, ‘F-you.’ So we’ve got to find something where that’s not the case; that’s not happening.”
Forte asked Commander Bradley about solutions.
The commander explained that people are generally having a bad day when they encounter police. Therefore, it is important for law enforcement officers to engage in positive interactions with the public when possible. CPD calls them “positive community interactions.” These daily encounters will help humanize the badge.
“To find common ground,” Forte responds, as Bradley agrees with him.
During the ride-along, the former All Pro running back gained valuable insight.
“Just being in the district, and putting the vest on, seeing behind the scenes what goes on,” Forte said. “I had no idea the technology and the things that you guys go through just to prepare for the day. … You get a deeper appreciation for the job you guys do.”
Forte is not the first NFL star to have a paradigm shift once he experience the other side of the badge.
Without fail, every time a police critic runs through a shoot-don’t shoot simulator, they are humbled and leave with a new respect for law enforcement. They discover police work is difficult. Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall discovered this last year.
During the first part of the 2016 professional football season, Marshall knelt before the national anthem, joining other NFL stars in highly publicized protests of police brutality, Law Enforcement Today previously reported.
Yet his practice of kneeling is over, thanks in part to outreach efforts of the Denver Police Department.
“I really appreciate all of them taking the time to listen to me and offer some insight and feedback on ways we can all make a difference,” he wrote in an Instagram post last year.
Marshall met with then Denver Police Chief Robert White after the season ended, and took him up on an offer to try the shooting simulator.
“I think it’s more difficult (being a police officer) than people think.”
– Brandon Marshall
Marshall tested the VirTra V-300 simulator, which puts the officers in more than 100 different scenarios to practice split-second decision-making.
“I think it’s more difficult than people think,” he said of being a police officer.
In his Instagram post, he wrote, “For the 1st half of the season, I’ve been taking a knee for the National Anthem to raise awareness for social injustice and to start conversation about what all of us can do to make a positive change. I’m encouraged with the many productive discussions and progress that has taken place as the Denver Police department has decided to review its use of force policy. I’m proud to have joined so many of my peers throughout sports who’ve also made their own statements.”
As a result of this experience, Marshall discovered that tactical decisions are not as clear cut as citizens believe, nor is the responsibility of maintaining order.